The maiden story (written by a Polio inflicted Officer)

The maiden story (written by a Polio inflicted Officer)

This short story is an abridged English version of the original Hindi short story carried with the title "Pahali kahani" in India's leading newspaper, NBT in the year 1981 (for which I received a cheque of Rs 200/)
It was Monday morning. As usual, he found it rather difficult to get up early. He was getting little late for the bank where he worked as an Officer. Although, it was a distance of about two kms from the Bank quarters where he stayed with his parents and his younger sister, he always preferred to walk it along.
He found it difficult to place the crutches in the Auto rickshaw, since there was hardly any place for them, since it took a few extra minutes in the peak hour rush, since it was rather clumsy and since the Auto drivers avoided taking a handicapped person in.
He was carrying a copy of the famous Hindi magazine named Vividha, which carried his first short- story titled Pahali kahani (The maiden story) with him. He was rather annoyed as to why the editor chose to speak about his handicap in the magazine. He felt humiliated. The editor wrote as below:
“Although Pankaj Srivastav is a Bank officer, he has come up the very hard way in his life fighting against many odds like Polio. He is the nephew of the renowned Hindi novelist “Kaka”. Literature probably runs in his blood. We congratulate him on publication of his first short story on the occasion of the Handicapped day.”
The office- staff had arranged a lunch for him to celebrate the occasion of publication of his first story at a hotel near the Bank, that day. He had received a telephonic call from his clerk on the Sunday night. They wanted to give him a surprise. Little annoyed, he was very happy all the same !
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He reached the Bank office. He went to his cabin and called for a cup of tea. He opened the magazine and kept looking at his short story. His first byline. He felt as if his uncle (who had passed away when he appeared for his matriculation exam) was standing behind him. He was looking at the story, with a smile on his face. His uncle looked happy. He looked back. No one was around!
However, the memory of his uncle took him to his childhood days. He knew, he was not borne with any deformity. He was a normal child but was infected with Polio at an early age. Around three years or so. His father, an ordinary Sepoy in the Indian Army had gone to fight the Indo- Pakistani war in 1965.
They stayed in a very basic private accommodation, which lacked even a proper toilet. They just had a room of 10*10 sq feet for them to live in. His mother and his uncle stayed with him. They had to use the public bathroom and the public toilet located outside their home.
As he sat sipping the tea, his memories took him to his childhood days when his uncle, a renowned novelist, and short story writer in Hindi who after the discharge from the Army- because of the injuries received during the war- had to be sent back home.
He would often massage his right leg infected with Polio (which was thinner, weaker and shorter than the left leg) with medicated oil. He would often, during the course of the massage give him pep- talks too.
“Don’t you bother about the deformity. Even some rich people have it. Since your father and I were on the front, your mother could not get the Polio dose administered to you in time.”
“You must study well, become a scholar and work at developing some creative art like may be in the field of writing and become a well- known story teller like me.”
In the course of time, he started dreaming of becoming a writer.
During the lunchtime, he could not resist asking his clerk, “Why did you not book the Punjabi restaurant near my house. It was much better, I thought?”
“Well Sir, it was because of you, it is about 2 kms away as you know. It would have been difficult for you to walk that far !” quipped the clerk.
He kept quiet. He knew, he walked it every day and that it was just because they wanted to save some money and some time too. The Punjabi Hotel was much expensive.
They gave him a bouquet and read an appreciative speech written by their boss who did not attend the party on some flimsy ground. The speech ended with the usual tag “He had to fight many odds such as Polio all his life. “
He felt as if they were reading his obituary. He wrote the story with his heart and mind and not with his leg, he wanted to shout at the top of his voice. He wanted the entire world to know it !
Slowly, they crawled back to the office, after the lunch was over. He felt hurt that even Radha, his colleague had withdrawn from the party at the last moment. She did not bother to even inform her. He had brought a Red Rose for her, which was cleverly hidden by him in his trousers. He had decided that the day was good and he must express his love for her on that very day.
In the evening, he made it a point to speak to Radha. He left the office a few minutes earlier with her. He took her to the same hotel for a cup of tea where they had lunch.
He planned to ask her two questions: Why did she not come for his party ? And How did she like the story ? If she praised the story, and if he saw a glimpse of some appreciation in his eyes ,he had decided to offer the Rose to her.
However, Radha herself broke the ice after they started sipping the tea.
“Pankaj ! tell me honestly who wrote this short story ,man !”
He was devastated. He was dumbstruck ! He felt as if he was struck by the lightening.
“I wrote it, damn! Why do you ask this,Radha !” he got up from his seat and almost shouted at her.
“Well, some people in the Bank were saying that it was one of the unpublished stories written by your uncle, which you got published under your name!”

The maiden story (written by a Polio inflicted Officer) was last modified: February 28th, 2015 by Abhilaaj
Published in Senior Chatters

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