Archive for September, 2012

Allah Hafiz

Allah Hafiz

Story  by – Mohinder Pal Singh

“Sir, Can  you give  me  a  lift  till  next  crossing?”   I  felt  someone  ask  me  from  the side.

I  was on  my  bike  in  a  highly crowded  street  in old  Allahabad on  an  errand.  It was  around  7.30  PM  and  the  traffic at  this  hour  is  always clogging. I  gave  a  side  glance  and  found a  man  in  red  T-shirt  and  dirty  jeans speaking to  me. He  was  the  same  person  whom  I  had  seen  jumping  out of  a  tempo( a  four-wheeler diesel powered 8-seater auto-rickshaw)   a minute  back.   And  why  is  he  asking  lift  from  a  bike  rider, I thought? Nowdays  one  could  never  be  sure  of  the  intentions  of  people.  Suddenly  the  traffic  cleared   and  I  advanced  my   bike  about  five  feet  ahead  and  braked  again. He  too  took  two  steps  and  was  standing  aside  slightly  to  the  rear  so  as  to  sit  on  my   bike  as  a  pillion  the  moment  I answered  in  affirmative.

“Why  did  you  jump out  of  the tempo?  I asked  giving  a  hurried  sideway glance and  showing  my  doubt at his  intentions. The  traffic  was  badly   jammed and  I    being  a cool  rider  was  in  no  hurry to take  any  risks  and  wade  my  way  forward. Though  some  daily bikers  were  dodging  their  way , hustling  and  dredging  through  this daily  logjam.

“Sir, This  tempo  will  take  1  hour  to  cover  this  one  kilometer  and   I am  in  a  hurry  to  reach  home.” he  said  innocently.

Though    generally  very  wary of  giving  lift,  but  something  just  told  me that  it is  just  a  short  distance, so   while  keeping  my  eyes  at  the  traffic, I  nodded  my   head    which  indicated  to  him  ‘hop  on’. Which  he did immediately .  We  moved  about  15-20  yards  that there  was  another  snarl of  the traffic  and  halted  for  a  while.

“ What   work  do  you  do? ” I asked  .

“Sir,  I  am  a  driver  . I  drive  a  Scorpio  for  an  advocate  who  lives  in  Mundera.”He  said.

Amidst this maddening rush, suddenly  a  tempo( also called as  little dragons in Allahabad as they  emit chocking  soot all the  time)   coming  from the  other side  almost  bruised  us. We  both  leaned  to the   left  to  save  ourselves from  getting  hurt. At this  hour this   10-12 ft wide  road was  full of  rickshaws, bikes , bicycles and tempos , all  vying to move  ahead of each other. And the  worst was  everyone  is  in  a tearing  hurry . There was  very less space to  manoeuvre .  As we inched  a little  forward  two  rickshaws  blocked  the  way  because  their  wheels got  entangled.  Everyone  started  to  honk at  the  rickshaw pullers.  Poor  rickshaw pullers quickly  got  down  and  separated  their wheels. The  traffic began to  move  again albeit at snail’s pace.

“How  much  does  a  driver  get  as salary?” I  asked my  pillion.

“sir , about  Rs 4000 plus  Rs 50 as  daily allowance. And  I  work  30  days  a  month”. He  said.

“ why do you  work  all  days  ,  you  don’t  want  a  off-day?” I  asked.

“Sir,  what  will  I  do idling   at  home . Only on Sunday’s  I  come back  slightly early to attend to home  chores around  2  Pm  but  on  other  days  like today its  till  7  PM.”He  said.

Having  successfully  dodging  the  traffic for some time we  were  very  near the  crossing  now. He  looked  back  and  saw  his tempo  still  stuck  in  traffic.

“Why  you  wanted  to  reach  home  early  today? I asked.

“Sir, I  have a  2  year  old  daughter  and I  got  a call that she  is  not  well. You  please  drop  me  at  this  crossing  and  from  here  I  will  go. Sorry  to  have  delayed  you.” He    said  apologetically.

Where  do  you  have  to  go? I  asked.

“Sir, Akberpur” he  said

“How far is that? ” I  asked , as  I  did  not  know  this  part of  old-congested  city which  was  very  akin  to  Chandni Chowk area  of  Delhi.

“Sir,  about  1-2  Kilometers” he said.

“ You  will  not  get  any  tempo  from here  towards that  side? I  asked.

“No  Sir, tempos turn  left from this  crossing and  I  have  to  go  right. But  I  go  everyday ,  it  will  hardly  take  my 10-15  minutes”. He  said  while  dismounting from  the  bike.

Something  inwardly  told  me  this  man  needs help but  is  unable  to  ask for  it.

“Don’t  worry  we  will  save  your  15  minutes, sit back” . I  said  taking  a  quick  u-turn.

We dodged  the  traffic  this  time with  more care.  He kept  guiding me  . After  about a  kilometer  he  told  me  to turn into  a  small   dingy gali (very narrow lane). It  was  about  8-10 feet  wide  and  without  any  street  lights and  was just  a  brick-pathway. Even in the  darkness  of the  gali ,I could  see some  people  staring  at the  bike  being  driven  by  a Sardar. They  may  be  thinking  what  is  this  stranger  doing in  our  lane? But  they   may have  recognised my  pillion rider. Though  I  would  confess  that at  this  juncture,   I too  felt  a  bit uncomfortable but then  there is no fear in such moments. Even in those tight lanes, there is faith in basic human goodness and respect for human values and so I   quietly  carried  on  my  mission.  As  directed by  him we  entered another  narrow  and  dark  alley . The  houses  too  were  very   dimly lit. The  light  of  the  bike  was  tearing  through  the dreaded darkness. This  lane  was  not  wider  than six feet .   He  probably  sensed my  apprehension  and  said, “Sir , there  is power cut in our area  since morning”.

“OK”I  said. Hoping  that  his  house  was  near.

We  must  have  moved another   200 yards in  this  dimly  lit  alley when  he  suddenly said, “Rukiye , Sir(please  halt)”. And  I  braked and stopped.

“This  your house?”I  asked  pointing to a dimly  lit house  in front.

Instead  he  pointed  towards  a  still  narrower lane on  the  left side.

“It is  in there.” He  said,  while  getting  down  and  coming  in  front of  me.  Because  of some light from the dimly lit houses in the  gali we  could  see  each  other. This  was  the  first  time  I  saw  his  face little clearly. He looked    young  and  lean  probably in his early  thirties.  Red  coloured round neck t-shirt, dirty  jeans  and  leather  slippers,  which  I  had  noticed  correctly  from  the man  who had  jumped  from  the  tempo.

Janab  ,  kin shabdon se aapka  shukriya  ada  karon?( With  what   words  should  I  thank  you, respected  Sir). He muttered respectfully.

