Ravi ki duniya

Ravi ki duniya

Monday, September 6, 2010


      There is a popular folklore in northern part of India --- “Money! Thou have three names Parsu, Parsa...Paras Ram’. It indicates progressive riches of a man called Paras Ram, symbolizing how the society treats one when one is penniless pauper. The same Parsu becomes respectable Paras Ram when he acquires wealth. I grew up with a similar legend. In this case money had three names Kisna, Kishan...Kishan lal.

     He was real tall, fair and handsome. He bore striking similarity with cine star Feroz Khan, he could effortlessly pass as his twin. Yes ! He was the eldest of Sattu brothers. He had a modern and spacious four storeyed house in Aligarh. He was a rich man and like majority of them fond of all good things life offered – drinks, latest electrical gadgets, motorbikes and pretty women. Not necessarily in that order. I always noticed him in expensive yet elegant kurta-payjama, gold buttons hanging loosely together on a gold (not golden) chain. He was blessed with a deep over bearing and over powering voice. His wife was an extremely warm and noble person did more charity than was considered normal. Hardly anybody left empty handed from her threshold be it beggar, borrower or a relative. He had a large family of three beautiful daughters and three handsome sons. In Aligarh if I feared anyone it was him. Like me half of Aligarh was kind of overawed by his sheer towering personality.

     Though his eldest daughter was my age,I was paly with his son. We would indulge in those boys things, including smoking cigarettes once in a while just to get that ‘kick’ and experience what it was to be ‘adult’. Part of our nay every teenager’s growing up, I believe. He would chew pan listen to finest music and owned latest radiogram. One, I particularly remember for its massive size. He would proudly announce eight band radio together with record player as latest in series. It had that contracting and dilating radium polished eye which would shine in dark and flicker with every sound modulation. Come evening and his drinks session will begin with his favorite music in attendance. He was friendly to all. It was difficult to determine whether people feared him more or respected him more. I think they loved and respected him out of fear. He was known for helping poor and doling out loans to all those who cared to knock at his doors.

     Looks can definitely kill. He was a fan of film actress Suraiyya and desire to see her in person made him run away to Bombay. Moving from studio to studio he located a studio where Suraiyya was shooting. He readily enrolled himself as a worker to hold n carry petromax lamp on his head just to have a glimpse of his dream queen. Many years after, he would recall, affirm and re-affirm to ‘all ears’ audience “these heroines don’t look half as good in films, they are as delicate and beautiful as apsaras (fairy) in person”.

     He was adventurous, splurged his money and never hesitated in making decisions big or small. He took life real cool and casual. Once he went to see some show buying the costliest ticket but he was uncomfortable as people around him were making conversation in strange language – English

     On the spur of moment rather than having to feel ill at ease through out the show he moved and sat in gallery (front stall) where he found the audience warm and talking in a language he could understand. The year was 1971; a film named Jai Bangladesh was making ripples. It was running at Sheila theater, Paharganj, near New Delhi station. He happened to be in Delhi. He persuaded me, not that I a teenager required any persuasion to ‘take’ him to ‘show’ the film. Needless to say he bought costliest ticket paying large sum as ‘black’.

     For some strange reason he wanted to marry off his daughter to a Police officer. When one such proposal came his way, I had accompanied him to Daryaganj police station where the groom-to-be was undergoing training as probationary sub-inspector of Delhi police. Everything was fixed up post haste. Policemen learn the tricks of the trade pretty fast and rather young. Just before the marriage could be solemnized the groom-to-be was caught accepting bribe. I still remember there was some Rule 5 under which his (a probationer’s) services could be summarily terminated. As the case went on for ages, I was reminded of the poem Humpty Dumpty.
  Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
  Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

     So none of the judicial wranglings could save him.  All the influence and all the money of the father-in-law could not put the son-in-law together again in Police station.  Marriage did take place.  Groom had to be contended with odd job in DTC where his father worked.

     Our man once fell ill. He was admitted in the Irwin Hospital now rechristened Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narain (LNJP) Hospital.  When I went to see him during visiting hours, he was gone on a date with the nurse looking after him.  He had taken her for a movie in the Delite theater across the Asaf Ali road, Delhi – 6.  Once his last drink got spilled. That was last of the booze left in the bottle.  He became so listless that dead in night he hired a taxi and went around half the city to find booze.  Delhi, unlike Mumbai did not have bar culture.  Shops used to close at seven thirty in the evening – a feature which has earned Delhi the epithet of being Babu City.  So our man went around and returned empty handed with a heavier heart and lighter purse. 

     During one of my visits to Aligarh I saw a vehicle covered with tarpaulin in his court yard.  On my asking, his wife informed him about my curiosity.  This was enough to provoke him to uncover his prized possession with child like eagerness – a brand new RoyalEnfield.  I was promptly offered a joyride.

     Off and on, he would be hospitalized for ailments in the course of and arising out of his unbridled drinking.  On the first sign of ‘feel good’ he will open the bottle in the hospital itself sharing it with one and all.  Two places I have witnessed ‘equality’ at its best.  One, the place of worship, other the wine shop.  Normally, the body’s organs are made to last long, hence, are very strong.  However, such gross abuse by way of indiscriminate drinking binges were sure to take its toll.  I recall his favorite brands were Highland Chief, Black knight, Imperial and Hayward.  As they say, he was not into seeing the brand or choosy about what he was drinking, he was into drinking and drinking more, be it ‘desi’ or ‘english’. 

     He was admitted for the nth time in a Delhi hospital.  He was indeed in a bad shape this time.  Less than a week’s hospitalization and he bid adieu to this world.  He was loved by all those he came in contact with.  He was really a large-hearted man.  It was difficult to decide whether his heart was larger or his pocket deeper.  He must have helped numberless people without expecting any return.  On his cremation at Nigambodh Ghat, Delhi someone commented pointing towards the rather small sized container “Put more ghee in the pyre…. More ghee than this was served daily to his dogs”.

PS:  You must be wondering I have not talked about his vocation. He was the ‘Matka King’ of Aligarh.

No comments:

Post a Comment