Oye Hari... Hari Oye

This story is again from the chawl of Junagadh. I have tried to recreate it by various discussions that I had with my sister remembering the chawl which has made us what we are today... !!!

Part 1 : PROLOGUE : Bhavna remembers Harikant Masa
 "You know Kalpesh?, the best thing that happened to us was the chawl. Even after 18 years, the place that still controls my dreams is the chawl."
"Yes, I know. In a way, it was good that we didn't have money and ended up being there, in the chawl"
"and you know... I still dream of the chawl... All of them... our landlord lakhifai, Naynaji, Usha Masi and Harikant Masa"
"Ohhh.. Harikant Masa?  How is he? Must be very old now... "
"Yes... He has crossed 70... and can barely see now... can not even get up from the bed... ...   You know this person was our neighbor. Since the partition between the two houses(rooms) was just a thin wooden ply. Both the families could hear what was happening in the other family. I remember, theirs was the first house in the chawl to get a TV set. You might not remember... but they used to pamper us a lot. Every now and then, they would treat us with Dosa parties, Paun Bhajis, Samosa, Pani Puri and what not... he was like a father... You know since we could not afford a lot of items during Sushila's marriage... they gifted us a lot which helped in Sushila's dowry."
"But... as far as I can remember... Harikant Masa was a pauper... and didn't even have a steady job"
"Well... that's just another story"

Part 2 : Mr. Mehta speaks
I have known Hari since he was a boy. I still remember the day he got his job in the Electricity Board. I think, he was the first engineer from this city. I am not sure you know... I am getting too old. 
Every day, people would queue to see him home. So that they could meet him and ask for a favor.
What kind of favor? The usual ones. The members from his community would want him to place some of their people in petty jobs in the department. His neighbors would ask him ways to avoid their electricity bills. His friends would take him out and have parties on his money. They would make him do a lot of bad things. He didn't refuse anyone. Possibly... he didn't see anything wrong in it. For him, honesty was not as big a thing as making his dear ones happy. .. and you know... everybody wants to be a dear one to a successful person.. rite? You know during his prime time, he would use his jeep to even go to a Paanwala.
I always had a feeling, Hari would find himself in a lot of trouble. His friends were not good. They would always make plans to earn money thru Hari's position. I met him one morning. He was not his jovial self. So I asked him if everything was alright. He laughed it off as usual and said... nothing Mr. Mehta, just planning for a small vacation with friends... that's all what he said. Just after a day, I saw police inquiring about him. He was wanted in a scam of 35 lacs. Can you imagine, 35 lacs in those days? It was never heard of.
No... he didn't run away with the money. He never did after any of his crime. He was always there. How could he? The last thing he would do was to harm his family and friends. He surrendered himself immediately. But that's not what surprised me. You know... he took the entire blame on himself. 
Yes, you got it right. His friends had planned it. He was just a pawn. But when it came to accepting the blame. Nobody came forward. Everybody had families to look after. So what if he too had a wife and two daughters. Well.. his friends promised him to look after his family. He was sentenced for 7 years. Due to his good behavior he was let off just after 4 years

He always had troubles after that. Could not afford the earlier luxuries and ended up with his family in the chawl. Luckily, he got a job in the Hospital as a clerk. But there also he could not mend his ways... again forged the signatures and siphoned off around 2 lacs. So I believe... you have the answer now... The Dosas, Samosas and Ice Creams didn't come by his own money.  You know Kalpesh... after everything that has happened. I still think he was an honest person.

Part 3 : The End : Bhavna's visit to Masa.

Dedicated to Harikant Masa who was part of our little chawl and Bhavna who still keeps the old memories alive and visits all the people who formed the chawl... though I know both of them will never read this post.
PS : Blog Name is taken from the film Oye Lucky...Lucky Oye

"So , did you meet Harikant Masa? "

"Yes... I did and I cried like a child. You know he could barely recognize me. Usha Masi had to yell my name twice. But he was so overwhelmed to see me."

"How is he? What did he say?"

"He was so happy and said 

"Arre... Bhavna Beta... It's so good to see you...You know me and your Masi miss you so much. As we don't have anything to do now. We keep remembering the good old days of the chawl. You remember, how did we enjoy our little parties. The chawl is not as it used to be... everybody is new now. Our days were different. Mr. Mehta died some months back. I have not visited the chawl after that. But let me not tell you the sad news. You know... I have been so happy in my life. But sometimes, it makes me sad that I can't see you as well as my daughters. You know... they are also happy but they hardly visit us. Me and your Masi, are just waiting for our last moments. The only way to pass the time is to remember the good old days. You know, I am so glad that you came... nobody visits us these days"
... and then he started crying... I couldn't stay there... I ran away with tears in my eyes"

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Amrita Thavrani Tuesday, March 30, 2010 4:01:00 PM  

Loved the line - For him, honesty was not as big a thing as making his dear ones happy.

Anonymous,  Friday, April 16, 2010 10:44:00 AM  

The flame still burns in you mon ami... you still have the power to move people with your writing....

Rajlakshmi Sunday, April 25, 2010 2:47:00 AM  

such a moving story... very touching and well narrated...

Freak's paradise Sunday, April 25, 2010 5:06:00 PM  

@Amrita : You would love the person even more who follows this principal to the hilt

@Anonymous : Merci Beau-coup !!

@Rajlakshmi : Thanks for your kind comments.