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Reasons are reasonable, so we will be;
Beliefs are not, so we will disbelieve.
Come! Let’s toast the health of cold logic!
Our minds’ fences will keep infidels out!
Marriages are made in heaven,
But weddings are of the earth.
Pre-nups aren’t necessary, but sufficient;
Relationships are about security, you see?
Competition pushes us to be better,
Though some come off worse for it;
The idea is to be better than yesterday,
Tough luck! Today isn’t good enough!
The world needs dreamers who do:
They come, they see, they conquer!
The young should act, the old sit back…
Resting and living are enemies, you hear?
Knowledge is power, and so is peace.
Wars and enemies though make us brave.
Neutrality is convenient, so take a stand:
You are against us, if you aren’t with us!
Winning and losing are part of sport,
But the best, they play only to win;
We remember only the guy who came first,
The second may well be the last…you care?
Narratives are in; truths, well, almost out,
And every inappropriate word is a crime;
One has the freedom not to take offence,
But freedom of speech has too many ears!
Attitude is an extraordinary thing,
Only tucked-in shirts reveal it though;
After all, inner beauty is buried deep,
And creams just bring it out, you realise?
Life might be a series of random events,
Let’s still hitch our wagons to a bright star;
Our destinies may be but a shadow of it,
But let’s resist the long goodnight anyway!
Portrayal of Middle Class women in the selected short stories of Sadat Hasan Manto – Dr. Krati Sharma, JaipurMarch 19th, 2019
Sadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) an iconic Urdu writer. He is the forerunner of bringing realism and ordinary character in his short stories. He is known for his craft for bringing realism in his short stories. Sadat is known for his candid writing. In the present paper an attempt has been made to study the middle class women characters portrayed by Manto in the selected stories. These women belong to different class and status and each one is different from the other.
They challenged the gender roles and norms set by society. Keiki Dharuwala writes “Manto rose to fame due to the brilliance, the uniqueness of his vision and the controversial nature of his writing. The Indian middle class, ever prone to a mix of prudishness and hypocrisy in the thirties and forties was shocked out of its wits. And Manto, of course, revealed in whatever shocked them, be it “obscenity” or sudden violence, or the dramatic and brutal manner with which he unmasked hypocrisy” (Dharuwala 1996:118).
Sukrita Paul Kumar writes about Manto’s women characters,
“In a number of Manto’s stories, there is an impending sense of immediacy with which one confronts a totally degenerate society, a world of enslaved women, of women commodified and consumed in accordance with the unquestioned fact of male sexual need and the principle of supply and demand. Indeed, one does not have to be a woman writer to creep into the inner terrain of the psyche of the oppressed or the exploited female” ( Kumar1996:155).
Middle class women of any caste, class or religion has lot to say about her, convey about her self. Herself is not identified by the society. In the present paper the life of different characters has been taken and portrayed. In Ten Rupees the character of care free teenager girl has been seen and depicted by Manto. The story harps on the dingy life and need for survival is highlighted. Charu Gidwani writes, “The stories, written with a conviction that is the true mark of an honest writer, are peopled by ordinary citizens”( Gidwani2013:1)
Afreen Faiyaz writes in ‘The Satanic Urges An Analysis of Radical Evil besetting the Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto’
“He was an iconoclast with such a ferocious sense of realism that he minced no words, draped no expression and concealed no thought that germinated in his mind from the seeds of evil so precariously scattered all around him”(Faiyaz2013:1).
The stories under discussion are as follows:
This story revolves around Sarita, a teenager girl of fifteen years. She lives in a chawl in Mumbai. She has her childish joy, Manto writes, “playing with the little girls, utterly carefree”( Manto2008:23).Sarita is the only source of income to her mother. She has been pushed into the profession of prostitution by her mother. In the present story the story dosen’t focus in this trade but it moves into the girl psyche where the girl is not aware of its repercussion and doesn’t know what she is actually doing this job. Sarita has fascination for cars. She wants to move out because of her charm for cars.
“In chawl , virtually everyone knew that Sarita’s mother had sent her younger daughter into prostitution… Even Sarita’s mother hides all this by repeating.., “ My daughter’s an innocent; she knows nothing of this world”( Manto2008:25).
The fight between women in chawl has been narrated by an anecdote. This also slightly hinted the undercurrent activities going in the chawl. “The spats between Tukaram’s wife and Sarita’s mother never lasted long. . . they known each other secret and decided not to reveal it to anyone”( Manto2008:26). In this way the undercurrent of middle –class lifestyles are hinted.
