Monday, June 21, 2010

DCM Farms

He woke up at 5:00am. Got ready. Dressed. Looked back at his sleeping room-mate & silently stepped out into daybreak & cycled down 5-kms to DCM Farms. DCM stood for Daruwala, Canteenwala & Mistry - three Parsi friends who had invested in the Dairy farm. Patil was just opening the gate when he reached. Working quietly & quickly, in1-hour flat they loaded the milk cans for the morning delivery & started the sterilization unit. They cleaned the centrifuge machine, cleaned the butyrometers, pipettes & centrifuge tubes. Mopped & swept the floors of the freezer room & processing room & at sharp 6:30am, switched off all the lights. As soon as Heena-bai arrived, they asked her to make the tea & disappeared in the abandoned warehouse at the back. Practiced hands cleaned the chillum, crushed the tobacco, roasted the Manali hashish, packed it all into the chillum, wrapped the wet/clean safi at the lower end & Reddy lit-up the chillum while Patil chanted, ‘Om Namo Shivai!’

Respectably stoned, they returned, had the tea, followed by 2-litres each of raw buffalo-milk from the freezer. Patil got dressed to go on his delivery rounds, while Reddy opened his Lab, lit the stove, lay out the chemicals, set the water to boil & began his day. Ramu & Kaalia had arrived & had begun pasteurizing the milk from the freezer. Pasteurizing went on all day. For Reddy today there were 45 samples to be tested before the daily milk supply went to the restaurants, hotels, college-canteens & local army units. His boss Mistry was a stickler for tidiness, so he cleaned up the floors, the fan, the table-top & even had his cap-n-mask on by the time Mistry walked in.

“All OK, Reddy?”
“On schedule, Sir! The ultra-violet box has a whole lot of flies dead on the floor this morning. All cleaned up now.”
“And you had your morning fix already?” asked Mistry with twinkling eyes. Reddy grinned.
“OK ! Scram! Go take the bike & take care of the old women! I have had enough of their daily whining.”
“Sure, Sir.”

Reddy drove off on his daily circuit, delivering 1 or 2-litre cans of milk, 250ml or 500ml of cream. Took signatures, collected cash, listened to the 85-year old boasting about his Chrysanthemums, heard Mrs. Gomez yelling at her husband, watched the sexy Mrs. Iyer drive off in her car, managed to get away from Mrs Khotey’s whining in less than 10 minutes (whew!) and returned to the Farm.

He went through the 45 samples meticulously. Mistry had trained him to perfection till he could test the fat (Gerbers method) & proteins (Kjeldahls method) of any sample in record time. Every test result was recorded with date & time. Any sample of cow-milk with less than 3.5% fat, had cream added to it and homogenised. Any sample that showed more than 4.0% fat, was centrifuged to remove the extra fat as cream. By the time he finished all the samples it was lunchtime. Patil & he went to Mangal Vihar cafĂ© & had their Rs 5 thaali , smoked another chillum & went to ‘the Shop’. Knowing Annette would be there, Patil combed his hair, tucked in his shirt & sucked in his belly as they reached.

Saturday afternoon sales were brisk. Buffalo milk, Cow milk, Lemon-Lassi bottles, Strawberry-yoghurt in paper-cups, Butter, processed cheese be it Cheddar, Gouda, Mozarella, Ricotta or Roquefort ….. they sold it all. Mistry’s wife Helga, was a German lady, who used to process the cheese in the huge state-of-the art laboratory they had at home.

Mistry had met & married her when he was doing his degree course in Dairying in Germany. His father had sent him to study Medicine in UK hoping he would marry a decent Parsi girl when he returned as a Doctor. Instead, Mistry returned as a Dairy man with a German wife in tow. Even after a successful career of 15 years, his father would yell at him & his wife …. anywhere … at the Farm, at the Shop, in front of staff & even the customers. Helga called it the ‘spice in their romance’.

By 6pm they returned to the farm, just as the daily supply came in from Ghatkopar, Winterland, Haalsbaad & Krishna dairy farms. Altogether 16,000 litres of fresh cow & buffalo milk. Everyone, including Alfred, the manager, Mistry, Reddy, Patil, Ramu & Kaalia helped to unload it all. After 2 months here, Reddy had learnt to take two 40-litre cans, swing them around and send them spinning to the edge of the store, where Patil would expertly grab them & stack them up in 2-tiers. After the supply trucks left with the empty cans, the gruelling work of Pasteurizing the milk began. All 10 huge machines began to hum & by 8:30pm, only 10,000 litres were done. The remaining 6000 litres would be done next day. Once they had put it all in the freezer, they were exhausted. Patil & he smoked their last chillum for the day, before Reddy cycled back to his room, found his dinner under the bed (his room-mate always made sure of that), gulped it down & crashed out. Another day gone.

