Friday, December 21, 2007

Dulal's gift



Dulal was both happy and worried when he received the invitation for the wedding of the owner’s daughter. He was an assistant in the accounts department. He has been with the company for almost a decade. He had never been called by the owner even once but has heard him address meetings on various occasions. He was not sure whether he knew his name. Yet he was the only one of the staff members in the accounts department to have received the invitation. It came along with a colorful box containing two large laddus with liberal sprinkling of cardamom, pista, almond, kesar, saffron and many other spices. He was delighted as he was chosen among the many though he did not know why he was selected. He heard that another one in Quality department had received the invite. He was not aware that a few staff members were chosen at random from the computerized list as the owner wanted one or two from all grades of staff from different departments to be included in the invitee list. The owner was not aware of who all had been invited.
Dulal’s immediate worry was what present would be within his affordability and at the same time seem decent. It was only last week he had taken a loan of rupees five hundred from his neighbour for buying gas refill and for some urgent provisions. He had already availed credit from the provision stores and the shop keeper refused to extend further credit. He was worried where from he can find the money for buying a gift commensurate with the owner’s position.
When he reached home, his wife and children were very happy seeing the packet from the famous mithaiwallah.They had never tasted laddu of such quality and taste. Each laddu was about the size of a water melon fruit.Dulal and his wife thought of the ways to raise the money for the gift. She told him that if the owner gets impressed with the gift, he may be inclined to give more than the usual annual raise. He told her that the bada saheb may not even see the gifts from people like him. Nevertheless both agreed that the gift should be befitting the saheb’s status. She approached her brother to lend them one thousand rupees. After much haggling he parted with only half the amount.Dulal comforted her and himself saying that it is not the cost of the gift that mattered but only the sentiment behind it. After a long and extensive search, they settled for a Rajasthani printed bed sheet in beautiful multicolored design. It cost slightly more than the money borrowed from her brother.
On the Barat day he went in his best dress to the famous marriage hall. There were hundreds of cars with large crowd of invitees and entrance was regulated by police by scrutiny of invitation cards. He could see many politicians, government officials, industrialists and rich friends of the owner. He also saw the senior officers of the company. They did not take notice of his presence. He was standing in a corner alone when a couple of his colleagues from quality and personnel departments also came by his side. They found comfort in mutual company. When the entire Bade log had finished meeting the couple and congratulating them, Dulal and his companions mustered courage to go near the couple and hand over the gifts deferentially. The owner was talking to some VIPs and none introduced them. After giving the presents, they hastily withdrew from the dais. While the colleagues made a beeline towards the dining hall, Dulal felt that he was not hungry. He felt very small and an utter stranger in that crowd. He wanted to leave the place immediately. He did not eat and left unnoticed by anyone.
When he reached home, his wife was surprised at his early return. His children ran towards him asking what all he ate. He was morose and silent. His wife understood and brought him three chapattis with achar.
A week later he found the owner’s driver coming to the cashier with a packet in his hand.Dulal heard him telling that Bada Saheb gave him that gift. When prodded by the cashier as to what the packet contained, he opened the packet to reveal the Rajasthani bed sheet in multicoloured design.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

3 comments:

  1. Hello Sir
    Lakshmi here.
    Touching story.
    Don't know how or why, but I was sure how the story would end, and my assumption proved right.....
    A very happy day to you

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  2. Parthasarathi,
    This is beautiful. You write so well!
    Ayesha

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  3. Wow.. totally superb.. that was one of ur best.. I didn't assume, so I just picturized the whole scene.. just amazing..!

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