When Satyanarayan met him for the first time, Kishen was sitting in the kitchen baking rotis. A little away from the chulha, the earthen mud oven, an infant was crooning and half crying in a cradle. Kishen would push this cradle to swing it slightly every now and then.

Satyanarayan had gone there to meet Radha Devi with a recommendation. Radhadevi had not returned from the school, where she was the principal. Satyanarayan was a small leader of sorts. Social worker-cum-leader, the kind of khadi-clad ‘netas’ one meets anywhere in any colony or neighbourhood. The school at which Radha was the Principal, happened to be in the area of his social service. Hence he often came to her for the admission of some girl or the promotion of someone or the other.

Though this was the first time he had noticed him and observed him closely, yet he had casually seen Kishen even before, washing clothes, sweeping the floor, making chappatis or looking after the baby. That particular day Radhadevi was not at home and he had run out of his stock of beetle leaves – paan. So he had leisure enough to look around, observe and watch Kishen.

Kishen had a round face, tanned complexion and a well-built physique. His face carried an expression of uncommon and unassuming innocence.

Satyanarayan soon struck conversation with him. Kishen spoke hesitatingly in mono-syllables. It became obvious that after a very long time he had found a confidante to unburden his sorrows and pleasures. As a result once he opened up, the seams ripped open one after the other and he got talking of himself.

He had got married to Radhadevi when both of them were studying in fifth class. Among the chamars (which was their caste) such marriages were not unusual.

From an early age Radha had always wanted to study. Her fees was exempted as she belonged to the scheduled caste. In the bargain she was given the school-uniforms, books and stationery, besides a little pocket money too.

Kishen had stopped studying after class seven. Firstly he had no interest in studies. Moreover it was not possible. In a family where everyone else worked, two persons could not continue going to school. His mother had not approved that her daughter-in-law should take bath, dress up and leave for school while she herself should beat her brow against the kitchen chores and manage looking after the family business of leather and the tannery.

In order to let Radha continue with her studies, he himself stopped going to school. He began lending a hand to his father at work. He worked very hard the whole day.

Radha was very good at studies. She finished school and entered college. She passed her M.A. in Hindi literature. Kishen often told his friends with great pride repeated that Radha was post-graduate. In his entire community no one’s wife had a Master’s degree.

Well, one could always get a job after passing M.A., but she decided that while the environment was suitable, and she was still in the habit of studying as a routine, and had the support of her husband, she should take the examination and pass B.T. as well. So she did.

She soon got a good job. She was actually offered a government job. For scheduled castes they always have reservations.

Satyanarayan got an impression that due to his wife’s education and profession, Kishen was proud of belonging to the scheduled caste. He was unlike others who do not spare any effort to conceal that they were ‘chamars’. He told Satyanarayan that his wife left for school early in the morning. He looked after the kids, cooked food and cleaned the house.

And the kids? Two went to school. One kept rocking in the cradle, or playing in and out of the house. But she needed a careful supervision so that she didn’t just loiter to the roadside.

That house was allotted to his wife by the government as soon as she had got a government job. They had shifted out of the old house. That in any case was rather small, located in a narrow lane in the locality of the ‘chamars’, the schedule caste folks who worked with leather.

The environment in the new government accommodation, was suitable for the children. It was Radhadevi’s opinion, although his parents had resisted and argued that the old house was ancestral though small. Why should they leave it ?…..

Kishen also told Satyanarayan that when in the afternoon Radhadevi got back home, he went to a workshop and worked as a motor mechanic. He finished work only at eight or nine o’clock, very late in the evening.

For whatever purpose Satyanarayan had gone to Radhadevi’s house could not be accomplished as she returned really very late due to some reason. But he noticed and realized a possibility. It struck him that there was some suppressed unfulfilled desire in Kishen that lay dormant under layers of husk and hay. A dream within him could well be drawn out. An attempt to make him open up and be of use to him in his social work.

Why not make a leader out of Kishen?…. Why not pull him out of the kitchen chores? Clean and wash the greasy soiled hands of this motor mechanic…? Make him a leader….!

As little girls play with rag-dolls, dress them up in colourful silken robes, and design their dresses, similarly Satyanarayan started decorating and designing Kishen as a Neta, a junior leader, in his own mind.

What are leaders? Only those who work for those who have been in the game for a longer time. Starting from the lower-most rung of the ladder, they keep climbing by centimeters. There is a whole hierarchy of such leaders, called ‘Netaji’ in local language. Get some work done for some poor sod, and pocket a little money in the name of ‘expenses’. And keep climbing the slippery wall of the strange world of small ‘babus’, the world of clerks who have not yet qualified to be called proper ‘bureaucrats’, and share the income with them. And earn a good name in your locality, in your ‘mohalla’, in the small orbit of people who flock to you for their water or electricity connections, for their ration cards, for the admission of their children in schools, for medicines from the dispensary. The who machinery has been designed in away that it doesn’t move without lubricants. And these small-time ‘netas’ are lubricant carriers.

Satyanarayan visualized Kishen wearing a kurta and pyjama made of white ‘khaadi; and crisply starched Gandhi cap to top it all….The typical dress code of all ‘netas’. 

……………

Satyanarayan had actually got tired after a long period of getting other people’s work done hanging around government offices, and bowing down to bigger leaders, touching their feet. Thousands of small leaders hovered around as he did. Every less important leader dances to the tune of a more important leader in servile obedience. As they say, he fills his ‘chillum’ and prepares it to be smoked.

Big leaders do the same for the bigger ones. They are at their beck and call. Thus the chain continues till the top.

Whenever the leaders in higher positions needs a crowd-following, the orders tumble downwards.

This had been happening to Satyanarayan for the past ten years. Every time for the elections of municipality he would flatter and fawn around a leader of the higher rung. Every time, someone else would get nominated. More important elections like assembly or parliament elections were of course a very distant dream, beyond his approach for a long time to come.

Satyanarayan considered that he’d get a short-cut if he used Kishen. A candidate of the scheduled caste! Kishen would be the candidate. Kishen would fight the actual elections. But the power and influence which are the delightful offspring of politics would remain in his own control and clutches.

This project took five years or so but one fine day Kishen did become a Municipal Commissioner.

Subsequently, Kishen became Babu Krishan Chowdhary.

Satyanarayan was able to hang a thin but sturdy chain around his neck. We can recall the nursery rhyme we all used to recite as kids: “Mary had a little lamb.” It was like that.

Way back, at some point of time, Satyanarayan had worked as a clerk of a lawyer. He had dropped his studies before graduation, and had taken up a job. He had actually forgotten that past. Now he was a full-time leader.

One should not presume that this public-service-leadership is equivalent to being a wastrel. If one chucked a job, how would one make both ends meet and earn his bread? There is only one profession in the world which gets no remuneration and that is to dabble in Punjabi Literature and creative writing. Is there any other work in the world which makes you work and starve? To be a leader, no matter how small, the leadership, no matter how elementary, is always lucrative enough to meet the expenses of one’s house-hold fairly comfortably. For getting the work done on a higher level one always demanded a price saying that it was for the purpose of making payments to the higher ‘babus’.

So at long last Satyanarayan had the rope of the dancing monkey in his own hands. Dancing to his own tune. He was cozy and comfortable now. All the small jobs of getting small babus do whatever was easier for Kishen because he was sitting in a chair of authority. The money also came in abundance. And he offered must of it to his mentor Satyanarayan.

Yes, we were talking about that period when Satyanarayan was working as a clerk with a lawyer. The word CLIENT stuck to his mind like a red rose got permanently stuck to Nehruji’s button-hole. So anybody who had a problem or grievance to cry over at the threshold of Satyanarayan or had some work obstructed and pending in any department of the government, or in some big-shot’s ‘darbar’, as such, was a ‘client’ as far as Satyanarayan was concerned. According to him such a person was a mere ‘customer’. He specialised in ascertaining and identifying the generosity or the meanness, could guess if the pocket of his client was heavy or empty.