She is exicited with her joy ride in car with the strangers comfortably. For her the joy of ride is more important than the company. “Sarita is happy to hear that she will go for ride. Sarita was very happy to hear that rich men with motor cars had come for her, granted she was more interested in motor cars than in the rich men who drove them” ( Manto2008:27).
Sarita has been living a life of middle class member of society. “There is also a routine life which depicted candidly the middleclass responsibilities. Sarita filled buckets of water and took them inside, every evening she filled the lamp with one paisa’s worth of oil”( Manto2008:29).
The innocence of Sarita is clearly seen “She might even believe that man like Kishori came to all the other girl’s houses, too. And what happened on Worli’s cold benches and Juhu wet benches perhaps happened to all other girls as well”( Manto2008:29).
It shows that by this line Manto clearly talk about natural inclination of human nature where making love outside social orbit is known and accepted. He always depicts the realities of Mumbai lifestyle where people are making money by this trade.
She was a freak. “She didn’t like to be confined to the four walls of hotels rooms. . .” (Manto2008:30).
There is independence of nature in her when the strange man Shaheb pinched Sarita thigh. She gently twisted Anwar ears .She sings in the car, played in the beach. She poured the soft drinks for her guests with pleasure. She entertained three men with her song and laughter. The story reveals how she was taken by visitors to entertain them but she enjoyed on her own. When the ride was over they gave her a ten rupees note. She declined it and return it back“removed ten rupees note and placed it next to him”( Manto2008:30).Aatish Taseer writes in Introduction of the Selected Short Stories,”Sarita loves cars so much that her dealings with men become just another occasion for her to ride in a motor car, to feel . . She hardly knows she’s a prostitute”(Taseer2008:XVII).
By doing this action she clarifies the doubt of the visitors who comes to her for pleasure. On the contrary, she had her pleasure by spending her time with them on excursion. Sarita is the only source of livelihood. She even had no idea she had been earning through her visit Manto satires on our society where the desires of men -women are sold for self fish interests. Afreen Faiyaz: ‘The Satanic Urges An Analysis of Radical Evil besetting the Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto’ writes, “ Manto does not reason into their downfall, nor does he lament over their loss of innocence and grace.
He only gives us a glimpse of that humane space which they have vicariously created for themselves in this hell for their sustenance. Most of the characters are condemned to a sordid existence; however some of them transcend it” (Faiyaz2013:4).
My Name is Radha
The other women character explore in this paper is of Neelam alias Radha in the story My Name is Radha. The title of this story is very explicit one. In this story a struggle of the actor has been highlighted. Radha approaches towards life. She is a girl of a small town. She comes down to Mumbai in search of her career in film. The male chauvinism has been hinted through the character who is an actor Rajkishore. He is famous for his kindness, generosity. “The problem was that he, Kishore that is, was only too aware of his good looks and physique , “public knew that Raj Kishore was a man of moral fibre”(Manto2008:70).
Raj Kishore seems to be a dutiful son who fulfills his duties towards his stepmother. Manto seems to raise a very stormy question in this story through the character of Rajkishore and Radha. Rajkishore though belong to glamour world referred all his co- actor as ‘sister’. This may be he feels like universal brotherhood. Manto sums up, “ A brother and sister’s relationship was something apart, why call all women your sisters as if you were putting up a “Road Closed” or the other thought which is more strong that is “ If you weren’t planning on having a sexual relationship with a women, why make an announcement”( Manto2008:72). Radha has taken up a new profession where everything is unreal. She has taken up a new name a new identity. She is now known as Neelam. She dropped that name because, “ It is such a pretty name that I wouldn’t want it to end up in a film”( Manto2008:74).
She belongs to Banaras her mother was a prostitute. She wanted to earn for her living in Bombay by becoming a star. She doesn’t want to follow her mother profession and want a respectful life.
She has been concerned about her image. She has a voice of her own. She senses the reactions of others. The whole connotation of wearing tight clothes seems to be bad by Neelam. She blurted out to director, “ If these are clothes, I might as well walk naked with you onto the sets”( Manto2008:75). This is much thought provoking remark where we can sense that this girl is very mature and knows about the world.