I  must  confess  that I   always  adored  Urdu  language. So polite,  so  smooth, so  melodious!                   I  suddenly remembered  that sometimes  my father  and  grand-father would    talk  in  urdu and  to our ears it  used to sound so  poetic.

He  was waiting for a return gesture  from my  side.

“By helping  someone in  need   whom you  don’t  know  at all”. I  took  a  pause  and  continued to  complete  the sentence  “Also, after  you  are  able to  help him,  tell  him  to  do  the  same for others  , if  he  asks  you how  he  should  thank  you. May  be  if we  initiate this   chain  and people  follow it faithfully, we  will  make  this  earth  a  better  place  to  live .” Saying  this I fell  silent  and  looked at  him.

His right  hand went  up slowly   and  respectfully  touching  his  brow and his  lips opened  to  whisper, “Allah Hafiz”

I  extended  my  hand, he  shook  it,  turned  back  and  ran  into  the  yet smaller  and  darker  lane.

I turned  my  bike and moved   towards my destination.

The Sunrise Club

THE  SUNRISE  CLUB

 

Vikram , son  of  an  IAS officer  of Maharashtra Cadre,  had  just moved in   from  a small  town of Hingoli  where  his  father  was  the  DM  for last four years. He  was studying  in class  V in   a  small  convent  school  run  by  the local church. Coming  to  Delhi  was  a  big  shock for  the  little boy  who had  become so  used  to  the  small  town  living. He  could  only  communicate  in Marathi  or  English. From  friends and teachers in  his  school to friends  and  relatives  of  his  father  and  mother  all  spoke  Marathi  or  a little English.  Now  staying   in  an  IAS  officers’  colony, he  had heard  his father  tell  his  mother  to  quickly  get  familiar  with   some Hindi and  punjabi  words  as  they  were  now in  Delhi  and  this  would  be  necessary   for  her  to  mix  up  in  the  social  circles.

One  day  when  Vikram  was  playing  in  the  central  park of  the  colony  where he  saw  a   a  chubby  boy  playing  football  with some friends    . Vikram  desperately  wanted  to  play  football  as  he  used  to  play  in  his  school at  Hingoli.  While  he  was  gaining  courage  to  go  near the  chubby  boy, he  saw  him   gave  a hard  kick  to  the  ball and suddenly   the  ball came  very  near  to  Vikram. Vikram  took  the  opportunity  and  kicked  the  ball  well towards the  chubby boy.  It  was  indeed  a  good  professional  kick. The  chubby  boy  stopped  the  ball smartly,  stood  akimbo with one foot  on  the  ball, looked  at  Vikram and  said,“Good kick”.

“ Can  I  play  with you” Vikram  lost  no  opportunity  to propose.

“ Sure” . pat  came  a  reply  from  the  chubby  boy.

Now  there  were  four   boys  and so  they  made  two  teams  of  two  each. Chubby  boy  and  Vikram  were  in opposite  teams  and  at  the  end  of  30 minutes  of  play  both teams were locked 2-2.

They  shook  hands.

My  name is  Nischay  Singh and  I study  in  class  VI in  Modern  School. What  about  you?”.” asked the  chubby  boy  .

“I  am  Vikram  and  would  also  be  going  to  class  VI  but   my  father  will  enrol me  in  a  school  when   the  schools  open  after  the  summer  break.”

“Great, would  you  come  to my  house  now to  play  computer  games?” Asked  Nischay. Being very  friendly   by  nature Nischay  never  lost opportunity to  make new  friends.

“  Sure , nowdays  I  have no  friends here” said  Vikram. He  was  glad  that  Nischay  could  speak  good  English  like  him.

BOTH  START  WALKING  TOWARDS   NISCHAY’S  HOUSE   WHICH  IS  ACTUALLY  THE  NEXT  DOOR  FLAT IN THEIR BUILDING. VIKRAM  SEES  HIS  MOTHER  IN  THE  BALCONY  AND  SIGNALS  TO  HER  THAT  HE  IS  GOING  TO  HIS  NEW FRIEND’S  HOUSE.

 

They reach   the  playing  room of Nischay  and  both are  soon  engrossed  in computer  consols. They seemed  to  have  instantly comfortable  in  each  others  company. After  a  while  Vikram  gathers  some  courage  to  ask  Nischay  something  which  has  been intriguing  him since they  met  in  the  park.

“Can I ask  you  something “ said  Vikram.

“Sure  friend  , go  ahead” answered  Nischay. Nischay  had  a  habit  of  calling his  friends  as  ‘dost’, rather  then  their  first name. It  was  only  when three  four  friends  were  around  and  he   wanted  the  attention  on some friend  in  particular  only  then  he  would  use  his  first  name.

“Why  do  you  tie  a knot  of  hair  on  your  head  and  why  have   you  covered  it with  a  cloth? Though  you  look  smart  , but  don’t  you  cut  hair  like I  do ?” He  asked  innocently.

Nischay  thought  for  a  moment. Then  said,“because  I  belong  to  a  religion  called Sikhism. All Sikhs  have unshorn   hair  and  beard” answered Nischay. “Though I  have  no  beard  now, but  once  it grows   I  will  keep  it   and  not  shave” answered  Nischay  confidently. “We   worship  the  holy   book  called  GURU  GRANTH  SAHIB. Which  is  kept  in  a  holy  abode  called a   Gurudwara,  which  is  akin  to  your  temple  where  you  have  a  deity. My  father  has  taken me  to  a  temple  too.  And  you  know  the Guru  Granth  sahib  contains writing  of  6  Sikh  Gurus  and  15  Indian Sufi  Bhagats (who belonged  to all religions  and  castes). Have  you  heard   of  Bhagat  Kabir, Ramanand , Namdev etc?” Nischay  carried  on  non-stop  . He  loved to  talk and  he  rattled  out  whatever  his father  had  told  him  about  his  religion.

“ Yes , I  have  heard  of  Namdev  Ji, He  is  a  Maharashtrian and in  our  community   we  revere  him.” answered  Vikram.

“Great, his  contribution in  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB  is  63  verses. I have  heard  our  Gurudwara  priest  sing the  hyms  of Bhagat  Namdev  ji  and  also  once  narrated   his story about  how  the  upper  caste  Brahmins  ill-treated  him and  how the  God  came  to  the  rescue of Namdev ji.  .” Said  Nischay.

“ I  can’t  believe this-  You  mean  sikh   Gurus actually  honoured  the  people  of  other  communities so  much  that  they  included their  verses in  their  holy  book  along  with  their  own  verses? This  is  an  act of  unparalled reverence which  I  have  never  heard.” said  Vikram  completely awed at  this revelation.

