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The Compensation

About Rakesh

Rakesh Pandey is an engineer by qualification and a Manager with Microsoft by profession. Basically from the holy city of Benaras, he’s settled in Bombay. He is not much of a talker and being an introvert, he is usually lost within himself.

When things become sour, he either picks up his flute, pen or fists, in that order. Music, writing and boxing are his Guardian Angels, who always rescue him and prevent any sort of mischief, which is his wont to indulge.

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Prologue

“Based on the evidence of the City Sheriff, the Royal Court finds Prince Chandrabhan guilty of stealing pots of the town potter. The guilty is to be tied in the middle of the market and to be given 50 lashes as a common criminal.” Maharaja Prataprao gave his just verdict in his grave voice.

The guilty looked up in anger. “How is it that I’m always punished? Why are you never lashed like a common criminal?” Prince Chandrabhan retorted indignantly.

“Because, I’m the King and you are a Royal Prince! And being a king gives me greater responsibilities as well as privileges.” The King puffed up his chest and said importantly.

“Greater responsibilities be damned!” the bound culprit blasphemed against the Royal Majesty. “How come you always become a king and I’m always punished for something or another? Why can’t I be the king for a change?”

“Beware, O condemned prisoner! You can be beheaded for this rebellious mutiny!” The incensed king tried to rise from his throne in Royal Majesty. This was too much for the rickety throne with three tottering legs and it toppled over in the ditch, taking His Royal Highness with it. The courtiers and the condemned man let go a not-so-courtly howl of laughter. While the emperor tried to climb back, bruised, his shirt torn and spitting gravel stuck in his teeth, he saw his mother turning the corner with a slipper in her hand and yelled, “My mom!” The court adjourned haphazardly and the courtiers scattered. The Royal Prince was caught by the attacking enemy as his hands were tied behind his back and the offending slipper was subjected to his Royal Posterior. He somehow managed to escape with a tingling bum.

The court reconvened near the empty school, where Pintya, the king was attacked by Chandu, the prince. The courtiers were promptly divided into two armies. The bloody and gory war raged for many years and thousands were killed. In the evening, a truce was signed, prisoners exchanged and the two friends walked home with hands in each other’s neck.

Part 1

Summer vacations had started last week and the brats of the village of Chandarpur in the famine struck Buldhana district of Maharashtra were beyond themselves. The villagers were harassed by their day-to-day antics. The skies were clear with little white clouds floating with the swift summer wind like tiny bunnies romping in a blue meadow. The clear blue skies, that would have gladdened the heart of an English gentleman, filled the hearts of the poor farmers with foreboding as they were the harbingers of dry season ahead. Last year rain was elusive and the crops had suffered. The meager crop of sugarcane was sold at half the expected price as it was sold standing in the fields. The cash crop of cotton was suffering without irrigation. The farmers initially tried to water their dying crops through well water, but when that was inaccessible too, they left it to the mercy of seasons and just stared at the merciless skies with vacant eyes.

Pintya was sitting under the tamarind tree near the school and waited for his friends impatiently. He found a thorny stick. A stick will always remain a stick in the hands of someone like yours truly, who’s an unromantic and unimaginative adult. But, a stick can take various forms in the hands of a fertile brained child. It turned into a Dandpatta and the wielder became Bajiprabhu Deshpande, the fabled warrior, who was born in the same region, some 400 years ago and laid his life for his master, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Pintya attacked and conquered the fort of Sinhgadh by defeating the vast Mughal army and died in the foray. It was a satisfactory battle as usual, where hundreds died. During the heat of the battle, one of the thorns in the stick grazed his thigh and caused a trickle of blood. This made the battle more realistic, where blood of noble warriors flowed from those impregnable Sahyadri mountains and the Mughal army was crushed mercilessly. Pintya was the warrior Bajiprabhu. He was the horse. He was the Mughal overlord ruling the fort. He was the Mughal soldiers, who died under his sword. He was Shivaji, who cried on his own death. He also tried to become the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, but did not know Urdu. So, this emperor used the Marathi lingo to blast his commanders for the loss of such a strategic fort. Overall, it was a fruitful and a satisfactory day.

