Man Proposes God Disposes!
by Sudha Chandrasekaran
TruHope Pharmacy in Phule Road in the heart of Yemmiganur does not consider pharmacy to be a place for knick-knacks, perfumes, toiletries, beverages and soft drinks. If you ask for a pain-killer it will not give you a tablet or a pill. TruHope derides the labour-saving art of modern day phar¬macy. It mashes its opium and brews its own sedative and medication. To this day pills are prepared at the back of the tall prescription desk; divided further with a scraper; and subsequently rolled with the finger and thumb; and finally after the pills are dusted with calcined magnesia, they are supplied in small pill-boxes. Dilip was Truhope’s night clerk and a friendly guy whom all customers approached without any hesitation. With his straight pointed bespectacled nose and slightly hunch-back figure he is an adviser, an able therapist whose phenomenal sagacity and intelligence is highly respected.
Dilip stayed in a single room apartment and joined Mrs. Mathur, whose house was just a stone’s throw away, as her paying guest for his meals. Mrs. Mathur had a daughter named Sanju. This is where the story starts – yes you must have guessed it correctly –Dilip was head over heels in love with Sanju. She was his quintessential heroine and the essence of all that was chemically pure- in short his dispen¬satory! He was Mr. Knowall behind his counter but outwardly he was a timid, dull, and imperceptive guy, with ill-fitting clothes that had chemical stains all over.
The fly in Dilip’s ointment was Aakash. He was also constantly striving to pick up the bright smiles of Sanju. But Aakash was not an out-fielder like Dilip and he caught them off the bat whenever they were tossed around. At the same time he was a good friend and a regular customer of Dilip, and often dropped in at TruHope Pharmacy to have a bruise dabbed with tincture of iodine or get a deep cut plastered.
One afternoon Aakash drifted into his silent ways and sat calmly on a stool lying in the pharmacy. 'Dilip, I need some special medicine Bro' said he, when his friend had picked up his mortar and pestle and sat directly opposite to him, grinding benzoin to a fine powder .Looking up, Dilip scanned Aakash’s face for the not too unusual evidences of discord and dissension, but none were to be found. “My guess is that you have been stuck with a knife in the ribs. How many times have I told you to keep off the roadside goondas?” Aakash smiled. 'Not that' he said. “I am here not because of goondas. But anyhow your diagnosis is correct – the wound is close to my ribs. You know something Bro? Sanju and I are running away tonight to get married.”
Dilip tapped wildly once again with the pestle, not betraying any sign of disturbance on hearing the news. In the mean time Aakash’s smile faded into a look that displayed a baffled gloom. Continued Aakash, “that is if she continues to hold on to this idea until the time comes. We have been toying with this idea for the past one month but she is fickle minded yaar and keeps changing her decision now and then....... Anyway, we both have agreed on to-night, and Sanju is steady for the past two days. But, I am still on pins as it is yet another five hours’ wait for the appointed time of elopement. Hope she abides by what she has been saying in the last couple of days. “
“I thought you wanted some medicines,” reminded Dilip. “Yeah, I do need some.” Aakash appeared to be a bit beleaguered and ill at ease, a condition which was contradictory to his usual manner. Continued he, 'I have already bought a two Bedroom apartment and all set to welcome Sanju. Fresh roses from Ooty adorn every corner of my apartment. Sure Sanju will be impressed when she enters the apartment. A Pujari will be readily awaiting us at a nearby Mandir. It's got to take off with a great start. What say you? Hmmmm....hope Sanju does not remain indecisive at the last moment!'
Said Dilip, “What do you want now? I am a bit anxious...”
“Her father Mr. Gupta does not like me an iota,”’ continued the uneasy suitor, ‘It is now more than 10 days since he has allowed Sanju to step outside the door and meet me. If not for my earning of Rs. 15 Lacs a year, he would have surely thrown me out.'
'Now you should excuse me Aakash,' said Dilip. He continued, ' A gentleman has ordered some medicines and will be dropping in soon to pick it up, for which I must get ready soon.'
