27.7.14

0 An Inspirational Story: The story of my father

It is 08:35AM in my watch and I missed it again by 5 minutes, the deadline to start for my office. I am starting my Car, putting my seat belt on, and I am allowing turbo effect of engine to come with full force so that it could pull me from my basement parking. I am on the road now. I switched on the Bluetooth and redialled a phone number from the previously dialled list. An ever energetic voice appears from the other end. He asks well-being of my son, my wife and my office. If there is any news from my village he narrates it minutely. Then we switch on to the topics of national politics, international politics, philosophy, mythology or the book that I am reading currently. We keep talking. He is satisfied that I bought a car in which this facility is inbuilt. It is 9:05AM. He says, “Now you must be reaching your office so let us hang up”. From the modulation of my voice he is sensing the traffic condition from 2000 miles that whether there was a jam or it was smooth today to judge whether I am about to reach my office or we can talk for some more time. Finally call gets disconnected to be connected again next morning or until we really need to talk. Every morning this was my routine. These were not merely the discussions; my father has been pumping energy in the morning that used to keep me rejuvenated for the day. However, on unfortunate day of 11th June 2014, I had so many urgent things to do. I postpone the daily telephonic discussion for the evening. When I called back that evening instead of my father my brother picked the call and he informed me that he was no more, he died few minutes back. How could I afford not to talk to him on that day? Generally upon NOT getting a call he used to call me. He did not call me on that day, either. He had already booked his final journey leaving me shattered, meek and incapable. More I try to become normal more powerless I find myself. I already started going to office. It’s unbearable for me when I start my car and habitually put my Bluetooth on and finally realizing that I cannot talk to him anymore. At his relatively good health and at the age of 61-62 it was NOT a right time. As someone suggested his good memory would guide me throughout my life. His life has itself an inspirational story to learn important lessons. Let us have a look.

My father’s life story can motivate any person in distress. Everyone’s father is unique, there is no doubt. But he was unique out of several uniques. I would like to write about him without assigning any adjective to him, yet I am sure those who read this story would have a remarkable positive influence on him. I am writing his story (in short) without using any adjective, does this not vouch many things in itself? If you find it motivational do write to me. It will help me regain some of the energy which would be necessary to move on.

Part-I


Late Shri Mohan Mishra (1952-2014): Story of my father is nothing less than a story of modern India which encompasses a glorious past, brave survivals through austerity of its extreme, progressing slowing but steadily and now roaring to become superpower to regain its glorious past. Let me start the story since 1940’s prior to the birth of my father when my grandmother was just married. The grandfather of my father (my great grandfather) was a baron and had a close relationship with the King of Darbhanga (mithila). Therefore, my grandmother came from a very affluent family of Darbhanga. My great grandfather inherited 700 acres of highly fertile land. He was possessing 7 elephants (presently cost of one elephant is equivalent to a Mercedes S class). He was sponsoring a traditional residential Sanskrit college where students used to get education free of cost till post graduation courses. As my great grandfather and so his sons were highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. They started taking part in freedom struggles.

A landlord-ship and freedom struggle did not go hand in hand. The king of Darbhanga (Mithila) was very upset of their participations in freedom movement. Though quit India movement was at its peak, however English collector (of Bhagalpur) thought to teach my great grandfather a lesson. They sent so many legal notices to him for creating unrest in the society. He did not respond to all legal notices and there came a day when collector manipulated and got the legal rights to attach all his property.

A prosperous landlord became wealthless. My grandfather had three more brothers. Two of them were highly involved in Quit India Movement starting from 1942. When they saw their entire property vanished, they fled away together from home. Subsequently, one of them get into the team of Lal Bahadur Shashtry and were jailed together. Association with Lal Bahadur Shastry brought him again in prominence and when he became priminister of India, one of the brother of my grandfather, Mr. Ramakant Shastry became Mayor of Agra.