After a long time he saw his friend Chandu walking towards him. Pintya hailed him and cursed him for his tardiness. Chandu was somber. Pintya ran towards the village, when he heard the news which Chandu had.

Part 2

Bible says that miseries are sent to us by the Lord God to test our mettle. Those with a virtuous spirit pass the test and glow like an angel. The weaker willed succumb to it and are burned in the everlasting fires of hell till eternity. Tatyaram was one of the weaker willed ones. He couldn’t see his kids crying with hunger and his wife suffering without any medical help. He was hoping for the cash crop and the rains, which would have ended their misery. The skies betrayed him. Finally, he gave up and took the easy and cowardly way out by hanging himself. There was a mob outside his house. Pintya and Chandu joined it and tried to see the dead body. Someone spotted them and kicked them away. They climbed a nearby neem tree and saw Tatyaram’s wife crying and his children huddled near a shrouded body. Pintya hoped for a breeze, so that he can see the face of the deceased. He had never seen a dead person before and was curious.

After a long time, both the friends climbed down and went to their homes. Each lost in his own mysterious thoughts. Then Chandu voiced his fearful thoughts, “How could he have died?”

“You don’t know?” Pintya froze on the spot and looked at his friend in wonder. “There is a dreaded dacoit near Amravati. They plunder rich and poor alike. Last night I woke up to pee and heard clap of horse hooves.”

Chandu stared at Pintya open mouthed, “But Tatya Kaka didn’t even have a handful of wheat in his house! He couldn’t even pay his one lakh rupees loan back to the bank! Why would a dacoit kill him?”

Pintya looked around suspiciously and said, “You never know! People like Tatya Kaka are very deep. May be he had some ancestral jewels buried in his house? These dacoits know everything, mind you!” He chewed the thoughts for a minute and said, “Still, he shouldn’t have been killed. He always used to mend my kites for me. Last night I went near his house after I heard those bandits. I wish I’d been there earlier. It might have made all the difference! So all I can tell you is why he was murdered…” He was again lost in his thoughts. Both friends went to their home in the gathering gloom, hands in each other’s neck.

A child’s heart is different than that of us grown ups. It can never remain bowed down for long. It’s very resilient and elastic. It can forgive and encompass the entire world in it with space to spare and has the capability of healing itself of any hurt. We all are born with this magical heart. In the process of growing up, we lose these magical characteristics somewhere along the line. It’s a debatable point if growing up is good or bad for mankind.

Death has a sobering effect. The entire village, which was already bowed down under the anger of the brutal sky, was now subjected to another unmentionable fear. But, even death failed to subdue the boisterous spirit of childhood. The famed and noble dacoit Pratap Singh was attacking the neighboring kingdom of the wicked king Chandrasen. This time Chandu refused to be beaten as always and both friends fought and tore at each other. Things were happy and satisfactory as usual.

Pintya woke up and staggered out of his hut and was amazed! A large new car was parked before Tatyaram’s hut. The sarpanch of the village was standing with folded hands before someone dressed in white. Pintya was mesmerized by the shining vehicle and caressed it gently. He hopped away like a startled hare to inform his brigade about this unusual incident.

The sarpanch was euphoric. His visitor was the PA of the Member of Parliament from the opposition party who wanted to visit the village and pay a compensation of one lakh to the bereaved widow as a token of sympathy from the merciful party. This was the first time that a political dignitary would visit this small village. The sarpanch was aware what this may mean to his political ambitions. If handled correctly, this visit may be the much awaited and long coveted ticket to the mainstream politics. He swore to make it a shining success.

The village common was cleaned. The streets were swept. Tatyaram’s house, which was painted when it was constructed by his father, 60 years ago, was whitewashed from outside. The village was apprehensive. When one is buffeted for too long by fate, one gets the jaundiced eye and views favorable things with suspicion. The village was scared that this may be the beginning of another calamity, which will compound their already unbearable misery. The children were immune to this depressing pessimism and were treating this event as a celebration. An optimist is a person, who thinks that bullshit is a fertilizer and a child is an epitome of undying optimism.