Trouble started 6 days after Tara-bai joined. Just before leaving at night, Reddy heard a scuffle & found Heena-bai & Tara-bai fighting like animals in the processing room. Huffing-n-hissing, tearing each other’s hair, clawing & rolling on the floor they were locked in combat. Reddy pulled them apart & almost got decapitated with the lid of a milk-can. Kaalia came to his rescue & the women were separated. Problem, was Heena-bai was Patil’s ‘aurat’ and they had been making out for months (where they found time & place in the farm, Reddy couldn’t imagine). But Tara-bai didn’t know that. Ever since she joined, Patil was hitting on her – and when he finally scored, Tara-bai needed some girly-talk and she actually went and asked Heena-bai, ‘how could you waste a randy hunk like him?’ Heena was stunned & she just went berserk. Patil wasn’t around so she vent all her rage on Tara-bai. Reddy wondered how Patil managed to have a wife at home, daily cycled 25kms to-n-fro & still have enough juice left over to make out with such tigresses! He spoke to Mistry & within 2 days had Tara-bai transferred to their own dairy farm 40kms away.

Couple of months rolled by. Heena-bai was visibly pregnant. She used to get breathless stirring 40-litres of milk in the huge bowls. Reddy helped her out on occasion. But what stunned him was the fact that Heena-bai was more upset about not being able to ‘take care’ of Patil as much as he ‘needed’. She didn’t care in the least that she was unwed. Wow ! Reddy reassured her … but Heena-bai was worried.

One day, the motorcycle was kaput. He took Patil’s bicycle and went on his usual circuit. Torn kurta, tattered jeans burnt by acid, aluminium cans hanging on the handlebar … carrying milk & cream for door-to-door delivery …as usual. But that day, en route, a bus from the local medical college passed him by. They were going to Shivaji-Rao Medical College to attend the Forensic Medicine lectures by famed Prof. Daniel D’Souza. They all saw him cycling by …the boys & the girls … and they waved to him …and he smiled …and waved back. Soon he was at Hotel Orchid, going in by the back entrance … meeting the chef.
“Salaam Saab! Cream delivery, Saab ….. sign here Saab. ” He finished his circuit in 2 hours that day.

The night before Ram Navami, due to the unprecedented demand, they were selling milk till past midnight. Finally, after Annette had deposited the cash collection with Alfred, they were all sitting on the steps of the shop. It was quiet. Dogs & beggars slept on pavements. Cops were doing their nightly beat on bikes. Reddy lounged on the steps, too tired to pick up his bike & go back to his place. Suddenly, there were yells & shouts round the corner. Seemed like trouble. Reddy quickly took the bi-cycle-chain-belt from his waist & ventured to see. As he turned the corner, he saw Patil running….! Slippers & shirt in one hand, trousers in the other, dressed in his undies, Patil was running for his life, chased by a bunch of guys with knives & iron rods!!

Reddy stepped in between them & somehow managed to stop the gang of four. Apparently, they were pimps & Patil had been getting some action from the best whores, on credit, for the past 1 month. He had reneged on payment today, as he had promised and so these fellas were going after him. Reddy managed to placate them; took about Rs 4000 from the collections Alfred had got, much against his wishes …and paid off the pimps. He found Patil at the Farm, where he punched him in the gut & laid him out flat. Then they both burst out laughing & laughed till they had tears in their eyes. Finally, they smoked a chillum & parted. Reddy didn’t notice that Patil was worried about how he would pay off the instalments to Mistry over the next few months. After all, his 12 year old daughter’s marriage had been fixed already …and this money would be … difficult.