“ Vikram,  my  father  told  me  when  we  bow  our  head   in front  of  Guru  GRANTH  SAHIB  in  The Gurudwara  we  are  actually  bowing  our  head   to  all the  31 apostles whose  hymns are   included in  the Holy  book” said  Nischay.

“Would  you like to  visit our  Gurudwara   and  see how  we  worship  and  sing  the  hyms  of  all  the  saints and gurus in  the  same chorus . Incidently  , nowdays  we  are  having  a  very  nice  preacher  who  comes  to  gurudwara   every  day  to  tell the  children   about  the  sikh  history and  heritage” added Nischay.

“For  the  next  one  week  I  am  totally  free so  won’t  mind at  all and  incidently  your  religion  really  intruiges  me.” said  Vikram.

In the  evening  when  Nischay  told  his  mother  that Vikram   will  come  with  him  for  the  morning  class  at  Gurudwara,  she  was  not  happy at all. She  said, “why  are  you  taking  him? What  will  he  understand  of  our  religion?”. Nischay was adamant, “he  will, he is  my  friend, I  will take  him”.  His mother  turned  her  face  away  not  liking  the  comment of her  son. ‘Of late  Nischay  was  becoming  very adament’ she  thought. ‘He  just  does  not understand.’

The  same  story was  taking  place  at  Vikram’s house  where  Vikram’s mother too  was   not  comfortable   with  her son going  to  a  Gurudwara.  But  Vikram  said, “Mom  he  is  my friend  and  he  is  taking  me  to  a  good  place. Let  me  explore”.

Inspite  of  their  mother’s reluctance  Vikram  came  to  Nischay’s house  on  time  and they  were both dropped  by  Nischay’s father   to  the  Gurudwara..

AT THE  GURUDWARA  NISCHAY  SHOWED   VIKRAM  AROUND  THE  GURUDWARA  BUILDING AND   THEN THE   GURU GRANTH SAHIB KEPT VERY  RESPECTFULLY  IN  THE GOLDEN PALANQUIN.

Nischay  then  took  Vikram to  a  hall  where a Preacher was   telling  the  children about  the  writings in  Guru Granth Sahib.

“ Guru  Granth  Sahib  was  compiled  by  the  fifth  Sikh  Guru  Sri  Guru  Arjan  Dev  Ji in  the  year 1604 and   was  given  a  reverend  place  in  the Golden  Temple on  15  Aug 1604.. And  children  do  you  know  who  laid  the  foundation  stone  of  the  first  sikh  gurudwara- The  Golden Temple?” asked  the  Preacher.

“Sain Mian Mir” said  Nischay raising  his arm. He  remembered  his  father  telling  him  this  name  during  their  visit  to  Golden  Temple   few  months  ago.

“A  muslim?” Vikram  whispered  in Nischay’s  ear.

“ Nischay ,  is  right,  Saint  Mian   Mir  was  a  very renowned  muslim fakir of  his  time  and  had  a mass following. After  he  had  come  in  contact  with  the  Guru  Arjan Dev , he  developed  profound respect  for  the  Guruji’s teaching which  revolved  on respect  and  patience  towards all  religions”. said the  preacher.

 

“Children it  is  easier said  then  done. It  was  a  time  when  caste , creed  and  religion  had strong  beliefs.  Our  country was  torn  between  wars  fought  on  basis  of  community  , religion and   castes. Social  evils were  rampant.  Women were  looked down upon. It  was at  this  time that  Guru Arjan Dev  compiled  a  HOLY BOOK   which  had  teaching  of   saints  of  all  religions  and  castes. People  could  not  believe  that  the  sikhs  would  actually  worship a  HOLY  BOOK  WHICH WAS SO  SECULAR   IN  ITS  CHARACTER”. He  added.

“ Uncle please  tell  us  why  people  were  surprised  at  the  character  and compositions  of Guru  Granth  Sahib?” asked  a small  girl   Jasnoor  Kaur.

“ Because  at  that  time  there  was deep  hatred  and  difference  among  the  Hindus  and the  Muslim rulers of  the  country.   Among  the  Hindus a  big  ravine  between  the  upper caste  and the  lower  castes.  But  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB  contained  the  verses  of  the  following  :-

  •  Muslim  peer  and  saints-  Sheikh  Farid,  Bhagat  Bhikhan ji, Mardana ji
  •  Upper caste bhramin saints- Ramanand ,ji, Trilochan ji
  •  Lower  caste Hindus-  Namdev Ji and Ravidas Ji
  •  Farmer    – Bhagat  Dhanna ji
  •  King turned  Sadhu – Bhagat Pipa Ji
  •  Butcher – Bhagat  Sadhna ji
  •  Weaver – Kabir Ji

 

“So , children  you   see  what  more  evidence  of  secularism  do  you  want  in  today’s context. This  was  possible  because  Guru ji  felt  that  there  is  only  one almighty  GOD  , hence  if  any  body  is  a  true  muslim  or  a  true  Hindu  his  faith  would  converge toward  a  attainment  of a  common goal  with  God.” He  said.

“ Uncle , You  said  women  were  not  treated  properly  in  the  society. What  did  Guruji  say  about  that.” asked  Jasnoor.

“ Very  Good  Question  , I  am  happy  you  all  are  paying  good attention to  my  lessons. Guruji  wrote  in  so  many  places  Guru Granth  sahib about  the   equal  treatment  of  women  in  society. He  said  if  God  has  created  both  of  them   then  how  can  one gender  be  better  then  other. He  also  shunned  the  prevalent practices  of  female foeticide, Sati  and  child  marriage.”he said.

“I  think  I  will  finish  today’s   lesson  here.  Tomorrow  we  will  talk  about some  important  verses from  the  HOLY  BOOK  AND I  WILL  EXPLAIN  THE MEANING  OF  THEM  TO  YOU WHICH  WILL   FURTHER SUBSTANTIATE   THE  SECULAR   FORM  OF THE  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB. Anybody  wants  to  ask  anything  about  what  I  have  covered today?” He  said  closing  his talk.

A  hand went up   from the rear  seats. Nischay  was  surprised to   see  his   friend raise his  hand.

“ Sir, who  is  the  author  of  Guru  Granth  Sahib?”

“A very  good  question . And the  answer is  everyone whose  verses  are  there. Though  Guru  Arjan  Dev  ji  compiled  and  edited it. He  never claimed  the  authorship  of  this  HOLY   BOOK. The  36  persons  who  have contributed  the  verses  are  as follows-  Six  Gurus  , 15  contemporary  saints,  11 Bards  of Guru and  2 devoted  Sikhs  of that time.

At the end of  the  class  Nischay  took  Vikram  around  the  Gurudwara  and  they  also had   parshad  given  by  the Head Priest  who  blessed  both of  them alike  . Vikram  likes  the  parshad  and  wants  one more  helping. But Nischay  says  why  not  come tomorrow if  you  are  free. Vikram agrees.