Back home, my grandparents found themselves nowhere. They still wanted to run their inherited Sanskrit college. But alas, they didn’t have any means to do this. In spite of this life crisis my grandfather decided that he would stay in my village. My great grandfather at that time possessed a man-made fish pond/lake spread in the area of 5 acres. My grandmother sold all her ornaments which her affluent parents gifted her in marriage. Thus my grandparents purchased this fish pond of 5 acres. As of today (07th July 2014) I (Kumar Padmanabh) inherit this fish pond as an agricultural land. My grandmother was left with nothing except this piece of land. She became mother of 4 children but none of them survived owing to lack of healthcare system and hence huge infant mortality rate in India. My grandparents were however settled and running their non-luxurious life with 5 acres of land. Then in 1952 my father was born. India was improving and healthcare was now available a little bit. There was a health center 35 KM away. My grandparents took extra care and my father survived. My grandfather also inherited family tradition of becoming Sanskrit Scholar. He was an expert of Mimansa, a sect of philosophy that deals with rituals. Life of my grandparents were coming steadily, however in 1954 there came a day when my grandfather died leaving behind my 40 years old grandmother and my 2 years old father alone at the mercy of the God.

It was an inconsolable moment for my grandmother. Her estate had vanished, her husband died leaving behind her two years old son. Brothers of my grandfather were already left village. There were no mode of communication and they thought there is nothing left in the village. My grandmother had a lots of self respect and she decided she will not go to her parent's place demanding her share of property which would have sufficient to live a luxurious life. She had no other option but to live for her son, i.e. my father. Therefore the real struggle for survival started in 1954. It was a time when river Kosi was at its peak. Even today it is known as sorrow of Bihar. It was always changing its course, devastating agricultural land of northern Bihar. Jawahar Lal Nehru, then priminister of India decided to tame this river by restricting it to flow through two embankments. My village came in between the two embankments. Mr. Nehru promised rehabilitation of almost 100 villages falling between the two embankments. That promise is not yet honoured. So now the Kosi flood was restricted within these two embankments. Other portion of Bihar was benefited but my village started remaining submerged in flood for 3 months to 6 months every year during monsoon.

By 1960 construction of embankment was over and therefore my village started getting flooded every year. Agriculture was completely devastated. Mr. Nehru started distributing food grains as a relief. As an 8 years old child, my father would go to the relief camp to get food grains every month. At that time he was going to a government primary school to get his education. Since, in this school, the education was provided only till grade- 5th. After few years my grandmother realized that my father needs to go to nearby town for his middle school education. It was 35 KM away from my village. As an 11 years old child, my father started living in hostel. Hostel and mess fee was almost 20 rupees a month. This was a huge amount in early 60s. Since the agricultural land was almost used to be submerged in flood only means of survival was relief. Arranging Rs. 20 a month was a challenge. My grandmother decided to have an entrepreneurship stint. Mahatma Gandhi organization was teaching making of Khadi. So my grandmother started churning charkha given by that organization. Very soon, she started earning good amount to afford fee of my father.

Instantaneous financial problem of my father was solved by initiatives of Mahatma Gandhi organization. However, my father was worried. As a 12 years old child every year during the rainy season, he would come to my village to look after his mother. He would remain in village leaving his study to take care of his mother. He used to be with his mother until flood water used to subside. He told me that many years, even house was getting flooded. He was making “machaan” and for several weeks both of them were staying on the “machaan”.

Time passed and there came a day, when my father was graduated. He passed his exam. He told me once that during those days result was getting announced in newspaper and after seeing that he passed his 10th grade, thereby became eligible for applying government job, he ran from his school (in Kishanpur) to his village which was 35KM away. He ran for 35 KM continuously. My grandmother was so happy. He was not yet 18 so not eligible from age point of view to apply for government job. Therefore he decided to pursue his study further. In the meantime river Koshi was tamed further and 5 acres land of my grandmother was started giving her more crops that they could consume, hence they started saving. Moreover, the entrepreneurship stint of my grandmother was at its peak and she was earning substantially. While my father was in 2nd year of Intermediate University Course (12th) he married to my mom. My father was 20 years old and my mother was 15 years old. My father told me, he was a unique example of his village who did not take any dowry in his marriage.