Finally the auspicious day arrived when the MP of the opposition party was to visit the wretched village. A small stage was erected in the village common, outside the Bajrang Bali temple, who was smiling at this display of human hypocrisy through the newly painted door of his temple. The dusty streets of the village were decorated by buntings and flags of the opposition party. A shy crowd of motley ragged people were watching from a distance. The sarpanch and his gang were dressed to nines and seemed to be everywhere. Someone shouted that the great man has arrived. Ladies from the household of sarpanch stepped forward, clad in nine yards of sarees draped in Maharashtrian style, with a thal of aarti, and the MP was welcomed. Children were agog to see the gun totting bodyguards and the well fed and handsomely dressed MP.

An artist finds inspiration in the most mundane of the subjects. Everything has a story. It just requires an imaginative mind to unearth it. Pintya found the subject for his next skylarking in this event. He will be the great MP and Chandu will be a notorious bandit, whom the MP will slay bare handed. Our hero was a bloodthirsty little devil like your writer.

The great man climbed on the stage. He was welcomed by the sarpanch, who praised him and his party for their kindness shown towards this backwater village. The MP was smiling and nodding, spreading his warmth over the poverty striken village, which was basking in the sunshine of his kindness.

Part 3

Sarjerao Sawant, the MP, was not a stranger to poverty. His father owned a not so successful chain of fast food joint in South Bombay. His family had only 2 cars. As a child, Mr Sawant never had a bike. He just had a 21 gears sports cycle, which was manufactured in India.

He was not a stranger to the cruel pangs of hunger too. Only yesterday he missed his afternoon meal and was very hungry till he could find snacks at 7pm. There was a similar instance last year, when he had to go without dinner while on a tour. He knew how it felt to go without food for hours at a stretch. Today he had a hearty breakfast in the State Guesthouse to avoid a recurrence.

He looked at the assembly with an empathy, which only those can feel who have experienced the misery firsthand. He finally stood up, cleared his throat importantly and his well modulated voice boomed over the hushed village.

“It’s a sad state of events when the farmers, who are the providers for the nation, commit suicide in desperation as they are unable to feed their own family! My heart screams in pain and horror to see what the gods of the lands are reduced to by our ruling government! If they would have done their job, the farmers would have been prosperous.”

Chandu whispered to Pintya, “Can the government make the clouds rain?”

“Of course, you fool!” Pintya laughed at the ignorance of his mate, “The government is very powerful. They have this huge machine in their palace which fills water in the clouds…” He would have explained this classified and advanced technology in detail, but was slapped by someone and threatened to sit quietly.

“People of Chandarpur! It’s neither the situation, nor my nature to blame someone else for a deed gone horribly wrong. I’m here to show that unlike this government, my party cares for the farmers. We are offering one lakh to the bereaved family. I know that this money will not bring the deceased back, but it’s just a token of our respect to the creed, which causes the food to be brought to our tables. After all, we can’t really eat money!” He smiled and looked around at this conversational gem, which apparently was well rehearsed and much used. His cronies smiled politely and applauded. There was a scattered applause from the crowd.

“What did he say?” A nearly deaf and old farmer asked his neighbor, who shrugged.

The MP alighted from the stage importantly and went to the freshly whitewashed hovel of Tatyaram, the news reporters followed him with their cameras and mikes. Pintya beat them to it and was already standing at the hut. The village didn’t have a television, but it was not a small satisfaction to the glory seeking child that his image will be broadcasted all over the nation. The bereaved widow arrived and the MP presented the check grandiloquently. Everyone applauded. Cameras clicked. The MP ruffled the hair of Pintya, thinking him to be the son of the dead farmer. Cameras zoomed in to capture this great moment. Everything was hunky-dory. The MP bent down condescendingly and asked the kid in a paternal voice, “What’s your name, son?”

“Pratap.” Pintya fumbled nervously.