II

Next  week  Vikram  gets  admission in  the  same  school    and  the  same  class as  Nischay  and  both are  really  upbeat about it. They  are  both  very  happy  as  they  would  be  going   in  the  same school  bus from  today.

After  about  a  month  in  the  school   Vikram  makes  a new  friend  by  the  name of  Gulshan  Ali who travels in their  bus.  Ali  is  from  a  very  simple  family  and carries with him rich  values. Both  his  father  and  mother  are  teachers in a  public  school. He   lives  just  across  the  road  and  boards  the  Bus  from  the  same  Bus  Stop  everyday.

After  they   became friends , Ali  shared  with Vikram and Nischay   that before  this  he  was  studying  in  a Vedic  School   and  he  knows  more  about  the  Hindu  religion then would  Vikram. He  challenged  him to  ask  him any  question  from  the  Ramayana or  Mahabharta.

“ Ok , I  accept  your  challenge, but  before that I  will ask  you  two  facts  from  your  religion too” said Vikram which  intruiged  Ali.

“OK go  ahead” muttered  Ali.

“Ali  , do  you  know  who  is Sain Mian Mir?” asked Vikram flaunting  his newly  acquired  knowledge.

Ali  is  taken  back  at  the  question.  He  had  heard  this  name  from  his  father  but  could  not recollect  the  context in  which  it  was mentioned.

“ No  I  will  ask  my  father.” He said sheepishly.

“ Oh, he was  a  great  muslim  Pir  who  was  revered   by  both muslims  and  Sikhs.” answered Vikram with a smile.

“ How  do  you  know?. Asked  Ali, feeling  belittled  by  the  knowledge  shown  by  Vikram.

“ I  also  know  that  a  sikh  Guru  had  given him  the  highest  honour  of  laying  the  foundation  stone  of  the  Golden Temple. The  highest  seat  of  sikh  religion.” he added

“ And now  my  second  question to  you  is,  who  was  Sheikh  Farid  ji?” Vikram  fired  his second  salvo at Ali .

Ali  rocked  his  brain, there  was  familiarity  with  this  name too  but  he  could  not  instantly recollect anything. So guiltily he declined.

“ Oh ,  he  was  a great  muslim scholer of  the  sufi era. His  verses  are  even recorded  in  the Holy  Book  of  the  Sikhs . –  THE  GURU GRANTH.  Imagine  Ali , the Sikh Gurus  included  his  verses  in  their  Holy  book. What  an honour. All  Sikhs  bow  their  head   to him.” Said Vikram.

“ Now  should  I  ask  you  questions  about  Hinduism?” asked  Vikram.

“ No, No”  said  Ali with  arrogance  gone  they  became  good  friends. In  the  break  they  played  together and  Vikram  also  introduced  him to  Nischay. Nischay  invited  Ali  to  come for   playing  football with  them  in  the  evening in  the park.

Next  day after  a   game of football in  the  evening,  Ali  Invited  both  Nischay  and  Vikram  to  his house. He  said  his  father  would  like  to  tell  more the  about   Sheikh  Farid  Ji  and   Sai Mian Mir.

Ali’s  father  , Mr  Nawaz Ali  was  very  renowned history  teacher and  a person who  had love for history  as  a passion.  These  questions  not  only made  him happy  but  also gave  him  a  chance  to  show  his  indepth  knowledge of  the  subject. This was  the  first  time that  his  son  had  shown  interest  in  his  subject. Till now  Ali  was  always  interested  in   his  mother’s  subject  and that was  Mathematics.  He called  his wife Nafisa  and  daughter Soha  and told  them  to  join  the  children  . He  then  began  his  discourse.

Mian Mir was a friend of God-loving people and he would shun worldly, selfish men, covetous Emirs and ambitiousNawabs who ran after faqirs to get their blessings. To stop such people from coming to see him, Mian Mir posted his disciples at the gate of his house.

Once, Jahangir, the Mughal emperor,  came with all the pomp and show that befitted an emperor. Mian Mir’s sentinels however, stopped the emperor at the gate and requested him to wait until their master had given permission to enter. Jahangir felt slighted. No one had ever dared delay or question his entry to any place in his kingdom. Yet he controlled his temper and composed himself. He waited for permission. After a while, he was ushered into Mian Mir’s presence. Unable to hide his wounded vanity, Jahangir, as soon as he entered, told Mian Mir in Persian: Ba dar-e-darvis darbane naa-bayd (“On the doorstep of a faqir, there should be no sentry”).

Pir Mian Mir, whose mind and soul were one with the Lord, caring little for the emperor’s angst, replied in Persian: Babayd keh sag-e-dunia na ayad (“They are there so that the dogs of the world/selfish men may not enter”).

The emperor was ashamed and asked for forgiveness. Then, with folded hands, Jahangir requested Mian Mir to pray for the success of the campaign which he intended to launch for the conquest of the Deccan. Suddenly  a  poor  man  came  into the presence of Mian  Mir  and bowed  and  kept  one  coin  in front  of  the  Fakir.

“Go and give this rupee to him,” said the faqir, pointing to Jahangir. “He is the poorest and most needy of the lot. Not content with a big kingdom, he covets the kingdom of the Deccan. For that, he has come all the way from Delhi to beg. His hunger is like a fire that burns all the more furiously with more wood. It has made him needy, greedy and grim. Go and give the rupee to him.”

Mian Mir, holds a pivotal legendary place in Sikhism and in Sikh history. Sikh Children and Sikh people around the world learn about him, his spiritual contribution . In 1588, The  Fifth  Sikh  Guru  invited Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib(  The  Golden Temple- Highest seat of  Sikh  Religion.)..

All  were  spellbound  at  the  indepth  knowledge   of  Ali’s   father. He  continued , he  had  to  show  them  today, his  years  of  labour  had not  gone  in  vain. So without  skipping  a breath  he  continued.

And about  Sheikh  Farid  ji:- listen

Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masood Ganjshakar commonly known as Baba Farid was a 12-th century Sufi preacher and saint of Punjab. He is recognised as the first major poet of Punjabi language. Baba Farid is considered one of the holiest and pivotal saints of Punjab. He has been honoured by the Gurus of Sikhism by his verses being collected and compiled in the Sikh holy Guru Granth Sahib .   Baba Farid died during Namaz.   His darbar is in Derh Pindi, and his name is Khwaja Sheikh Muhammad Paak Gareeb Nawaz.

 Nischay  and  Vikram  were spellbound  at  the  sea  of  knowledge shown  by  Ali’s father. Ali  too sat  alongside them feeling  proud  of  his  father.. After  his  father  had  finished  his  verses, Ali asked,“ Father, Sikhs , bow  their  head to  Guru  Granth  Sahib which  contains the  verses  of  Baba Sheikh  Farid  Ji?” 