Neealm is an absolute wonder with her life in flim city and people around her. Neelam shunned Raj not to call her sister. Even this thing catches like a wild fire. She declared, “Raj Saab, please Don’t address me as sister. She left with this without anything heard. . .” (Manto2008:82). It created havoc as people says, “ have a ‘dirty mind’ otherwise who could take offence at RajBahi calling them ‘sister’”( Manto2008:82). Things became bitter for Neelam when Raj reaches to her place with his wife on Rakhi and would like celebrate that occasion with her. Here he tries to make her real sister. Neelam felt meek and aghast at this time and tied Rakhi on his wrist. Raj forgot his bag at her place in this hullabaloo.
After two three days when he come back to take up his bag Neelam lost her peace of mind she said to to narrator, “ I caught him and began fighting him. . .” I don’t know why or for what reason, but I attacked him. . . I was shrieking; he was groaning”( Manto2008:89). Finally she tears his Kurta and looked his body. She had taken a stance and kissed him . “My blood and lipstick had left vile, almost flora bruises on his beautiful body. . . I would suffocated”( Manto2008:90).
In this way she has taken shown her womanhood by attacking on him a very bold in the patriarchal world where she is in the pedestal and challenging the custom of Rakhi too. At last she said only this . . ., “Saadat, my name is Radha’(Manto2008:90).Life come to full circle for her she wants a name for herself. She wants to relate to her real self not the fake name or fake life. Thsese concluding lines of the short story also hinted that she a post modernist woman who wants to explicit herself. Keki Dharuwala writes for the characterization of Manto ,
“ The characters that peppered his stories wereout of the ordinary, often coming from the detritus of society. Thewhore, the pimp, the street bully jostled for place with those who fought for freedom.(Dharuwala1996:119)
Afreen Faiyaz writes, “Neelam in My Name is Radha is an example of evil of lust overpowering the modesty in women. Pouncing on Raj Kishore and reducing him to a whimpering coward, she turns into demon herself” (Faiyaz2013:3).
This story harks on the patriarchal society, where vocation for women are restricted and stereotypical designed. In this story Abu a young coachman is known for his style and people wanted to hire his coach. He has extravagant life style. Abu has fallen in love with sixteen year old Nesti a cobble daughter who decided to marry him. She has not taken consent of her parents before their marriage. It hinted that she is young and a confident girl who can take her own decisions. She takes the crucial decision about her marriage. She even surpass the class difference between them. After two months Abu was arrested by police “ a kidnapping case was registered against him”( Manto2008:105).Nesti stood by Abu. He was imprisonment for two years. Nesti destiny has to face many blows. Abu suffered from T.B.(tuberculosis) an incurable disease of that time. When Abu come to know about it he felt guilty that he wasted life of Nesti, “If I had known I was going to die so young , I swear on the one, omnipresent God, I wouldn’t have made you my wife. I ‘ve done you a great injustice’(Manto2008:106).
Nesti has been betrayed by God with the death of her husband. Man around her would like to take advantage of her. Dino, Abu’s friend wants to marry her . When she declined his offer he stop paying for the coach, the only source of income she handed over to another coachmen and same thing happened.”He really broke all boundaries, arriving completely drunk one night to give her the money, and making a grab for her as soon as he walked the door”( Manto2008:108).
Nesti does not know what to do, “What if I were to drive the coach myself” (Manto2008:107).She has taken a very bold step. She decided to be a first coachwoman in her locality. She was forced by her circumstances to take such a step she wants her own hold, she wants herself aloof from this maniac who wants to control over her body in name of taking coach. It was a very difficult decision for her. Society will not agree. People will talk about her. She has her own argument, “what’s the harm? Do women not toil and do manual labour? Here working in there in office, thousand working at home , you have to fill your stomach one way or the other “(Manto2008:108).In this story all the decision are taken by Nesti nobody was there to correct her or rectify her she was not told by anyone about the procedure of obtaining License. She herself was ignorant about it.
Nesti tossed about the idea and finally decided to do it. Manto writes, “She was confident she could”( Manto2008:108). Patrirchy seems hurt by that decision. “When she began harnessing the horse to the carriage , the other coachmen were stupefied, some thought it was a joke and roared with laughter “(Manto2008:108).The older coachmen tried to convince her saying ,”It was unseemly”( Manto2008:108).
Even she has shown her excellence in handling the carriage. “The coachmen were stunned by Nesti’s dexterity; she handled the carriage expertly”( Manto2008:108).Even her job was not easy one. It shows for a women worker her path is not smooth. On the contrary the attitude of the passengers is also absurd some passengers “would make her go aimlessly from pillar to post, sometimes cracking dirty jokes in the back. They spoke to her just to hear the sound of her voice”( Manto2008:109).Though to an extreme she faces all this odd with her patience and peace of mind.