“A great name. A name worthy of a great future. We will ensure that you have a bright future, son. Who do you think is responsible for this great loss of yours?”

The cameras waited expectantly, waiting for Pintya to throw some light on this enigma. The usually effervescent Pintya experienced the stage fright, which better people than him have experienced before. The smiling politician cajoled him further. The cameras waited. Pintya still hung fire. His toes were drawing an intricate pattern in the dusty ground.

“Say something, son. You are our future!” The smiling MP looked around, and was gratified by the approving nods of his sycophants. Someone nudged Pintya and he mumbled something.

“Speak louder, my boy! We all are waiting for the verdict of our next generation.” The politician gave his best patronizing smile.

Pintya blurted out, “I think that if you would have given this one lakh a week earlier, Tatya kaka would still have been alive.”

The cameras froze. The politician was trying to close his open mouth. The silent crowd was watching curiously. The flies buzzed their humming drone in the stifling heat. Let’s draw a merciful curtain over this embarrassing scene and move on.

Somewhere a cloud rumbled in distance and the skies darkened. The usually arid wind carried an exhilarating whiff of incoming rains.

The smell, which the better educated people call petrichor elsewhere.

“Based on the evidence of the City Sheriff, the Royal Court finds Prince Chandrabhan guilty of stealing pots of the town potter. The guilty is to be tied in the middle of the market and to be given 50 lashes as a common criminal.” Maharaja Prataprao gave his just verdict in his grave voice.

The guilty looked up in anger. “How is it that I’m always punished? Why are you never lashed like a common criminal?” Prince Chandrabhan retorted indignantly.

“Because, I’m the King and you are a Royal Prince! And being a king gives me greater responsibilities as well as privileges.” The King puffed up his chest and said importantly.

“Greater responsibilities be damned!” the bound culprit blasphemed against the Royal Majesty. “How come you always become a king and I’m always punished for something or another? Why can’t I be the king for a change?”

“Beware, O condemned prisoner! You can be beheaded for this rebellious mutiny!” The incensed king tried to rise from his throne in Royal Majesty. This was too much for the rickety throne with three tottering legs and it toppled over in the ditch, taking His Royal Highness with it. The courtiers and the condemned man let go a not-so-courtly howl of laughter. While the emperor tried to climb back, bruised, his shirt torn and spitting gravel stuck in his teeth, he saw his mother turning the corner with a slipper in her hand and yelled, “My mom!” The court adjourned haphazardly and the courtiers scattered. The Royal Prince was caught by the attacking enemy as his hands were tied behind his back and the offending slipper was subjected to his Royal Posterior. He somehow managed to escape with a tingling bum.

The court reconvened near the empty school, where Pintya, the king was attacked by Chandu, the prince. The courtiers were promptly divided into two armies. The bloody and gory war raged for many years and thousands were killed. In the evening, a truce was signed, prisoners exchanged and the two friends walked home with hands in each other’s neck.

Summer vacations had started last week and the brats of the village of Chandarpur in the famine struck Buldhana district of Maharashtra were beyond themselves. The villagers were harassed by their day-to-day antics. The skies were clear with little white clouds floating with the swift summer wind like tiny bunnies romping in a blue meadow. The clear blue skies, that would have gladdened the heart of an English gentleman, filled the hearts of the poor farmers with foreboding as they were the harbingers of dry season ahead. Last year rain was elusive and the crops had suffered. The meager crop of sugarcane was sold at half the expected price as it was sold standing in the fields. The cash crop of cotton was suffering without irrigation. The farmers initially tried to water their dying crops through well water, but when that was inaccessible too, they left it to the mercy of seasons and just stared at the merciless skies with vacant eyes.