“ Yes, My  children  at  that  time  this  was  the  greatest  secular  holy  book  ever  composed. It  was  an unmatched  teachings of  Muslims, Hindus ,  Sufis  and  the  Gurus  themselves.  The  Gurus  had  culled  the good  teachings of  all  religions  and  trail blazed  a path  of :-

  •  Religious tolerence.
  •  God  is  one- almighty-invisible-invincible-omnipresent.
  •  Worship  of  the  formless
  •  Attainment by narrating  the   praises of the  guru and  the  invisible  god.

Ali’s mother  now  brought    hot  soup  for  all of  them. After  devouring  the  soup they all left.

Sunday was  always a   special day  for  the  ‘three  musketeers’ as  they  were  labelled  in  the colony as they  would  be  always  seen  together. They  would  get  up early,   go  for  a  football  game. After    sweating  out  for an hour  they  would  not  come  home. They  would  head  for  the  big   Garden  across  the  road  and  sit  on  a  bench  and  watch  the  early  morning  sun and  the chirping  of  the  birds. Here  they  would  plan  how to  spend  the  rest  of  Sunday. One day they decided  to call their  friendship ‘ The Sunrise Club’. They  would  jump  from  the  bench when  their  mobile phones would shriek in the most wierd ring tone and the screen would show “Mummy Calling” .

Once  on a   Sunday  and  they  all had  a  game  of  football in  the  morning  and  then breakfast  at  Nischay’s  house. Nischay  introduced  them to  his  elder  sister  Deepjyot,  who  was  studying  in class XI.  Nischay’s  mother  who  is  from a small  town  of  Punjab  is  not  happy  as  to  why  Nischay’s  is  becoming  friendly  with  boys  from  other  faiths. “today  he  has  brought  this  muslim  boy” she  whispered  in Deepjyot’s ears. “Oh so  what  Mummy, they  are  friends” answered Deepjyot.   With  a  frown  on  her  face  she  served  breakfast  to  all the  three  boys. Nischay’s is  seeing  the  frown  on  his  mother’s face  but  enjoying  the  breakfast too .

“ Nischay  , would  you  like  to  bring  your  friends   to  the gurudwara  today ? there  is gurupurab celebrations . There  would be  recitals  about  the  gurbani  and langer(community  food).” asked  Deepjyot.

Nischay’s  face  lit  up  on  hearing langar. He  not  only liked  to do  sewa( service) in the  langer  but also  liked  the  eat  langar.

“ what  is  langer?” asked  Ali  while eating  aloo-parantha.

Langer  is  food cooked in  the  community kitchen of  the  gurudwara” answered   Nischay.

“It  is  cooked  with  cleaned  hands  and  clean  mind. While  you are  cooking  the langar (food  for community)everyone  is  reciting hymns. Like  this  the food  is  cooked  with  purity of  mind  and  soul. It  is then eaten   by sitting  together on  the floor. And  let  me  tell  you it  is  so  yummy  that  everytime  I  end  up over-eating” Added Nischay.

“Really” said  Ali  and  Vikram their  tongues   already  salivating  while  they  were  hearing  the  description .  They  were  both  tired  of  their  mothers  humdrum menu at  home .

“Will they serve  ice cream too?” inquired  Vikram.

“Saiwaya?” Asked Ali

“ In  our  Gurudwara   they  always  serve  hot  rice Kheer  which  is  laden  with  dry  fruits   as  pudding” said  Nischay.

“Nischay  , So are  you  coming  “shouted  Deepjyot from  the   other  room.

Nischay  looked  at  his friends. They  both  nodded  their  heads  in an   affirmative gesture.  On their  way  to  Gurudwara  both  the  boys  informed their  mothers  that they  are  going  for  a  feast   with  Nischay.

Once  they  reached  the  Gurudwara,  deepjyot  took  them to  where  the  Langer  was  being  cooked.  The  priest  incharge  of  the  cooking  section  stopped  the  kids. He  told  Deepjyot, “these  boys  are  very  small,  they  may  burn  their  fingers  etc”.

“Uncle  , they  will  only do the  ferrying  service. i.e  shifting  the  cooked   food  to  the  storage  space  or  they  will  knead   the  floor” Deepjyot  said.

After doing  some  service ,  that  they  all sit  to   eat  langar   and  the  rice  kheer laden with dry fruits. After  that they preferred  to  walk  home as  they  have all over-eaten.

The  friendship  of  this sunrise club  continued  unabated for  years  and  they  learned  to participate  in  various  festivals . Its   Id  celebrations  at  Ali’s  house  and  visiting  the  local  Id  mela  with  Ali parents. When  Dusherra and  Diwali  came  there  was   Ramlila  to  be  watched   by all of  them .  Every Dusherra Vikram’s  father  takes  them  to  the  Ground  where  the  effigies  of  Rawan , Kumkaran and Meghnath were burnt, where he  reminded them that   good  wins  over  evil . For  all   festivals  the    children  always  roped  in their  parents  too  in the  celebrations. Their  mother’s  too had  become  good  friends and     used to be   busy   admiring  new  suits  and  saris  and finding reasons  to  go  for  shopping together.  The  father’s  too started to share the   common  cribs   about their offices. After  the  office/ boss issues  were  exhausted they often shared some  national  and  international issues  and  lament about the state  of  affairs. The sunrise  club had  changed  the outlook of  their  parents  too.

III

 

Like this the  three  children  continued  to  grow into  good secular  citizens  the  nation  needed.

Vikram  became  a  Senior  Government Bureaucrat like his father, Nischay served in Foreign service  and  Ali  became an effluent  businessman. They  continued  to travel  across  the  globe  but  would  often meet  whenever  they were home .

After  fifty   years  of leading  their fast-paced lives  they all settled  back in Delhi in a Senior  Citizens Society near Lodhi Road. Everyday they  would  go  for  a  morning  walk and  not  go  home after  they  finished  walking. They would  sit   on the same old  bench at Lodhi  Gardens where  they used  to  sit and  had  formed  the ‘Sunrise  Club’.  They  still  love  to  chat  and  watch the rising   sun till  their mobiles  shriek and  the  screen would show  “Wife Calling”. They would jump  from  the  bench and  rush towards  their  chauffer  driven  cars before  their  wives  could  ring  up  their Chauffers  to drive home without  the  Sahib.