All her goodness and earning came to halt.when the municipal committee officer called her in and revokes her license. The argument between them she was not allowed to drive coach being a woman. The question asked by Nesti is a question being asked from patriarchy to a woman who is defying the norms of the society, Nesti retorts, “Why cann’t women drive coach?( Manto2008:109) the answers comes cynically ,”Your license is revoked” The argument by Nesti for her honour living seems to stumping on the face of male domain vocation. Her work is a work of dignity and hard labour. She asked to the officer,
“Why women can’t drive coaches. Women can grind mills and fill their stomach. woman can carry rubble in basket on their headed and make a living . woman can work in mines, sifting through pieces of coal to earn their daily bread. Why can’t I drive a coach? I know nothing else. . . . She pleads with the officer not to do that and snatch her only means of livelihood. “Why do you stop me from hard, honest labour”?( Manto2008:109)
Even the officer suggested her that she should obtain license to sale her body. This hinted the derogatory thinking of male members of society.”Go to bazaar and find yourself a spot .You’re sure to make meore that way”( Manto2008:109). Sukrita Paul Kumar ‘ Surfacing from Within:Fallen Women in Manto’s Fiction’writes,
“In a number of Manto’s stories, there is an impending sense of immediacy with which one confronts a totally degenerate society, a world of enslaved women, of women commodified and consumed in accordance with the unquestioned fact of male sexual need and the principle of supply and demand. Indeed, one does not have to be a woman writer to creep into the inner terrain of the psyche of the oppressed or the exploited female” (Kumar1996:155).
This makes Nesti broken and detached from the society. Nesti achieved identity has been snatched from the ascribed identity prescribed by society. The burden of social values and written roles played havoc on their chosen vocations. Her bold and conflict step was not liked by society. The patriarchal head even direct her and push her into brothel. Even she gets depressed with the whole issue and said in a sad tone, “Abu your Nesti died today in the committee office” (Manto2008:110). She bowed in the last what society has decided for her. “She was given a license to sell her body” (Manto2008:110).
Nesti has struggled got her vocation she wants to do an honour labour. Patriarchal society not only snatched her vocation her role as a coachwoman but pushed her in the filth of unrespectable job. Afreen Faiyaz writes , “ License is a distressing story of a morally sound woman, who in the face of challenges is willing to uphold her chastity and fidelity to her husband’s memories. But the evil eyes of people do not allow her to live respectfully in the society as she is forced to give up her driving license for harlotry. Manto’s disdain for the society is clear where a woman cannot honestly labor and earn a livelihood by any other means except selling herself” (Faiyaz2013:9).
The reason being is all the women explored in this paper are young and full of enthusiasm. So they have taken the bold step in their respective career or life on their own. They do not bother about the societal reaction. Sukrita Paul Kumar writes, “women who are made to sell their virtue in the market to become castaways. They live in an infernal underworld, invisible to the respectable society which pretends ignorance of its existence. Ironically,
not only has it produced this world, it also provides it full sustenance “(Kumar1996:156).
All these women are different from each other but one thing is common among them that they have raised their voice. They have not accepted the specified roles granted to them by the society, manto crave these characters from our society they are very real people.
Manto,Sadat Hasan. 2008.Manto Selected Short Stories.Translated by Aatish Taseer ,Noida:Random House Publishers India Private Limited.
Daruwalla,N.Keki.1996. ‘The Craft of Manto: Warts and All Keki. N.Daruwalla in The Aunnual of Urdu Studies.Vol 11,1996.pp117-128.
Kumar ,Sukrita Paul.1996. ‘ Surfacing from Within:Fallen Women in Manto’s Fiction’in The Annual of Urdu Studies.Vol 11,1996. Pp155-162.
Faiyaz , Afreen .2013 ‘An Analysis of Radical Evil besetting the Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto’ in Muse India .Issue 51: Sep-Oct 2013. Date of access 10 Feb.,2014.
Gidwani, Charu.2013 ‘MAnto’s Burden of Pain’in Muse India .Issue 51: Sep-Oct 2013. Date of access 10 Feb.,2014.
Rakhi is also known as Raksha Bandna it is a Hindu festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters; the festival is also popularly used to celebrate any brother-sister like loving protective relationship between men and women who are relatives or biologically unrelated.
Kurta :The word “kurta” is a borrowing from Hindustani, and originally from Persian (literally, “a collarless shirt”) and was first used in English in the 20th century.
