Pravin Sarvaiya
Translation: Harish Mahuvakar

‘Come along, this side.. I tell you.’
‘Who are you telling to?’
‘O my dear, You. You come this side.’
‘What, me?’
‘Why are you asking me? Don’t you see? Here are the white stripes. You think them meaningless? And those who have stopped here are also in a hurry. Look here’s red light on. Even though I am here on duty and still you move ahead carelessly? Tell me your name for the memo.’
‘My name’s ... Sir...Me government servant.... here it is...look at my card...’
‘Hey no need of it. Keep it with you. First of all pay the fine. Fifty rupees. Be quick. Say your name.’
‘Madhu... Madhukant Ramnikbhai Paarmar....But Sir, I think aren’t you Balabhai’s brother?’
‘ I don’t know any Balabhai or so... later you can acquaint him. Fifty rupees first.’
‘I was trying to match his face with Balabhai. Hardly could come to any conclusion, he bent a little registered my bike number and handed me the memo.
I put my card into pocket, paid him the amount, and drew back my bike bit away from the white stripes.
Any how he looked like a Balabhai brother. But for sure, this man wasn’t his brother.
Just, it was yesterday that I had felt the same. I saw the postman of my village. Yes, he was. Same bicycle...same cap...same pent... I slowed down my bike before I address him I realised it was someone else.
Nowadays it’s happening with me. I find some matching face and feel he belongs to my village. As I go close by and call him, it puts me into a shameful condition. Often I slow down my bike and let him come near me...And when I turn back to see him, I have to race my bike to pass by. Again the same shameful condition would sit on my face. But what can be done! When it’s our fault can we blame to others?
Let me tell you a thing of just two days back. From the opposite side, on the newly purchased bike on instalments, Dhiriyo came carelessly with taking sharp turns. Dhiriyo here? How’s that? No ... He can’t be. But oh, he is! He’s the son of Vali Ma’s daughter Kanti.. A careless, imprudent, avoided by everyone. A bad reputation throughout the whole village. When he hadn’t the bike, sat on a boulder with a China made mobile’s white earphones listening to the songs in the name of gazing at the school girls. When you see him his mouth is filled with a beetle pieces mixed with tobacco no.35 or preparing the stuff to have it. In a way if you look at him he seems to have grown like a thin long twig. You wish to thrash him without reason, such is his look and gesture. Dandy and gaudy rogue. Began to behave like a prince 0n getting the bike. In a week only the village’s got tired of his bike. Vali Ma had to give her ears to as many complaints as the number of the village people. But to the brigand like bride, if Vali Ma can’t dare to speak a word then how can anyone of the village? Te village knew it’s in vain to do such an effort. It was the reason that people complained to Vali Ma instead of that rude imprudent Kanti. I too had become angry many a times with Vali Ma. She would vent out her grievances: his mother’s spoilt him. The diamond polishing work just gives him a hundred rupees and his mother thinks it a big one! And his work’s even and odds. I care for nothing. If you dare, thrash him well. Won’t say a word to you.’ But how to muster up that much courage?
Like Dhiriya’s swiftly carelessly moving bike in the village, his life began to get momentum in my mind. Whatever type he may be but I haven’t sen any one of my village since long. If he’s Dhiriyo let it be! At least a person of my village. A dog of her paternal village becomes darling to a woman at the in laws! Like that I welcomed Dhiriyo.
I typically waved my hand. The racing bike suddenly stopped. The sudden break made a cracking sound that stopped a few to look at him and then they began to move. The rider’s one leg dragged the ground. The bike slanted and took a curve...and turned towards me...and it rushed now...I felt it would crash me with its speed... but again a cracking sound...break... slid his black goggles on his head and with a burning eye he asked me, ‘Yeah...’
‘What to say?’
‘Nothing...Nothing special...I thought Dhirubai (!) of my village...sorry...sorry my dear.’ His bike took a sharp turn. And with the same sharp eyes he looked at me and in a moment was gone like a terrible wind.
I regretted heavily. Ah! Did I ever talk to him? I never liked him. Ever hated his sight too. But nowadays such a thing’s taking place. It’s happening nowadays...
I saw a constable standing far away. He may refuse but I’m damn sure he is... Well sometime I’ll ask about it. I pushed my eyes away from the traffic. I took bike towards some shops.
Oh...there... at the Satnam Provison Store a maid’s standing swaying a bag in her hand. She’s daughter of Babu Uncle. We boys, because of her blue eyes named her after Mandakini a well known actress of the time.
A tall, proportionate shaped body, looked as if she’s made of kneaded wheat floor. All boys of age thought her as a filmy heroine. When she came after a decade of her marriage she had hair pony, Bengali sari style and we were struck to see her a completely changed look. Her fair skin shone brightly now. Her tongue had now somewhat urbane touch. Because of one or two children her bright abdomen had come out little but it didn’t spoil her beauty rather she had grown more beautiful. The way we had cursed her husband on her marriage, that time too we did the same thing. Right now she’s in Punjabi dress but I know she’s Varsha!
