Jugal Kishore or JK, was working as Cashier in my branch about a decade back. He was 59 & was nearing retirement. He didn’t look his age though & was very agile & of cheerful temperament. He mingled well with staff & clients as well. He had been Peon, Cashier & presently Head Cashier in the branch. He was bit of semi literate & apart from writing his name never bothered to go further. He wrote names & account numbers of customers in his long book while dispensing cash but you could decipher numbers only as names could hardly be read.
For about a month or so there was no news of him. Later he
called on office phone & narrated his story to me after extracting a promose of secrecy. He had abandoned his family & left Delhi for good. Friends & family members tried to persuade him to rejoin the family but he did
not agree & he never came back. Once in a while he called me & updated
about his Pashchatap - penance activities in Hardwar. His wife used to go there occasionally to meet him in Ashram. For over a year now i haven’t heard from him.
He hailed from one of the gullies & kuchhas of Chawri Bazar, Delhi. Without him leading the way it was well neigh impossible to reach his house. As you reach Chawri, you are in a mess of human beings, rickshaws, tongas, stray dogs, occasional cows or bulls, vendors, shoppers & shop keepers. Cacophony of sounds of horns, bells of rickshaws, phut-phut of autos & calls of vendors rant the air. From there he often deftly led us thru various gullies to his house or to various famous shops of such delicacies as tikki, paratha, gajar halwa, biryani etc.
He was handsome, fair complexioned with well oiled thick whiteish hair parted in the middle. He would often punctuate his old Delhi coloquial Hindi with sher-o-shairee to the amusement of all. Paan & gutka were his permanent accompaniments.
He wanted his son to get employment in the bank before he retired as his son was ‘good for nothing’. His son didn’t study beyond 10th class that too with less than 40% marks. Somehow, he managed to get his son in bank as Cashier in a nearby branch.
Whenever i requested, JK would stay after office hours for extra work without grudge & therefore remained favourite of me & of other Branch Managers. His colleagues often talked about his habit of selling fresh currency notes in Chawri on a premium. Or him exchanging soiled notes of shop keepers of that area for a discount. But who is really bothered about such issues?
On Saturdays which were half-working days, he used to be better dressed, perfumed & extra cheerful. Let me share in confidence the reason of it – his evenings of Saturdays were reserved for Mujra in red light area on GB Road!
On a fateful Saturday evening JK proceeded to enjoy the Mujra as usual. It is said that Mujra floor has an entry on one side & exit are on the other so as to keep the law on right side. Exit led to maze of gullies fit for disappearing act. JK was planning to quit through this exit & stood up. From corner of his eyes he saw to his horror, his son entering! His heart missed a beat, his legs melted under him & for a few moments he could not move.
Then he rushed outside. He felt shocked & ashamed. Self-pity, remorse & anger banged his head. He kept walking dazed & confused. After a while he found himself on a bench on Delhi railway station.
|In the lap of the nature|