Kurta is a piece of clothing worn by males, it is usually worn for fashion, tradition and culture. As the Thawb is encouraged to be worn in Saudi Arabia, Pakistani and Indian expatriates rather prefer to wear the Kurta as a close and same version to the Arab clothing.
Dr. Krati Sharma working as a Assistant Professor in Dept of English in JECRC UDML College of Engg., Jaipur. firstname.lastname@example.org, 9782885912. Her area of interest is Indian writing in English, Autobiographies, Short stories and English Language teaching. She has been teaching English for ten years. She is associated with ELTAI Jaipur, Chapter. She is contributing editor of ELTWeekly. She has published articles in journals, book reviews and chapters for edited anthologies
My dear son,
your birth, your existence:
The joy I cannot tell in words!
Dear son I dream
about your future –
A great comfort and consolation.
My son, let me insist that
you will only tell truths in your life.
you can tell the truth
Only when you perceive that many in the society are liars,
and that they are made up of their lies, their self-made cocoons of lies,
or my dear son you could be exploited and crushed.
Dear son, let my death never get you tired,
Go ahead righteously,
Be the shoulder for family
And comfort for society.
Dear son, your mother might feel
More alone after I’m gone,
Read her heart and hold her close.
My son, when our money fame and power are wasted,
Many among our friends leave us in lurch.
Don’t be disappointed:
That’s the way of the world.
Dear son, God exists not with those who shout
And are boastful of their piety,
But with those who wither in silent services.
Dear son, do not be afraid of the vast evil force fields,
Remember that the ultimate victory is of the truth always.
Dear, you have to follow the current of your conscience,
Not the stream of the society.
Dear son, feel the spirit of the universe in you
when the breeze pats you, when the flower smiles at you,
when the river lulls you to sleep,
when the bird wakes you up…
Dear, you recognize that every day you learn new texts
and that experience is the greatest teacher in the world.
Show, my son, to the world that the most expensive treasure is the time and how best to use it.
My son, embrace the firmament, recognize the immortality of the soul and remember that the truth cannot survive in luxury and that you should walk the earth with the onus of humility.
Dear son, I dream that only success and happiness visit you.
But my darling, you may have to face failures and bitternesses too:
be calm and steady to face both sides of the life.
Dear my son, find happiness in the values that I have drawn through my life.
Dear son, I kiss on your forehead and our souls embrace each other.
I don’t know dear,
If after my death,
In this unending universe,
Whether we’d meet again or not.
Would we then remember
You as my son and I your father!
Our life on earth!
Is this not what you tell me?
Is this the only world you know?
Or do you love it,
More than anything else
In this whole wide world?
How much does it
Satisfy your ego—
To know that I cannot do anything;
That I am stuck here.
Does it make you happy?
That you got me down
And under your thumb?
Who did you so wrong?
Why are you the way you are?
Can you not feel
This hate in my eyes?
Is it not intense enough for you
Are you so much blinded
By your pride?
Do you not see?
That this hate
Has been nurtured into rage—
A rage that burns me inside out.
(It can burn you too, you know)
Do you not think
That you should be scared?
Even if a little,
Of the day when it all comes out:
All this hatred
And all this rage.
It will destroy
The sweet little fairytale
You think you have been writing.
Everything will be turned
Why do you not want
To see the warning signs?
Or is this you questioning
The approaching storm?
I know you.
Like the back of my hand.
That all you will give me is—
Again and again
You will not get tired, will you?
But I have.
So allow me to talk
In a language
You are well versed with:
You cannot belittle me.
You do not get to take my happiness.
You are not my sun.
I will not revolve around you.
You do not own me.
You cannot contain me.
Not for long.
Who is the carnifex of my thoughts?
I am in the midst of some insights
The shadow in the front is not mine
The length and width seem different
It is perspicuous
That…that of my thoughts are ridiculous
But all the embryos of my thoughts incinerate
The lovely moments and eventful life leave me no subject
My life blood begins to boil as lava
It will surely take my ‘jeeva’
Bosh, the shadow seems to laugh at me, growl at me
But my brave look incarnates the body of the shadow
He is the awakened man from Plato’s cave
He holds my hand …
Together we walk..
Together we talk…
Together we think…
Together we realize the charming life of Lord Krishna
Together we listen to the ennobling tale of Messiah
Together we know the blissful life of Allah
Together we attune to the path of Nirvana..
The enigma seems blurred
Our thoughts are clothed with holy veil.