Mahendra Uncle’s Jayalo had become mad for her. Once I had warned him, ‘Oye, there are five brothers to Babu Uncle. And all of them have at least two or three sons. Even one of them came to know be sure our will be broken and Mahendra Uncle will dig a pit for us. But he was high in air. Didn’t care. To get his Love anyhow, once he did a misadventure... She was sitting at the front of the home. She was busy in some embroidery work. He dropped a chit there right before her. I was unaware of the fact. Then he asked me to go to her house. I accompanied him. it semed that she was absorbed into her work. Jayalo made a wink at me and spoke a filmy dialogue and then he gave a broad smile at her. And soon after it, from the back doors appeared her elder Uncle’s strongly built son Bharat. WE the village young boys called him Bharat Bully. Before we realised the situation he heavily slapped Jayalo twice. He beagn to shower abuses on us and then rushed towards me. But thank God at the right time Varsha got up suddenly and stopped her brother... ‘ him. That’s very wild one...’ She saved me and pushed him towards Jayalo. Jayalo had lost his courage to face Bharat. We begged pardon. We bent down our head and touched his feet to show our regret. With a great difficulty we escaped and ran away from the place.
With this episode, my respect for Varsha had grown. ‘Oh, how a wonderful girl she is! Straight forward and sensible. Had she not shown her sense with Jaylo I too might have been thrashed well.’ After this Jaylo went away to Surat and Varsha too got married.
And what the problem can be if I talk to her?...Whatever it may be but she belongs to my village...CWith a sift corner I approached there. Varsh was engaged in the shopping. Aman was packing her things andthen prepared a bill another man was freee. On seeing me he asked me, ‘Ues please, what do you want?’
Without paying much attention to him, From her backside I softly uttered, ‘Varsha...’ She was startled. She turned back and looked at me. I was aghast...Again I spoilt myself...She wasn’t Varsha at all. That woman measured me with her strange look and again busied herself in the shopping. I understood. This one was a wrong identification. I was really ashamed of my behaviour. I looked down. Said twice or thrice sorry to my own self and even though I didn’t need it I purchased a papad packet and hurriedly left the shop.
Yeah, we have deep attachment to our native. As we leave behind it, it always comes to our mind. Our birth place is always missing. And the memory crowds the mind. And in my case hardly have I passed six months and all such things are taking place! Yes it happens nowadays...
Before the sunrise if a see outside of my gate, the whole village seem to be very busy. Someone’s returning from morning routine of going to toilet outside. Someone’s going for milk or buttermilk. A small steel glass like container would be used for milk by a lonely old person like Savadada. On the other an old woman like Samju Ma would be having a small container for milk and a big one for buttermilk. If anyone’s makes fun of Samju Ma in the morning, ‘O Oldie, would the small container be sufficient for the whole house?’ or the other, ‘How will you carry such a big container?’; she won’t think it’s morning, she would lose her temper. To one she said, ‘Will send my children to your home.’ And to the other, ‘In that case would ask your mother.’
This is how the village will have its routine going from morning to evening. As in its usual custom.
But this city? Let’s not but talk. You know it has different ways and customs. The citizens too are unique. But everything goes in a rhythm, as if in a fast rhythm. People, rickshaws, cars, everything seems to be running away hurriedly. Even though they run hurriedly it seems none’s reaching on time. You see people running at the bus station, at the railway station, and even shopping done in the same manner. Strange but true makes hurry at the urinal place. In this city like a stupid my eyes continue to move here and there and often I find some now of my village but then...
Leaving behind all these people aside, I prepared myself to go to the market. I rode my bike and set off. As I was to cross a road a police constable raised his hand to stop the traffic. I stopped little beyond the white stripes. This time I saw the constable very closely. Made it sure that he’s not Balabhai’s brother. As I pushed such a thought from my mind, this constable who looked like Balabahai’s brother put me again in the same condition.
Now the signal was showing countdown. The digits showed five... four...three... and all the vehicles began to be in gears. The engines began to roar. The horns blew and as if all playing a game of hide-and-seek began to run in the fear that he would be found out.
An auto rickshaw passed by me carrying hard the load. I saw a face among the four pressed passengers on three passenger seat. Before I could have a close notice the auto had already moved ahead. Oye, how it happened that the Balabhai’s brother looking like constable can be there so swiftly change his shirt and be there in the auto? Even in this traffic crowd I rubbed my eyes. With a great difficulty I took my bike aside from the fat line of the traffic and looked far in the distance. That constable was already standing there on his duty!
Then, just now, who was there in that auto?
Oh! Whatever may be the case, recently such things are taking place, Yes it happens nowadays.....

Translation: Harish Mahuvakar, ‘Ame’, 3 / A, 1929, Near Nandalay Haveli, Sardarnagar, Bhavnagar 364002, Gujarat, India Cell: +91 9426 22 35 22 Email: