Translation: That Morning was Somewhat Different

Hansa Deep

Hindi Fiction by Hansa Deep

Translated by Rajendra Saxena


“Hello Sir, today you leave early.” Neel was shocked to hear Khanna’s voice. He never met him while going to work. Sometimes we used to meet while walking in the evening. Before today, he did not even get ready so early. 

“Yes, Mr. Khanna, it is better to go with a slight margin today if the weather is bad, otherwise there are full chances of being late.” He slept in the night and decided that in such weather the time to leave the house would be one hour before and the time to leave the bed would also be one hour earlier. He slept only after adjusting the hands of the clock to give a quick alarm. 

Khanna’s meeting was an indication that he got up really early. If there was anyone who used to come first out of the building, then it was always Khanna Saheb. He used to drive a taxi. Whereas the bad weather was causing trouble for everyone in the early morning, bad weather spilled out gold and silver for him. His taxi-fares were also doubled and he got plenty of riders. 

Warnings of snow storms were being repeated on TV since night. The temperature was minus twenty degrees and icy storm. Spending money by working people, in such havoc of weather was not exasperating. It was better to reach safe at work by spending some money than getting stuck in the way. 

While turning the key of his car, Khanna Saheb said, “The weather is bad every day, today it is very bad, its mood is totally different” This was the rhythm of his voice, which was estimating Khanna Saheb’s earnings of today, while giving it a sense of tinkling of the coins. 

“Everything is going to slow down today. Waiting everywhere long queues, in fast subway trains, at bus stops and everywhere.” Adding his list of problems, Neel said. One gets peace of mind while giving details of his difficult moments one after another. The human spirit knows very well to make the smallest troubles to be a big trouble. 

“Never mind, do I drop you off?” He had heard about Khanna ji. His heart is very clear and no one can compete with him to help people in their building. He never had any work with him. Those who were to go late to their work, never met him. He used to wake up with birds, to give a working dawn and Neel lives a full morning of sleep. It was never possible to have a face-to-face.

“Oh no, no, please do not take any trouble at all, your work is elsewhere!” Neel said to separate his path. 

“Where do you want to go to sir?” I definitely heard about Khanna’s goodness, but not so much that he would go two steps ahead and try to reduce the problem of someone like this. 

“I go downtown, Khanna Saheb, there is my office.” His words came out as if conveying, “you don’t have to go there.”

“Oh! Sir, today I have to go there too, you, dear sit in the car…” Going to his limousine, he caressed it with great affection, like an emperor riding on his horse, set out to visit the kingdom. He opened the door for Neel smilingly, with great respect. 

Now there was no question of no-nonsense. Do a good turn but why embarrass your beneficiary? The way for the ‘Subway’ train to walk in the snow has been reduced and the way to reach the office from there will also be reduced by two blocks. Sitting in the car he felt ‘every day’ rise to new challenge but today it does not seem to be ‘every day.’ Today is something special. 

When the car caught pace, it was a very comfortable journey. Smooth ride without any stuck-shock. Wow, what a great car it is. Sitting in a limousine for the first time, he was also accompanied by a professional driver without paying fare, as if the car was carrying a president. Khannaji had taken the vehicle inside the office building until the idea of turning himself into a president had progressed. Maybe it is time for him to be Khanna Saheb’s first customer, then he must pay the taxi fare. If this happens, it will cost fifty dollars in the morning. Even if it costs, then what, because he has already given his head in the mortar. 

It was a different pleasure to reach the office in such a graceful manner. Many schemes were trying to take shape – ‘Now go and sit in comfort and have morning breakfast.’

‘There are many things which could not be done by reaching late, will be completed today.’

‘All the late comers today will praise for Neel’s punctuality.’

‘Today, he will start his work only after the exchange of greetings with all.’

‘Even a little chat is permissible with Miss Mahuri.’

And many more things. He was talking to Khanna Saheb and his mind was also taking its flight as well. When he reached his destination, while getting down the car, he took his hands into his pocket, then Khanna Saheb understood. 

“I don’t take money from my family.” There was so much affinity in his face that he could not say anything. Just he thanked heartily and made his way to the office building. 

Today Neel’s walking pace and facial happiness has a different harmony. A relaxed confidence where there was no panic. As usual he was not in a hurry to reach his table to avoid an exchange of looks. Today there was passion in the mind to get up early in the morning. Self-pledged to fulfill his promise to himself. Morning sleep is so sweet. The alarm pulls out of a dream. They are as precious as the moments of the morning. They are also as intoxicated as the ones that put back to sleep. In the wake of sleep, there is no realization that the longer it takes to wake up, the more problems will have to be faced whole day. Everything will be late. In spite of knowing and understanding that the calm and quiet of sleep is something that simply takes you to the arms of sleep, far away from the hectic day-life. The alarm also goes off just for its fun. One gets to sleep again. And by the time drowsiness is over, the time slips out of hand. 

Entering the office building today, every face, whether known or unknown, had a natural smile without any logging. As your sentiments are, similar you see the image of God. It is also possible that his eyesight is to blame. Since he is happy, he feels everyone likes him. Every day he is prone to the guilt of coming late then everyone seen staring at him. Those very looks look contemptuous to him. As if everyone is screaming again and again – “Look at this person who never cares about time.” 

Arriving at the office, he saw no one except the boss who had reached so far. How many people get the privilege of having breakfast by sitting near the boss, today he got off for the first time in a four-year job. When no one was able to come in today’s weather, his attendance did an incredible job. Without aiming, if the arrow hits the target then it gives a different feeling. 

Starting his work, he had a thought that today, even from Mrs. Trivedi to plumber Joseph, all took leave. Everyone was having fun sitting at home except Neel. Dubeji, who is an accountant, when he came out to pick up the newspaper, seeing him, he said – “Neelji, you are very sincere. Came on duty. Work has to be done every day, sometimes even eat seasonal fruits.” 

Dubeji’s clamorous voice was never liked, nor would it be. All these family people will be watching cricket in their homes or will be scrambling with their wives in the kitchen. 

Dubeji has the issues and the occasional loud noise from his house sometimes bothers him. Khanna’s family has a wife and a daughter. The daughter is rarely seen, studying elsewhere. There is a Mehtaji whose family comes infrequently. His wife works in another city. There are a few more non-Indian families from whom he has ‘hi-hello’ but there is not much information about them. Among all these families, there was a single person who had all the advantages. There was a competition among all the domestic aunts to feed him. Everyone loved taking to a young, attractive, lonely man and trying to introduce him to their culinary skills. 

Sometimes with a sigh, sometime with a murmur, and sometime with a whisper, the steps that followed they were trying to spot his free flight. Everyone was eager to know ‘when Neel Babu comes, when he goes and what he does. Different rumours are spread very soon about a person who speaks less. About him also there may be rumours in the air. But pretending to be unaware of all this, he used to take advantage of good food and used to evade from telling any his personal things. 

“Hey! Neel you, arrived on time, even in such bad weather. What’s the matter?” The words of the boss like honey were showered in the ears. Without any thinking, without any efforts, today he could very well butter up.

“Sir, you too have come so early.” Like a diplomate, Neel lowered his appreciation so that the person in front of him especially when he is the boss, a long term ‘image’ is built in his mind. 

To be honest, the boss had come to pick up some papers, but he too stopped when he saw Neel. The boss is an example for the employees to learn. When the boss is at work, he is so busy that there must be someone to remind him of time, wife’s call or security personnel who locks the office. Today there was only one employee present yet how could the boss go around like this. He came and sat near Neel. He was in a good mood to see that there are very dedicated people in his office. He started talking to him with tea. When Neel got his nearness then Neel came to know many secrets. In an hour’s unwanted meeting, a lot was learned about the office, about the people. A good boss is the one who has complete information about his employees. All these things have full potential of affect office work and the environment. 

