I was actually very exhausted from my journey. I had just come from London through a wretched train, though the roti they served was so delicious. It was an experiment to attract people launched by the British. Harris, our chief had sent me to work for an old yet honoured and a good-hearted officer. It is 8-6-1902. This is my second trip to India in this year. Englishmen are getting the hell out of a job done by Indians. I doubt whether Indians will survive this.
I was actually born in India but was brought up in London. I have come all the way to India as a chauffeur to old Bailey judge Mr George Chesterfield. Again that tasty roti crept in my mind mesmerizing my mouth. My tasty thoughts was disturbed by loud hammer noise, “Order Order!!” I decided to divert my attention on a case which was taking place.
“Are you telling us that it was for self-defence ? ” asked the prosecutor.
“Yes sir ” replied a handsome gentleman, someone called Veer Prasad Chaturvedi.
“Do you have any evidence? ”
“Yes sir, my wife is witness. ”
“Then , where is she, Mr Veer Prasad Chaturvedi? ” asked George sir. He actually pronounced it as ‘ Mr Where Prasad Chyaturvedi ‘. Maybe English tongue can’t pronounce this name.
” She can’t come ” replied Mr Chaturvedi. Whole jury gave a surprised look.
“What rubbish are you talking !, Mr Chaturvedi, ” madam Lucy spoke up, still her tongue couldn’t pronounce this name.
“My family is not leaving her, ” he said with tearful eyes. His English was in the highest level of Butler English category.
” Alright, I don’t know about your weird family, but if you are able to bring her here, I will listen to you further or you will be hanged to death, ” said another jury member. Now that was a long sentence. The whole court broke its silence. After a moments thought, the judge spoke up, “Order, order…………this is finalised, bring thou lady to prove thy innocence within 30 minutes. That’s it!!” he said banging his hammer on the desk.
The court was dismissed. I could see desperation and tears in that poor mans eyes. Outside the court, I was staring at my watch which my wife had gifted to me. She had broke up with me, divorce to be precise. I still remember that nightmare which is dancing right in front of my eyes even now too.
A year ago, I was too in a similar situation. I was in jail though I was innocent. My business fell, I was bankrupt. I sat dreaming that she would come to get me bail, but none came. I was freed by an official who gave me the post of a chauffeur, an official kind enough to free me and get me a job. I have been thankful to him since then. I had fought with her parents and signed our divorce papers. Now I’m my godfather’s chauffeur.
I hadn’t seen her ever since I was arrested, but to be frank I really wanted to see her one last time. If I had the chance of getting a glimpse of this Mrs Chaturvedi. I would have killed her myself. Just then two policeman arrived with Mr Chaturvedi in front of them, He was handcuffed. He slowly came near me and whispered,
” Dear bhaiya I can ask only you, as you are the only Hindustani brother here, will you help me ?” He was saying the truth. Most of them around me were Englishmen. Since I had an Indian accent , I was looking like the only Indian soul amidst the whites. I nodded my head.
He smiled and whispered again, ” Tell my wife, to escape from my house with my bacha. Her friends are waiting near river, tell her to go there, please please, I wanna see my bacha alive please please!!” No sooner did he finish his words, the cruel officers believing that he had conveyed his message dragged him on the mud as if he is a dead animal, to the jail. He was screaming ” Mera bacha, Mera bacha !!” His stage was pathetic to watch.
Moved by his condition and his love for his child , I was determined to help him for even I had gone through a similar phase a year ago. The trouble was I didn’t know his house and his message was nonsense, instead of asking her to come he is telling her to run away !! I had only 25 minutes left. I woke up from my thoughts and climbed on my boss’s horse to which a carriage was attached to. I decided, I would ask a passersby how to go to his house. After 5 min, I saw a milkman carrying a pot with him. I asked him, ” Sir, where is ‘ Chaturvedi house ‘ ? “.
“Huh!”, he replied.
I had forgot that these people don’t know English . I tried to speak in Hindi, ” Bhaiya, ‘Chaturvedi house ‘ ? ” He nodded and asked me to come with him in Hindi. After 10 min, he pointed to a mansion and said “Chaturvedi house”
I said thank you and drove to the mansion. When I turned the other way I could see the court from here, maybe a 5 min walk through a gutter road, maybe a shortcut. The idiot fellow wasted my precious 5min. He took me to all the houses where he sold milk.
Now the mansion stood in front of me, big and beautiful. As I stepped inside that huge building I saw some masterpiece paintings, in middle was the traditional Tulsi plant, planted into a colourful square pot. In the main hall, a huge pig like woman, Mrs Prasad was sitting on a rocking chair chewing something called as pan with little tobacco added to it. The woman was an evil looking lady with cruel eyes and eyebrows drenched in black colour. A decent looking woman was sitting on the floor massaging that fat woman’s shin and her feet. She looked at me and gave a devilish stare. I really felt like having goosebumps.
“Who are you? ” she asked me out of blue. I couldn’t believe that she was educated. Her English was fluent and she seemed like an educated to me. Dressed in a saree like something, with all the treasure of earth hanging on her neck and her ear, she gave me that death stare again. I spoke up with courage ” I’m David, I’m the judge’s chauffeur and I’m here to bring Mrs Chaturvedi to the court on his highness order.”
“Why do you want her?” Each time she spoke her English seemed like becoming more and more fluent and my whole body began to trembling more and more. “As a eye witness to save Mr Chaturvedi, ” I spoke up.
That decent looking woman began weeping on hearing the last word, ” Mera bacha!!” So that was Mr Chaturvedi’s mother. ” You may if its law’s order, ” she replied again with that death stare. Damn her!! still my work was over but then why did Mr Chaturvedi tell she is not allowing his wife to go. “I would like to talk to Mrs Chaturvedi,” said I.
“About what ?” she asked.
“About her husband’s wish.” She seemed hesitant at first but later agreed. She pointed to a small room with a teak wood door.
I went into the room only to find a lady crying with a baby in her hand with a similar looking young lady in a yellow saree near her by window. ” Mrs Chaturvedi ?” I asked them lightly. The young lady pointed to the other one with the baby. “Yes” she said in fluent yet a sad tone. ” I have come here to spread your husband’s word to you.”
“He asked me to get out of this hell, didn’t he? ” she asked me . I was stunned. I couldn’t believe this. Whats wrong with this family, all seems to be knowing perfect English . “Even though he told me to run , I’m desperate to see his face one last time.” she continued. “Then why are you waiting, go to the court now you might be able to bring him back alive,” I said. The young lady in yellow saree replied with her arrogant voice, ” Gentleman, sorry to disappoint you, but if it were that easy, now in your place my brother – in – law would have been here. ”
I wished no one would marry her for the next minute they will kick her out. ” Then tell me what’s stopping you ? ” I asked Mrs Chaturvedi. She broke into uncontrollable tears and pointed to the that Mrs Prasad who was sitting outside and chewing pan. “But she agreed when I asked her,” I exclaimed. The similar looking lady did give an astonished look. Mrs Chaturvedi looked emotional again. The other one was her sister. “Definitely a trap, I tried to run from here almost 3 times yet I was caught each time.” She again broke into tears groaning “Mera bacha!!……” Now if she can’t leave the house, Mr Chaturvedi’s idea will be in water, for escaping is not that easy. “Can you tell me why you people keep shouting about your child so much? ”
“I think you’re not aware of our system? ” “No! ” I replied.
She gave an understanding nod and began explaining ” Well in India we women, are nothing but mere pests in the eyes of men. A girl child born is considered as a sin given to her family by God, himself. To purify their sin and to get rid of their burdens, they should drown the girl baby within 3 months of its birth in a big vessel of pure milk!!” “What the ……heck!!
“How can they do that, I mean, are they human or not ? ” ” That’s custom and rituals for you.”
“But isn’t your’s head a women ?”
“There’s no point in arguing now,” she said with lots of tears in her eyes. She really meant it, I could feel her intense grief. “You’re educated aren’t you? teach these people about their wrong doings”
“My dear sir, in your country if a girl gets educated its a boon but in our land if a girl getting educated, it’s curse” I again asked them both “Tell me, is this any way related to your husband’s case ?”
