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     Volume 5 Issue 102 | July 7, 2006 |

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Healthy, Stealthy and Wise


The other day I was all alone at my bhaban. I was relaxing. No telephone. No mobile. No television. No newspaper. No family. No relatives. No visitors. Boring, but that is how I was told to relax.

Around eleven o'clock morning time there was a knock on my door. The relaxing was doing me good and I was in sound enough health to hear the knock, walk all by myself up to the door, open the door and ask, 'Yes! How may I help you?'

Seeing the Resident of the house himself at the door, the man at the door seemed flabbergasted. Seeing me recuperating, harmless and alone, he soon found his composure and blurted out, 'I want to be the ad-hoc Resident of this house'.

'But, this place is already too crowded. There is me--the permanent Resident and then we have the Resident-in-Charge…' I was explaining.

'When did he get in?' the man sounded aggressive.

'Why? Don't you know? But how will you? When newspapers are not published for want of newsprint and television channels cannot function for lack of electricity, how will you know? This I know because it is about me. When I was away for a few days, he took over and now he likes the place so much, he wants to stay for longer,' I explained.


'No, not exactly, our family custom does not allow that, but my baboorchee told me it might be for a few weeks, depending upon those who are doctoring the whole thing.'
'Who is this guy?'
'Oh! He is my brother-in-law!'
'But what is his function? You are already here, healthy too.'
'He does what I cannot. He knows people I do not. He meets people I cannot. He signs papers I should not.'
'Come on! You are pulling my leg just because I am standing on my two legs,' the man seemed to be feeling easier by then.

Was that some sort of a veiled message? Standing on my two legs? I was getting confused? Was I engaged in this conversation because I found this guy genuinely friendly? Or is it because he was the only outsider I met over the past two weeks? I will never know.

I asked him: 'Why do you want this non-existing appointment, this ad-hoc thing?'

The man gave a smart reply: 'Sir, if you break the rule once, you can break it again?'
Sir! He called me sir! The feeling was good. So I did not interrupt him. He seemed wise.

He continued: 'If there can be one non-existing appointment in the house, there can be another, please sir.'

I pretended it was in my hands to take him in or not. Little does he know I do not know my own khabor.
So I asked him why he wanted to get into the house. What for?
'Sir! You ask me why? When you are sick, the temporary Resident takes charge, is that not so?'
'I am not so sure about the temporary thing, but carry on', I said with all gaambhirjo.

'What will happen when the temporary Resident is sick? Huh! Sir, nobody thinks about this country.' The man was making some sense, after all.

'But where will you stay?' I said as a word of encouragement.

'Sir,' he now had one foot over the threshold and I was forced to step back half-a-stride, 'You as Resident have occupied the awndor mahal, the Resident-in-charge has taken over the boithak khana and I as ad-hoc shall dwell in the lavish veranda. Sir, this is such a big house and such big verandas. You do need more than one resident.'

'All these days I was doing fine all by myself,' I grumbled. I sounded low, so the guy came up with a proposal, 'Sir, why don't you and I go for a ride?'

'I don't have a car.'

'And why, may I ask, such a distinguished man as you do not have a car?' the man-at-the-door queried poetically.

'The temporary Resident has taken it,' I said bluntly.
'What was that?' I asked.
'You did say he was your brother-in-law.'
'But it sounds so different when you say it in our praaner bhasha'
'That is why we have sacrificed so much for it.'
By then he was inside the house. I wanted to call security, but realised I did not have any.

Seeing my uneasiness, the chap gave me a long lecture, the first I had to take from a common citizen since I moved to this big house three years ago. But, then so much has changed, 'Sir, I wanted this job badly, only for the sake of the country, but seeing your dur obostha<>, your car also gone, I will not even leave my CV with you. I think I will go to my elaka like thousands of others and seek nomination for the next elections. It could be from any party, it does not matter. Asking for nomination has become a matter of status and prestige. There are already over forty candidates for each party in my constituency. Almost every adult male in my area has a smile on his face, so much pride. They are all nomination-seekers. I thought I would do something different, but, sir, this is so very humiliating, I can only sympathise with you before I leave. However, your behaviour has been befitting to your standing…'

Was he again giving a hint? Standing…?
'But, sir, you should have been warned about your brother-in-law…'
'You mean shaala..'
The man gave a big smile, 'Now you are healthy and wise.'
'What about stealthy?'
'He is driving around in your car, sir!'
After the man left, I realised, I did not ask him even for once to have a sit. Having pondered over the matter, I concluded it was in order. No body sits when the Resident is standing.


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