Stephan C. Hmar, 09.09.2014
Meeting Mr. Chakorlal puzzles it all!
Let me tell how it happened.
After moving into my new posting four years ago, I happened to develop a taste for observing people, and within days, I found it a luxurious practice for passing the time and cope with incapacities. And also, I found it to be a great advantage not all people could possess, to observe the jigsaw, the varied patterns that shapes and separates and kills us as unified individuals and society, and then masterfully draw judgment on them.
It is quite addictive, in no time I turned out a veteran observer. I observed the different characters possessed by each individual---different opinions, worshipping habits, cooking recipes, eating habits, the different philosophies governing every religion.
Unknowingly, along the process, I overdo it: my observance was quickly governed by rigid and biased judgments. I did not find the cooking of other clans palatable and I quickly concluded that ʻThis' and ʻThat' clan didn’t know how to cook. I could not settle with the opinion of some fellow, and I would flatly tell them to keep it to themselves. I did not get along well with some fellow and I quickly concluded that ʻThis' and ʻThat' fellow is a bad fellow. Oh! He prayed to the same god as me, he is the good fellow! He is of a different religion, so don’t trust him!
This was how I defined others within the matrix of my 'Self.ʼ
I opened a folder in my Laptop under the name PEOPLE wherein I labeled people who talk too much as ʻtalking fellows'; who talks less as ʻZip fellows'; selfish people as ʻOrdinary guys'; giving people as ʻRespectable Allien guys.' I had labeled quite a good number of people that even the memory of my external hard drive storage got exhausted in no time.
To be figurative, exactly after having chanced a sore, but beautiful discourse with Mr. Chakorlal, one month ago, I learned that I am a ʻbiased-maniac' who define others with the limited knowledge about myself and life itself. I began to have a feeling that it is a strange, puzzling world where I cannot have any concrete definition about anything or anyone. I am confused about myself and I find it difficult to define or explain about people. Suddenly something is making me mild and unbiased. No more do I take a fellow to be rubbish because I didn’t quite get along with him. I observe at curries differently now---I do not like the cooking of some clans; So what! They do not find my cooking good either! Who am I to draw the line? He is my God, and that is their God! Why to be so obsessed with ʻMy God' and ʻTheir God'?
That day, after a long day's work, I wearily entered the Chinese Corners, as always. The stall was fully packed, which I had not experienced before as far as this Corners is concerned. Every table and chair were occupied by teenagers, trying to impress each other.
I saw a lone man sitting, and I approached him. I asked, Can I sit with you?
He stood up and looked at me and seriously said, Thank You! Thank You! And he strangely looked at me and continued, You shot the target right in my heart, I try to sit with people around here trying to narrate my beautiful story, but they thought I'm outdated and shoo me away!
And then he asked me, You have to be someone?
I replied poorly, Yes! I am someone you don’t know.
Before I could complete the sentence, he screamed, No!No! You have to be an angel made for listening and remembering!
And then he stood up, and shouted at the crowd, Hear me! And hear me correct! I get a pal.! I get a pal!
Everyone stared at us.
I was at a point of running away. I was already standing with my weak feet, but he said, Pal! I don’t know you, as much as you don’t know me. You are a godsend and just hear me…..okay?
I was scared. I straightened my back, chewed my dry tongue and hesitatingly said, Okay! But no shouting like that…okay?
He said, Don’t be a chicken. No one will hear you until you shout! Be rebellious! Let them hear you!
I said, I have some urgent thing coming into my knowledge. I need to leave….
He said, Hey! I read the Bible, the Mahabarata, the Quran, you name it…..?
Had I been in my teenage years, I am sure I will drill this guy straight into the earth of the planet where he come from! Lucky for him, he looked very macho for me now, and I had to listen. In my mind, I said, Shit!Shit! Another Shit!
He called the young waitress, then looked at me, Just order and eat anything you want in this joint, the bill is on me. Then, he told the waitress, Serve me and my friend here all the good stuffs your restaurant can offer.
He smiled towards me, My name is Chakorlal.
The waitress was confused, she said, But…but…, I don’t understand?
Chakorlal said, Dear lady, do as you are told! Bring all your best stuffs. And he quickly slipped towards me, Tell me! Were you ever obedient, in your life?
I straightened my back, maybe I was more afaid of him, or something erupted in my brain about father-son-relation and then I said, Well! Well! I am kind of, obedient. I even sing the song 'Obedience Is The Very Best Way To Show That You Believe.ʼ
He said, You sing? You really sing? The tone was higher.
I said, Yes! I did sing!
He smiled and said, My friend, I don’t sing or rhyme or talk but I read and practice obedience.
I said, Tell me how you are such a sufficiently obedient fellow!
The subject happened to attract me.
More people stared at us. I saw more customers coming in.
He, all the more continued on me, undeterred, My life was governed by obedience. I was the Al-Insan-al-Kamil, the perfect man of God, and from the Bible I read, Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord., my parents recited to me every now and then the story about the obedience of Rama. I obeyed my parents….I followed them to the core! My parents are omnists, and believes in all religion. My father struggle to be an ideal father, he trained my mother to be an ideal mother, and he let me introduce to all the religions in our locality---Hindu, Christianity, Muslim, Jainism and more, just to make me an ideal son. The walls of our house are covered with hanging posters of different gods and gurus. All my life, I never lie or cheat or liked money because my father always said that cheating, lying and bribing and loving money are all evil and will make me an unsuccessful man.
I said with absorption, You are a rare fellow.
He pulled his right palm up, actioning me to keep quiet and listen.