“Tell me Dilip,' said Aakash, looking up suddenly. Do you have any special drug or powder of some sort that will make a girl fall madly
in love with you if she is given a dose of it? “
Dilip’s lip twisted with the contempt of superior erudition; but before Dilip could respond, Aakash continued, ' You know my friend Aditya, right? He told me that he got some medicinal powder from a not so popular doctor, mixed it with coke and fed it to his girl friend Swetha. After consuming the first dose, he was ace-high for her and she considered all others insignificant. They were happily wedded in just about ten days.”
Aakash acted like a good commander-in-chief who was getting ready to attack the enemy's territory, looking to safeguard every point against plausible failure. ' Well, I thought,' continued Aakash optimistically, 'that had I that powder to give Sanju when I meet with her tonight it might gear her up and keep her from retracting on the idea to skip.”'
Now tell me Aakash, when is this ‘super-duper’ idea of running away likely to take place,” enquired Dilip mockingly.
'Tonight at nine-thirty pm,' answered Aakash.” 'Dinner is around 7.30 pm. Sanju feigns headache and is off to bed by 8.30. At 9.15, old Raut, who is a long time foe and neighbour of Gupta, Sanju’s father, lets me in through his backdoor, where there is a an access to Gupta’s boundary wall. I land under her window and help her to come down. The Pujari will be waiting at the temple at 4 am the following morning as the Muharat time is between 4.40 and 5.30 am. Can you help me with one such powder Dilip, please....?
Dilip pretended to think hard for some time, 'Hey Bro. Listen, one has to be extremely careful when giving out these types of non-prescribed drugs. As a special case I will prepare the same and give it to you. Your Sanju will be yours shortly.' So saying, Dilip went inside his work room. He powdered two tablets with each of them containing a wee bit of morphine. To this he added some milk powder to increase the volume and packed the mixture diligently in a rectangular piece of white paper. If consumed by an adult it would ensure uninterrupted sound sleep by that person for several hours without causing any dangerous side effects to sleeper. He handed over this envelope to Aakash instructing him to administer it in liquid form. Thanking him profusely Aakash left for Raut’s backyard.
Dilip’s subtle action becomes evident upon in his subsequent action. Dilip calls up Mr.Gupta and discloses the elopement plan of his daughter. Mr. Gupta, a stout man in his early sixties, wheatish in complexion and instantaneous in action, replies briefly, “Many thanks and much obliged. That useless fellow! My room is just above Sanju’s. I will go there right after my dinner and await that idiot’s arrival with a loaded gun in my hand. That foolish guy will go out in an ambulance instead of a bridal chase.' With Sanju deep in slumber in the total grip of Morpheus for several hours, and the bloodthirsty father waiting totally armed and well apprised; Dilip chuckled imagining the consequences.
Dilip waited restlessly the whole night at his pharmacy for the chance news of the expected tragedy but none came along. At 7.30 am Dilip set out for Mr. Gupta’s house to know about the outcome, which, by now, would have spread like wild fire. But..... Lo! As he stepped out of his pharmacy, it was none other than Aakash who jumped out from his car and held his hand tightly, beaming from ear to ear. Totally ecstatic with joy he shouted,” Success my dear friend, I have done it. Sanju came out at 9.30 pm on the dot and we soon fled away from there and I tied the Mangal Sutra at 5 today morning! She is now in the apartment, making aloo rotis for breakfast – Hey Bhagwan, how lucky I am! You must come home someday and join us for a meal. This is our way of thanking you for having done us a great favour!
'The powder, powder.......' stammered Dilip. 'Oh, the stuff I had taken from you worked wonders on my father-in-law Guptaji!' said Aakash widening his grin; 'well, it happened this way. I joined the father-daughter duo for dinner last night at the insistence of Guptaji, which was rather strange considering his animosity towards me. On looking at Sanju, I thought, "Now Aakash is it correct to try any hocus-pocus with a well bred girl like her." On second thoughts I retained the powder that you had given me. And then a bright idea struck me. Why not I make my father-in-law grow affectionate towards me? So I waited for the appropriate time to mix the powder in my father-in-law’s coffee, which he had after dinner - am I not a good son-in-law?” On hearing this Dilip stood speechless-Man proposes, God disposes!!! ***