by Joseph Kaval
The Chambal ravines appeared bereaved of their gala and gaiety at the advent of winter. It was misty, windy and cold out side.
Sr.Krupa, the director of St.Martha's Medical College, looked at the early visitors. They seemed tense and tired. They also looked fearsome. But she smiled at them lavishly.
They were five robust men covered all over by heavy woolen blankets. She could not guess what was in their hands or in their mind.
“Madam. I came here to ask you for a seat for my son Kiran.”
Ram Lakhan, the elderly man, requested.
“I'm sorry, sir. In fact the admissions are closed. It is too late.” She said very politely.
“Rev.Madam, please, it is very important for our family. I am a Takur, illiterate and uncouth. But I do not want my son become a Dada or dacoit but a doctor. I have come all the way from Bindi with much difficulty. I have no idea about the formalities. I am very hopeful. Kindly oblige us,” He pleaded with his clasped hands and stooping his head.
“Sir, I'm very sorry. I know you have come from a far off place. Unfortunately there is no seat. The classes are full. What can I do?” She revealed, “I'm helpless indeed.”
Ram Lakhan thought she was bluffing. He was annoyed. He looked at his right-hand man. He brought out a leather bag from under the blanket. He opened it and threw bundles of one hundred rupee bills onto the table in front of her. He also shoved handful of gold jewellery.
Rev.Sister looked at the small fortune. She could build a ward with such an amount. She smiled at them understandably. She then very mildly but sternly said,
“No way, sir, absolutely no way. This
year there is no chance at all. Perhaps next year. Come early. Sorry, we do not accept donation. Please take away those wares.”
Ram Lakhan believed she was lying. His eyes became red hot. His moustache shivered. Lips trembled. No one would ever say 'no' to him. He got up. His gang then brought out their rifle and pointed at her. He swiftly moved to the chair. He closed on her. He caught hold of her neck by his steely fist, the only one he had and lifted her like a doll.
In the commotion the woolen shawl around sister’s neck fell to the ground.
He then saw. The sight shook him badly.
“Hare Ram! Hare Ram!!…You have nothing below your elbows!” He murmured.
He looked into her eyes. He saw two bullets twinkling. Her face was serene and composed like the winter sun. He put her down slowly and carefully with reverence and awe as if she were a thin burning candle.
“Oh God, I didn't know. I have one hand and you have none. I am sorry Madam. Keep the money for the poor. If Kiran wants to be a doctor, let him be.”
“Thank you sir, I’m sure one day your son will become a doctor.”
He, his son Kiran and the gang left the office in utter silence.
Rev.Sr.Krupa was smiling away all the while.
And several years passed.............
“Joe, do you believe?” Doctor asked.
“A beautiful story! I didn't know, doctor saab, you're a story teller.”
“I'm not. I'm Kiran, and the CMO of this hospital” Pointing to the photo of the Rev.Sr.Krupa on his table he said, “Look at it. That smile still lives in me.”
My eyes welled with tears but I was happy for the scoop. END