In year 1973 he finished his intermediate examination at the age of 21 years. Then he started looking for a government job. One of his relative was an IAS officer in Kolkata. He helped many people of my village to get a job. My great grandfather had lots of obligation to his family. Hence my grandmother suggested my father to go there to seek his help in getting a job. In 1974 he was camping in Kolkata for many months. This IAS officer was very much fed up with this kind of requests and therefore he was NOT in the mood of helping my father. However he suggested him to develop some skill. (Son of this particular IAS is now CFO of Hathway in Bangalore. He very well remembers my father. When I was in IIT Kharagpur, I introduced myself to him through a community portal. He was astonished, how could I go to IIT).

My father returned back home in 1975 without a job. Government Job was not easy. Either it was coming through recommendation/influence or through extreme hard work. He sold the ornaments of my mother to get some seed fund and started learning typing and shorthand. After few months he became so much proficient in these two skills that owner of the institute recruited my father as an instructor. In the meantime he started preparing for banks and railways recruitment. I was born in year 1976. He was economically satisfied. Therefore he participated in 1975 Jai Prakash Narayan Movement. The effect on his phyche was so much that he removed my surname from my official papers. Because he believed your surname represents your cast. Even though coming from a highly reputed Brahmin family he did not want to take advantage of that. Subsequently, he started applying for the government job. It was in 1977 that he was selected for many positions in Indian Railways and SBI. He preferred Indian railways and joined as a  a personal assistant to chief engineer in Gorakhpur on 30th October 1978.
During the period of distress and when river Kosi was tamed properly, some of the village people were envious of 5 acres of land that my grandmother purchased and which was giving good crops. With some false documentation they registered a part of the land in their name. Both my father and grandmother were very worried because my grandmother purchased those lands after selling her ornaments. My father fought legal battle for 5 years and then he got his land returned in year 1983.

After his job in Indian Railways in Gorakhpur he was getting railway quarter in Gorakhpur. My grandmother was not willing to relocate. She wanted to die in the territory where she struggled for her survival. My father respected her opinion and decided not to relocate until her last breath. We were getting agricultural produces and my father was getting his monthly salary cheque. Everything was looking so bright and beautiful. But all of sudden my grandmother died on 17th September 1984. As an 8 years old boy, I saw my father crying like a kid. My father struggled for his survival, for his education and for his career along with his mother. His world was restricted to his mother. All of sudden his mother left him. He wanted that she should see the world. By that time I was going to my school. I was doing very well in school. My father was so happy. For his mother’s love, for the reason that I was doing good with my study, my younger brothers were still very young and with all his ecosystem in place he decided that he will not move his family until few years more.

 (To be continued… He was just 12th class pass. How he got MBA. How fortunate am I that both of us went to the same university, in the same year, many a time on the same day for our respective studies. I will talk about the last book he gifted me. And why he was so happy during Obama's last visits of India. Please read on…)



You can share if you want. Your words would help me to move on. Please comment…!            

30.10.13

1 A Lost Simcard

Published at yourstoryclub

Internet, for me, has been always in transition stage. Search for a good service provider has been always on. Whenever I walk on the road, my radar starts searching for the bills pasted on the walls of the walkways. It was a busy day in my office. I had a work pending since long in the ICICI bank. I decided to do it during our lunch hour. I crossed the national highway situated in front of my office in Bangalore and reached the ICICI bank. To my delight, I found a makeshift stall of Aircel within the bank premises itself. The post paid 3G offers was very lucrative. The performance of the 3G network as demonstrated by Aircel staff was worthwhile. My driving license and pan card were in my purse, handy for necessary documentation. Finally, I got a post paid simcard and kept it in my pocket and went on to do banking.

Verification department of Aircel was quick. Within two hours of the purchase of simcard, they called me on my mobile to verify my details. I got another call from them confirming that my simcard was activated and ready for use. It was really a busy day indeed. I could not get time to think about the simcard. I kept working till late evening.

Upon reaching home, I wanted to check its performance. I take out the dongle. But, I could not find the simcard in my pocket. I remembered that I kept it in the front pocket of my shirt. It was not there. Then I checked the pocket of my trouser, it was absent. I remember, I have an unusual habit of shuffling the stuff from one pocket to others. So I checked every pocket meticulously. It was not there. I could not find it anywhere. The simcard was actually still intact in its plastic reinforcement which was kept in a small paper packet. It was too small to be kept in a purse. I checked my purse. It was not there too. I finished my inspection but could not locate the simcard. I thought I must have left it in my office and in this way my yet another endeavor for internet ends unsuccessfully. 

