After a long time almost eight years back I had seen Babban in this mood. The same Babban who lived life so freely so carefree so unworried. And why he did not live like that after all he had tasted a BIG success in the business in a very short span of time. He achieved such a status in the business so fast that only a few businessmen could think off.
Though he came from village but very quickly he adapted the life style of city. Only a few people knew that he still had the connection with his village and kept on visiting his native place twice to thrice in a year. Whenever he became happy he used to express his feeling through his favorite songs. Though I was just standing behind him but he was so involved in singing songs that he did not even realize my presence.
“Maangi thi Ek Dua jo kabool ho gayee…..Ummeed ki kali khil ke phool ho gayee….”
I did not want to disturb his singing and broke the spell of his fine mood. Even I was not be able to control myself and started tapping lightly on my thighs in sync with his tune.
“Hum sochte the ye dil muft mein diya….Itna haseen magar tohfa hamein mila….
Keemat hamare pyar ki wasool ho gayee……
Maangi thi ek dua jo kabool ho gayee…..huunn huunnh hoo hooo hhuunh ho gayeee”
While singing he twisted his revolving chair and turned back to me.
“ Yaar, when did you come”
I smiled and said “ Rafi Sahab”
“ No …Mahindra kapoor ji”
“ Yaar . your voice is really good. I don’t understand why are you in leather business? Why don’t you try your luck in singing career?”
He smiled and said “I sing song for myself …It is a treasure which I want to share only with my loved ones…it’s not for public”
Very smartly he made me understand about his satisfaction from his current profession and did not have any repentance also for not choosing singing career.
“ Any good news”
He blushed and nodded.
“ What….tell me Idiot”
I was so frank with him that sometimes I used to shower abusive language also on him.
“ Your Bhabi is admitted…now a day doctors don’t even wait for normal delivery …just give you time as per their convenience and go for a cesarean ”.
“ Wow……when it happened, when she got admitted and tell me nephew or niece” I just blurted out without even thinking what should be asked. Because I knew that his marriage had already crossed eight years and in that eight years I did not even remember how many doctors he had consulted for this. It was really great news for him.
He exhaled a deep breath which was signifying his relief and satisfaction.
“ We have been blessed by a baby boy”
“ Oh Babban …I am so happy for you…how is the mother and how is my cutie cutie nephew”
“ Both are well by the grace of God”
I could see the happiness descended upon his heart like a cloud of morning dew in a dell of wild flowers. Really I had never seen him like that.
He cleared his voice and said “ I need your help”
“ Yeah yeah tell me…..tell me Bindass..”
“ Yaar…most of my family members in the village were not in the favor of my child delivery in the city. As per their customs the first baby should be born in her father’s house. I don’t buy all these customs and that is the reason I took a call and get her admitted in the city hospital. Now I want to share my happiness with all my family members. I want to throw a party but possibly would not be able to manage alone so I need your help”
“ Any day any time Boss…just tell me in advance so that I could apply for a leave. As you know Bosses are tend to be KHAROOS.”
And this way his family got completed. He and his wife always remembered me in almost all the occasion irrespective of the ceremony nature. Sometimes I also felt odd man out in an exclusive program of his family members. I used to be the only person who represented the friend fraternity in their family occasion.
After three years:
One day he called me in his house. He was looking stressed, disturbed and restless but pretending normal.
“ What happened mere Sher?”
He stalled for a while and then said in a hesitation “ Yaar….I need business loan..you have to help me”
“ Loan why do you require loan…Are you planning for putting up factory or what?”
“ Nahi re. The government has given the ultimatum to shift the leather business from Tangra to Bantala. In this transition, could not complete one big order and due to this a huge money got stuck in the market. I am confident enough that it is a temporary phase. Everything will fall in place in a few days. Need some money for executing the pending order”
I knew the kind of transactions he had with our Bank would surely get the loans hassle free. While I was filling his application form for loans his wife appeared and asked “ Bhaiya ..how much he is applying for loans”
“ 20 lacs”
“ 20 lacs….but why? As far as I know he requires only seven to eight lacs for completing his pending order”
I could see the frustration on her face and helplessness on Baban’s face. I was sure that Babban had never expected his wife to react like this in front of me.
Though I was very close to their family but again I was not supposed to know all the matters. It was also an awkward situation for me.
She turned towards Babban and asked “Why are you doing all these”
“Why such huge loan?”
“You know very well.”
“No..I don’t know…”
I was finding very inconvenient so I stood up and said “Aaaah…I think I should come next day”
“ No Bhaiya..you please make him understand. What he is going to do”
Babban was silent. Rishita was trying hard to fight back tears. And I had become wooden. Babban was continuously looking on his floor as if he was examining the design of the mosaic floor.
After a few minutes Rishita broke the silence and said “How long you would continue this ….You are going through a financial crunch. I also believe that helping someone is a good gesture but tell me.. is it a wise act to help someone by putting yourself in trouble ?”