Author Bio: I am pursuing PhD in English at St.Thomas College Palai.I am residing at Kollam district, in Kerala. I have participated and presented papers in International as well as National Seminars. I have published articles and poems in reputed journals. I have bagged several literary awards, Dr.Ambedkar Sahithyasree National Award, Kuttettan Puraskaram etc. I have received prizes in essay and poetry competition.
She was seven and I was ten,
And siblings rival was too much then.
I got irritated to see my red and
Blue crayons in her busy little fingers
And was terrified till not kept in my bag.
And never cared for those setting sun
And never cared for those setting sun…….
Which remained incompleted.
Poor, she was also not tolerated by her friends
For she bore not the mind of an average child.
She was a little angel.
I would often see her in those lonely beaches
Asking questions with herself.
Perhaps, it may be
“Why don’t human compromise?”
“Why do they fight?”
“Why are they egoistic?” etc. etc…..
I don’t know what was hidden
In that little angelic brain.
And sometimes I act as a consoler,
Play her in our broken home.
Where Mom has left us for her business
And Dad busy with his
And our governess hardly gets time for us,
For her two year son, Bhola
Was always with her.
And I would feel contended with colour books,
But, she, would often see Bhola
With a sigh on her face;
For she never knew that
The mother and child relations were so strong
And would wonder that why she was left alone
Days passed, she grew paler and paler
And one day she was admitted
In one of the costliest clinic
But it was too late…..
Her sweet little face was free from the grip of pain.
Small smiling lips bade good-bye to me.
And closed her searching dark eyes.
That little angelic brain rested in peace.
And left me in this dark wide world……
The sun rises and sets
The crayons are still kept in my bag untouched,
And I dare not even to touch them
Oh! Sister I yearn to meet again
Your departure has changed none
But I am left alone…….
I have a heavy tongue
Thus I slur in my speech
I am on medications
My walk isn’t that great
I cannot handle things
My neurons are to be blamed
My hands and feet tremble
I have accepted it as a part of me
But my soul is clean
So is my heart
Then why keep me aloof
From the everyday part?
I wish to be loved
I wish to be an asset
Without your support
I won’t be able to even touch my racquet
Calling someone a spastic
Hurts them a lot
But what’s worse
Is that the spirit of humanity
First Movement Orders- Goodbye to Gopalapuram – [Sankupurana – Memoirs of an Engineer] M.S Menon, New DelhiFebruary 21st, 2019
Field investigations for a dam include many components- topographical surveys to prepare the contour plan i.e , the layout of the dam site area and its levels with reference to the mean sea level; sub surface / geological investigations for finding out the rock and its levels below the ground; material surveys to assess the quality and quantity of the materials used in construction such as rock, sand, clay etc ; hydrological observations to collect the in-situ data about the river flows including sediment flows at frequent intervals daily and field observations on rainfall, evaporation etc. Apart from these, the field staff has also to collect data of villages likely to be affected by the project including the population, crops cultivated, live stock and other important information about buildings and other structures, roads, railways and other facilities existing in the project area. A lot of information has also to be collected from local offices of revenue, agriculture, environment and forests, PWD, and other concerned offices.
Progress on surveys and other field investigations could be monitored and controlled as these works are quantifiable. However, monitoring the progress in collection of data from various government sources is a tedious one as it involves the cooperation of the concerned officials. They do not like to be pressurised to do a job unless the direction came from the top. Hence I had to depute a technical officer from my office who knew the local language and had pleasing manners to deal with the generally disgruntled lower level functionaries maintaining the relevant records. My choice fell on Venkat. I directed him to form his own group to do the work.
Partha had told me at Kalluru that many of the circulars/ letters issued by the head quarters at Delhi were not to be taken seriously as they were issued by that office in a routine manner. I did not fully believe him then, but had the experience of it when I received a circular from Delhi forwarded duly by the regional office for my compliance. The letter referred to the directions of the Hon’ble Minister about the availability of the head of the geological institution who had retired then. He had met the Minister offering his services to WADA for all water related projects and the Minister felt that his vast experience in the field should be utilised in project investigations. Enclosing a copy of his biodata, the concerned administrative officer from head quarters had asked the regional offices to get the views from their sub- offices about the suitability of appointing the retired officer for the work. Instead of taking a decision at Delhi, the administration, in a routine manner, wanted the juniors in the field offices to decide about the usefulness of this high ranking officer! I showed the circular to Venkat pointing out the callous way the administration dealt with the case.
“Please mark it to me for giving my views”, Venkat said with a wicked smile. “I would send it to my drill khalasi to report whether he would be able to use the services of this gentleman”.
