A refugee goes beyond limits

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Manoj Bhai was the most powerful and most needed person in my colony. Officially, he was the assistant of my dad. Un-officially, to every one in the street he was a trouble shooter, an advisor, a go-getter, an errand boy, a part-time driver, a chowkidar, a cook and a very punctual escort to colony kids on their way to and from school bus stop.

Submitted: September 18, 2012

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Submitted: September 18, 2012

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Manoj Bhai!!

O Manoj Bhai!!!

This was the call that I often heard in different voices every day when I sat in my study in Dhanbad.

Manoj Bhai was the most powerful and most needed person in my colony. Officially, he was the assistant of my dad. Un-officially, to every one in the street he was a trouble shooter, an advisor, a go-getter, an errand boy, a part-time driver, a chowkidar, a cook and a very punctual escort to colony kids on their way to and from school bus stop. His 6X9 feet store room of our house - turned personal room, to the advantage of every one, opened on the street side. My mother - through her training had turned this country bumpkin into a wonderful cook as much as her husband my Dad turned him into a wonderfully obedient, efficient and sincere worker. In totality, he became the best possible caretaker cum cook of our house. But he did not delimit himself to those trainings. He had an innate urge to fly past fixed posts and learnt voluntarily many things which in no way lay in the pale of his responsibilities. He became darling of everyone in the house and of the people who lived in the colony. That is the reason everyone in the colony or in my house who was in need or in trouble or simply in want of company called him out any time from the early morning to the late in the night; 24X7.  And he attended to everyone with equal zest personifying the grand Hindu theory of Karma.  Not just that, if he didn’t do a thing well he will get scolding too, which Manoj bhai will gladly accept with a smile as if it was due him! Why was he so much service-oriented, I would sometimes ask myself!

Then one day he wanted to go on leave for three days, which my Dad instantly agreed to. But soon we learnt, touchingly, that on all those three days he would have had least to do inside or outside the house. For the two of those three days before a Sunday, MCC had called for a certain protest bundh which every one in Dhanbad accepted diligently (even with thanks by the students and government workers alike). But he came back in the evening of the second day itself with a substantially heavy shopping bag in his hand; barged into our kitchen, kept some mangoes & apples on the kitchen shelf, and shyly announced to my mother that he would soon marry the girl of his choice. We congratulated him and tickled him to say a few more things about his fiancé.

“I worked in her father’s fields after my father was tired of working for that rich family. I used to see her regularly. I talked to her a few times. That time I wouldn’t dare ask for her hand. But thanks to this job, I mustered courage about two months back and talked to her father. He had then not agreed. Then, sir (my Dad), you got me training in driving and the license!! I boasted to him last month that I was a driver and would soon buy my own taxi. I just said that Sir. Please don’t mind. But he has agreed to the marriage now.” 

His innocence jumbled in worldly wisdom and a dream touched all of us very deeply. Me, my family & few friends of our colony attended Manoj Bhai’s marriage in his idyllic village. He didn’t come back with his bride. He was everyone’s favourite still for his different skills, readiness to carry begaari, and for all those qualities that made him an unforgettable character in one’s drama of life. He promoted himself as a part-time driver whenever the regular one went on leave. Soon after he started driving smoothly, he brought his wife to that small room. His pretty wife came to our house just once. She refused to visit any other house from where the frequent calls came for Manoj Bhai to do errands. Soon after, she asked Manoj Bahi to relocate. He did; and then his troubles started. Everyone in the colony, seemed to us, had associated the tenancy of our residence to Manoj Bhai and not to us!! He was everyone’s neighbour; others in the house were just there by the way!! Manoj Bhai was still his worldly-wise but a humble self, but the neighbours were all annoyed with him. They started picking up quarrels with him. Manoj Bhai could not understand the new behaviour. My Dad & Mom attributed this new phenomenon to his marriage or to the “haughty behaviour” of his wife. Our house that was once the epitome of love, respect and good behaviour for Manoj Bhai, suddenly became a hated place.

There in Dhanbad those days, I used to study in 11th Standard. Over the time, i rarely got the chance to meet Manoj Bhai then he become the Driver of our School Bus, now we use to meet each other daily, my sit was fixed in the drivers cabin & for whole 45 minutes we use to chat with each other, this continued for next one year, after my 12th board exam when I informed him that I am going to Delhi, for my IIT & AIEEE he was mad with joy, I too was very happy.

Manoj Bhai continued to serve the Scholl faithfully, but the atmosphere in the neighbourhood got sour and worse day by day. One day he decided to take his wife back to her village, so that he would get her back after arranging a separate house on rent in some other colony. I welcomed that idea. At about the same time, I got my ticket for Delhi. When I informed about the this to Manoj Bhai, he got a bit serious, and said a few polite words, this was the last I saw or even contacted Manoj Bahi.

Recently, when I went through an article in a book by Paulo Coelho I came across this term Jnates law. I remembered Manoj Bhai and the change of behaviour of our neighbourhood.

Aksel Sandemose, the Dane-Norwegian author of the law talks about a town called Jante in his novel where the people must behave according to a certain set of commandments which together made and defined Jante’s law:-

  1. Don’t think you are somebody.
  2. Don’t think you are as good as us.
  3. Don’t think you are smarter than us.
  4. Don’t think you are better than us.
  5. Don’t think you know more than us.
  6. Don’t think you are more important than us.
  7. Don’t think you will ever be anybody.
  8. Don’t think you can laugh at us.
  9. Don’t think anybody gives a damn about you.
  10. Don’t think you can teach us anything.

You would agree with me that the one who invented the wheel was the first one who broke the Stone Age Jante’s law. More advanced the humanity got more prescribing it became. And then again some one broke that law and took the wheel forward. One of my friend told me yesterday over mobile phone that Manoj bhai is still working as a driver in our School in Dhanbad; he had bought a taxi, which his wife controlled; both his sons studied in a school, and he had built a house. And that he was, once again, a hero in his new neighbourhood, but this time, above the hill, far from our Colony.

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