Pintya was sitting under the tamarind tree near the school and waited for his friends impatiently. He found a thorny stick. A stick will always remain a stick in the hands of someone like yours truly, who’s an unromantic and unimaginative adult. But, a stick can take various forms in the hands of a fertile brained child. It turned into a Dandpatta and the wielder became Bajiprabhu Deshpande, the fabled warrior, who was born in the same region, some 400 years ago and laid his life for his master, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Pintya attacked and conquered the fort of Sinhgadh by defeating the vast Mughal army and died in the foray. It was a satisfactory battle as usual, where hundreds died. During the heat of the battle, one of the thorns in the stick grazed his thigh and caused a trickle of blood. This made the battle more realistic, where blood of noble warriors flowed from those impregnable Sahyadri mountains and the Mughal army was crushed mercilessly. Pintya was the warrior Bajiprabhu. He was the horse. He was the Mughal overlord ruling the fort. He was the Mughal soldiers, who died under his sword. He was Shivaji, who cried on his own death. He also tried to become the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, but did not know Urdu. So, this emperor used the Marathi lingo to blast his commanders for the loss of such a strategic fort. Overall, it was a fruitful and a satisfactory day.

After a long time he saw his friend Chandu walking towards him. Pintya hailed him and cursed him for his tardiness. Chandu was somber. Pintya ran towards the village, when he heard the news which Chandu had.

To Be Continue in Part 2…

Bible says that miseries are sent to us by the Lord God to test our mettle. Those with a virtuous spirit pass the test and glow like an angel. The weaker willed succumb to it and are burned in the everlasting fires of hell till eternity. Tatyaram was one of the weaker willed ones. He couldn’t see his kids crying with hunger and his wife suffering without any medical help. He was hoping for the cash crop and the rains, which would have ended their misery. The skies betrayed him. Finally, he gave up and took the easy and cowardly way out by hanging himself. There was a mob outside his house. Pintya and Chandu joined it and tried to see the dead body. Someone spotted them and kicked them away. They climbed a nearby neem tree and saw Tatyaram’s wife crying and his children huddled near a shrouded body. Pintya hoped for a breeze, so that he can see the face of the deceased. He had never seen a dead person before and was curious.

After a long time, both the friends climbed down and went to their homes. Each lost in his own mysterious thoughts. Then Chandu voiced his fearful thoughts, “How could he have died?”

“You don’t know?” Pintya froze on the spot and looked at his friend in wonder. “There is a dreaded dacoit near Amravati. They plunder rich and poor alike. Last night I woke up to pee and heard clap of horse hooves.”

Chandu stared at Pintya open mouthed, “But Tatya Kaka didn’t even have a handful of wheat in his house! He couldn’t even pay his one lakh rupees loan back to the bank! Why would a dacoit kill him?”

Pintya looked around suspiciously and said, “You never know! People like Tatya Kaka are very deep. May be he had some ancestral jewels buried in his house? These dacoits know everything, mind you!” He chewed the thoughts for a minute and said, “Still, he shouldn’t have been killed. He always used to mend my kites for me. Last night I went near his house after I heard those bandits. I wish I’d been there earlier. It might have made all the difference! So all I can tell you is why he was murdered…” He was again lost in his thoughts. Both friends went to their home in the gathering gloom, hands in each other’s neck.

A child’s heart is different than that of us grown ups. It can never remain bowed down for long. It’s very resilient and elastic. It can forgive and encompass the entire world in it with space to spare and has the capability of healing itself of any hurt. We all are born with this magical heart. In the process of growing up, we lose these magical characteristics somewhere along the line. It’s a debatable point if growing up is good or bad for mankind.

Death has a sobering effect. The entire village, which was already bowed down under the anger of the brutal sky, was now subjected to another unmentionable fear. But, even death failed to subdue the boisterous spirit of childhood. The famed and noble dacoit Pratap Singh was attacking the neighboring kingdom of the wicked king Chandrasen. This time Chandu refused to be beaten as always and both friends fought and tore at each other. Things were happy and satisfactory as usual.

Pintya woke up and staggered out of his hut and was amazed! A large new car was parked before Tatyaram’s hut. The sarpanch of the village was standing with folded hands before someone dressed in white. Pintya was mesmerized by the shining vehicle and caressed it gently. He hopped away like a startled hare to inform his brigade about this unusual incident.

