Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed
by Vaman Acharya
It was 5.30 in the evening and I was about to move for an evening walk. Suddenly, there was a roaring cloud in the sky and the rain was certain. Just five minutes back the sky was clear. I remained at home. At the same time, an election campaign vehicle passed through on the road. Suddenly, an incident happened 25 years back, triggered my mind. I tried to recollect the same.
I was working as a Manager at the Extension Counter of a bank's branch at Pavanpur. I used to travel daily by bus from Om Nagar to Pavanpur, and back. The bus timings were most convenient.
One day the bus was late by two hours. My routine practice was to visit the main branch first and proceed along with the cashier either by auto or by other means of transport. I reached the main branch very late. The cashier had already left. The Extension counter is about three kilometres from the main branch. That day there was no auto or bus on the road. The reason was not known. There was no strike in the town. I was in a disturbed mood.
Luckily one jeep was going towards our Extension counter. The jeep was stopped there. The driver and another person went to the tea stall. I requested the driver to give me a lift up to our extension counter. He just smiled. I could not understand, whether he would oblige me or not. In those days, the election momentum was in full swing. The jeep was decorated with the big posters and flags of the political party. The other person in the vehicle has entrusted the job of shouting with the help of the mike to vote for the party. I was in a puzzle, whether to go by this vehicle or not? I was not supposed to make a trip with this vehicle, which belongs to a political party.
Balasubramanya an old man, who was there on the spot stopped me for a while and said,
"What is this, Vasu? Don't you know using a vehicle of the political party is an offence and you will be booked as per the law? The punishment may be losing your job and imprisonment."
"Yes sir, I know the law. What can I do? I am in hurry. If I miss this vehicle, there are no means of transport here. I am already late by two hours. The customers are waiting in the bank," I replied.
"I am a senior citizen of this town. It is my duty to protect
the law. If you want to disrespect the law, I have no objection. I will report the matter to your Bank's higher authority and Election Commission," said Balasubramanya smilingly. He was in a hurry and left the place.
I became nervous at that moment. The driver was not ready to give me a lift. He was patiently listening to our conversation. Luckily, one of my childhood friends called Mahesh came there on his two-wheeler. He stopped for a while and observed my pitiable condition.
"Vasu, don't worry. You may go by this jeep. You know I am practising here as a lawyer for the last five years. The old man is right. It is his habit to create the humorous situation. He is a nice gentleman. I am proceeding to the court, which is in opposite direction. The case is very urgent. My client is waiting there. I know the driver of this vehicle. I will ask him to help you. If something happens for violating the law, I am here to defend you," said Mahesh.
"Mahesh thank you. This is not the proper occasion for a joke. I gave him the respect due to his age and elder brother of my colleague. I too laughed along with him. The laughter brings people together and reduces the stress. Laughter also makes our inner organs work better."
"Vasu, you are correct. Let us discuss the legal aspect after some time," said Mahesh.
He called the driver and told him to drop me at the bank's Extension counter. The driver expressed his inability to help me as there was no space to sit. The front seats were occupied by the driver and the other person. A lot of election materials were dumped behind the space of the jeep.
Mahesh asked me to sit on his two-wheeler. He told his client to wait for some time in the court. As per the rule, both of us should have helmets. Ignoring this rule, he took a risk for my sake. He stopped the two-wheeler at the Extension counter and proceeded immediately to the court. I expressed my gratitude to him.
When I reached the Bank, there were very few customers. The first-hour rush was managed by the cashier. He gave me vouchers, cheques and other documents for my signature. He briefed me on the transactions. I expressed thanks to the cashier.
I came back from the nostalgic memories, when I saw my wife Anupama standing before me with a cup of tea.
I remember even today the timely help extended by my friend Mahesh.***