RAILWAY JOURNEY OF KALLOOJI, a short story by naveen. Date added: 2012-01-12. Times viewed: 767.
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- Intro: A STORY NARRATED BY A FRIEND...
RAILWAY JOURNEY OF KALLOOJI
G. C. BHATTACHARYA ‘NAVEEN’, VARANASI, U.P., INDIA
Perhaps you are familiar with my friend Kallooji.
Actually his name is Mr. Kalloo Ram but in northern India, people used to add a sufix of ji with the name of some one to express a sense of honor, especially in Hindi, so he is famous as Kallooji.
He is a nice man and always found ready to help me through narrating a story whenever I may be in need of it due to want of editors of magazines.
Thus, his contribution is remarkable to make me famous as a writer and I acknowledge the same openly.
This year at Christmas Eve, I met with him on the way for shopping and he shouted-‘Oh, Panditji, is it you or your ghost flying like an eagle? If you are that good old friend of mine, be stopped for a while, just like a dead body’.
This is the good old style of my friend to start with. Here, it may be in need to add that Panditji is another word used for Brahmins, a caste, as the first prime minister of India was famous as Pandit Nehruji
Anyway, I stopped and he came near to me and asked-‘Where are you going so fast running like a horse?’
I said-‘For a bit of marketing, Kallooji …you are not visible for last many days so I am deprived of your good stories and thus going to purchase a good story book.’
He pretended to become furious and said-‘Who? Me? Not at all. I am quiet visible yet and not transparent like a glass but it is you who has forgotten me like a fly taken out of milk.’
I said,-‘Well, then we may sit somewhere like at our old café called Basant Bahar. That place is very famous for cakes, pastries, sweets and certainly for ice-cream or anything you may like to have in fast food’.
In the good name of eatables, Kallooji never used to say no, if he has not to pay for. So, he said-‘Though I am a very busy person like the president of Canada but for a good old friend like you, ready to spare a bit of my valuable time’
Now, who will ask him that what for he is busy like the president of Canada and not of India or USA. I called an auto to go to the Café.
I placed my order there for two cups of coffee and some pastries and certainly followed by nice cakes.
Now my friend said-‘Well, you are in need of a story but just now no story is flashing in my mind like a camera but it is possible for me to narrate my railway train journey just performed by me last week with my twelve year old son Lalloo.
Actually, he is as intelligent as me to prove that he is the true son of mine but an innocent child ….I could not have reservation in any good train due to rush but in one called Swatantrata Senani Express. It is not a bad train too and of super fast category. I have to board at Allahabad.
It was a non-stop train up to Varanasi but charged me high with additional super fast rate.
If Lalloo may not be with me, I could manage to travel in any way or even in a running or ordinary second class compartment here known as Chalu Dibba but some baggages were also with me.
So, I had no choice but to arrive at platform number four at 6.00 A.M. in morning to board and in this winter, I felt it hardly possible for me but succeeded to manage. We were having berth number 71 and 72 both side berths near the gate but nothing has to do.
The train arrived and we climbed on it like two monkeys quickly. Nothing was there to eat with us. After few moments, a tea vendor came followed by one selling biscuits. We took tea and after visiting toilet once, I spread a blanket on the lower berth to sit with my son and cover us with it.
The train moved and I said-‘Lalloo, when you feel to take a nap, may go to upper berth and I may try to spread my legs and take a little rest here.
But my fate was not in much favor.
All of a sudden, a person like saint, to whom here we used to call Sadhu Baba, in orange color dress appeared and asked me to allow him to sit on my berth.
I said-‘Why sir? I have got reservation after standing for hours in a cue and spending a lot of money. What for allow you to sit here to disturb me like a big mosquito? You may please go inside and search a vacant berth for you.’
But he smiled and said-‘Poor fellow,. My child, me an astrologer and the great astrologer of the world and people used to call me from here and there to visit their places after paying me a huge fees for consulting and you are refusing me to allow to sit down even.’
‘Don’t be fool. Mind it that you are just travelling on train and having some luggages with you and certainly valuables are there too, and also with a pretty young boy. Do you not love your son?’
‘Now, suppose you feel to go to toilet for a while…anybody may feel it hard…any person…it is quite normal ...and after coming back if you found that some of your luggage or suppose this child is missing, what will you do, my son? Searching…searching and searching. Asking some one to help to trace out your missing son and by that time sir, it is an astrologer like me only can help you to trace your son out no body else. Even railway police can’t help you. Are you getting my point?’
Kallooji said-‘You may not believe in me Panditji, but it is true. It may be a mystery but suddenly I felt a great pressure and utmost need to visit the place called toilet forgetting that I had come back from there just before ten minutes. Then, I asked Lalloo to go to the upper berth and allowed the stranger to sit with me on the lower one.
He laughed and sat down with his big bag saying-‘Good, you are an intelligent person and seems to me an honest one. Jay Mai Bhagawati (Thanks to mother goddess), you are so kind…’
‘Now in this winter morning, I am just in need of a cup of tea and may have it too on your mercy mother; he uttered.
I said-‘Certainly, the vendor is coming over there and you may have it.’
‘He had a very huge body and just covered the whole berth to sit over and I felt crushing under his heavy body weight but then was free from any pressure to go to toilet at all. I was surprised enough to note that, Panditji.’
