Monday, March 5, 2007


I distinctly remember it was a December night. As baroda is at its chilliest best in December, with night temperatures hovering around 10 degrees, and dropping at times to as low as 7 or 8 degrees. I was coming back from my second shift. I was in IPCL, then, my first job. The company bus, dropped us at the southern main gate of the township, from where I had to walk about just over a km and half, to reach home.
I decided to take a short cut, crossed through the stadium ground, and went around the stands. From here I had to reach the club, which was across the road at the end of the stands, and from there another 2 mins and I would be home.

The entire stretch of about 100 metres of narrow road behind the stands, was sort of eerie, with almost 5 feet tall shrubage growing on one side of the road, and only one dimly lit tubelight to provide some relief, to less fearless people like me, especially on dark no-moon nights, which it was incidentally. I attributed this co-incidence to murphy’s law, smiled at myself, and started to walk, humming “pal pal dil ke paas………” to keep me some company! I was halfway down this narrow road, when I heard footsteps behind me. A bit nervous, I turned back to see a tall and lean man, limping slightly, walking towards me. In a flash, I had images of all those limping guys, from those suspense flicks, thanks to Hitchcock, Ramsay and the likes. A bit anxious and tense, I hastened my steps, and was shocked to see over my shoulders, that he did the same too. Now I was scared, and almost broke into a run, and a hanuman chalisa, at the same time! And then I heard him call me, “anandbhai !” a guy from the horror movies, knows my name too??? I stopped, and gathered some courage, and decided to check him out.

As he neared me, I was surprised to see it was gopalbhai, our gardener! Gopalbhai, was with us for last almost 20 years, and knew me since I was a baby literally. He was almost like family, doing other odd jobs for us as well. I asked him what was he doing at this hour? He told me that he just wanted to meet me, was going home late, saw me cross the ground, and so came after me. He said “ anandbhai , I am sorry I am not able to return the 600 rupees that I had borrowed from you last month”. I was amused, and told him that it was ok and he need not bother about it, and this was neither the place, nor the time, to mention that. But he somehow expressed his regret at not being able to return the amount on time, and said sorry repeatedly. I finally told him not to bother much, and go home, and pay me back whenever he had the money.

Saying this, I continued on my way, and saw him turning back too, it was then that I recognised his familiar limp.Wondering as to why gopalbhai was so repentant today, and that too at this strange hour, at not being able to pay on time, I didn’t realize when I reached home. I rang the doorbell to find my father open the door. He was wrapped in a towel, just out of the bathroom. Ii queried "baba! How come you are having a bath at this hour? Its almost close to midnight!"

With a sombre face, he replied “ I just came back from the funeral. Our gopalbhai expired this morning!”

1 comment:

anand said...

gopal bhai has now entered the blog spot nice to see u here sir pl remember me i am the same anand datar, divya jyotish , astrologer, and bloger.