His cleverest skill was to impress upon his client the greatness and importance of Krishan Babu. For this purpose he had several fool-proof formulae that never failed. For instance, “Early in the morning today, the Chief Minister had called for Krishan Babu. Very urgently….for some important advice and discussion…..”, or that “He received a telephone call from 1, Safdarjung Road, so he has gone to Delhi”…. or that “Krishan Babu is praying, he is in the Puja room. The Shankaracharya from a Matha from South is with him. Both are absorbed in prayer and meditation”….or that, “Krishan Babu is touring the flood-affected areas where the huts and cottages of the poor folks have been washed away. He has gone there to rehabilitate them, get their homes repaired and rebuilt, and to console them.” All this and worse. “He is in a very important meeting.” etc….etc…

“Meanwhile you are welcome to tell me what your problem is”, thus muttering he would pull out a longish little box made of pure silver, very casually. He would then take out a silver-foil-wrapped beetle-leaf to lightly push it into his mouth, chewed and relished it in slow motion. All was done very elegantly and stylishly.”

Within no time the client himself would be slowly chewed up by the jaws of Satyanarayan like the beetle-leaf-gillauri.

After four patient years Krishan Babu was able to procure a ticket for the assembly elections. He fought the election, and won it. He adorned a chair in the assembly.

Satyanarayan himself prepared his election manifesto in Hindi – “Krishan Babu was born in a humble family of chamars. The contempt for and the disrespect of the lower castes had sown the seeds of revolt and rage in him right from the early years. For this reason he resolved strongly that this nation can progress only if the backward classes rubbed shoulders with the mainstream and made their precious contribution. In their own community, in the neighbourhood, by serving the people constantly and untiringly…..feeling of patriotism….feeling of service for the public…etc….etc.

“In his school-days only, he had become a student-leader. Even in his college days he had been a leader. Owing to some difference of opinion with the authorities he left his college a few days before the B.A. examination. What a big sacrifice! However what difference do these degrees and qualifications make? They can’t make or mar anyone. Krishan Babu’s knowledge is unlimited. From the Vedas to Jawaharlal Nehru’s limitless knowledge, from Kalidas to Marx, all the learning is well blended with his knowledge. Great public-servant, great scholar, great leader, great nationalist….and so on. “He wants to come to the assembly because he wants to implement and fulfil the twenty-point programme of the great leader Smt. Indira Gandhi, and the five-point programme of the greater leader Sanjay Gandhi. If you vote for him, the benefit will be your own. He is one and the only captain who can steer the boat that will harbour at your welfare and well-being. Victory to Babu Krishan Kumar Chowdhary! Jai! Jai!”

Professor Malhotra, the senior lecturer of English in the college, translated this pamphlet into English. The principal of the college was creating a lot of trouble for professor Malhotra, who in turn, wanting to teach him a lesson, had come for the rescue to Satyanarayan’s feet. These days one cannot expect money from professors. Hence such tasks like making a draft of a petition, making posters, or translation were given to Malhotra. It was a fair barter.

Needless to say that once someone came to Krishan Babu for some work, he would just fall into the clutches and claws of Satyanarayan, who went on accepting with equal enthusiasm, cash, posters, jeeps, crowds for functions and processions, whatever! Though he almost extracted all these from others, yet for the sake of courtesy and etiquette he outwardly seemed to be doing them a great favour by accepting these generous gifts.

Eventually, by hook or by crook, Krishan Babu did occupy a chair in the assembly. Out of the five crores that the party had given Kishan Babu to meet the expenses of the elections, Satyanarayan spent only half. With the rest he got a new bungalow built for himself.

Both of them shifted to the capital of the state where a kothi was allotted to Krishan Babu.

Along with the growing status of Krishan Babu, the layers of fat on his body were also increasing. As a result of that, his filled up face too, now looked very impressive.

On winning the elections of the municipality Krishan Babu had given up smoking beeris and had taken to Gold Flake cigarettes. On winning the elections of the assembly he gave up Gold Flakes and adopted the imported ‘Triple Five’.

After the Municipality elections he began sipping Coca-Cola mixed with a little rum at the end of the day to overcome his fatigue, in the company of Satyanarayan. Now he switched to whisky with soda and ice. As the member of the municipality he had started wearing a Kurta of Khadi silk. Now he adorned himself with a waist coat over it, well-stitched, in Nehru-cut-design.

Till the election of the Municipality, things went on fairly well as he was still in his own city. So his family life was undisturbed. After the assembly elections he had to move to the bigger capital city of the state where his nights became lonely.

Satyanarayan knew how to deal with and arrange for the lonely nights as he was a born bachelor. So he began looking after the lonesome nights of Krishan Babu. It was not difficult. He had sufficient experience with the people who came to him with some problem or the other, for some work or the other. Among them many were women. He knew how to identify and judge single women or those who had no support. If there was a woman who considered her career as the first priority and her job as the ultimate kingdom, then things would work out easier for him.

“Satyanarayanjee, my department has transferred me to a village eighty five kilometers away. I do not want to go so far. I’ll just rot there without any chance of promotion.”

Obviously Satyanarayan would not bear to see her rot, and it would become his duty to get the transfer cancelled or deferred.

“Don’t worry, Madam. I shall talk to Dada tomorrow. He is very busy today. Actually even tomorrow he is not really free. However, I will try my best.”

“But, Satyanarayanjee, I will be finished. Today I did not receive the order. I have taken leave and come away. Once the orders are accepted and signed by me, how can the transfer be stopped?”

“What can be done, madam? Dada will be available only after four or five days.”

Then a little contemplation, with half-closed eyes and worried face.

“No! no! Obviously that won’t do. Early in the morning, he sits for his prayer and puja. It will be difficult. And then he’ll leave. If you reach here at 10 o’clock at night today, I shall arrange that you speak to him for a couple of minutes whenever he returns – eleven or twelve –.”

After all, it should be considered generosity on the part of Satyanarayan that from twelve at night he would have to use her, make Krishan Babu satiate his hunger with her, and rack his brains till four or five in the morning to get the transfer orders of that poor and helpless woman stopped and cancelled.

Whatever said and done Krishan Babu started respecting his wife Radha Devi much more than ever before. Specially in public functions and parties. For such occasions he would call her on the phone, and she would reach overnight in her recently purchased car. During such functions and political gatherings he would croon reverentially with half-closed dreamy eyes “But for Radha Devi, I would have been nothing in life. It is all owing to this woman’s love, respect and conviction. Moreover my entire expenditure is borne by Radha Devi. We public servants hardly have any income. We cannot sustain ourselves even for four days. It is due to her that I am without any worry and completely relaxed to be able to serve and dedicate myself fully to the public.”

Besides all this, Radha Devi’s Principalship was elevated by the post of Deputy Director of Education and later she acquired the prestigious post of District Director.

The higher and more important the chair, more important were the jobs and favours the people sought. Bigger the work, more the compensation. More money. High influence and contacts. Credentials and respects to be offered to bigger leaders. Visits to the chief minister’s residence every single morning, decorated in well-starched silk kurta-pyjama, and raw-silk sleeveless jacket.

Bigger headaches, bigger manipulations.

All was big, great and pompous.

It so happened that the Chief Minister lost favour and fell in the eyes of the central government. After all, it is a very delicate balance. Extremely soft and vulnerable are these scales! One has to perform this acrobatic rope-dance on the eyelids of the Prime Minister. A slight unbalance, a slight quiver in the eye-lashes, and the individual falls flat on the face, bang on the ground with a thud.