All my school day was all about---reaching the school the earliest, trying hard to be the most favourite student, and studying religions and school subjects in the evening, night (upto 10 PM), morning from 4:30 to 7:30 and walk out of the house for school exactly at 9:00 AM.
He suddenly stopped, That boy, Mr. Chamanlal! If it is now I will crush his skull or I will buy him and then sell him to the Indian ocean's pirates.
Why? Why do you hate him so much? I asked.
He was the biggest in the class, everyone called him Mr. Heavyweight Malinka. Every time, he terrorized me. He would pull my ears or pull my pair of trousers down or sometimes hit me with his neck-tie. He terrifying let me do his homework and if he got scolding from teachers, he would grab my throat after class and cried, 'It's all because of you.ʼ
I asked, You didn't report to teachers or your father?
I did tell my father about this Mr. Heavyweight, but my father told me that I must not fight evil with evil but forgive him.
I asked, So you forgive him? What happened next?
His terrorizing continued, but I always forgive him and my neck and ears and face became harder and harder with his grab and punches. My father kept all the first-aid box at home and he would apply on my terrorized wounded face. And we prayed all the more to the hanging gods.
I said Shit!Shit! Shit!
He then showed me his front teeth, See, this is my false teeth. The original one was plucked down by Mr. Heavyweight.
I just smiled, and said, So your family accepted all those happenings with forgiveness?
We accepted it, more than just forgiveness. And that was just one example of how obedient I was, to my parents.
I said, Tell me more?
You want to hear more? During my class X, the pressure from my father was stronger. He said that I was about to be a man struggling for survival all alone and he let me read more about religions. It had a setback for my preparation for my school examination and I failed the final class X exam.
I said, You have made yourself an underdog!
He said, You are right. I was the loser. I could at least made through that exam had I been a little untruthful, and disobedient.
All my friends tell each others the answers. Even the invigilator was tolerant enough, he did not say anything. He wanted everyone to pass the first hurdle of life by any means. But I didn't want to use any unfair means. All the class except me passed the exam.
I said, Such a bullshit story.
He pulled out his palm again, actioning me to stop and listen as usual. In my mind, I thought he seemed to be a great supporter of Congress.
He continued, I passed class X two years ago after six attempts, and presently in my class XII. The story is still the same. During any long school holidays, I would visit shrines, churches, mosques around the locality. I even went to Mecca twice as mahram. My father sent me to have a practical taste of Islam.
I asked, What is a Mahram?
People who escort old people who took to Mecca pilgrimage. He smiled, You don’t have any clue about any religion?
I said, I know only about my religion!
He said, Then you are a lucky fellow!
He said, You want to know what happen next?
Yes! Carry on! I have nothing else to do at home, I said.
He continued, Then something entirely different cropped up just last week. I did something unacceptable to my religious and obedient practices, and then it turned out beautifully.
What thing? I interrupted.
Last week, around 10:30, we hear shouting from the locality, burglar!burglar! My father looked at me and tell me not to go out. I ran out of the house towards the sound. That was the first time I disobeyed my father. I chased the burglar towards the direction where they said running. Soon I spotted him and chased him for two kilometers where I caught him. The burglar said, 'Friend, please release me. I steal only for my daughter's marriage,ʼ and offered me twenty thousand rupees, from the chunk of his loot as a bribe. I thought for five second and found it amusing to experiment on disobedience. I took the money and released the burglar.
And then he stood from the chair and cried out loud, And now what have I become? I skipped a bit from the advices of my father and I happened to be a crorepati.
Everyone looked at us, surprised.
Thut! Thut! This rotten fellow sitting adjacent to me happened to be a crorepati? I don’t believe you! Pal! Not in this world or the next world!
He said, laughing, My dear unknowing chap! Life is destiny-governed! In all my life I never have Rs. 20,000 in liquid. And then I was so happy, so happy, even the universe will sing with me, and yesterday I gamble all of it on the state lottery on the number 13, because they said it is an unlucky number. And flip-flop, tonight, I am a crorepati!
He unzipped his bag, and showed me 1000 rupee notes stuffed in different orientations.
I said, I want to be like that! Tell me how,?
He said, I don’t have any clue on how this thing happened. I disobeyed my father on three occasions an I become a crorepati. Maybe you should be disobedient, or obedient or both.
I was paralysed by his uncommon story!
He stood up smiling at me, walked to the stall keeper, handed him a bankerʼs bundle of one thousand rupee notes (The store-keeper just collapsed with happiness), walked away, pushed the swinging door, and he looked back. All the people looked at him with the greatest of admiration, this time round.
He picked my face, smiled at me profoundly again and shouted, Life is just about destiny. Hear it my friend!
I was taken back to sense by the waitress speaking to me, Look at your table. I have been delivering all the best stuffs I can offer for the past one hour, and you two guys ended up not eat anything. What a waste!
I looked around the table in front of me, piled with different plates of Chinese cuisines, only to see the puzzling ways of how destiny had shaped us. That will continue on shaping us.
Three days back, I met Mr. Chakorlal, quite enlightening, but dull in his dress. I grabbed him on his arm and said, jovially, If a crorepati dressed this bad, I think I am not following the natural rule on how to survive on this earth.
He recognized me, more than anyone could recognize me. He said, There is a twist in the story with that 100 lakhs.
I asked, How?
He said, That night, after I left the Chinese Corners, I went straight to my home with the bag of money and tell all how it came about, to my father, he smiled and praised all the gods. He took the bag from me and said ʻWe will build an omnist-hall, and the world will know what we believe,' and locked away the bag of money in the safe.
I said, with a handshake, Mr. Chakorlal, you are a puzzling fellow...Do you realize that?
He replied, It is a puzzling world altogether!