“Yes” “How” “Our girl child is 2 and half months old. If our society can’t kill her within 15 days, then they should stop trying. That’s how we few women have escaped and are alive here now. To kill my child, my auntie whom you saw sitting there sent a man yesterday night. My husband in order to protect us, killed that man.” “I see that’s why, he was arguing in the court. Then why is your Auntie holding you here?” “If the court gets to know about this ritual, it’s going to punish them. If my husband is dead, then I have to die with him by abiding the laws of sati. Then with no parent left, they are free to do what they want to my child. That’s why we’re trying to stay alive for at least 15 days. I don’t want to see my child die, I want to see her alive!!” saying this she burst into uncontrollable tears. “Let’s get out of here.”
“But how? ” asked her sister, Anita. Actually Mrs Chaturvedi had introduced that woman as Anita and after I saw her, suddenly an idea came to me. “Where there is a will there is a way.”
“You are going with him?” asked Mrs Prasad to the lady who was coming with me to the court. She wore a white saree and covered her face completely. She gave a nod while answering that fat lady’s question. I got on the horse while she got into the carriage. As I went just 5 feet front, I grabbed her hand while helping her to climb the carriage. That woman began shouting something in Hindi. Suddenly a group of people came behind me with sticks in their hand.
“She said you’re kidnapping me” she said. ” Oh no!” whats wrong with her” I had understood that the wretched lady had sent the people to chase me. I rode the horse faster, some began throwing stones and stick at the carriage. The horses were running terribly fast with the carriage jumping up on every gutters. The people ran behind us frantically. Here and there I had to take extra turns to get rid of them. But none worked. They still ran behind us. Just then a young man threw a long stick that unfortunately struck the axle which broke the wheel completely.
In a minute or two the carriage was completely dropped with the horse still on it’s track. The court was just half mile away and 30 minutes was over. I caught her hand and ran as hard as I could. The people closed in and was about to catch us. I ran and ran till my feet gave up, just then from nowhere some English officers blocked them and controlled the crowd where as we ran like horses to the court. As we reached the court I was bewildered to see that fat auntie again with her family and again a young lady in yellow saree. All the women covered their faces with the veil except for that big head. “Your honour, I can explain….,” I was trying to convince the judge when that lady began screaming “My honour, this man ran away with my sister’s son’s wife when she should have come to the court.”
The judge gave a fierce look, just then the young girl in yellow saree ran towards him screaming “Jiju…..”The whole jury could feel her sadness but were helpless.
“Whats the time now, huh..you are 2 minutes late!! ” said the judge.
“My honour , tell me then did that fat pig and her family come in time?” Madam Lucy, a jury member spoke up
“David! mind your language,you good for nothing chauffeur. They came 3 min before the deadline unlike you.”
“Then my lord it means they can speak while we can’t cause we are late.” “Yes ”
I pointed to the young lady in yellow saree and said “Lo behold my lord, presenting to you Mrs Chaturvedi.” The lady took her veil and it was none other than Mrs Chaturvedi herself. You should have seen that fat pig’s expression, Picasso could have drawn a wonderful masterpiece with this face. If he had drawn such I would have definitely kept it in my wall staring at it all the time “My Lord, since she came early, can she talk now? ”
“Yes, but who is that girl with you”. “My Lord, she is Mrs Chaturvedi’s sister, Anita. She had ran from home to see her brother-in-law for the last time, since I was on the way , I thought I’ll give her a lift. That’s all your honour.” I said.
She came near my ear and whispered “Gentleman, if can’t tell a proper lie, then I’ll tell you one.”
“Hey lady shut up if you want to stay alive” I still wished again no would marry her. She kept quiet and moved away.
“Why did you pick her up then?” asked Lucy.
“Tell me madam, if your daughter was left on the Baker street alone, then would it have been that nice to just ignore her when I pass that street” It shut her mouth for few minutes. Judge then gave a grin. Mrs Chaturvedi told everything she told me. All her family members supported her.