After hearing the concern from his wife I could smell the matter but I needed to know the things in detail so I did not bother anything and asked “ Bhabi ..if you don’t mind can you brief me the matter. As I know him for last 8 years Babban will never tell his problems”
Babban was still silent.
“ Bhaiya….Since my marriage I have been seeing him to help all his four brothers monetarily. And ask him that I have never held him back for helping them. For the last couple of years the business is not going well and he is striving like anything. I can see his efforts but he never raises his problems in front of them. He has sold almost half of his properties in continuing his help to them and most painful thing is that… even I was not aware of this. You tell me Bhaiya… What is he trying to prove?”
Now the first thing which came to my mind was whether he was eligible for such huge loan or not. I was under the impression that he had huge properties and the loan against property could be sanctioned easily. But now the situation was different.
“Babban…why are you taking such load on yourself”
He put up his gaze slowly and said “My youngest brother is going to be a doctor this year. Since his competitive preparation to cracking Joint Entrance Exam I have been with him. What would I say to him? I cannot finance him in his last years. You take care of yourself..One of my brothers has bought the shop. He needs some money for the stock. What would I say to him….you run your shop without the stocks..I cannot help him…”.
“ But….” Her wife wanted to interrupt.
He signaled from his hand which was signifying his determination of continuing his support to them. He stalled for a second, exhaled a deep breath and then said “I have some commitments. I cannot raise my hands at this critical time”
I relieved after hearing that he was so committed towards his commitments. My ear loved to hear these kinds of commitments. The basic instinct of a personal Banker ignited when the professionals like us got the confidence of lending the money in safe hands.
On the very next day I logged in his file and sent my CMR (Confidential Manager Report) to the credit verification Department. I tried my best for him to get the loan sanctioned. And finally the loan got approved. My recommendations and CMR played significant role in getting the loan disbursed.
And I was confident that our money was in safe hands.
As expected the EMI started coming in on time. Initially I was slightly worried about the monthly recovery as because the loan happened on my strong recommendations but again the fear was out of my sheer experience. I had witnessed in so many cases that how one get trapped in the tentacles of misfortune and failed to pay the EMI on time but that was not the case of Babban.
My Boss always used to say me that Business does not run on the emotional ground. And finally it flowed down into me also. My frequency of visiting his house reduced down drastically after we had established business relation. I tried to avoid speaking with him for the fear that if he asked for further loans then that was not possible for me so it was better to maintain distance.
Two years went by very smoothly. One day while I was checking the MIS suddenly my eyes got stuck in the cheque bounces report.
“ My God….two cheque bounces consecutively. What Babban is doing? How would I make the senior management understand” I murmured in nervousness.
I immediately checked the account statement of all his accounts and shocked to see that there was insufficient fund in all his accounts and the cheque will get bounced this month also.
I immediately called him. I tried thrice but he was not picking my phone. I was cursing myself to the day when I met him. Within a few seconds my mind had already weaved negative characters against him. I was questioning myself that how could I not recognize his true identity. I was not getting what should I reply to my Boss and also to my Super Boss.
While I was scrolling the contact list, luckily my eyes caught his wife no. I dialed at her no but again she was also not taking my call. I was in dilemma whether I should have visited his house or wait for a day or two. I was becoming impatient. After couple of minutes Rishita called back. I exhaled a deep breath and said “ Hello..Bhabi”
From other end I could hear only sobbing.
“ Is everything Okay Bhabi….”
“Bhaiya….can you come down to Nanawatty Hospital now?”
I got a strong jolt but I controlled my reactions and asked “What happened Bhabi….Where is Babban?”
“He is hospitalized” And she broke down .
I immediately reached hospital. Enquired about Babban. It gave hammer shock to my conscience when the help desk informed me the tenure of his hospitalization. It was more than two months. I was finding myself so diminished that how could I think about him like this. He was the person who never treated me outsider and within a few minutes before my brain was ushering so many negative situation against him.
I reached to room No 479. From outside the door I could hear the humming of Babban.
“Aye Aasman bata kya tujh ko hai khabar…hunnh huunhh hunnh hun hunh he he he he he he
Yeh mere jaan ko kiski lagi nazar….mujhse na jane kahan kya bhool ho gayee…..hunh hunhh”
I could feel the pain in his voice but could not understand the reason of his song. I pushed the door lightly. Rishita was sitting beside the bed. She looked and signaled me to come inside the room. I was shocked to see the condition of Babban. His whole body turned yellowish. His weight lose drastically. Looking very thin. He was looking 10 years older than his age. The short coarse hair grew on his unshaven chin. The stubble look, dark circle beneath the eyes along with yellowish body could put anyone into shock.
“Don’t you think of calling me once….”
In return he did not utter any word but gave an effortful smile.
