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For a few seconds,
There was a deadly and threatening silence in that veranda.. Pankaj Sarma and his frozen assistants were silently looking at Mrs.Shyam Rao Joshi, without even battling their eye lids..
Mrs.Joshi, with her head completely bent down at that moment, was quietly looking at her open palms.. Pankaj Sarma’s sharp brain could notice that she was trying to compose herself and was also trying to prevent a flood of tears from flowing down her eyes..
Therefore, without forcing her much, Pankaj Sarma was quietly waiting for her reply.. However, before Pankaj Sarma nor any of his assistants could even imagine what was happening in front of their eyes, it happened, sending shock waves all over their bodies.
Mrs.Joshi, who was until then quietly sitting in a chair, suddenly got up from it; reached Pankaj Sarma in one by millionth of a second; and before he could even imagine what was happening to him, held his left hand and took him forcibly inside the house and straight into their living room.
A shocked Pankak Sarma’s assistants, climbing three steps of the veranda at a time, ran behind them, sharply pulling out their Revolvers..
Understanding his assistants’ intentions, Pankaj Sarma, waving his right hand at them as a signal of warning to them not to resort to any blind firing, entered the living room after he was forcibly pulled into it by Mrs.Joshi..
And then looking into the corner of that room, Pankaj Sarma and his two assistants stood in shocked silence..
There In That Corner
While Shyam Rao Joshi’s son and daughter were standing confined to a wall, just like two postal stamps pasted to a white envelope, a thin sized Shyam Rao Joshi, with a cadaver look, was lying on a cot there, almost lifeless.
Pankaj Sarma felt heart broken looking at a noble hearted Shyam Rao lying down in such a pathetic condition there on a bed.. Showing her husband to Pankaj Sarma, Mrs.Joshi, said in an almost shouting tone,
“This is what your government departments have done to my husband.. He’s lying like this in bed for the past two weeks after reaching to the dangerous fifth stage of the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) that needs a Renal Replacement Therapy (RRT) done immediately..
Doctors have given him just ten more days time after which period they say they cannot guarantee any recovery from his disease.. They are not saying but that means he would die.
With this severe health problem, he had taken voluntary retirement from his state govt. service, six months ago, but his retirement benefits have not yet been disbursed by the lazy district treasury office..
My son goes to that office everyday and returns home disappointed after listening to one more new excuse from the officer there.. Although not saying, they are expecting money from us, which we don’t have..
With a great difficulty, selling Gold and pledging whatever assets we have with us, we could get my husband’s treatment done so far but now we have come to a stage where we even have to compromise on our daily food consumption.
If this is the sad scenario in our house today, the doctors are now saying that unless RRT is done they cannot make my husband lead a normal life.. RRT is an expensive procedure that involves a lot of money..
Now tell me officer saab.. How can a lower middle class family, that is struggling so much for just two square meals a day, afford such expensive medical procedure.. Where can we get that money from..
May be we could have still afforded that treatment if only we had received our retirement benefits on time.. But that merciless government treasury officer is sitting on our file for months without clearing it.. He’s just not bothered about the well being of my husband nor my family.
Then how will we survive saab if our hard earned money is withheld by the govt. in the name of some official procedure or the other.. Even now if that money comes to us I can save my husband and if it doesn’t.. Kya karoon.. ”
Mrs.Joshi could not complete the sentence and broke down into loud tears.. Without making any efforts to stop her tears, Pankaj Sarma quietly walked to the cot, where Shyam Rao Joshi was lying, and sat beside him..
Looking Pankaj Sarma at his bedside,
Shyam Rao smiled gently as though he recognized him.. Taking Shyam Rao’s hand into his hand, Pankaj Sarma asked him, “How are you Shyam bhai.. Did you recognize me.. Didn’t even expect to see you in such a pathetic condition today.. Feeling really sad..”
With a weak smile, Shyam Rao replied in a low tone, “Am fine Pankaj.. I wouldn’t have recognized you but she told me everything about you and how you came here today.. Really happy to see such a big IAS officer in my poor house..”
With a tear drop emerging at the corner of his left eye, Pankaj Sarma smiled and said, “Huh.. Big IAS officer.. What was I Shyam bhai when I came to your house twenty two years ago.. Just a nobody.. Right.. ??..
But that day you didn’t say am not happy to have a nobody like you in my big house, then how can you say today that am happy to see a big IAS officer like you in my poor house..
You have a big heart Shyam Bhai so you can never be poor.. Positions and statuses come in between and go but the relationships stay forever..
Without trying to understand this simple formula of life, many people are spoiling their relationships just to show off their positions which are nothing but mere mirages of time..
I don’t know when these people realize the value of true love Shyam bhai but I feel sorry for such people.. I think they are cursed by God..”
With a pathetic smile on his lips, Shyam Rao pressed Pnakaj Sarma’s hand and said, “how many people in this world think like you Pankaj .. So nice of you for remembering us and coming to see us today..”
Brushing off his thanks, Pankaj Sarma said,”I should have come to you long ago Shyam Bhai but I did a mistake by not coming until today.. The job of an IAS officer is like Casabianca sitting on fire.. We are always on the run like a victim of burns and hardly find time for anything else in our life..
I believe, while those whom the God hates the most, become IAS officers; whom He curses the most, become IPS officers; and whom He wishes to punish the most, become bank officers.. I may be sounding harsh Shyam bhai but these are facts of life in India.
Anywayz, I may have come late but not very late.. So allow me Shyam Bhai to take over things hereafter and do my best for your family.. People with noble thoughts like you shouldn’t be suffering so much.. It will not augur well for the nation”..
Saying so, Pankaj Sarma picked his mobile and dialed a number.. Quickly responding to his call in his office in Delhi, his personal secretary Priya Jain came on line.. On hearing Priya’s voice, Pankaj Sarma said in a cold tone,
“Priya.. Dr.Vijender Bagga is a senior surgeon from the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS,Delhi).. I want him on line in five minutes..”
He disconnected the call and then turning to Mrs.Joshi, said, “Bhabhi.. Nothing will happen to Shyam Bhai at least as long as am there.. Trust me.. Am here to tackle all your issues from now.. Please control yourself and relax..”
After about three minutes, Pankaj Sarma received a call from his secretary.. She said, “Sir.. Dr.Bagga on line..”..
Pankaj Sarma, in brief, explained Shyam Rao’s condition to Dr.Bagga and said, “will be really glad, Doc, if you can be in Wardha in the next twenty four hours.. My secretary Priya will make all the necessary travel arrangements for you..”
“Certainly Sir.. It’s an honor”, replied Dr.Bagga, who is one of the most renowned surgeons of India in the branch of Nephrology (the branch of medicine that deals with the diseases of the kidneys).. Then Pankaj Sarma gave necessary instructions to Priya and disconnected the call.
Shyam Rao’s son and daughter, although still stuck to the wall, were watching everything as though in a dream as though a miracle was happening in front of their eyes..
After disconnecting the Delhi call,
Pankaj Sarma quickly turned to one of his assistants and said, “Wardha district collector ko phone lagaa.. Paanch minute ke andar woh mujhe line mein chahiye”.. (connect me to the Wardha district collector on phone.. I want him on line in five minutes..)
Forgetting all their pains, at least temporarily, Mr & Mrs.Shyam Rao Joshi were admiring Pankaj Sarma, with awe, for the commanding way he’s dealing with everyone in his life..
After about two minutes, Pankaj Sarma’s assistant came running to him and handed over his mobile to him saying, “Sir, Wardha collector Shireen Dubey saab is on line..”..
Literally grabbing the phone from his assistant’s hands, Pnaka Sarma said, “Dubey.. How long you are working here..”
“Sir two years sir” hurriedly replied the collector..
“Still you have not gained control over your subordinates..??..” asked Pankaj Sarma in an angry tone..
“Sorry sir.. Any problem sir..” replied the collector with a little anxiety in his voice this time..
He knows well whom he’s talking to and and what he’s capable of doing to any bureaucrat in India, if irritated.. Therefore he was trying his best to sound as humble as possible in his voice..
Not bothering much about the Collector’s humility, Pankaj Sarma said in a commanding tone,
“Dubey, I shall now ask you to do two works for me which you must do within twenty four hours of time.. Am not going to give you any more time than that.. And if you fail to do for any reason then I will have to seek your performance report..”
“Certainly sir.. I shall do.. Please order sir” said the collector.. He knows well what is the meaning of a higher official seeking performance report of his subordinate officer.. Then Pankaj Sarma said,
“Track down the pension file of Mr.Shyam Rao Joshi from the treasury department; process it immediately and see that a check is issued in his favor within the next twenty four hours time frame I have set for you..
It is pending for no reason with the treasury department for the last six months even though there’s a rule that an employees’s pension benefits should reach his account within thirty days from the date of his retirement..
