‘Oxford bimari’ made this love story

When this ‘Oxford bimari’ hit the people, nobody could understand it like ‘China bimari.’ Nobody was bothered. It took everybody to the seventh cloud. I also joined lakhs of other people, running to Mumbai, Delhi and other big cities to fulfill their dreams. But, suddenly men-women in my slum cluster started running away from Delhi and walking back to their lost gaon.
Perhaps all were scared of an unknown fear. ‘Gaon’? Nothing is left there. I have sold my land and mud house. Now who will give me shelter and food there? It will be again another Delhi drama. No ration, no food, no salary. All ‘lafda.’ I hadn’t got my ‘pagar’ yet. The director of the firm was saying that he would be delaying the salary because of some ‘panga’ by the government. Hence I have to stay back and face China Corona.
But my parents were very worried about me. They called me. My mother was crying, and saying that my two younger sisters were wailing because they thought their brother will be killed by the China ‘bimari’ in Delhi. But…I didn’t want to leave Shabana alone and go back to Bengal. Who would take care of my love if I leave her alone? She was a decent woman…and we have a special feeling for each other.
Shabana worked in the same office as I did as out-source employees and our company was the same. We disliked our director. He was worse than our village ‘thekedar’ and ‘zamindar’who used to supply us for the ‘kohlu’ of the ‘zamindar,’ this out-sourcing was an Oxford ‘bimari’ exported to India by the great economist Dr.Man Mohan Singh. This was worst than ‘thekedari pretha.’
When Usman drove in his white Audy car, to the office all of us who had been abused, slapped, kicked and punched by the brute director of the out-sourcing company, wanted to beat him, once and for all but…ironically, it was his oppression, that had made our relationship firm…Shabana and me.
An incident made Shabana mine. She shared a personal secret about her monthly periods and taken few minutes off to rest on the side of the veranda. I saw Usman, walk up to her and to my surprise touched her forehead very softly. When she did not react, he held her by her hand and lifted her face. Shabana, come to my room and take rest. What were you doing in the night that you are so sick at work? He almost pulled her inside his air-conditioned room.
I felt very bad about this behavior of Shababa going with Usman in his room. I was a very hot-headed man in my village. On minor argument I used to get into fights with elders and boys much elder to me. By the time, I was a young boy; I was like a bull fighter. My neck, shoulders, arms and legs were like ‘pehlwans,’ People avoided me and became wary of me.
I could not stop myself when I listened the pleadings of Shabana, ‘chod do, chod do, mai mahine se hu.’ I rushed inside the room like a mad bull towards Usman…I wanted to kill Usman inside the room but Shabana stopped me. Usman’s face had turned pale as my first blow hit his face. ‘Leave my Shabnam alone..or I will kill you.’ He started trembling and yelled his private guards. Luckily, one of the guards was from my village and lived one street away from my house. He recognized me and stopped other guards and pacified Usman.
Slowly, I walked away…outside the office building. Shabana struggled to walk and followed me sadly. Head down, she walked fast, till she caught me. “Why did you beat Usman for me?” she asked. For the first time, she spoke to me, standing in front of a temple. We have been living together in the ‘juggi’ of my friend to safeguard ourselves from any further harassment by Usman and his men. We decided to accompany my villagers, who had decided to walk back home to escape the China ‘bimari.’
Our ‘juggi’ colony was sealed off and everyone was scary as if death will enter in each ‘juggi.’ Our office was closed. Our money finished and no other work to earn. The police were not allowing us to come out of the ‘juggis.’ Even for the toilet we had to take permission of the police and pay Rs. 2/= per visit. Very pitiable condition. Death was imminent. If we stayed there, corona will kill us and if we walk back home we will die of hunger, heat and exhaustion.
There was no place even in hospitals and graveyards. Not even for rich and big people. But for poor people like us, weather we die here, or on the road, or in the hospital, or of hunger, makes no difference. This is ‘meri Dilli’ a heartless city.
If I die here, there will be no claimant, neither for my body nor for any compensation. Some corrupt Dilli government ‘babu’ will swindle and claim the compensation. Shabana can’t get any of the two, if she claims that he was my man, no one will believe her because she doesn’t have the proper papers to claim the body or the compensation. So, better die in your own village.
Shabana was ready to accompany me. Now, she can’t live without me. She always looks into my eyes. She was a young divorcee. I had seen so many others seeing her with voluptuous looks, even the rich in big cars. Her drug addicted husband pronounced ‘talaq.’ For keeping her again he asked Shabana to perform ‘halala’ with his father, for which Shabana refused. So, she was pushed out of her husband’s house. Now, I will take her to my village and marry her.
I went out of my ‘juggi’ the last time in search of some food. The priest of Hanuman temple gave me a big ‘thali’ of delicious food. Shabana will be happy to eat this delicious food. We shared the ‘thali.’
Next morning we started to walk for our village hungry, bare food, no money, with a shattered dream. In all we were thirty people, some were with their little kids. We reached Ghazizbad. Suddenly, we heard a siren of a police car. Our blood froze. He took us all to the police station. Like an angel, he arranged food for us and gave milk for the children. He arranged a bus of the UP roadways.
In the bus, I read a newspaper. A fire in our ‘juggi’ cluster burnt all the ‘juggis’ that killed five people and injured many more. The list of dead, mentioned me and Shabana. The generous Chief Minister announced and distributed the compensation of rupees five lakhs each who even failed to provide us food. The list of beneficiary included the kins of me and Shabana.
Neither of the two, the devastation or the corruption, are new; in fact, in most disaster stories they feature together. Yet, we rarely smiled to question how people can be so selfish in a world so narcissistic.

Tags: bimari-disease, gaon-village, lafda-problem, pagar-salary, panga-trouble, thekedar-contractor, kolhu-crusher, zamindaar-land-lord, pretha-system, pehlwans-wrestlers, chod do-leave, mai mahine se hu-I have monthly periods, juggi-hut, meri-my, babu-official, talaq-divore, halala-Islamic practice, thali-plate.

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