“Bhabi…at least you could have called me…just see his condition”
“I was also not aware of his problems until the same could not be suppressed anymore from him” Rishita said and wiped tears from her dupatta.
I could understand the mental trauma of Rishita.
I sat near his bed and said in a controlled voice “Look Babban I know.. now a days you are struggling in the business but that doesn’t mean that you will play with your life….just see your health condition. I have scanned your accounts. Till three months back you have transferred hefty amount to your brother’s account”
Rishita looked at me with surprise.
“Now it’s your turn to seek financial help from them. Family is not about blood. It’s about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it the most”
“The same thing….”She wanted to say so many things but her voice deceived and she broke down. She put her hands on her face but I could hear her boohoo.
“They even don’t receive his phone calls” she said in her broken voice.
“What….” I shrieked. That took my breath away.
Babban took deep breath, then started to explain “Ghar ghar ki kahani yaar….They think that I have stopped sending money under the influence of my wife. They don’t even know the reality”
“I don’t know what kind of man you are….you should not be born in this era”
Rishita stood up and said “Thanks Bhaiya for coming.. otherwise people come to see how they would recover their money…its already 3:30pm. Anurag must be waiting for me” and she left the room silently.
I was feeling so ashamed of myself.
“ Babban.. should I ask something if you don’t mind” I did not understand why I became so formal then.
He signaled from his eyes and said “You know I have never treated you my personal banker. You are my friend.
“Yaar, I have been managing your account for more than 12 years and almost know your investments part also. But in last one year, the frequency of cash withdrawals has become so high. As far as I know you prefer paying in cheques then suddenly…I mean so much cash withdrawal”
Babban was gazing at me but was silent.
“No if you don’t want to share …it’s okay…I will not mind”
“This hospital doesn’t take payment in cheque…”
“But “ I paused and then said “ you are hospitalized for last two months”
“But Anurag…my son…has been here for last one year”
“What….Anurag …he is just five years old…what happened to him”
First time I saw his uncontrollable tears were rolling down from his cheeks
“He is diagnosed with Blood cancer” Babban’s voice shook.
“Oh God..” I could not suppress my emotions. After that I was speechless. It seemed the voice chocked in my throat. Now everything was getting clear one by one. Why so many cash withdrawals. As a banker and the student of Business Administration I could easily understand that if someone was not focused in his business for last one year then what could be the possible impact on his business. All the possibilities of his misfortunes were painting the clear picture on my mind. His capital erosion, his saving draining out, his liquidation with so many clients and possibly his own health turned out so worse.
Now I could understand the reason of his humming which was filled with such a pain.
I mustered some courage and asked “How is now….”
“Doctors asked me to take my son in some government hospitals. They assumed that I would not bear the cost of treatment. But touchwood Ravi I did it..thank God he is out of danger now but still it will take another three to four months for total recovery. You can say it’s a miracle of God”
I could see his difficulty in breathing. He was fighting against life.
I had heard about miracles from my grandmother in my childhood days but yes I was experiencing then. What could be said about this incident that a four years kid got affected with blood cancer and then after the treatment of one year he was on the verge of total recovery also?
My brain went numb. I was feeling weakness in my knees. I was not being able to understand how I consoled him.
He craned his body towards me and said in a low voice“ I need a help from you. After coming to village you are the only person who have been so sincere to me through out and even in my tough times also”
While he was showing his trust on me but my conscience is getting torn apart.
“I know I couldn’t pay the two installments but very soon you would be able to recover the money from my Insurance policies”
I looked at him with an expression “How could you say like that”
“I know only a few days are left of my life. Rishita will take care of Anurag’s medical expenses for another couple of months by selling her jewels. You just take care the amount of my Insurance policies is reached to my family on time. And one more thing If possible send some portion of that to my village in the name of my old parents…If my brothers are not bothered for me I have a doubt how he would have dealt with them. My small contribution may ease the burden of their old age”
“ But why Babban. He has other four sons to look after. Why are you worried? And I am sorry to say but your father should have come.”
He looked at me for a while and then said “I agree he should have come but you know… all the children are same in the eyes of parents but they always support those children who are yet to establish or financially weak in compare to others”
I was staring at him with a baffled look and straining my brain to understand the meaning of his sentence. And finally I asked “I didn’t understand…”
“I don’t know how my brothers would have made him understand about my current situation…suddenly money not sending to them, not visiting village in this period and stopped the help to my brothers must be labeled me as a selfish son who got changed drastically under the influence of his wife. Ultimately the wife has to bear the allegation of anything untoward happened in the family… I am sure my father doesn’t know about the reality otherwise he must have come to see me”.
I could hear the trembling in his voice. I wanted to confront with him but the kind of respect and faith demonstrated by him for his father stopped me for dropping any further comments in front of him.
“What do you want” I said in a low voice.
“I want to help them in their old days. I don’t want to pass the portion of my parent’s responsibilities to my brothers. I don’t know about them but my blood color is still red”.