Dubey, now citing negligence in his work and for not properly following the G O, suspend the Wardha district treasury officer with immediate effect.. I want all the reports in twenty four hours.. Am going to stay here in Wardha for the next thirty six hours.. Make necessary arrangements for our stay here.. Is that clear Dubey.. ??.”
“Yes sir.. Obliged.. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to serve you sir..” replied the Collector..
Saying, “hold the line Dubey” Pankaj Sarma then handed over the phone to his assistant and said, “Tell him the address of this house and ask him to make vehicle arrangements for us”.. Saying “yes sir”, that assistant went out running to note the address of that house.
To say the least,
All the members of Shyam Rao Joshi’s family, in that room, were in a frozen state of shock unable to believe what was happening in front of their eyes.. Then, Pankaj Sarma slowly got up and went to Shyam Rao Joshi’s children.
Placing his right hand over Gaurav’s left shoulder, he said,”Hi Gaurav.. How are you.. You may not remember anything but I remember everything.. You were a cute 4 – year old boy when I came to your house for the first time, twenty two years ago..
You helped your Mom in preparing Chapathis for me and my friend.. We were just a nobody to your family that day.. But still your lovely Dad brought us to your home, after seeing us starving for food in Wardha station where our train to Delhi met with an accident that day..
Such a sweet memory for me Gaurav.. Now tell me.. What did you study and what are you doing now..”
Almost stammering looking at such big officer standing so close to him, Gaurav said, “I.. I finished my B.Tech in Civil Engineering and waiting for a job..”..
With a little surprise in his voice, Pakaj Sarma asked, ” You finished your B.Tech and didn’t get a job.. How sad.. Don’t worry Gaurav.. I will see that within a week you get a decent government job here in Wardha.. It’s this Mama’s promise to you..”
Then Pankaj Sarma went to Joshi’s daughter and looking at her said,”Arey beti.. Your Mom was pregnant when I came here before.. So this angel is born.. What’s your name and what are you studying..??..”
With a shrill in her voice, the girl said, “Lavanya Joshi”..
“Oh Lavanya.. Nice name.. And you look beautiful too.. What are you studying..”, asked Pankaj Sarma.. Lavanya couldn’t say anything..
After a few seconds of silence, Gaurav said, “Uncle.. She’s in her final year engineering but now staying at home because we couldn’t pay her fees this year because of dad’s health condition..
I went and begged the Chairman of the college to allow her into the class.. I told him that I shall come and pay the fees once we get dad’s pension benefits.. He didn’t oblige.. Now he is not even allowing her to appear for her final semester exams..
She is a brilliant student uncle and is consistently a college topper.. The Chairman maintains goondas and they are threatening us for the fees now.. We are unable to know what to do.. On one side Dad’s health condition and on the other side these threats from the Chairman’s goondas for money..
Our family is going through a hell uncle.. Please help us from these goondas and their threatening..”.. Saying so Gaurav couldn’t control his tears and broke down.. Seeing her beloved brother breaking down, Lavanya too broke down..
Pankaj Sarma asked Gaurav, “What is the Chairman’s name”..
“Dayanand Shetty uncle” replied Lavanya..
Quickly turning away from them, Pankaj Sarma came to one of his assistants and said, “I want Chairman Dayanand Shetty on line in three minutes”
It took a minute for that assistant to track the number of Shetty.. In the second minute he called the Chairman on his mobile.. But his secretary lifted the phone.. He first told the secretary who his boss is and then told her that he wants to talk to her Chairman..
After keeping the assistant on hold for almost a minute, the secretary responded saying, “Chairman saab is in a meeting.. Try after one hour,”.. A fully irritated assistant, who never received such a reckless response to his boss, told her,
“Within thirty minutes your Chairman must come and report to our Boss.. Or else within one hour the central police will raid your college for anti social activities..” and disconnected the call..
In the next two minutes, the assistant’s mobile rang.. Dayanand Shetty was on line.. He told the assistant, “Sorry sir.. I was in a parents’ meeting.. Please forgive me.. May I speak to Sarma saab now..”
“Saab is busy.. You must come and meet him personally.. He will not talk to you on phone..” said the assistant and disconnected the call.. Before disconnecting he told Shetty to which address he had to come..
After about twenty five minutes, a BMW car came and stopped in front of Joshi’s house.. A hefty looking 60 – year old man hurriedly got down from the car and came almost running into the house..