Trunk Call

Trunk Call

(A story  by MPS)

Sometime  in  1992  I  was  posted  in  a  remote  location  on  the border in  the  north. Life was  very  boring   and  the only   companion  used  to  be   a  transistor   which  would connect  us  to  the  world  through  AIR/ BBC news, Forces  request and  Hindi songs . Though  we had a telephone cable  laid  till our  location  but to  get  a  call  to  Delhi  we  had   to  go  through  three  exchanges at  Uri, Baramulla and Srinagar. As  the  distance increased the  decibel  of  the  speech  would  go  down. Srinagar  would  be  hardly  audible.  Being  newly  married  and  an unending urge  to  speak  to  ones  wife   the young officers   never  give  up.  A  trunk call  had  to  be  booked  in  the  morning with Srinagar exchange  and  then  the  wait  would  begun for  the  call  to  materialize.  And sometime  the  wait   would  stretch  for  hours  and  in  the  evening  the  booking    would  automatically get  cancelled    by  6  PM. Of  course   the  exchange  people  had  their  own  priorities  to  put  the  calls  through . We  knew  that  they would  give  preferences  to  hierarchy. But  we  would  also  not  give  up  and  religiously every morning  would  ring  up our  local exchange  and  pester  the  operator   to  put  our  call  through   at  high  priority.  At  times  some  of  us  would  make  a  small  talk   with  the  operator  and  try  to  find  out to  which  place  does  he  belong to. And  if  luck would  have  it  and  he  is  from  our   native would  quickly  switch  over  to  local  dialect and  then   you  were  in  for  luck  that  day. Anyway  out  of  the  five  young  officers in  the  headquarters our  me and one more  were newly  married. The  others  allowed  us  priority rights  over  them as they  were  bachelors.  When  number  of  days  would  pass  and  all our  normal  efforts  would  fail  then  sometime  we  would  threaten  the  telephone operators  with  dire  consequences  saying  that  we  are  going  to  put  up  a  complaint  that  you  are deliberately   not  putting   our  calls  through. The  poor  fellow  would  give  us  the  some  excuses   like, Sir  there  was  a  line-fault’  or there  was  lightening’ or  ‘the  rain’  etc  etc .  At  the  end  we  would  say, ‘we  understand  all that  but  then  today   you  must  put  me  through. Understand  yaar!  my  wife is  not  keeping  well.’ To  which  he  would  give    the  routine  reply, ‘ Sure  Sir’ and  then  amidst  the  daily  work  in the  office  the  wait  for  the  call  would  re-commence  with  a  new ray hope. Generally  Wednesday  as the  day  allotted  for  trunk  call  booking  for  our  area.

And  some Wednesday   finally  when the  call   would  get  through  and  then  the  melodrama  would  start. The  conversation would  be  like  this;

“tring  tring”

Hello , Hello”  I  would shout into the  receiver.

Sir  , you  had  booked  a  call  for Delhi?” would  come  a  faint  voice of  the operator at  Srinagar.

“Yes  , Yes,  I  have”. I  would   be  shouting   louder.

“Sir , had  you booked  a call  to  Delhi?” I could  hear  the  operator’s  faint  voice  again as  if  he  had  not  heard   me.

“Yes  Yes.  I  have  booked  the  call. Please  put  me  through” . I  was  shouting   louder  now  and  surely  the  clerks  working   in  the  adjacent  office  with  which I   had  a  wooden  partition     now  knew  that  the  their  Sir  is  about  to  have a  conversation with  his  young  wife. The  Head clerk  who  was  a  wise  old  man   would  quickly  tell the  other  three  clerk  in the  room , “you guys  go  for  a  tea  break”. The  clerks  would  smile  and  move  out.

“Yes,   Please  put me  through”. I  would  shout  again  in  the hope  that  the  Operator,  Thunder  or  Hail  should  not  snap  the  connection  to  my  beloved now .

Hello  Madam, can you  hear me? I  could  hear  the operator shout.  Which  Madam is  he talking  to ? I  was  becoming restless  now.

Hello  Operator, Hello” I  was almost  screaming.

Hello  Madam, There  is  a  call  from Uri”.   I  could  hear  the  operator shout  at  the   other  line.

I  just  hoped  that my  Mother-in-law  does not  pick  up  the  phone  like  last  time when I  got  through. The  precious   three  minutes which  I  got  got  wasted  in hearing her say,  Hello…..Hello …. Hello ….. Hello ….. and she  could  not  understand  that it  was  her  Son-in law  desperately  wanting  to  talk to her  daughter . And  after  three minutes as  per  the  orders  the operator snapped  the  line.  And  I  was  left  bereft . I  promptly  wrote  a  letter  to my  wife  that  I will call on Wednesdays  and that  she  should   keep  herself   around  the  room  in  which  the  phone  is  kept and grab it  the  moment  it  rings. I  also explained  in  the  letter what  she  should  do  when   you  when she gets a  call   and  can’t hear or  very  faintly  hear  some  sound    from  the  other  end. I  wrote   that  She  should  shout,  “Yes  , I can  hear you” into  the  receiver irrespective  of  wether  she  hears  anything  or  not. Only then  the  operator  will  put the  call   through. I  hoped  she   had  imbibed  my  instructions well.

After a  few  seconds pause  I  could  hear   a  faint “yes” from my  other side. It  was  my  wife’s voice. Finally  she  had  picked  up  the  phone.

Hello  Operator  , I can hear  her  please  put  me  through” I  shouted  restlessly  as    one  minute  had  already  elapsed  out  of  my  kitty  of  three.

Hello Madam, please  speak to  Sir.”said  the  operator.

Hello  Darling, can  you hear  me”? I shouted  in excitement

Hello, is it  you? hello  is  it  you?” There  was so  much  disturbance  in  the line that as  always I  could  hear  a very  faint  voice of my  wife.

I wondered  as  to  who  nominated  Mr    Graham Bell    Noble  prize   for  making telephone which  can’t  put  me  through  to  my  wife.. My  throat now  was  almost  choked  for I was  continuously  shouting  for  last  three  minutes. When  I  looked  outside  the  glass  window  of  my  office  the  clerks were   standing  and  taking  a smoke.

Yes it  is  me” I  tried to  shout  but  my  voice  stifled  now. I  took  a  sip  of water  from the  glass  on my table  and said , “Yes, can you  hear  me”.

“Yes, I  can but  very  faintly”  she  said.  She  could finally  hear  my  voice  and  I  hers. My  ears  could  not  believe   for  they  had  heard  the  voice  of  the  nightingale  again . Her  beautiful  smiling  face  came  in  front  of  my  eyes.  Just  listening  to  her voice  made   me  complete  again. Amidst  my snap  dream about  my  wife  came  in  a huskier   voice through the  receiver.

“Try  to  finish , try  to  finish ,SirI have  to  connect  the  next  call”.said  the  operator.

The  dammed  operator. He  always  butted in too  early. I  had  hardly  spoken for   few  seconds, I  thought. My  mind raced  fast, I just had  a  few  seconds  left before  the  operator  would  disconnect.

“I  love  you.” I  gathered  all  my  courage  and  shouted  at  the  top  of  my  voice.