The sarpanch was euphoric. His visitor was the PA of the Member of Parliament from the opposition party who wanted to visit the village and pay a compensation of one lakh to the bereaved widow as a token of sympathy from the merciful party. This was the first time that a political dignitary would visit this small village. The sarpanch was aware what this may mean to his political ambitions. If handled correctly, this visit may be the much awaited and long coveted ticket to the mainstream politics. He swore to make it a shining success.

The village common was cleaned. The streets were swept. Tatyaram’s house, which was painted when it was constructed by his father, 60 years ago, was whitewashed from outside. The village was apprehensive. When one is buffeted for too long by fate, one gets the jaundiced eye and views favorable things with suspicion. The village was scared that this may be the beginning of another calamity, which will compound their already unbearable misery. The children were immune to this depressing pessimism and were treating this event as a celebration. An optimist is a person, who thinks that bullshit is a fertilizer and a child is an epitome of undying optimism.

Finally the auspicious day arrived when the MP of the opposition party was to visit the wretched village. A small stage was erected in the village common, outside the Bajrang Bali temple, who was smiling at this display of human hypocrisy through the newly painted door of his temple. The dusty streets of the village were decorated by buntings and flags of the opposition party. A shy crowd of motley ragged people were watching from a distance. The sarpanch and his gang were dressed to nines and seemed to be everywhere. Someone shouted that the great man has arrived. Ladies from the household of sarpanch stepped forward, clad in nine yards of sarees draped in Maharashtrian style, with a thal of aarti, and the MP was welcomed. Children were agog to see the gun totting bodyguards and the well fed and handsomely dressed MP.

An artist finds inspiration in the most mundane of the subjects. Everything has a story. It just requires an imaginative mind to unearth it. Pintya found the subject for his next skylarking in this event. He will be the great MP and Chandu will be a notorious bandit, whom the MP will slay bare handed. Our hero was a bloodthirsty little devil like your writer.

The great man climbed on the stage. He was welcomed by the sarpanch, who praised him and his party for their kindness shown towards this backwater village. The MP was smiling and nodding, spreading his warmth over the poverty striken village, which was basking in the sunshine of his kindness.

To Be Continue in Part 3…

Sarjerao Sawant, the MP, was not a stranger to poverty. His father owned a not so successful chain of fast food joint in South Bombay. His family had only 2 cars. As a child, Mr Sawant never had a bike. He just had a 21 gears sports cycle, which was manufactured in India.

He was not a stranger to the cruel pangs of hunger too. Only yesterday he missed his afternoon meal and was very hungry till he could find snacks at 7pm. There was a similar instance last year, when he had to go without dinner while on a tour. He knew how it felt to go without food for hours at a stretch. Today he had a hearty breakfast in the State Guesthouse to avoid a recurrence.

He looked at the assembly with an empathy, which only those can feel who have experienced the misery firsthand. He finally stood up, cleared his throat importantly and his well modulated voice boomed over the hushed village.

“It’s a sad state of events when the farmers, who are the providers for the nation, commit suicide in desperation as they are unable to feed their own family! My heart screams in pain and horror to see what the gods of the lands are reduced to by our ruling government! If they would have done their job, the farmers would have been prosperous.”

Chandu whispered to Pintya, “Can the government make the clouds rain?”

“Of course, you fool!” Pintya laughed at the ignorance of his mate, “The government is very powerful. They have this huge machine in their palace which fills water in the clouds…” He would have explained this classified and advanced technology in detail, but was slapped by someone and threatened to sit quietly.

“People of Chandarpur! It’s neither the situation, nor my nature to blame someone else for a deed gone horribly wrong. I’m here to show that unlike this government, my party cares for the farmers. We are offering one lakh to the bereaved family. I know that this money will not bring the deceased back, but it’s just a token of our respect to the creed, which causes the food to be brought to our tables. After all, we can’t really eat money!” He smiled and looked around at this conversational gem, which apparently was well rehearsed and much used. His cronies smiled politely and applauded. There was a scattered applause from the crowd.