After a pause, Venkat continued with his comments as to how he expected his khalasi would respond.
“My khalasi would certainly report that such people would be of no use to him. He wanted helpers who would be able to carry the drill machinery, etc. at the site and this officer would not be in a position to do so.”
I laughed at the joke.
“Then we can send a report to Delhi that after reviewing his biodata and taking into account the requirements of work, the candidate does not appear to have the requisite experience and hence he could be asked to apply after he gets adequate experience so that we could consider his application at that point of time.” I said.
I narrated the incident to Partha when he came to my office to collect some spare survey equipments next week.
“Administration works always like that”, he told me. “There are many such instances when they use their in-born wisdom to do things without bothering about the consequences. I had a funny experience some time back when the Delhi office, in their enthusiasm to train officers in various fields, as directed by the management, nominated an officer, Himanshu, who was at the verge of retirement, to my office.
‘“Why did you opt for training at this age?” I asked him when he reported to me at Tiruvuru. “You should have better finalised your pension papers instead of trying to learn field surveys and investigations at this age.”
‘“I never opted for this training.”Himanshu said. “It appears that according to directives issued by higher authorities, all officers should have field experience before they are kept at the head quarters. As I did not have any field experience all these years, the administration, not to be blamed for their failure, decided to give me the chance in the field and hence sent me here since you had a vacancy. If my bio data does not show the field experience, I have been warned, that I may not be even eligible for pension benefits. After all, administration has to follow rules.”
“Himanshu could not do much in the field since he had all the age related problems”, Partha continued.” Added to it was the problem of communication since he did not know Telugu to converse with the workers. “
“You could have sent him back to Delhi reporting about his problems” I told him
“I could have done that”, Partha said. “But that would have given him a bad chit affecting his case for pension”
I had my doubts. “He would have already earned his pension serving the organisation all these years. How could then any one stop his rightful pension and that too when he has less than 2 years for superannuation?”
Partha said. “Rules are funny. When one joins the organisation, he is appointed on a temporary basis. Unless he is made permanent, he is not eligible for pension but if he dies during his temporary service, his wife would be eligible for pension called the family pension! Hence Himanshu wants to die before retirement so that at least his wife would get some pension”.
“Though Himanshu was not good either in the field work or in our office work, I gave him a good report at the end of the year to enable him to become permanent and get his pension.” Partha added.
“But you are encouraging inefficiency by giving a good report to an otherwise useless chap,” I accused him.
“I agree with you, “Partha said smiling. “But remember one thing that the organisation is to be blamed for creating this situation. They could have posted him to the field years ago when he had the energy to work in such circumstances. Now he has no energy and they want him to complete a formality. They could have waived off this condition in his case and allowed him to retire peacefully.”
Partha narrated many such instances where the administration failed in the past.
“Don’t go strictly by rules while dealing with the personal cases of individuals,“ Partha advised me the next morning while returning to Tiruvuru. “Every time when you deal with personal cases, do not cursorily treat them as files containing a bunch of papers, but as individuals craving for administrative help and justice. When staff members approach you with grievances, always give them a sympathetic hearing . If you maintain such an attitude, you are then sure to succeed.”
I got the orders to close the office at Gopalapuram and move to Venkatapuram sometime in May that year. We had completed the field investigations for the Polavaram project and had submitted our report along with the data collected including survey maps to our regional office at Vijayawada by that time.
“Movement to Venkatapuram is easy during monsoons since the Godavari river levels would rise by then permitting launches to ply”, the new Block Development officer (BDO), Ram Babu informed me. He had spent 3 years at Venkatapuram before getting his transfer to Gopalapuram, his choice posting nearer to his native place, Kovvur.
“Venkatapuram is approachable by road only during non-monsoon months,” Ram Babu further clarified. “There are few rivulets crossing the Bhadrachalam-Venkatapuram road and there are no bridges across them to facilitate road traffic during rainy season and these rivers flow full then. Hence the dependable transport is the launch service regularly plying between Bhadrachalam and Venkatapuram. It leaves at 6 A.M. every day, from these terminals to reach the destination by 6 P.M. taking full 12 hours to complete the journey one way.”
“What about the movements during non-monsoon months?” I asked him.
“From October till June, there is a private bus service operating regularly from Bhadrachalam to Venkatapuram.” Ram Babu said. “The bus leaves Bhadrachalam at 6 A.M. and takes 12 hours to reach Venkatapuram and vice versa.”
“12 Hours to cover this stretch?” I asked doubting the arithmetic of it.