But friends, we have democracy in this country. When someone falls from the favourable eyelids, one has to make an effort to topple the rival from his chair. Something drastic has to be done. Therefore disgruntled members have to be collected against the rival leader in the assembly, in order to create din and noise and topple the chief minister’s chair. After all there is no unfair lawlessness in our country! It is one of the great democracies of the world. Everything is done according to rules and regulations.

The culture of our country is so ancient. Is it not so? Hence the game of politics is also cultured and well-maneuvered, like a chess-game.

When the unhappy disgruntled M.L.A.s of that state were being organized, Krishan Babu too was among them.

It was a golden opportunity. Krishan Babu regained the favour of the central government due to his apparent simplicity, credit for his caste, his visible innocence, yes-sir-formula, topped by the wisdom imparted by Satyanarayan.

For the next elections he procured a ticket to contest for a seat in the Parliament.

The membership of the Parliament was like “open sim sim”. The doors on all four directions opened up. The four skies around brightened up. The earth below his feet emanated fragrance.

Big bungalow, big car, crowds of followers! Above all, the omnipresent guardian angel Satyanarayan like God Almighty.

Every day with the first ray of the sun people poured in. Krishan Babu would stay indoors in his private chamber. For the general public he was supposed to be sitting for puja, praying. Satyanarayan would inform everybody that ‘Dada’ was praying. His reply on the telephone to the people who called would also be, “He is busy in Puja, deep in meditation.”

From that crowd of beseechers he would pick and choose some, who looked affluent and well-dressed, and would take them in for a private audience.

“Come and have a cup of coffee with me, he,” he said politely. The person would get up and go in with him, blessed with the grace of seeing Krishan Babu face to face. The more substantial the client, the quicker was the divine meeting, ‘dev-darshan’.

Two prerequisites were essential: that the person was not a pauper, and he was not a mean miser. What is the use of a huge amount of money which is guarded like a coiled serpent watching over a treasure? Money begets money. If a man is not prepared to spend, what will he earn? How can he?

A few manipulations and tricks were already known to Satyanarayan and a few others Krishan Babu learnt over the period of over ten years, and some more manoeuvres were taught by those people whose deals were stuck and work pending.

Then there was a lot of expenditure after all. In the home-state it was still possible to manage by giving portions to the chief minister, but in Delhi, all around there were bulbs of a thousand candle-power each. Each wall had one hundred ears and a thousand eyes. In Delhi, even the winds had ears to hear. No political leader could sit and eat alone by himself. He had to share his ‘earnings’.

Now that the distribution of the assets was going to be so big, it was obvious that the loot should be very substantial as well. All this sharing and distribution had a polished cultured name to it. – ‘party fund’. Every small go-between manipulator told his client, “You have to contribute to the party fund.” This small leader while presenting this pouch to the big leader said, “I’ve collected so much party-fund. Of course pouches, small poor things are obsolete objects. In the present scenario suit-cases are used for this purpose. Don’t we see certain suitcases branded V.I.P.? They are in vogue for such requirements. The bigger the bag, the broader the smile. Likewise, the broader the welcome smile, the stronger the steel legs of the CHAIR. The apparent statement had to be, “I have collected this party fund.”

For all this how hard and rigorously one had to work only Krishan Babu knew, or did Satyanarayan.

Lately Satyanarayan began feeling somewhat frustrated. Way back in the past when Krishan used to sit in front of the fire in Radha Devi’s house to make ‘rotis’, to babysit and humour the kids and in the evening lying down on his back under the vehicles when he worked as a motor mechanic.

Satyanarayan definitely had nurtured high hopes for himself. Through Kishan he would acquire political power, earn lots of money, and would virtually rule the world. All this was duly accomplished. But he had also envisaged that he would play the game of chess in politics with Kishan as his pawn. Kishan would be the ladder on whose rungs he would climb to the top-most terrace of politics. In the next elections perhaps he might even arrange a ticket for himself.

