Literature & Fiction | 22 Chapters
Author: Balbir Singh Sethi
Bobby loses his father in the final year of his school. His dreams are big and he accomplishes his dream with his sheer determination, hard work, and honesty. He meets Ruksana in his journey and BIG he becomes. He amasses wealth but loses his ladylove in between. This makes him amass more wealth until he realizes that he has had enough of it. He wants to see life from ground zero. How does he accomplish it? READ.
Bobby, the Chairman of Bobby Group of Companies, is sitting in his office. The office is luxurious and is equipped with the latest gadgets to keep him informed about everything that his staff in his various offices in India should inform him about. The table is made of mahogany wood and has only a tilted glass stand, to make it easy for him to read and sign documents. The stand wire is made out of 18 ct. gold. Nothing else is there and it gives a bare look. His chair is all modernity with switches to raise, tilt, or move. It is carved out of teak wood and covered with plush upholstery.
The office is very large with only two chairs opposite his chair. The distance between his table and the entry door for visitors is 30 feet apart. The reason for such distance is for him to assess the person who has finally got to see him in person. The majority of the persons are asked to see his staff who order and bargain, for supplies and manufacturing, and there is a proper hierarchy for each department. Slips or mistakes are unpardonable, and as such, his staff is always on an edge, since they know that they are paid more than anybody else in the market. The perks of a staff member is based on his or her efficiency.
The intercom buzzes, “Yes, Mallaika. What is it?”
“Sir, the board members are expected in one hour at 11 in the morning as per your orders, and I shall call you as soon as they assemble in the conference hall. All the arrangements have been made.”
“Thank you,” said Bobby “and do not disturb me, till then. No calls, no personal meetings. Get it Mallaika?”
“Yes sir,” and she places the receiver on the cradle.
Relaxed, that after 25 years of success, he was contemplating a change for himself. A long vacation maybe, but a vacation of his own style. He would appoint a deserving person at the helm of the company as the Managing Director. The board may recommend his son as the Managing Director, keeping in view that he was the biggest shareholder of his group companies. He was in no mood for that because his son did not have the requisite experience. He would like his son to start from the shop floor and move to all departments for short durations. This would help him learn and also make changes where required after consultations with the director in charge of that department.
He smiles, satisfied. He leans back and closes his eyes.
This takes him back to the day when he had come back home after having practiced cricket in school. There was a commotion in his house. Everyone turned to look at him. It was very confusing. He saw his mother crying profusely in her bedroom and there on the bed lay his father. His mother was shaking his father to wake him up, but his father did not stir. His mother was crying as if all was over; indeed, it was all over. He saw his father’s friends start preparations for his funeral.
His world had collapsed. He embraced his mother and his sister, consoling them and in heart of hearts assuring them that he was there. He is just 16, and his sister is 10 years old only. He is in shock, not knowing what to do. He hears his father’s friend asking the ladies to leave the room so that the last rites can be initiated. The ladies leave the room and the body of his father is taken off the bed and made to lie on the floor. His clothes are removed almost torn off, he shudders at the sight. His father’s body is given the last bath. The water has been made pure with the Ganga Jal added to it. He is then clothed for his last journey to the cremation ground. The procession leaves for the cremation ground at Shivaji Park. Holy words are being chanted and at last, his father’s body is laid on a pile of dried wood. He is summoned and handed a piece of dried wood. He is directed to dip it in the pure ghee and light up a flame and set the pyre on fire on which the body of his father is laid. He is horrified and with trembling hands, he lights up the pyre and the crowd offers prayers to the Almighty to rest the soul of his father in Heaven. The pyre burns with intensity because of the wind from the sea. The priest performs the last rites and asks the congregation to leave. He is surrounded by his father’s well-wishers who console him. He is driven back home by his uncle. On reaching home, he is embraced by his wailing mother and sister. After some time, people start leaving and the house is left with just him and his family. An eerie silence surrounds the house. It is as if the end of the world has come about. The only sound is of soft whimpers and the sound made by the wall clock.
Bobby takes a deep breath and makes his mind reconcile to the fact that it is he who is the one to take command of the situation. He shrugs with a sense of fear. Will he be able to do it? He remembers his dad’s words when he was hurt and had wounded his leg while playing football at school when he was in his fifth standard. “You are hurt and are in pain, no doubt. But, it is only you who can fight the pain. Get up, put up a brave face and half the pain will have perished. The other half will be taken care of with some medicines.” This was a similar situation but with a difference. He would have to fight the situation himself. There were no medicines and in that place, there would only be courage.
He moves toward his Mom and sister who are huddled together. He embraces them and with his choked voice says, “Mom, this is a very tragic period, please hold yourself. I promise you that I will abide truly as a doting son and a loving brother.”
His mother pulls him toward her and moves her hands on his back lovingly and nods at him as if acknowledging his thoughts.
The results of the Secondary School Examination are announced and Bobby has secured the first division with a distinction. His result is enough to seek admission in the prestigious St. Xavier’s College at Dhobi Talao in Bombay. He joins the college in the Arts section.
His father has left a reasonable estate for the proper upkeep of his family, but the regular income has stopped. He ponders about it and shares his views of a part-time job with his friend in college to refurbish the family income.
“Bobby, there is a requirement of a waiter in an Irani restaurant near the stock exchange. The job is lowly but if you want, I can arrange a meeting with Rustom, the owner of the restaurant,” said Rajesh his friend.
Bobby contemplated and said, “Rajesh, no job is mean and I would accept it. After all, we have to start somewhere. Let’s go.”
Rajesh introduces Bobby to Rustom in the Irani restaurant. The restaurant is crowded, since it is lunchtime. The guests are looking out for waiters and it certainly looks that there is a shortage of workers to serve the guests. Rustom is perspiring and is constantly wiping his face with a handkerchief. He cannot leave the cash counter and seems to be at his wit’s end.
“Rustom uncle, here is Bobby and he is willing to offer his services to you.”
“Dikra (son), how much salary do you want?”
“Uncle, see how I work and then you can fix my pagaar (salary).”
“Dikra, will you work for free?”
“Rustom uncle, why not! You call me dikra, so why not!”
There is a smile on Rustom’s face. “Dikra, you seem to be very intelligent, but you are new in this trade. Start from tomorrow and learn the tricks of the trade and I will fix your pagaar accordingly.”
“Rustom uncle, I will not mind starting my training from today itself. Your guests are wanting to be served. If you agree, then I am on my way.”
Rustom pats Bobby on his back and exclaims, “Dikra, you are on. Start coming after your college and start your shift from lunchtime tomorrow.”
Bobby thanks his friend Rajesh. He takes the BEST bus to his home. He has his dinner, listens to the news on his transistor radio, and retires to bed. He is uneasy in his bed and is unable to sleep. He plans his activities for tomorrow.
The next morning he gets up early, finds that his sister is all dressed up in her school uniform and ready to leave. He hurries to have his bath and is all dressed up to go to college. He hurriedly finishes his breakfast.
“Mom, I am leaving for college and shall be late in the evening.”
“Why Bobby?” asks his mother.
“Oh Mom, I will be taking extra classes and after that, I will be practicing cricket. I want to be selected for the college team. I will be home before dinner time.”
Bobby did not want to let his Mom know that he would be working part-time. She may feel hurt. He took a bus to his college in Dhobi Talao.
He attended his class and as a good learner, he was very attentive. The college got over at 11:30 in the morning. He packed his books in his carry bag and went to a bus stand to take him to the stock exchange where Rustom had his restaurant.
“Rustom uncle, good afternoon.”
“Dikra, tum aa gaya” (son, you have come).
“Yes uncle,” Bobby replied.
Rustom leaned under his cash box and drew out a new apron and offered it to Bobby.
“Is ko pahen lo, nahi to tumhara kapda kharaab hoga” (wear this apron, lest your clothes get spoiled).
“Arre dikra, take the key, your locker number is 401. You keep all your valuables in this locker and then return the key to me. When your duty is over, get the key and take your valuables back. Also, deposit the tips you get to me. At the end of each month, the tips collected by all the servers will be equally shared by all of you and you will also get your pagaar on that day. This is being done so that there is no competition among you to serve a particular guest who pays a generous tip. Your pagaar will be Rs. 300 every month. Do you agree?”
“Yes sir,” he answered back.
Bobby was happy that it will be a good amount of earning and will be a definite help to his family.
“Arre dikra, listen” Rustom called Bobby. “You are educated unlike the other chokras (waiters), therefore, I am allotting you table number three. This table is always reserved at one o’clock in the afternoon for four persons who are eminent stock brokers. I want you to be nice to them and be quick in serving their order. They are my regular guests.
“Yes sir,” Bobby replied.
Bobby did not know what was in store for his future. He however thought that God was kind to him by providing admission in a good college and now this job.
Bobby kept his purse in the locker and looked at his watch. It was a quarter to one and the group of stockbrokers would be here any time. He hurried outside in the dining area and took a signboard with RESERVED written on it and placed it on table no. three. He cleaned the table and spread a neat and clean table cover on it. Just about as he finished, he saw the group of four persons coming across to their favorite table no. three. There was no doubt that this group was the group of the stockbrokers.
“Good afternoon, sirs,” he wished them. “Sirs, my name is Bobby and I am your new attendant.”
They got seated and made themselves comfortable.
“Bobby, you are new, and note that we always order bun maska and chai (bun with a spread of butter and tea). You do not have to ask us for the order every time, and it should be quickly served.”
“Yes sir,” he replied.
He quickly traced his feet to the kitchen. He cleaned four water tumblers, filled them with potable water, placed the order with the cook, and returned to table no. three. He served the guests with impeccable courtesy.
“Sir, please have some water as it is very hot outside. Your order will be served very quickly.”
The four gentlemen were discussing about the market and he could sense that it was about the stocks in trading. He quickly returned to the kitchen. The bun maska and chai were ready; he placed the food on a tray and took them to table no. three to be served. The tea was piping hot.
The four of them seemed to be enjoying their meals. They sipped the tea and one of them commented, “chai garam che, saras” (the tea is hot, good). After sipping the tea, they asked for the bill, paid it, and left a tip of one rupee.
Bobby gave the cash to Rustom along with the tip of one rupee he was given.
Rustom on seeing the one rupee exclaimed, “Dikra, you have got a one rupee tip from them, they only give a quarter and you have got one rupee from them.”
A month passed out quickly. Bobby had undertaken his education and the job in very good earnest. It was evening time and Bobby had changed his dress to leave for home.
“Bobby dikra, come here” Rustom was calling.
“Yes, Rustom sir, what can I do?”
“Arre dikra, aaj pagaar ka din hai, pagaar le kar jao” (son, today is payday, take your pay).
A big smile came on his face and his heart was thumping loudly. He could almost hear his heartbeats. Rustom was counting 10-rupee notes. He counted 40 notes and gave him 30 notes equivalent to Rs. 300 as his remuneration. He counted another 10 notes equivalent to Rs. 100 and said, “This 100 rupees is your bonus collection for the month.”