6 weeks later, Reddy was arrested. Suddenly, around 12:30in the afternoon, 3 cops walked in, asked for him by name & took him in. He was thrashed & thrown about for about half-n-hour before they asked him anything.
‘Who’s paying you & how much ?’
Reddy was confused. What was going on? The cops only spoke Marathi …or with their sticks. Here he was bleeding from the nose, breathing heavily … and didn’t know why! After an hour or so, Mistry walked in to the police station. Apparently, Hotel Ritz had ‘caught Patil red-handed’ delivering diluted milk. Patil squarely blamed it on Reddy. Cops were called in, they spoke to Mistry & Mistry confirmed that Reddy was in charge on quality-control. He also told them that Reddy was a junkie. After 2 hours Reddy managed to convince Mistry that something else was wrong. The records were brought in – the time of testing samples were checked. Time of delivery was checked. There was no way the milk could be diluted here without being seen. Reddy was released quietly & supply continued as usual. On the 4th day, they suddenly swooped down and took samples of the milk at every step of its use in Hotel Ritz. Within 3 hours, Reddy proved it, that the new cook at the Ritz was diluting the milk. He had been planted there by the rival Meenakshi Hotel. Mistry gave Reddy Rs 1000 as an apology, while Patil was very clumsy with his apology.

All was well again for a few weeks, until disaster struck. The Muslim festival of Eid was 2 days away …when news reached that a viral disease had broken out amongst the cattle & there was acute shortage of milk expected in the next 48 hours. Every dairy farm they called had the same tragic situation. No milk! A privately owned dairy farm like DCM could get wiped out if they didn’t deliver milk on a festive occasion. Daruwala was in US, Canteenwala was honey-mooning with his 4th wife & Mistry was in Dubai, trying to open a Shop there. Alfred was all set to look for a new job. Mervin the accountant, said, that once long ago, they had ordered milk from Surat in Gujarat. Their credit account was still valid for another 2 years but to accept a telephonic order they needed the current password. Oh no! The only one who had access to the password was Mistry’s father. Reddy rushed to his place. The old man was actually thrilled. Here was his vengeance. Finally he could let the farm die its own death. He was actually smiling. Guffawing!
Reddy begged & pleaded & cajoled. Took insults & even ducked a shoe thrown at him. Helga came in … and Reddy simply whisked her away. Finally the old man relented. Reddy got the password, called up SUMUL in Surat & placed an order for 2 tankers of milk at 11:00am. Next morning, at 7:00am, just as a very flustered Mistry drove up red-eyed from an all-night journey from Dubai, 2 tankers carrying 32,000 litres of milk rolled into DCM Farms! Mistry sat on the ground & wept with relief. DCM farms had record sales that day, at an average 30% more than markets rates.

Next morning, the accountant raised merry hell. His safe had been broken into. 25000 rupees were gone! He was going to call the cops when Reddy stopped him. He asked Mistry why would a thief steal only 25000, when he could have stolen 1.5 lakhs ? Probably because he wasn’t a regular thief. And probably because he needed only 25000. Reddy could only think of Patil & his daughters’ wedding. When he explained, Mistry was furious. He was going to fire Patil & make sure he went to jail! Reddy knew it was a tricky situation. He called Helga SOS with his plan. Helga arrived in a mini-skirt ….. she seemed to be ‘in the mood’. Reddy then tried to convince Mistry that Patil would be difficult to replace. He was long due for a raise anyway. If Mistry gave him a raise & deducted the money stole over a year, everything would be square. Mistry understood …he made a deal with Reddy. Patil was called … explained the situation …he admitted it all …..and accepted most …er …gracefully. As per the deal, Mistry winked …Reddy held Patil from behind in a full-Nelson …. And Mistry swung a straight punch to Patil’s jaw. Patil passed out …. Woke up to cold-water splashes, smiled and said,
‘The Boss is so cool!’

After 3 weeks, Mistry called Reddy to his office at midday. Most unusual. Reddy had to shut down the distillery to make it there. He didn’t like his work being interrupted. But Mistry took his breath away.
“Join me, as my partner. I’ll sponsor your degree course in Dairying in Germany. Once you finish in 4 years, we’ll run this place like fire & be no. 1 in the race” he said.
Reddy was stunned. Mistry was his hero. A man who was in control of his life. Dedicated, hard-working, handsome & successful. And HE was offering Reddy partnership !! Wow !
“Sir, can I think about it for a 24 hours ?” he asked
“Hell, what’s there to think about ? OK … meet me here tomorrow …same time. Get lost, for now!”

Reddy was in shock. Partnership in DCM Farms ? Unbelievable! Here he was …hiding from life. He thought he was finished. And Mistry, his hero, believed in him so much! Wow!

Next morning … a well dressed, clean-shaven young man in 2-piece suit & tie, with polished boots was waiting to meet Mistry. Mistry was very surprised.
“Reddy ? What’s going on ?”
“I quit, Sir ! Came here to resign from my job, Sir.”
“What ??? Why ? What are you going to do instead ? Get married to a rich woman ?”
“No Sir. I am going to finish Medical College.”
“What do you mean ?”
“I have been a bad boy, Sir. I failed in my 1st MBBS University exams. On the second attempt, even though I didn’t need to, I cheated … and got caught. I was rusticated from college, Sir … when I joined you. I was too ashamed to go to class with boys & girls one year junior to me. My parents gave up on me. My friends were embarrassed to be with me. My girl friend ……..! Well … forget it, Sir! I thought my life was over. I was beaten. But now …you … your faith in me … I must have done something right here …. Maybe I was wrong … maybe …I still have it in me …. And if I do, I would rather fulfil my parents’ dreams … and become a Doctor … why would I become a Dairy-man ? I am sorry, Sir ….. but Sir, Thank you!!! Thank you !!!”
“Wow, Reddy! Who would have imagined it! I always wondered about you. A regular junkie … yet something about you was … always dignified … classy even. Good Luck, Son! And God Bless you!”

2 months later, Reddy passed his remaining subjects with more than 60%. His room-mate didn’t need to smuggle his dinner from the mess anymore. One of the prettiest girls in his batch was his date at the Inter-College Fest. His parents resumed sending his tuition fees after 9 months ! But he bought his new 2nd MBBS textbooks with his own hard-earned money from DCM Farms.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Hell on Earth is a place called Bagdob village, at Puranganj in Purnia district of Bihar. There’s no electricity, no piped drinking-water, no roads, no drainage, no law, no hospitals, no schools, no shops, no doctor - not even a movie theatre or a market-place. The nearest town/market is Purnia, 35-minutes by bus, AFTER a 30-minutes walk to the nearest bus-stand. The village gets flooded & remains cut off by 6-7 feet depth of water for 3-months every year, by a loop of the mighty Mahananda river. Populated by about 15000 miserable wretches who were a fraction of Bangladeshi refugees who came over to India in 1970-71, this was a village forgotten by time. It was so worthless that even the crime & politics of Bihar in early 1990s didn’t find them useful.

But the sheer the instincts to survive & the need to avoid the local Hindus, made them choose village Bagdob, a place passed over by civilization. Cultivating Jute became the village economy supplemented by a few seasonal crops of Watermelons, Mangoes & Chilies. Among them, was a man called Sheikh Najeeb who was brought up in an aristocratic Muslim family in erstwhile East Pakistan. He inherited a cultured manner, refined speech, a life spent in leisure and …. the grandiose evil of gambling. He had been respectably employed for a few years in his prime, but after he lost his beautiful wife & 3 daughters to an epidemic of Cholera, he returned to gambling fulltime and gradually lost all his land, property & family fortunes. As misfortune would have it, yet another wretch, Shaukat Ali, had a beautiful, elegant but uneducated daughter ….. named Zohra Bano. The hard times they faced since Indo-Pak partition, that too as refugees in India, made even a Sheikh Najeeb appear to be a worthy husband for her – they were married in an in humble Nikaah ceremony.

Life could have still been salvaged, but the habit of gambling away all that he earned while gradually producing 10 children in 9 years pushed this family to utter destitution. Beyond a point even kind neighbors & the few relatives/cousins stopped feeding the 10 hungry kids who ran around in tattered clothes, aimless & bare feet.

But now in 1995, at the age of 55, Sheikh Najeeb was too old to find any work though at least he had stopped gambling. Mohd. Khursheed Alam was the 2nd eldest child in the family. The local village headmaster had 2 sons – Jamsher Ali, a civil servant with MTNL, Calcutta & a younger son Rahman doing his Ph.D. at JNU, New Delhi. It had been decided that Rahman would take Khursheed to work as a domestic help in the house of some rich man in Delhi. But by the time Khursheed actually reached Delhi, the situation was no more vacant. Rahman was stuck with Khursheed sharing his room in the JNU Hostel.