“Not only the bus has to negotiate the 3 nalas by taking detours at these places, the driver and conductor would also like to take a 3 hour lunch break en-route.” Ram Babu clarified.
“A 3 hour lunch break? Do they take a nap after lunch and all the while, would the passengers keep quiet?” I asked surprised.
“These people want the passengers to enjoy the film songs relayed by Radio Ceylon and Vividh Bharathi during this period as they are addicted to these songs.” The BDO said. “Since there is no electricity in that village, the battery from the bus would be used to run the battery operated radio available in the hotel.”
Ram Babu also told me that Venkatapuram is one of the electrified towns in that area, but the supply would be available only from 6 to 10 P.M. with lot of fluctuations in the supply voltage. It has a police station, a public health centre and can boast of having a cinema hall showing films during non-monsoon period. It has also the offices of BDO, Forest Department and PWD. There is a small shop selling provisions but there are no stationery, cloth and vegetable shops and these are to be brought from Bhadrachalam.
“Of course, it is a paradise for those who prefer chicken, as the tribals have plenty to sell. The river is there to cater to your needs for fish. Even otherwise, in the weekly bazaars, you can get dried fish if you can stand the smell.” The BDO summed up his views on the place.
“What about the accommodation for office and staff”? I asked him.
“Luckily there are few vacant government buildings and you could get priority in allotment as you are from a central organisation working on a project to benefit the state. But due to problems of distances and lack of proper communication facilities, if you are in a hurry, I would suggest you to send the letter now itself to the Chief of PWD through some of your officers, seeking urgent allocation of the buildings needed by you. Even news papers reach here a couple of days later due to delays, as they depend on the road or launch service starting from small towns like Bhadrachalam or Polavaram.”
Hearing about the condition of life at Venkatapuram, I felt that the transfer from Gopalapuram village to Venkatapuram town is akin to moving from frying pan to fire. All my enthusiasm to shift to that place was lost hearing the situation there.
“Do not lose heart,” the BDO consoled me. “All of you being bachelors, you would be able to adjust to that life without any difficulty.”
As advised by Ram Babu, I sent one of the junior technical officers (JTO) to the PWD Chief Engineer’s office with the documents requesting for allocation of 5 buildings for our office and residential purposes. On getting the allotment, I sent Venkat with some staff to Venkatapuram as an advance party to take over the buildings and get them ready for occupation by the time our office articles reached there.
My local adviser, Venkateswarlu, the postman, had heard from our office people about the shifting of the office to Venkatapuram . He took a day off from his busy schedule to bid good bye to me and other colleagues before our truck left the place with the office items.“I do not know when we would be meeting again”, he told me in an emotionally choked voice. “Being in the central service, you may not get again posted to this village, I am sure. I will be here till retirement and hence if you happen to come to this part at any time, please let me know. I would certainly come and meet you. I wish you all the best”.
I was touched by his words which brought tears in me. “I cherished your company and am thankful to you for all the help and guidance you gave me all these days,” I said. “When I come to this district at any time in future, I would certainly make it a point to meet you. Till then, good bye.”
A chapter from [Sankupurana – Memoirs of an Engineer]
Fill my stomach today
All goes to waste box
Without any solution
No time for me
To know you in me
I couldn’t create
By the words of
But it became
Today I am transformed into a lucrative man,
All the restrictions of my life have turned into ban.
Today I have achieved that I dreamt,
But this long list will never have a denouement.
When I spot the old pages of my past,
The first thing that turns me on is grandpa’s podcasts.
Father always considered me as his younger brother,
Quite often he used to say “Son don’t you bother.”
But! Hold on, I can never forget the most pacific and soothing memory that exists in mother’s lap,
Where, I used to have a very comfortable nap.
How ironical is God’s creation.
Life and death occurs without any pre-information.
But God’s irony fades away, when it comes for a mother,
Who’s, next to compressed leather,
This, gets smashed after excessive triturate, but never loses its ability to consolidate.
When I recall my past, which “briskly blew away”,
I feel that I have something to say: someone to appreciate,
Who, throughout her life remained deficit.
I still remember her pervasive style,
That, she used to produce a responsible smile.
She never grabbed the chance to be in front,
Same as a councilor acts when the king accomplishes his interest to hunt.
In my colorful life there is some blank space which would only be filled by mother’s face, with festoons of roses and the blooms of her college life proposals.
Hey Lord! Take away all my valuable assets,
but for once return me mother’s lap where my life subsists.