But these dreams were never fulfilled. Nor was there any hope of their ever being fulfilled. He felt frustrated.

The fact was that Kishan lived with a certain fear within himself all the time. In spite of holding so much of empire, the servile submissiveness of the deep-rooted complex of a chamar in him could not be scratched off. He was apprehensive that his meagre and limited resources and capacity would be overspent beyond means. Whatever he had was necessary for himself alone.

Satyanarayan had attempted to reverse the role of Krishan of the ‘Treta Yuga’ in the present ‘Kalyuga’. Many a time he felt that he was creating a Mahabharata of Kalyuga, not with his pen but with his deeds. Krishan was the Arjuna of Kalyuga, and he himself was Bhagwan Krishan, the one who made Arjun pick up his weapon and fight in the battle field with the help of his repeated sermons and instructions. Whether Arjun fought or died, whether he lost or won, who would even remember! At the end of the day everyone would remember only Krishan Bhagwan.

However when the story of Treta Yug was adopted for the stage of the present era ‘Kalyug’, some flaw, some loophole remained unnoticed. Arjun went on from one victory to another, in the elections, fought and won over the entire country, and poor Krishan Bhagwan merely continued to carry the quiver of the arrows on his own shoulder, just to keep handing them over to Arjun obediently. He himself was left creeping and crouching as ever.

Satyanarayan often asked himself, “What did I gain after all? One bungalow, fifty acres of land, a car, fifty to sixty-lakhs in cash? Just trash! Is this enough? What use the value of money? What use is that money which cannot be spent with pomp and style? The real thing is power, political power, the awesome respect of the CHAIR and the powerful influence of leadership. I have not been able to get any of these. Shall I always be a second fiddle to that illiterate, low-caste rascal whom I lent my own shoulders to climb to the top?”

Krishan Babu instinctively noticed Satyanarayan’s frustrations. Nor was he unaware of the danger that might erupt from this. Many stalwart political leaders have fallen flat on their face due to the salient reason of an old trusted faithful servant’s dismay and annoyance. Once revolting, he spills all the beans, lets the cat out of the bag.

Though everyone knows the neatly hidden secrets, yet courtesy demands that they remain hidden. It is proverbial that the Indian drum resounds and gives rhythmic beats only as long it is covered with tight leather. Once there is a tear, where is the sound? Where is the echo? Only flappy flap! A life worse than that of a mouse.

So Krishan Babu began contemplating on the solution of this problem seriously, with a load of worry on his mind. Though it was quite another thing that this job of thinking used to be the duty of Satyanarayan. As according to himself, Krishan Babu was never called upon to do this job of ‘thinking’. Now that he ventured to actually ‘think’, he found a solution to the problem.

Accordingly, one late evening he told Satyanarayan, “Disperse the crowd earlier. I am feeling somewhat depressed. We’ll just sit together. Relaxed.”

Within minutes the crowd was dismissed, and the two sat with a bottle of scotch.

Scotch? How is that? It is not imported. Well, you must be fools. All the embassies have tubfuls of scotch. One of the commitments of the embassy is to keep the political leaders within the periphery of friendship. They can actually give them a shower in scotch if they so wished, whomsoever they wished. They see to it that no leader is ever short of scotch whisky.

Ever since he came to Delhi, Krishan Babu drank only scotch. Neat and pure! The coarse habit of diluting it with water had been left miles behind. Cigarette was now substituted with a princely-looking pipe. When attending functions or parliament sessions, on top of his usual kurta and pyjama and Nehru-cut waist-coat, he adorned himself with an extra ivory-coloured shawl, in the style of Sanjay Gandhi, Nehru’s grandson.

Well, Krishan Babu sat relaxed. With a sip of scotch he filled tobacco in his pipe and said, “Satte, of late things have become pretty boring. If you agree, let us both visit Europe for a few days, for a change.”