“What did he say?” A nearly deaf and old farmer asked his neighbor, who shrugged.

The MP alighted from the stage importantly and went to the freshly whitewashed hovel of Tatyaram, the news reporters followed him with their cameras and mikes. Pintya beat them to it and was already standing at the hut. The village didn’t have a television, but it was not a small satisfaction to the glory seeking child that his image will be broadcasted all over the nation. The bereaved widow arrived and the MP presented the check grandiloquently. Everyone applauded. Cameras clicked. The MP ruffled the hair of Pintya, thinking him to be the son of the dead farmer. Cameras zoomed in to capture this great moment. Everything was hunky-dory. The MP bent down condescendingly and asked the kid in a paternal voice, “What’s your name, son?”

“Pratap.” Pintya fumbled nervously.

“A great name. A name worthy of a great future. We will ensure that you have a bright future, son. Who do you think is responsible for this great loss of yours?”

The cameras waited expectantly, waiting for Pintya to throw some light on this enigma. The usually effervescent Pintya experienced the stage fright, which better people than him have experienced before. The smiling politician cajoled him further. The cameras waited. Pintya still hung fire. His toes were drawing an intricate pattern in the dusty ground.

“Say something, son. You are our future!” The smiling MP looked around, and was gratified by the approving nods of his sycophants. Someone nudged Pintya and he mumbled something.

“Speak louder, my boy! We all are waiting for the verdict of our next generation.” The politician gave his best patronizing smile.

Pintya blurted out, “I think that if you would have given this one lakh a week earlier, Tatya kaka would still have been alive.”

The cameras froze. The politician was trying to close his open mouth. The silent crowd was watching curiously. The flies buzzed their humming drone in the stifling heat. Let’s draw a merciful curtain over this embarrassing scene and move on.

Somewhere a cloud rumbled in distance and the skies darkened. The usually arid wind carried an exhilarating whiff of incoming rains.

The smell, which the better educated people call petrichor elsewhere.

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22 Response Comments

  • Aparna Mondal03/01/2019 at 10:24 AM

    Beautiful story !! Through the simple innocent children what a wide picture is presented ! The end could not have been any better !

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 12:52 PM

      Thank you so much, Aparna! 😊

  • Koral Dasgupta03/01/2019 at 11:25 AM

    Actually fantastic story. Superb flow and turn of the plot. And such real characters. Your stories are always so visual, Rakesh.

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 12:58 PM

      Coming from you, It’s indeed a compliment, Koral! 😊😊

  • Advait Berde03/01/2019 at 12:06 PM

    Very smooth narrative, weaving in and out of reality and fiction. The story softens every impact it creates, but leaves the reader with the hard hitting reality of life, poverty and death. While it is difficult to determine if this is a true story or not, the overall feel of the story will definitely be empathetic, if not relatable, to the reader.

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 1:01 PM

      Thank you so much, Advait! 😊

      The story is a pure fiction, though it was triggered by a news by some politician somewhere in darkness, in which he proclaimed loan waiver for those farmers, who had committed suicide. It was draconian a judgement, which would have suited Count Vlad Drakul. I mean, we are expected to die first to switch on the mercy! Sic!

  • Nidhi Jangid03/01/2019 at 7:10 PM

    A story with which today’s generation can truly relate! It describes how people considers government as powerful as god and their expectations from the same! But they only get is a life full of pity and troubles! The writer is successful enough to establish an emotional connection with his brilliant narration skills!

    Completely agree with the final answer of Pintya(Pratap) ..it’s remarkable! 👍

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 12:57 PM

      Nowadays, the best businesses are religion, education and politics, in ascending order of investment. Religion requires the least investment and dedication and politics the most of both. They are all a business, nonetheless.

      Thank you for reading and liking it! 😊

  • NANDANA DASGUPTA03/01/2019 at 9:51 PM

    I’m really at a loss of words now! Every time I read a story, I feel amused. How wonderfully have you crafted the entire story, all the characters are so filled with life. This story is different from the others that came out from your bag. But this story makes us aware of the harsh reality that we all live in! Still kudos to you, keep up with your Writings, ‘Surprise us’!