Meanwhile, Ranjan & Malvika were both working long hours as doctors in South Delhi. In the early 90s, Delhi life was a struggle with runaway inflation, unreliable utilities & public infra-structure. Life was tough. Ranjan’s mother was living with them, suffering from Diabetes, Hypertension & Heart problems. Everyone called her ‘Daadi’. 'Daadi' needed help at home with the children who were just 6 & 5 yrs old boys, studying in a prestigious convent school in the cantonment. Ranjan got to know Rahman through a mutual friend and when Rahman mentioned the boy, Ranjan thought it was providential.

Thus, Mohd. Khursheed Alam arrived as a servant in the household of Ranjan & Malvika in a posh South-Delhi locality, in August 1995. Knowing local sentiments Ranjan named him Mike! At that time Mike was just 10 yrs old, undernourished, stunted growth, scared and very confused & bewildered by the rapid changes of his circumstances. It was agreed that Ranjan would pay Rs. 500/- per month to Mikes’his parents since they were extremely poor & destitute. By Bagdob standards, it simply meant daily food for all the children!

Mike had to be taught that if you hit a switch, a light would come on. And that it was mandatory to shut off a fawcett after using water. One day he played in the shower for 4 hours when the kids were at school & promptly fell ill with pnuemonia on the 5th day of his arrival. Ranjan took care of him, fed him, washed him , showed him cartoon programs on TV – within 4 days he was back on his feet – by next week he was drinking 6 glasses of milk a day – until there was no milk left for the kids or even for tea/coffee!!

Gradually, he was made to understand the concept of apportioning food, water, time, toilet-time & space. He helped to wash dishes, chop the veggies, baby-sit the kids, run errands and generally helped with the house-keeping. He needed to be taught everything – from personal hygiene to locking doors, from switching off the lights/fan to housework. Sometimes, he seemed to be intelligent & useful and sometimes, a lazy rascal ! Sometimes he would play video-games till late at night & be too sleepy to drop the kids to the school bus-stop next morning. He always wanted to know how everything worked – so he needed to “just look inside” ! As a result, within 6-8 months, the KitchenMate mixer-grinder machine, the refrigerator, the television, the telephone, the LML Vespa scooter, the music system …everything …everything had to be repaired / serviced. But he was a fast learner. He made mistakes aplenty, but never repeated them. Except of course, the family need to order 4-litres of milk instead of the 2-litres which used to be adequate … until Mike came along!

In early 1996 Malvika left for Singapore. Mike helped Daadi to run the house but he needed supervision in everything. When Ranjan got the job-offer in Singapore after 4 months , he applied for Mike’s passport. For that, he actually went to his village in Bihar, swam through flood waters of Mahananda river to reach his village & overnight, brought his parents to meet the Passport Officer in Delhi. Mike’s parents were ecstatic because Ranjan had promised to send the Rs 2000 a month! Mike had already lived with them more than a year and had helped out all the neighbours in many ways on numerous occasions. So on validation by the neighbours, his police verification was completed. After 2 months of going to the Passport Office almost every day Mike was finally given a passport. Six days later, Mike from Bagdob village, who had never even been to any formal school except in part-time local madrasas in his village, flew by Singapore International Airlines to Singapore!

Since Mike was less than 18 yrs old, he could not be given a visa to stay with them as a servant. Ranjan had to put him to school from January 1997 so that he could live with them on a Students’ Visa. He had no concept of what was school, daily time-tables or exams or marks or promotion. According to his age he was supposed to be in Class 6, but on Ranjan’s request, the Principal allowed him to study 6 months in Class 5 & then 6 months in Class 6, at the end of which he had to take a formal Primary School passing exam. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the medium of instruction was either Chinese or Malay language. Ranjan put him through some tuition lessons in Bahasa Malayu. At home, Ranjan could only teach him Maths. Every Sunday, Ranjan & Mike would bash their heads on Maths. Mike refused to exercise his mind. Ranjan refused to give up. Everytime Mike would get slapped, or have his ear tweaked; Ranjan could be heard yelling at him until Malvika rescued them with a lunch call. Mike failed in all the subjects but …. in Maths, he was the only student to score a 100% in the final exams!. Never was a young boy so happy on this planet before!

Meanwhile he helped to look after the kids, cooked food 3-times a day, do the laundry, do weekly shopping & play with boys. He ate what they ate, he saw the movies they saw, played cricket with the local kids --- but -- it was a regular headache to control him. After all, he was only a 12 year-old boy ! He would fall asleep at anytime, sometimes he would cook horribly tasteless food, play video-games for hours, fight with other local boys, forget his daily house-keeping chores, wear the boys’ clothes, eat food on the sly, spoil most of the electrical goods until they were so fed up, they seriously began to think of sending him back to India. Only bright spot was that he was very careful about doing his homework & keeping his books tidy & uniform clean. His grades improved from E to D …even a few Cs but always A+ in Maths.

But then, in early 1998, they moved to a different place, Mike joined a new school and soon, within 3 – 4 months they were amazed to see him change -- in every possible way! Sure, he still needed supervision, correction & guidance all the time … but much less than before. The magnitude of the change was amazing ! The very attitude – was like he didn’t want to be ‘criticized’! He was developing that priceless thing called self-respect & dignity! It was fascinating to watch the change.

He began to cook better; he took over running the household; did his shopping of groceries-n-fresh impeccably; did reasonably good house-keeping and most important of all, he gradually improved his grades until in 1999 he came First in Class ! Then, upon his own request, he was moved to the best-students section in 2000. At the same time he became one of the top 5 athletes in his school. Ranjan was sad that he couldn’t allow him to go for regular sports practice, because he was needed to run the house since both he & his wife were perpetually working a grueling schedule in the hospital.

He also began to do regular work-outs, motivated by Rambo movies and built a fine physique. Bruce Lee, Jean-Claude van Damme were his Gods. But he also loved Bridge on the River Kwai, Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare etc. But the suprising thing was he was addicted to ‘My Fair Lady’. He used to try to imitate Rex Harrison’s style of English delivery. But most of all, he became an exemplary big-brother to the boys.

One day he took Ranjan’s permission to go to the mosque. There, from his friends he formally learnt to practice the Islamic ‘Namaaz’ and would go to the Mosque regularly for his Friday Prayers. That year, 2001, he strictly observed fasting in the month of Ramzan too.

Ranjan never realized when in those 3 years, he began to treat him more like a son than as a servant. Ranjan began to groom him, teach him manners, taught him things that fathers teach their sons; played Badminton, Chess & Scrabble with him, told him stories of history & geography. Harappa & Mohenjodaro on the internet; Star & galaxies in a local planetarium. He taught him Science & Maths. Told him stories about Einstien, Newton, da Vinci & Thomas Edison. The Wright brothers. He taught him the Periodic table in chemistry – that term he topped his class in Chemistry. He taught him how to repair the VCR & the computer CPU too -- and of course, the facts of life. About money, about laws, about trade. They did push-ups together, until the boys joined in too.

One day, in his clinic in the hospital, Ranjan suddenly saw Mike walk in – shirt torn, blood on his vest & some blood on his nose. Ranjan went near …..and Mike broke down in tears. Apparently, some school boys had been harassing him for a long time & Mike didn’t retaliate because Ranjan had told him not to fight! His tearful eyes were so accusatory! Ranjan immediately went to the police-station where he was well known as one of the most devoted Doctors in town. The 4 boys & their parents were called to the police station. Ranjan said he wouldn’t like to file a case of criminal assault on the boys considering they had their future ahead, but he wanted an apology from them & and assurance that this would never happen again. The parents agreed, the boys apologized, the police smiled & they all went home. It was too easy. Next day Ranjan was called to the police station!!! Apparently, this time it was Mike who was the culprit. Ranjan was furious. Investigations revealed, that the very next day, the 4 boys had ganged up on him and Mike single-handedly thrashed them. In the police station, Mike hugged the boys, one-by-one and simply said, ‘I am so sorry’. Ranjan saw him smiling all the while!

April 2000, Ranjan & Malvika’s marriage finally broke down after several years of disharmony. They separated & Malvika moved on to USA. Mike took over running the house completely – house-keeping, budgeting, shopping, paying the bills, teaching the kids and for the initial few months, even indulging Ranjan in his post-separation grief & depression -- in addition to all the routine cooking & laundry & doing-the-dishes. He began paying bills online & he taught Ranjan how to do online-banking! He would study until late at night and in his Class 9 board exams he scored 2 As, 3 Bs and 3 Cs. Everyone who did better than him had taken tuitions for most subjects, and certainly did not have the responsibility of running a household practically without any supervision. Ranjan was proud of him!

But Ranjan also realized, that Mike had set such an example, that his own sons were always trying to match up to him – trying to do what he did, try to be as responsible as he was – and they grew up to be fine kids too. They used to call him ‘Mike-bhaiyya’. He was their hero. They did everything together – Bowling, Archery, Swimming, listening to music, Cycling at midnight … whatever took their fancy. Mike helped them catch & maintain 2 deadly scorpions as pets under their bed. Mike learnt how to do Bar-be-Cue & the 2 boys were his faithful devoted assistants during any party at home. Mike ensured they wore clean undies; he made sure they were never late for school.

Ranjan couldn’t pay attention to Mike in 2001, which was a very bad year for them in every way. Mike was a teenager; he had freedom & he had begun to look handsome; the neighbour’s daughter was pretty; internet gave him access to adult websites; and they had come to a new place again; he fell into bad company – and by the time Ranjan paid attention to him again, his grades in school had deteriorated horrendously. So, Ranjan ‘kicked-his-ass’- bigtime. And yet again, Mike put in a valiant effort and recovered his academic situation. Finally, in O-Levels in 2003, while he was still running the household with impeccable budgeting & varying cuisine, he came up with 3 As & 2 Bs. The same year he became a Black-Belt in Taekwondo. Two weeks later he came 2nd in the District Inter-School Marathon race.

But gradually a restlessness had begun to appear within Mike. He had been with them for almost 9 years. He was a young man now. Domesticity was not his cup of tea anymore. He had learnt much more than he needed to. Sometimes Ranjan found him brooding, thoughtful. Once he even felt Mike was depressed, when he talked about his home, his sisters & even shed some tears when talking about his Mother. Ranjan understood. It was time Mike returned home. And that’s what happened. In October 2003, Mike a.k.a. Mohd. Khursheed Alam, with a personal fortune of Rs 85,000/- that he had saved (in addition to the money sent to his parents for all these years) returned home to Bagdob, to his mother.

Four years later …. Ranjan received a phone call from Mike. They had a long chat. Mike said, he was happiest, the day he could tell his father, that he himself would take care of the family. His father had apparently hugged him & wept … so happy, so proud, so relieved he was. He built his mother 2 rooms of brick-n-cement which didn’t get washed away by the rains & floods that year. Even the food-stores & firewood remained dry in the overhead bunks. Every day, all the younger siblings were going to school 30 kms away. But Mike himself became the best teacher for all the young boys & girls in the village. The local police-chowki-in-charge was his best friend for Mike counseled him more on rehabilitating the wild ones rather than beating them senseless. The richest man in the village wanted Mike to marry his daughter. But Mike refused saying he wouldn’t marry for another 10 years or so, because he had “lots to do”. He was thinking whether to start a village-cooperative with bank loans, or perhaps join the local politics.

As Ranjan put the phone down, he had tears in his eyes, a bursting pride in his chest! And after all, he’s not even my own son! He made a coffee for himself whistling ‘hum hain rahi pyaar ke, humse kuchh na boliye ….”.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is Sex Humorous ....or Serious

Sex is Serious

Since it’s norms form the basis of Society
Or when it leads to unwanted pregnancy
When adultery leads to murder or blackmail
And if exposed, to sensational scandal
When interruptions lead to chronic frustration
Or else to regular mutual satisfaction
When it’s vital for inspiration
Or even for society to need prostitution
When forced to abstain from the vice
Or else realize the new bride is already wise
Psychologically & emotionally - the first time
When teaching a virgin about love sublime
When it becomes a brutal rape
Or one has a sexual disease to drape

Sex is Humorous

When Eve teases & Adam pleases
Or when mind wants but body refuses
When forbidden & daringly acquired
Or when talking about it & over heard
On a tree or on the kitchen floor
Or when one’s talking on the telephone
At odd times during prayer or after breakfast
Or on propositioning be turned down at last
In a moving car in heavy traffic
Or interrupted by a child, pet or tick
When a new position is difficult n slipping
Or reminded by eye-contact in a serious meeting
When one is insatiable & bold
And ardour is lost due to heat, or cold !

Vivek Sanyal Jwala Camp, Siachen Glacier
29 Nov ‘89

A New Beginning

Visiting Puneet's blog, I realised it was something I would like to do too. And so here it begins ... another experiment with the internet, my patience & timely inspirations .... here I come !!! Hello World ... !