Looking at him, Pankaj Sarma asked, ” What Shetty.. Itna kya busy ho.. Kitna kamaa rahe ho..”.. In an apologetic tone Shetty replied, “Zyada nahin sir.. Bas khaane peene ka kharcha nikal jaate hain”..
“Achchaa.. Kya main tumhare khaane peene kaa kharchaa ka hisaab Income Tax walon se maangoo..” sarcastically asked Pankaj Sarma..
Almost fainting, Shetty replied,” Arey nahin sir.. Main kyun aapko itnaa takleef doongaa.. Hukum kijiye saaheb.. Kya seva kar sakta hoon sarkar kaa..”
Then showing Lavanya to him, Pankaj Sarma said in a serious tone,”Shetty, she is a brilliant student studying in your college.. Just because she didn’t pay her fees this year you are not allowing her to appear for her final semester.. What will happen to her future if she misses her exams.. Just think like a human being not a beast..
You are running a college Shetty not any narcotics business.. Understand.. So you should be noble in your mind and deeds and help such good students.. Then God will help you..
What will you do with all the money you are forcibly earning.. I don’t think you will be able to eat more than two rotis and one Dal thadka..
Then what will you do with so much money Shetty.. Sudhar jao varnaa sudhaarna padegaa.. Now tell me Shetty.. What did you understand from what I have so far told you. ”
“Sorry for the trouble sir.. To rectify my mistake I shall not take fees from her this year sir.. Not only that sir.. I shall also within a day reimburse all the fees she had so far paid to our college sir.. If she’s interested she may also join our college as a lecturer sir.. This offer will be to her forever.. From today she’s my daughter sir..”
After about five more minutes of stay,
Dayanand Shetty left Joshi’s house leaving everyone in a state of complete happiness.. Then turning to his assistant who threatened Shetty, Pankaj Sarma asked,
“Arey achcha dhamkee diya budde ko.. Raste pe aagaya.. Par ye batao re.. Ye central police ko kahan se laoge.. Aisa koi department hain kya Hindustan mein..”.. Everyone in that room broke into a huge laughter..
Later after dinner in the night, Pankaj Sarma took leave from Joshi’s family.. While boarding the Car, Mrs.Joshi asked him,”How many children you have Pankaj..??”..
Pankaj Sarma slowly turned back and said,
“Sorry Bhabhi.. We don’t have children and we will never have..”..
Later things moved in quick succession.. Within twenty four hours, Shyam Rao Joshi received all his retirement benefits along with all the other arrears as well as bonuses.. Immediately after he had signed the check issued in favor of Joshi, the Wardha Collector had suspended the District Treasury Officer..
After some initial examinations in Wardha, Joshi was shifted to AIIMS, Delhi on the advice Dr.Vijender Baggam for better treatment..
Dr.Bagga personally monitored the case and discharged Joshi from the hospital after he had fully recovered from the disease.. Despite stiff resistance from Joshi’s family, Pnakaj Sarma had paid the entire hospital bill.
The Wardha District collector had sent an appointment order to Gaurav appointing him as an Engineer in the Public Works Department.. Lavanya had not only appeared for the final semester examinations but was also later appointed as a faculty member in the same college.
I read about this coincidence in a Telugu book on Karma and philosophy in which the writer had quoted this incident as an example of good karma.. The entire incident was mentioned in just four paragraphs wherein the writer had said,
“A train stops after an accident in Wardha station.. A hungry young man and his friend were taken to his house by a noble man,.. His pregnant wife and a four year old son serve them food.. Again after twenty two years the same train meets with another accident at Wardha..
The same young man now a 44 year old IAS officer gets down from the train and goes to the same house and helps the noble man in his Kidney surgery and also gets a job for his son..”
That’s all was written in the true story.. The names of the characters were not mentioned.. I was so moved by the coincidence, later I tried to visualize the whole drama with my creative eye and also tried my best to present it before you in my own narrative style..
All the characters in this true story are real but their names are not.. Even the entire drama is created by me to make the reading interesting for you.. Honestly, neither the Telugu writer nor I know where this IAS officer is working today.. So I leave it here at this point.
Now tell me.. Why did the train stop exactly at the same place within a gap of twenty two years.. Do you have any answer.. Okay.. Let me explain.” You and me may not be knowing but God knows what is going to happen in the lives of Pankaj Sarma and Shyam Rao Joshi..
God also knows their problems.. So he introduced them to each other first and then gave them their problems.. That means as I often say, without keeping it’s solution ready God will never give us a problem.. Agree..??..”
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