And before  I  could  hear  the  answer  from  the  other  end the  line  snapped.  I  could  see  the  clerks   turn their heads   around  outside  the  window  with  a  smile. I  innocently  kept  the  receiver  back  in  its  place, sat  on the  chair  and  opened   the  next  file . From  the  corner  of  my  eye I could  see  the   old Head  clerk  signal  the  clerks  to  come  inside  now.

For  me  the   wait for  next Wednesday    had  started again.

Why did she choose me?

Why  did  she  choose me?

 

A  story  by  Mohinder Pal Singh

 

 

It  was  the afternoon Chemistry practical  class that kept  me  late in  the  college every Wednesday. Today the  moment  the  practical class  finished  I  rushed out  of  the  college  so  that  I  could catch  the   5.20 PM  fast  local  from Marine  Lines  station .  The  rush  hour  had begun. It  would  be  maddening  crowd in  the  train . And  it was.

 

With  great  difficulty I  managed  to  get a  standing  seat. This  too  was    a luxury   at  this hour.Standing  seat  was  the  space  between  the  two  three-seaters  which  faced  each other. This  space  could  accommodate about  three  people  to  stand. The  first  person standing    closest to  the  window  had  the  first  right  to  sit  in case  any  of  the sitting passenger got down. This  standing  seat also  had  the  luxury  of  keeping  your  bag on  the  shelf above  and  be able to keep a  eye on  it also. After  getting  this  coveted space   in  the  Mumbai  Local,    now  the  next  thing was to  start praying  that  someone who  is  seated  to  your  left  or  right  alights  so  that  you  could  grab  that  seat.

 

And then?

 

Just  bliss . Close  your  eyes  and  sleep or dream.

 

I  was not lucky  today . It  was a  tiring  day  in  college  and  now  this arduous train  journey.  After  standing for  almost 20  minutes   the  train  reached  Dadar  station,  luckily someone  got down and  I finally got  a seat. I sat and immediately dosed  off.  I  had  another  15  minutes  of  journey left.  And  I  knew  I  could  keep the  track  of  the  stations without  opening  my  eyes. I  could  smell  the  arrival of  Bandra  because  the  train would  cross  the  pungent  smelling  Bandra  drain.  As  I  had  to  get  off  at  Andheri  station  I  would  get  up from  the  seat after  the  train left Bandra  station and  start  my  odyssey  to propell  myself  towards  the  train  doors amidst  the thick  human sea keeping  my  wallet, bag  and  turban  intact.

 

 I  somehow  managed to get  down  at Andheri station, quickly cut through  the  crowd  and  made  a  rush for the   bus queue  for the  bus to  Chalaka. The  bus came  in less  then  two  minutes. I  leaped  aside from  the  line   ( by  now  I   had  learned  the  trick) to  the  chagrin  of  some  seniors  passengers  who  kept  shouting  “Are bhai line  mein Ayo”.I  grabbed  the  nearest  seat and  took  a  deep  breadth and again  closed  my  eyes  for  now  I  knew  my  stop  will  be after  I hear the  loud bustling sound  of  large factory engines from a  factory near my house.

 

By the  time  I   got  down at  Chalaka  bus  stop  it was   6.30 PM and  was  beginning  to  be  dark. I had  to  walk  about  a kilometre  to  reach  my  house. With  my head  down  I  slowly  started to  tread  the  final stage  of  this  daily  ordeal.

 

I  must  have  walked  about  two  hundred  yards when I  heard  a  soft  sound  from  behind.

 

“Bhaiya can  I  walk  with you?” She said.

 

I  turned  back   and found  a  girl  walking just  about two  steps  behind  me . I tried  to  recognise  her  but could  not.

 

 Did  I  know  her? I  thought for  a  moment. No, I didn’t.

 

My  mind  began  to  race  fast. When I  had  come  to  Mumbai last  year, my   friends and  my  brother  had  warned  me  about  dirty  ploys  in this  city  and  so I  must  be  careful all  the  time. I  looked  at  her  again. She  was  about  13-14  year  old  , dressed  in Khaki  colour  school uniform of  a local  government school. She  carried  a  ordinary looking school bag  on her  shoulder. I  looked down and  she was  wearing  ordinary  slippers . Slightly  dark  complexioned  with long  hair  neatly  tied . I  thought  she  doesn’t look to be  a  part of a  ploy. 

 

I  was  about to  say , YES.  But  then I  thought why  does  she want to  walk with me? Does  she  want  to  befriend  me? Or  ask for  money ? Hundred  questions  raced  through  my mind.

 

“Why you  want  to  walk with me?” I gathered  the  courage  to  ask her  while I  slowed down walking.

 

By now she  had  come  alongside  and  I  could  see a  scare  on  her face. Which put me in further  dilemma about  the  situation. The  least I  wanted at  this  time  of  the  day was  to get embroiled  in  a street fight  for a  strange  reason which I  myself  didn’t know.

 

“Actually  I am  coming  back  from school.  Got slightly late.  And  there  are  three  boys  following  me.” She  said pointing  her  hand  to  the  rear  and   looking at  me  expectantly for  an affirmative answer.

 

“What  if  you  walk with  me?”I asked. 

 

“They will think  I know  you and  will not come near” . She said showing  some confidence at  her clever decision.

 

“Where  do  you have  to  go? I asked.

 

GTB Nagar, just half  a  mile from here.” She said.

 

I  looked back and could see  the  three rowdy looking  boys  in shabby school  dresses  following us  some 50 yards away.

 

“Ok, come  along”. I said, taking instant  decision and begun to walk faster, she  too  increased  her  pace. None  of us  looked  back for  the  next 5 minutes.

 

We  were  walking in silence.  I kept thinking  , why  did  she  choose me as  her escort. I  too am   a  stranger . Even  I could  have  been  nasty  or  backout  and  refused  to  help. She   looked  to be  a  local marathi  girl  . She  seemed to  be   from a  poor family. But  surely she could  have  known  other  people  around. I gave  a  side  glance  at  her  and  she  was  walking with her  head down. 

 

Should  I make some conversation with her?  Would  she  like  to  be  befriended? 

I  gave  a  glance  back  and  the  boys  had  gone away.

 

“ They are gone” I said.

 

She looked  back to  confirm. I could see  a sigh  of  relief.

 

 

She   continued  to  walk in  silence.   A  minute  before I  was  her  benefactor  and  now I  felt   a  stranger again.

 

Then  a minute   later , she  indicated  towards a  Chawl about  50 yards  away  and  said ” Thats  where my house is , I  can  go  now on my own.”

 

I was still  thinking  whether  to  start  a conversation or  not and  she  declared  the  arrival  of  her  destination.

 

” OK , thank you , Bhaiya.” She  said softly and starting to move towards  her  Chawl.

