Thursday 29 March 2012

ISTRI - by Prashant Hirlekar

(Artist: Prashant Hirlekar)
This story is slightly different from a verse- it’s simple and lucid. It begins with a dawn in Pawar chawl. Morning, in chawl, has its own routine and pace, with people hurriedly moving carrying canister, some lingering souls, while brushing their teeth are busy peeping in neighbor’s house to know the morning current affairs, loud fighting noise of women at the common tap competing to fill the water for household, some sly lads busy in stealing other’s newspaper, Mr. Patkar from room no.07 sending his son to stand in queue of public toilet on his behalf to so that he reaches office in time and so on.

The other day, as usual Shantabai filled water, took bath and called out her son Madhav to wake up. Madhav woke up,  twisting the body he jerked his sloth. He folded sheet, yawned and ordered his mother Shantabai, “Aai, give me tea. So, Madhav of this story, is Madhav Vasudev Joshi, the only son of late Vasudev Joshi. His education was left incomplete, he studied only till second year B.Sc, as, two years back Vasu uncle had a heart attack in office and died. Madhav got the job in his place. All his peers were jealous of him because they had completed their education and it was almost two years that they were not having proper job; and here Madhav had such a good job with incomplete education. Father’s death had graced his luck!
Shantabai gave him tea and khari biscuits. She was very proud of Madhav as he handled lot of work in the office and his boss would shoulder him the responsibility of important assignments. Till he got his tea, Madhav engrossed himself in the newspaper and read share prices on share- market page. Recently he had started learning about share-market from Jignesh, his office colleague. He would simply read out the share prices in newspaper to people in chawl and talk about it with them. He would tell about price hike in A.C. C and drop in B. C. C. Whenever he spoke like this, Shantabai would be delighted to hear it and start thinking of getting him married soon and having daughter-in-law. And there were many people in chawl who dotted Madhav as ideal bachelor. They were keen to anchor him to be their son-in-law. One among them on the forefront was Suma, daughter of Kirkire from room no. 27. Her mother encouraged her to rope in Madhav. Suma had two more sisters. The second one of them was Chima, a complete heroine package! Surpassing her sisters, she would always be decked with make-up, lipstick, powder, flower in tresses and always humming a film song. Madhav madly adored her. He often dreamt that he and Chima have been for a movie, sat close to each other and chatted in hush- hush voice in between the crackling sound of munching wafers.  

On that critical day, Madhav was as usual reading the newspaper while sipping tea. People were busy with their routine chores and suddenly they heard loud cry of Mrs. Kirkire from room no. 27. Patekar, Naik, Madhav, Shantabai and everyone else rushed towards the room no.27. What was wrong? Had something happened to Kirkire uncle? But he was fine till yesterday!
As people gathered there, they saw Kirkire aunty sitting down with widespread legs and Kirkire uncle was sitting beside her looking distressed with forehead rested on palm and a blank look. After all, why was she crying? The detailed reason was known to whole chawl later on.

 It happened so, that Chima had eloped with Rama Chaube’s son and Rama Chaube was taken into custody by police. Rama Chaube was Istriwala- man who ironed the clothes. He had his shop in a room under the staircase of chawl. Gopi was his son, young loafer, who usually broke pot on the occasion of Dahi handi. People in the chawl were totally ignorant about his affair with Chima. But her eloping was shocking to all the people. Every person was now busy in consoling Kirkire couple. Madhav was taken aback and his throat went dry, suddenly he remembered that his boss had demanded completed statements’ file of Blue Bird Company. In a hoarse voice he told Shantabai that he was leaving for office. He put on his shoes and with a sighing heart left to go.

- Written by Jayant Bahitat  Translated by: Pankaja JK.