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 1:03 PM

      Happy that you liked it, Ms Dasgupta! 😊

      Some pills are sugarcoated, still they leave a bitter aftertaste in our mouth, in spite of their sweet exterior.

  • Swetha Amit04/01/2019 at 9:24 AM

    A compelling story with well chalked our characters. Really loved reading it. Brings out the current harsh scenario to perfection and can completely relate it to the conditions we are subjected to today. Keep writing Rakesh!

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 1:06 PM

      You neatly summed up the conditions we live in hard, harsh and self centered. I’m the last guy to preach, but it’s true, unfortunately.

      Happy that you liked it, Swetha!

  • RINKY04/01/2019 at 4:08 PM

    A well-knit story indeed. Starting from the plot structure to characterisation is beautiful. The reality is perfectly brought and emotions are wonderfully crafted. Sir, you don’t fail to amuse us with your stories. Looking forward to more like this.

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 5:09 PM

      Thank you, ma’am! Hope I won’t disappoint! 😊

  • Saisharanyadash04/01/2019 at 9:13 PM

    Truly amazing story, going in the flow.I liked the third part where the politician bothered to ask the boy in such a loving voice because nowadays politicians are not like this….l wish they could be caring not only for themselves but also the people.
    A truly awesome story.Actually awesome is not the word for the story………
    Fantastic, fabulous, amazing, wonderful,great…huh I stop I cannot find more words for the very very very well written story.
    Looking forward for more such stories

    Last but not the least…….
    Five stars
    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 5:11 PM

      Arre, bas bas! 😄

      I’m really happy that you liked it, but such superlative praises are bound to give me swollen head!

      I’m really happy that I was able to impress you to this extent, sir! Hope I can adhere to this benchmark! 🙂

  • Boijayanto Mukherjee05/01/2019 at 12:19 AM

    A very thoroughly detailed, well constructed, extensively well thought satire that contains highly memorable as well as quotable lines. This story that sheds an unapologetic light at hypocrisy, innocence and scenarios prevalent in the country is surely to become an instant hit. The sublime flow of irony, rhetorical machinery and unabashed innocence throughout is the crux of the story. A highly captivating and fresh tale which never asks for acceptance; just presents it’s soul in a child-like fantasised body. Periodic use of ironical sentences and extremely iconic lines form the edges of this sword that cuts clean through the ideas of a perfect social caricature. The reader never feels bored and on the contrary, appreciatively reads on and on. Great to see such tales still exist, heavily reminding us of writers like Munshi Premchand.

    • Rakesh Pandey05/01/2019 at 5:16 PM

      I’ve always thought that the hardest task for a performer isn’t their creations. The hardest task is to fashion a befitting reply when their creations are appreciated. It’s easy to create something out of nothing, but it’s always difficult to accept a compliment without seeming pretentious!

      As always, am humbled, Boijayanto da! I always was a fan of Munshi Premchand, he being one of the few masters I’ve really read. Coincidentally, he was born in Lamahi, which is the next village to mine in Benaras. 🙂

      Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Insha Faridoon05/01/2019 at 4:21 PM

    One of the best stories I have read in a long time. It is a realistic tale with a sprinkle of childish imagination. It takes a look at the callous attitudes of politicians, the poverty-stricken villagers and their blind faith in the government, and the struggles of the farmers in the country. The narrative technique makes the story enjoyable for the readers and highlights the innocence of children. All in all, a great story!

    • Rakesh Pandey06/01/2019 at 10:49 AM

      Thank you so much, Insha! Glad that you liked it! 🙂

  • Bishakha Moitra22/01/2019 at 5:18 PM

    This is gem of a story. Fantastic narrative. I could visualise the entire story. I enjoyed the sarcasms as well as the innocence in the story. Very detailed description. A great read.

    • Rakesh01/02/2019 at 12:40 PM

      Thank you so much, Bishakha! Sorry for the late reply! Somehow I failed to get notification for the comment.

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