It was not only a failed attempt to get good internet service. I lost my simcard. Next day, I went to my office and inspected everywhere. My desk was appearing rather tidy. The dustbin was empty. I thought the housekeeping staff must have thrown it assuming it to be a trash. For a moment, I could not stop blaming the clean-desk-policy of my company. I lost a simcard, it was not a joke. It was already activated. I did not have any details of the simcard; not even its number. I did not have any contact information of the makeshift kiosk from where I purchased it. It was prone to be misused. A sudden restlessness prompted me to visit the ICICI bank premises once again. The makeshift kiosk was not there. I asked the security personnel. They did not have any clue about the Aircel staff. I had no option left. I persuaded myself, the first month bill would solve my problem. I started waiting for the bill patiently.

Time heals all problems. After few days I forgot the incident.

My peace of mind did not last longer. I got the first month bill of the simcard. There was a bill of Rs. 1440. There was no consumption of 3G data. There were almost thousand calls made from that number. Now I had my number with me. I called customer care and blocked my simcard immediately. However, I was afraid! Who used my simcard and how? It could have been used by a criminal or a goon. In this type of situation we are ought to have a bad assumption, always. For that matter, I thought, it could have been used by a terrorist. You never know.
I wanted to confirm who has actually used my simcard. I called on the mobile phone. Oh! It was switched off. I was not sure whether it was blocked from the backend office.

I shared this incident with one of my colleague. He told me to report it to the police. He said that at least I will get due consideration of my pro-activeness in the legal hassle, if at all it would be there. So far, I had no experience of dealing with a police. It was already one month since I lost the simcard. I was afraid for reporting so late. I was worried that police would never consider my genuineness case because it was too late.

I started scanning the bill. There were almost thousand calls made from this number. There was a special number on which calls were made for longer duration, for half an hour and occasionally for 45 minutes also. I thought this person must have been closer to the caller and could give me proper information.

I decided to call back on that number before reporting to police. In response of my hello, the voice of a lady appeared from the other side.

I asked, “Who are you and which place you are staying”.

Lady on the other side kept quiet for a while and then responded, “Don’t make me fool! I know you are the one. ( हम जानते हैँ, आप ऊहे हैँ). Why have you changed your voice. It will not fetch you anything. It has been two days, why did not you call me”.

I was stunned. Humor and pranks do not get value at the time of crisis. I ignored. I decided to call on other number. I chose other most frequently used number.  An elder person picked the call. I was not prepared with my words. I asked, “Do you have anyone in Bangalore. Tell me his name.”

The old man said, “first of all, you called me, introduce yourself”

I said, “I am so and so. I worked for so and so company. I lost my simcard…”

The elderly man cut me short, “this is a wrong number”.

I picked another number. I called on it. I kept explaining what happened to me and what information I wanted.  I failed to get any detail. I called on few other numbers mentioned in bill. None of them considered my genuineness. No one of them listened to me. With every call my impatience was increasing. I was still in my office. My colleagues in the adjacent cubicles were listening to me. They came for the help. They suggested me to pose as a police officer.

Posing a police inspector, I called on the first number again which was used most frequently, I said, “I am calling from electronic city police station. Whose number is this?”

There were two ladies this time. They were laughing. One of them replied, “So, since when you became a Police Inspector. He… he… he… I know you are the one…. he he he… “

I was ashamed, but replied, “See! a mobile phone was stolen and I am calling from a police station. Take it seriously and tell me whether anyone of your relatives are in Bangalore.

“he… he… he… bing…. Brummm…“ Call got disconnected.

Luckily I had a mobile phone app, TrueCaller installed in my mobile phone which can reveal the name from its contact phone number. I checked all numbers available in the bill on TrueCaller. It was originating from Chhapra, Bihar. I remembered, recently, many people from Bihar have been arrested in the connection of terrorist activities. I was getting more tensed.

I called the old man again posing again as a police inspector of electronic city, “please be serious one of the mobile phone was stolen. Please tell me if any one of you is staying in Bangalore. Please tell him to return my simcard… at least”.