After her narration , Harris our chief who was present there turned towards me and asked “David, remember one thing” I turned towards him. He continued ” All those brave acts you did are actually against our laws. Thereby by the law you have to leave India immediately and never come back again” He stressed those last words .
” Sir with respect, I don’t care a damn about it. No matter what happen I don’t care. My words, my actions, my soul, my life all are mine and I would solely take the responsibilities for all the problems my actions have caused but never sir, never will I let that poor child to be an orphan and I will never let her to die in the filthy hands of this swine who don’t care about her own children!!!! If this is my last visit to India then this is gonna be my last mission in India, to make sure no more children will die in her hands. My dear Englishmen if you are into ruling India, please..please.. make sure that India’s daughters are educated. please…!!” I actually went overboard and I really felt like crying. Mr George turned towards Mrs Prasad and ordered “For thy inhuman act thou are going to get a punishment of 2 years of imprisonment.” It seemed as if George sir loved ‘ thy ‘, ‘ thou ‘ these type of words more than anyone. “But how can you do it. I mean leaving her alone it is really inhuman, ” broke in Madam Lucy. The judge replied
” Madam Lucy , if you have such deep concern about her being alone, why don’t you join her? ”
“How dare you speak to me in that way? thundered Lucy. George sir shouted at the police nearby
“Take this women and put her in the jail. Let our dear jury head not see light for 2 years and let that woman who slaughters her own children be banished from this village.” I was grinning with loads of happiness. The couple too hugged each other and kissed their cute little daughter. The court was dismissed and I went to get ready to go back to London, since I’ll be dismissed. Since we have put Madam Lucy in jail, I would be definitely dismissed from my job and judge would have to suffer a 5 months suspension but on the brighter side a decision taken cannot be changed so she has to spend at least a year in jail and definitely that fat pig too would never return.
I had taken my bag and was about to leave when the Chaturvedi couple came and fell on my feet. I took my foot backward. Mrs Chaturvedi said, “Dear sir, we know you are too gentle to accept any gifts from us.” Wait a minute, I never said anything like that. If it was money I would not definitely say no. “Instead of gift we have brought something that is yours. Only when I had come to know that you’re name is David, I recognized that this letter belongs to you, sir,” saying this she gave me the letter. The letter read as follows,
I have been trying to see you.
My parents are trying to marry me off to a businessman, they are trying to separate us. I’ve written this to remind you that I still love
you. Please get me out of here!!
I’m ready to wait even if its for a century. Still my death I’m gonna have only one husband. I promise!!
From your loving wife
My eyes were full of water. “How did you get this ?” I asked her.
” Months ago when you had come here for duty, this letter dropped from your bag when you were passing near my house. I took the letter and thought I should return this but you were gone by then, ”
replied Mrs Chaturvedi. “Why did preserve this?” She said smiling
“When I read this letter, I thought this could save a family,”
“How can I……… thank you!”
“You have shown us that there is still hope in India for women to live peacefully. This is the least we can do. I didn’t know how to thank them. My mind, my soul, my whole body was lost in thoughts. I ran to the station, got on a train.
Through out the journey I was hoping that she hadn’t changed her mind yet.
After 6 months………..
I don’t know how but I believe its someone’s blessing that I become a successful businessman. I had been working harder than ever before, after I was dismissed by the government.
About George sir, he was suspended for 4 months and still whenever I met him he said the decision he took that day was the best ever taken by him and about Madam Lucy, her punishment was extended to 2 and half years for misbehaving with the magistrate.
Finally I had got my Susan back.
That day when I arrived here I rushed to her house and demanded that I should see her.
Her father said some silly lies and tried to avoid me and showed me the original divorce papers.
“You are legal separated now!!” he said. I grew angry and tore the papers and gave a big slap on the face of my dear father -in law.
I broke the door and brought her from house. Her father sat crying,
while I regretted that I should have done that earlier enough. Now I’m happy with my wife and my business is also going great. I hope Chaturvedi family is leaving peacefully too. One thing I missed was that delicious Indian roti….