Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Handful responsibility

It was an ideal day for Gurmeet Chadda. He sat on his chair, the one with the red soft chusion crushed now after being used for the past twenty years. He had got it made especially for himself. The old Lallu still sat the shop making chusions, bedcovers, quilts and sofa covers for the high and the low. He fiddled with his white beard, itching to scratch it but fixed his eyes on the customer who held a pair of old sarees, wanting to turn it into a bedcover for her new home.
He smiled. A toothy grin, half of them he had lost it long back but he never forgot to smile. Never conscious of the fact that he was not the handsome man he was at the time when he opened this shop.
The woman looked modern for his standards. She wore a tight salwar kameez and a dupatta that didn't cover her basic assets. Her black googles were ridden up on her head acting more like a headband rather than a piece of necessity. Yes, he knew the kinds. They showed off their expensive houses, filled with expensive things and got their stuff from places like his, bargaining like her life was on stake.
Just when he thought he had enough of her rantings the phone rang.
"Hulluji", he cooed, softly, "Kulveer did not come back from college?"
Kulveer, his only son, doing his engineering from Gurunanak das college of technology, tall, broad and manly. Just like he was.
"No", his man servant, Papu answered, "He did not. Says not coming home tonight".
Being the only parents could be difficult. He just couldn't handle his son sometimes.
"Okay wait...", he saw his son coming into his shop, "He is here", he put the black phone down, the one he must have had for the decades now.
"I want twenty thousand papaji", a rough looking Kulveer, around twentish sat on the table, "And dont start asking me why i need it".
"You took five thousand yesterday", he sat up straight, feeling the tension in his body rising, "Why do you need so much money?"
"A bet", the young man didn't look in the eye, "I lost in cards..."
"Cards!" disgust and resignation showed in his eyes, "And i thought i did not raise you to behave like this. One day you will take care of this shop..."
"You kidding me, right!" Kulveer sneered, "This garbage must be a shop to you. I'm ashamed of it!"
Gurmeet heard it and felt his heart die.
"And please I need the money not a lecture".
"And what if i dont give it?"
Kulveer did not expect that. Taken aback he floundered with words, "I...I wont come back home".
Gurmeet gave his toothy grin, "And that is supposed to bother me?"
Both knew he had nowhere else to go.
"What do you want me to then? I need the money. They will kill me or else!"
Now his father would panic. He waited.
Gurmeet smiled again, "Fine. Then earn it and i'm ready to pay your debts off".
"Earn what? I'm studying papaji. I don't earn".
"Then you had no right to spend it", he learned back in his sqeaky chair, "Come to shop everyday for a month and I will give you your money".
This, Kulveer did not expect. His father always indulged him since the day his mother died. But his father sounded like he meant it and he did not want to sound like a loser.
"Fine! a month! thats it", then he turned to leave.
"Where are you going? I'm waiting for you to join me now".

"And bhaiya you have to make it soft. Didima cannot sleep on a hard bed".
Kulveer felt his smile coming on, "We provide you the best ma'm. You see this digital image? its exactly how you get your bed made".
The fifty-ish woman grinned, "Thank you, thank you".
Kulveer rushed and took a print out.
Yes, there was a change since he had joined papaji. He knew he could not work in a place like this and had made sure that he could use the technologies of today to provide a better service. Papaji had not stopped him. In fact he did not interfere once. That made his time here bearable.
"Kulveer, here", handing him twenty thousand, all crip and new, Gurmeet waited.
"But...but...", he didn't know what to do wth the money now.
"The shop has definitely earned more. But you said you wanted the twenty thousand and i'm giving it to you".
"Papaji, I want to work here after college".
Gurmeet felt his eyes burn with tears, "Of course you can son but now that you respect the job i do, i dont want to impose..."
"But I want to come here. I'm sorry papaji for all the things i have said".
Gurmeet knew this was going to be the best day of his life. Maybe being hard on his son was not bad after all.

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