Old man replied, “Yes! Mr. Dabloo is staying in Bangalore. He used to call his mother on my number. His mother is staying in my neighbourhood. Oh my God! So he had started doing all these things. He has gone to Bangalore to earn something for his marriage. He informed everyone that he is working as a painter. Did he steal your phone? Anyway, I will inform his mother and I will tell him to call you back”.

Finally, I got the information that I wanted. My simcard was not with a terrorist. I was relaxed. I decided not to mess with the police now. After sometime, I was driving back to my home. I got a call from an unknown number. Bluetooth of my car was on. I picked the call carelessly. A bold and confident voice appeared from the other end, “Yes, sir I am Dabloo. A month back, I found a simcard in ICICI bank premises and started using it. I am getting so many calls from so many people of my village. Why did you call so many people in my village and told them that I have stolen your mobile phone?”

I was never expecting this kind of response. Mr. Dabloo was cheeky and presumptuous. After getting the details of his status quo from the villagers, I thought, he should be humble and mild. He was appearing arrogant. For all the stress I had gone through, I did not want to close the chapter so easily, merely on the phone call. My suffering deserved appropriate reaction. I said, “OK please come to the same bank once again at 12:00 tomorrow, bring the simcard and then we will discuss. Do you know I got a bill of Rs. 1400”. He was purposeful. He immediately disconnected the call.

I could not sleep properly, throughout the night. I kept planning about the worst bashing for him.

Next day exactly at 12:00 I got a call from Dabloo. After a few call to synchronize, I could locate him. He was appearing in his early twenties in a mutilated attire that a painter typically put on. Even before I could start, he started in loud, complaining and conceited voice “What sir! I am a poor painter but I am not a thief. How come you can call to dozens of people of my village and spread the rumour that I am a mobile phone thief. I work hard, do overtime and then earn Rs 500 a day. You spoiled my reputation in my community”. He hurriedly finished his first spell. 

“You keep your Rs.1400/ and please don’t do this mistake once again”, the 24 year Dabloo appended. My plan of bashing him was not working. It  failed miserably. Rather, I was at the receiving end. I came at the back foot and become defensive, yet said, “Then why did you use my simcard to make 1000 calls”.

“So what you will do if you find it at a public place, it is a cool thing anyone can do. Take this 1400 and please don’t do it again with anyone else. Do you know my prospective marriage alliance could break up. My fiancée is so upset? My reputation in my would-be-sasuraal has gone haywire. I found this simcard on the floor near ATM machine in this bank. If I would not have picked it, someone else would have done it. It was lying on a public place. It was your fault, sir”. He was pointing his finger towards the ATM machine where he got the simcard.

Oh! Now I could remember. After the banking, I went to ATM to withdraw some cash on that day. Oh my God! I closed my eyes and realized the shuffling of stuffs that I did while taking out my ATM card. I must have dropped the pouch containing the simcard.

So many questions were popping into my mind. So, none of my call was a waste, really? My each word was given due attention by the villagers? Villagers are typically very sweet. They used to meet each other most often. They know each other personally. Only person from that village staying in Bangalore was Mr. Dabloo. He was engaged and I happened to talk to his fiancée! I also happened to talk to probably the best friend of the fiancée of Mr. Dabloo. I informed them that Dabloo had stolen my mobile phone.  How could his fiancee have withstand the allegation, that too in front of her best friend? Villagers must have discussed this issue. The families envious of Dabloo and his mother, must be making fun of him. How would Dabloo have been managing all this since yesterday, that too, when he really did not steal a phone. I started believing that his cheeky behaviour was legitimate and his arrogance had a sense of genuineness. For me, it was just a simcard and loss of few rupees and a worry whether it was used by a criminal. However my multiple calls to the village would have proven him a mobile phone thief, almost!
  
I turned more defensive, I said, “Ok take this money back, return my simcard and tell me how can I help you?”

“I don’t bother about anyone else, Sir! But can you please call my fiancée and explain the goof up and tell her that I am not a thief”.

“Yes, I can do that. I can call her. Do you want me to call her now”.

"Yes, sir! you should do it immediately".

With lots of guilt and with intention to clear the mess, I called on the most frequented number. From the other side a feeble voice of the same lady appeared, “Saar! did he return your mobile phone”. A humor was missing this time.