 

“Wait  “I said.

 

“Yes?” she  said.

 

“I want  to ask you  something?” I  said.

Now  it  was  her  turn  to  look  awed.

 

“please  ask” she  said  softly.

 

” Why  did  you  come  to me for  help? There  were  so many  people  on  the  road at  this time; young , middle-aged, elderly?” I said  looking  into her  eyes as  we  were  standing  face  to  face for  the  first  time.

 

She  was quiet for  a  moment as if  thinking  for an apt  answer.

 

Then  innocently she  muttered “My  mummy  told  me you people are  brave”.

 

Saying this she   turned  back and  ran towards  her  house.

 

I  too  turned back and  came  home. Did   not  feel tired anymore. I was  full  with energy  for  I  felt really  brave.

 

For the  next  few  days  I  walked  slowly , some times  very slowly  from  the Chakala bus  stop    to  my home wondering if my silent admirer  may  need  some help again. She didn’t.

 

Probably she  had  learnt  to be  brave herself.

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense

 

As  parents  of  my  age  the  toughest time  is  when  you are   waiting on the roadside  while  your  child  attends a  coaching  class. Its  a  common  sight   outside  any  coaching  institute giving  IIT/ medical coaching in  the  cities.. Doting parents have  to  rough it out. Till  a  year  back   while  crossing  these coaching  classes  I  used  to  find  it  quite  funny  seeing these  parents standing  under trees   idling away .   But  this  year  when  my  son  moved  into  class XI  my  wife  promptly allotted  me  the  responsibility   of taking  my  son to  the  IIT coaching  which  was  some  ten  kilometres  away.  On  the  first  day  of  the  coaching  class  I  was as   nervous as  my  son. He  was  nervous  about  the  teachers  whom  he  is going  to  encounter  in the class and I as to  how    will  I  pass this   one  hour of  blank  waiting.

Once  my  son  went  inside  the  institute,  I  parked  my  bike  under  a  tree   and  began  to  wonder what  to  do from 3-4PM?  What  an  unearthly time to  stand  under  a  tree in the month  of  August. Slowly  I  could  see  that many bikes and cars  come and  halt  under  the trees around. Those  who  came  in  late  had  to  bask in  the  afternoon  sun.  While  I  was  watching  the  inflow  of the  bikes and cars, I  could  see some  female  drivers too. “ahh  , I  may  have  good  company everyday here”. I  thought.

Then  suddenly a  lady driven  car came  and  parked  very  nearby.  For  a  minute  I sat  upright on my bike waiting  to  get  a  glimpse  of  the passengers. Then  the  door  opened and  an  over-obese  boy  got  down  and walked   towards the  class. From  the  corner  of my  eye I could  see an  equal  sized  mom sitting  on the  driver’s seat. I  quickly  turned  my  face  away and  looked  at  the  traffic passing on  the  road.  It is   going to  be difficult to pass time  sitting  like  this on the bike every day.

So like a  sober  and  obedient  parent  I opened  a  book  and  began  to read.  The  parents of  IIT aspirants must also  be  well  read  persons. The super healthy lady in  the nearby  car  was  immediately  busy  with her  favourite  pass-time,  the  mobile  phone.  After  reading for  a  while I got bored  and  looked  around .  A thin  layer  of  clouds   blessed  the parents-in-waiting  by hiding  the  angry sun  of  summer months for a while.   I strolled around and  noticed a  vendor  selling guavas.  This  could  be a  good  time-pass, I thought.  In  winters  everyone in India  loves shelled  peanuts as  a  time-pass  but  in summer months these   half  ripped  guavas would  be  fine. I  bought a  handful of  them . While  I  was  carefully  nibbling a  Guava I  saw  a  small  boy ambling  towards  me. .  He must  have  been about  ten years  and  carried a  dirty bag over his shoulder.  Seeing  me  wearing leather sandals  he     dumped  the  bag down , sat  at  my feet and  took  out  a  shoe-brush. “I  am  hungry” he  said. “Can  I  polish  your  shoes?” He   pleaded.

I  took pity  on him and before  he  started brushing  my  sandals,  I  handed over  a  guava  to  him.

“If  you  are  hungry first  eat this”  I  said.

He  took a  bite, looked  at  me and said, “this  does not   taste  good. This  is unripe”.

And  in  the  next  instant  he  threw  it  away.

“They  are  not  bad. See  even  I  am eating  it”. I  said. But by  the time  I  had  finished  my  sentence  the  guava  was lying on  the  other  side  of  the  road. I  was shocked  at  the  fastidiousness  of  this  poor boy.

I  think  he said  he was hungry!

But what  to say now. One big Guava  was gone.

“What  would   be  your  age?”I  asked  him. I thought  this  boy  would  help  me  pass  some  time.

“May be  10 or  15” He  said laconically   and started  to polish the  sandals.

I  moved back  and  leaned against my bike. The  lady  in the  car  was glued  to the  phone  for the  last  fifty  minutes.

The  boy seemed to be  hurrying up  and  not doing  the polishing  properly.

“ What happened , why  are  you  in a  hurry? I asked.

“There    will  be heavy rain  in 10 minutes and my  shack   is one kilometre  away .  I  will  run  and  reach  home  before that.” He answered.

“How  do  you  know   it  will  rain in 10 minutes? I  asked.  And   I  took  out  my  newly  acquired  android  phone and   clicked  the  weather  forecast  application . It asked – Enter the city. I entered  – Allahabad. It immediately showed –

Allahabad Weather- Partly  cloudy  sky. No  thunder stroms till next 24  hours.

“Don’t Worry . It  will  not  rain”. I  said confidently. One has  to  rely  on technology now days and  not  beliefs.

Not  paying much  heed  to  my  prediction,  he  quickly finished  polishing  the  shoes .Took  the  money  and  ran. I  just laughed  at  the  kid . Thinking  how  naïve  are  these  local kids could  be.

After  five   minutes  my  son  came back  and  we  buzzed through the afternoon traffic. The  clouds  were  slightly  thicker  in the  distance. But  I had  full  faith  on  my android  application.

We  must  have barely  moved   about   two  kilometers  and  suddenly  there was   a  thunder and  then  felt  raindrops  on  my hand . Within a  minute there was  heavy   thundering  a  downpour started. We immediately  halted  under  a  shelter on the road side.

I  looked  at my   watch .  I was  ten  minutes  past  four.

I took  out  my  coveted  android  phone  and  put on the  hi-tech  application on update. Snap after  some  seconds  it  showed  me  updated  weather report.

Allahabad Weather-Partly  cloudy, No thunderstorms for  next 24  hours.

And  right  here  we were  trapped  under  this thunderstorm. I  quietly put the  phone  back  in my  pocket.  I  hoped  the poor  boy  with sixth sense had reached his shack  safely.