He smiled and said –‘What about your tea, my child?’
‘I had taken it just now and so not at all in need of any more of it. You may have it please.’
He laughed ….’ha ha ha ….innocent child, …you have taken and not in need?…ha ha ha … any one at any time may feel need of having a cup of tea especially in such winter morning and you are saying not needed …strange… very strange’
Kallooji said-‘ My good old friend Panditji, you may believe in me or not but I started then feeling a great thirst for a cup of tea soon as seems to me that I had not taken it for hours and hours and my lips and mouth were getting dried up. It was a great mystery for me again’
He said-‘How are you feeling my son? May I call the vendor? In morning hours taking just tea without a snack may be harmful too. So….O vendor, please come and provide us here with two cups of tea and biscuits, if there is any with you’.. He placed the order without taking my permission even.
The vendor said-‘ I am not having biscuits with me, just tea …but the other person called Ramu is over there selling biscuits and if you are in need of it, I may call him…Oh Ramu, come… come here and provide biscuits how many packs sir? One or two or three?’
I said immediately-‘Only one pack.’
I had no extra money with me to pay. Lalloo said from his upper berth-‘Papa, how much you have to pay? I may give you because your purse is running in shortage of money, I know.’
And he paid.
The stranger took the tea and after getting the biscuit pack emptied he threw it out of the window and stretched his body over the berth saying Ah…now a bit nap…’
My position became worse than before under his body pressure
The person felt asleep soon. He started snoring too.
After few moments, some people started shouting at each other due to some reason in the other end of the coach and the person, the great astrologer, said in his nap-‘Ahhhh, who the devils are there shouting. Oh child, go and ask them to stop. It is quite disturbing for me…’
‘I felt very much angry with him due to his servant like treatment and was going to burst out but by that time Lalloo came down …’
Our cakes arrived just then and I stopped him saying-‘Kallooji, just taste the cakes first and then narrate the story.’
He said – ‘Story? What Story? Which story? I am just narrating my own true life experience and you are calling it a story? What nonsense?
I said-‘O.K., O.K. it is well. Narrate what happened then after, Kallooji?’
‘What will be happened? Happened what was not expected to happen at all.
I asked Lalloo-‘Why are you down to earth …I mean to floor of compartment?’
Lalloo smiled and said-“Papa, let me check to know what is happening over there. I may request them not to shout’.
And he went over the corridor to that end and I remain there sitting like a mosquito. The non-stop train was moving very fast by that time.
Lalloo came back after about ten minutes and asked - ‘Papa, are you having your ticket with reservation in your upper pocket? Just keep it ready.’
I said-‘Yes, am having it ready but why are you asking me for it?’
Lalloo said –‘Because you may have to show it just after few minutes to them. There is a checking going on and those who are found travelling without tickets or with an ordinary ticket of second class are imposed with a great fine of ten thousand rupees or imprisonment for at least six months.’
The astrologer awakened and opened his eyes hearing this but I said- ‘Nothing of that kind checking is possible, Lalloo. May a T.T.E. is there to make money from the WT passengers. It is there big extra income and they used to allow people to travel in reserved compartments taking a currency note of fifty rupees or something like that and the foolish people like us suffer having valid reserved tickets it is all bluff…’
The stranger felt consolation with my words and tried again to sleep. The speed of the train was becoming a bit slow by then.
But Lalloo was not ready to give it up so easily and said-‘No Papa, it is not ever true. Sometimes, a foolish person like you may become cleverer than any body else as just now you are. It is not an ordinary checking, Papa. It is a Magistrate Checking and not a single TTE is seen anywhere around. All of them have flown away after collecting money from the passengers and without giving any authorized receipts. About twenty railway police men are there with the magistrate and none can escape out …’
On hearing this, the strange astrologer jumped up like a spring from the berth and tried to manage his bag and moved towards the gate at once.
Lalloo cried in fear-‘Uncle, what are you doing? The train is not yet stopped. It is though slow but moving faster than a car or bus. See, those buses are lagging behind us fast….If you have to get down here, please make wait for a while. This train is going to stop for a while at the next station where all the persons caught will be taken down to police custody to send them to jail. You may get down there. Ar…Ar…Oh no ’
I shouted too saying…’Save save ….. He is jumping out …;
But the game was over and the person had jumped out of the moving train.
Lalloo smiled and said-‘It is over Papa, don’t shout now but please try to stretch your legs there over the berth and take a nap. The train will take yet at least one and half hour to reach Varanasi.’
‘But the magistrate will come just now and make me awaken to show ticket. How can I sleep over there?’
‘Oh Papa, don’t worry or give me the ticket, please. I will show if they come, at all. Please be out of tension and take a bit rest.’
While climbing on to his upper berth Lalloo said-‘Papa, the person was a WT passenger and perhaps had planned to make you pay on arrival of TTE a currency note of fifty by any other trick but when he came to know that it will not work at all, he had no choice but to get jumped out of the train to avoid jail. Hi… hi …hi ….’
Kallooji finished the cake and said-‘Ah, I forgotten an important business due to you. I am late now, so let me go. O.K. Tata bye bye …’ and he left the café at once without making wait even for me to pay for tea and snacks.
G.C. Bhattacharya 09452003290
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