Her voice was shabby and mild. She was seemingly appearing alone. I was embarrassed. Now I could realize that she did not want to let her friend know that her would-be-husband was a thief, a mobile phone thief. Her strange behavior during my first call had a reason, I realized. I kept quiet for a while. I had to reply her question whether he had returned my phone.
 
“Yes” I explained her, “it was not the mobile phone, merely the simcard!" I explained the whole goof up systematically.

When I finished explaining, the lady on the other side started crying. I could hear her moaning. I handed over the phone to Mr. Dabloo. It was an emotional moment, even for me. He went ahead to an isolated place and talked for a while. He returned back, wiped his eyes and returned my phone. I wanted to talk to him. He ignored my gesture and went away briskly, probably, the reputation of a 24 year old Painter, a daily wage worker was restored with full glory.

5.10.13

0 The beggar


The post retirement life of my Papa is no more the same in Gorakhpur, where he spent 35 years of his life working for Indian Railways. His daily routine has been changed now, of course on a good note. Now he spends on an average two hours in our kitchen garden which is almost four thousand square feet the sufficient enough to keep him busy regularly. The appearance of green plants of cauliflower, cabbage, bringal and reddish gives him more satisfaction than the prospective harvest itself. He tries to have a nap in the afternoon. Lunch time has been advanced to 11:30AM, beyond which he browses different news channels before hitting the bed for a afternoon nap. Most of us overheard from my Mom that it was better when he was regularly going to office blaming to unpredictable and untimely demand for a cup of tea. 

It was 29th of September 2013. Lalu Yadav was already found guilty and quantum of punishment was yet to be announced. Papa was browsing different news channels in search for an analysis of his interests. It was probably 01:00PM and Maa was in other room. My youngest brother having business of video surveillance in Gorakhpur was visiting Bangalore. Thus we all three brothers were in Bangalore. Maa was not anticipating any demand from anyone. 

She was feeling lethargic in her bed room. Someone knocked the main door. Anticipating that Papa would not do it Maa went on to open the door. It was a sixty year old man. He told my mom that he was hungry for last 48 hours. His effort of brining tears in his eyes were of no use as he was too weak to display tears. He asked for a Roti in his feeble voice. Maa and Papa already had finished lunch. Maa told the beggar to wait and went inside the kitchen to see if something was leftover for this beggar. She could find only few Rotis but it was not in good hygienic condition. She prepared a cup of tea and went outside. Papa was completely aloof from the sequence of events. Maa offered him tea and told him to wait. The beggar prayed again, "maalkin I am hungry for last 48 hours, please give me something to eat." Maa assured him to give something to eat and told him to wait further.

Maa was emotionally charged. She decided she will cook for him. She opened the refrigerator. Few slices of Paneer was there. She cooked Paneer-chilli and Kheer. Subsequently she prepared a dozen of Purees. She went outside and gave that begger to eat. My father now observed my Mom taking Puree-Paneer-Kheer combo to outside. When he came out he could see the beggar eating like a feast. Papa looked at the beggar. He gave an impression to Papa that it was not his mistake. Papa responded with a gesture that yes, he knew it was not his mistake and only Maa could do it. Then he went inside and brought water for the beggar.

Beggar ate nicely. He thanked my mom and subsequently to my father. He wished all good things for my parents. There was no blessing which was not recited by him. He moved on contended and satisfied. A dull and lethargic afternoon was already turned into an eventful moments. Afternoon nap was not required to rejuvenate my Papa. He called me and narrated the entire story. It was so satisfying for me. I felt there could not have been better week-end news from my parents. 

After a while I realized something and called my mom and asked her, “Maa, by the way! do you know which cast that person belonged to”. My mom lived always in conservative brahmin society where cast, creed, community are still the bitter realities which has been practiced and maintained religiously. She never had a university education. She replied to me, “बेटा, आखिर ओहो मनुखे छलय ओकरा खुआ के आत्मा तृप्त गेल. आइ धरि एतेक आशीर्वाद किओ नइँ देने होयत: My dear son! he was indeed a human being (humanity was his cast). I am ever satisfied. No one has ever blessed me like him." 

I was speechless.