Satyanarayan’s face lit up as soon as he heard this. Krishan Babu noticed this delight through his half-closed eyelids. He calmly remarked, “Tomorrow right away get cracking to prepare our passports. In the evening go to the deputy secretary of the external affairs ministry. Tell him that we need these passports next week, positively. Sahib has an important lecture to deliver in London. The Indian community has invited him.”

At this Satyanarayan’s eyes shone like glow-worms “Yes, Bare Dada, enough of this service for others. Now let’s travel abroad and see the world. What fun….after all boredom of politics…..!”

But the big brother, Bare Dada was not naïve any more. Granted that he took Satyanarayan for all the embassy parties, he would touch someone’s shoulder and engage in a deep discussion in undertones, and slowly slide away, leaving Satyanarayan to enjoy his whisky and to peer at white women. He would pretend that he was either giving or taking some piece of advice. He had almost stopped taking him along to the political parties. Now Satyanarayan’s main job was to scrutinize the clients, catch the substantial and potential preys to be placed under Krishan Babu’s knife. The smaller catches he himself would hack. He was allowed.

Krishan Babu had watched his restlessness and depressed expression for quite some time. The only way to remove the depression and treat it, was to have some exciting fire-works.

As they disembarked at Heathrow Airport in London they were truly dazzled.

Satyanarayan had already informed a multi-milllionaire Indian in London about their arrival. He was there to welcome them in his long sleek car. He was accompanied by a couple of his trusted sycophants, whom he used to impress time and again with his Indian ‘political connections’, so as to boss over them. These were his ‘chamchas’ as we say in India.

Luxurious hospitality was extended to them. They were almost bathed in scotch by their host. Havana cigars, excellent tobacco for the pipe, video, blue films, sightseeing. Name it.

Next day he whispered, “Satte, hope you are not feeling lonely. If you wish I’ll arrange for a companion for you for the evening. Shall I?”

Satyanarayan gave a green signal. A fair and lovely white woman joined them at about ten when the night was still young.

The three of them had rounds of drinks, sipping scotch and viewing blue films.

After a while Krishan Babu took Satyanarayan to the other room and said, “Go and have a stroll in Piccadilly. The place was bubbling with life. Return only after a couple of hours. Then I’ll go and loiter around Piccadilly. It will be your turn.”

No sooner did these words fall on Satyanarayan’s ears, his face turned almost black with burning anger and his eyes shot red rays of rage. It was the first time he got so very angry. “You mean, first it will be you. Afterwards it will be my turn?” He said.

It was also the first time that Krishan Babu saw biting temper in Satyanarayan. He was shaken. During the period of his political experience he had learnt how to conceal his fear and anxiety. He now summoned all of it to keep his voice placid and as cool as possible. He only remarked, “Why?”

He merely meant, “What is your objection?” Satyanarayan also wished to wrap himself with all tolerance and forbearance he had learnt in politics. Yet his voice was clearly trembling with indignation, grudge and complaint, “Look here, Krishan Babu, to this day I have been serving you in every way. As far as I could, I have been your servant. For the past ten years I have offered my shoulder to you as a ladder for you to climb and rise in life. Not a word of grumbling or grudge! I have partaken of the left-over morsels, tasted and left by you for me. I have been always eaten your joothan. Any bit that you threw towards me, was accepted by me graciously. When cash and money was distributed, I never uttered a word. I gave up my entire political career to serve you whole-heartedly. I became your slave. But Krishan Babu…..” saying this he was overwhelmed and felt a lump in his throat, a quiver in his voice – “Krishan Babu, after all I am a Brahmin. I cannot sleep with a woman you have already enjoyed and slept with before me. Your joothan. Therefore you will go to Piccadilly first, to loiter around. I shall go later.” With these words he walked with sharp quick steps towards the room where the ‘mem’, the white woman was sitting. He banged and closed the door from inside. On Krishan Babu’s face.