A Nonsense Novelette
Days were rolling down smoothly for Rupchand*, alias Chandu, and would have continued rippleless, pleasant and dull enough till the grey hairs set in but for his decision to become a poet.
Chandu hailed from Nischindapur, a remote West Bengal village bordering Orissa, an abode of peace, as the name implied. It was a small village, and traditionally Chandu’s family was in the milk business. They were direct descendants of lord Krishna as Chandu’s father proudly proclaimed and knew all about milk as was worthwhile to know. All forms of milk, Chandu’s grandfather used to boast, could be churned to mint money. Chandu’s grandfather was a white-haired small slip of a man, who every morning traveled in his rusty bicycle with a pair of large canisters of milk which he delivered to his customers’ doorsteps in a measuring cup with a false bottom.
Sudama, Chandu’s father, prospered further and had a score of assistants working under him. Sudama was an honest God-fearing businessman. As an honest businessman, he used only clean water from the hand pump to add to his milk, except when he was in a hurry, and then he was forced to use pond water. He also developed the fine art of adding refined flour to milk to maintain the specific gravity. He was the milkman of the district; his only rival in the trade was one Balaram from an adjoining village.
With an oxen spirit Sudama tried hard to produce a flock of children but was blessed with only Chandu to whom he became over indulgent. He would have loved Chandu to join the prospering milk business early in life, but unlike his predecessors, Chandu insisted on continuing his schooling.
It was in the middle of the 1970’s, that Chandu created a sensation in the village and churned up the abode of peace by completing his schooling, not an uncommon feat by itself, and then got admitted in a college in Calcutta and, to top it all, decided to pursue this course in a stream known as Bachelor of
Commerce in this distant land. Another village sensation Bistupada, a school and a classmate of Chandu, took the same venture and got admitted in the same college, though, as was generally agreed upon, in a less honourable stream—the English Honors course.
On the parting day, Sudama, Chandu’s father, who presented him with a gold plated Rolex watch, of the latest model, with the added delight of auto-updating month and year displays for the benefit of people with easy pace, Oliver Ridley fashion, embraced him and delivered the well-rehearsed speech: “You have made our ancestors proud, my son,” he said looking skywards hesitantly, not too confident about their present whereabouts, “none in our lineage has ever been to college.”
He thrust a bundle of cash in Chandu’s pocket and continued, “Don’t you worry about money. There is plenty more where it came from. My only piece of advice, my son,” he paused to silently recapitulate the vital words he had memorized in the village council gathering the evening before, “is that, in these troubled times in Calcutta, hide well your political leanings.”
This advice was well heeded and, as the future would show, Chandu faced no trouble in hiding his political leanings, as he had none.
What Chandu’s father was not wary of and neither was Chandu was that there were other more dangerous, loose and slippery footsteps in the pavements of Calcutta. A better advice would have been—“Hide your poetical leanings as well.” But alas!
“And son,” Sudama concluded, “don’t forget our family secret of good health. Take your daily dose of milk.”
(To be continued)
*Chand means the moon and Rup is beauty, but Rupchand literally means a silver coin or any valuable possession, with no hint, as is amply justified in our case of good look. Chandu is a popular nickname, often also used as a verbal assault to humble aggressive debaters.