“Ms. Madhuri is going to get married.”

“John Philip is moving to another company.”

“Michael, in charge of our network is divorcing.”

“Mrs. Thakur has daily fights with her mother-in-law.”

“Bishnoiji is about to retire after handing over everything to his son.”

And one special and important information that “Now no one will be able to visit any other network site other than related to work in the office. An employee will not be able to take proper and improper advantages of web now.” Lost month notice has been issued to many people who enjoyed surfing the web in addition to work. 

The boss also provided an opportunity for Neel, saying that – “If there is an opportunity, he can apply for further studies. The style of studying along with service is being developed in the company’s policy.”

Both were alone. Phones after phones from people keep coming – “Won’t be able to come for work today.” Due to the Meteorological Department’s warning, no boss could put pressure in any employee. The person who needs to attend the phone, Miss Rosa had also called herself and told that – “She will not be able to come today.”

How long would the boss pretend to be the boss? The person inside him was fidgeting to go home. Shortly after that he said – “We’re also going home. Because the weather is going to get worse. Come on, I will drop you off.”

Happiness knew no bounds. Wow, luck! Arriving by limousine and returning home by the boss’s car. Today whatever he wants, whatever he asks, everything will he get. He started remembering whose face he saw first on getting up today in the morning. Certainly, he must have seen his own. He is much worried about hair. He always begins to set his hair as soon as he leaves the bed. Every day he sees his own face, not anyone else’s.

When the car stopped in front of the house, Neel performed the formality and said to the boss – “Come Sir, at my humble dwellings, let’s have tea. 

“No, I go, tea some other time.” Many eyes were watching his chick from the windows. He too started smiling and thinking about his next casual pleasure. What can happen, now it is going to be noon. With empty stomach, it is not possible to remember God – ‘Dear Neel, go to kitchen and prepare something otherwise such a good morning will not have any value. ‘    

He was taking out the key in front of his house, then the voice of the aunt, who was neighbour, said, “Neel ji, wait.”

“We had a kitty party at home, where is something to eat for you.” Aunt started giving cans one by one. 

“Oh wow, thank you, aunt.” The hunger increased by feeling the weight of the food containers. Before the food is cold, it should be eaten quickly. Opening the box filled the room with fragrance. Great dishes one by one. Spinach-Cheese, sour cream kofta, Biryani, Gulab jamun, after seeing everything it was like a glimpse of what heaven would have looked like. Eating and drinking belched out satiety, of utmost satisfaction. 

There was nothing to see in the evening, so that the day could be over after having a good meal. He just had this thought; he got a call from the neighbour Mehtaji. He has tickets to ice hockey for the “Toronto Mapel Leaf” game. His favourite team is playing. He had a lot of fun. ‘Nachos chips’ with popcorn and coke and then home coming. 

He was just trying to understand whether to give credit to himself for the present day or to those who are around him. These are all there every day. ‘Today’ can also be ‘every day’. Today was kind enough even by the end of the day. What didn’t he get! All this happened in a day. And it happened on the day when he was fully prepared to fight every trouble of the way. Why not get up from bed every day thinking that if today is a difficult day, then many problems will become easier like this. Small happiness of a happy life. 

Before falling asleep, the scene of today’s morning appeared before him. Every morning a crow used to wake up by crowing but today that was not seen anywhere. Maybe he woke up early, then nothing was bothering him today. If there is any disturbance in the sweet sleep of the morning then that chirrup stays in the mind all day. But that very chirrup helps in getting up also. No one is able to sleep even in so much noise. Every morning is sluggish but today it is agile. It was a lucky day. Although he got up early and had his own day but the credit had to go to fate. How would it be if these lively moments of life are imprisoned. Encash them whenever you need. 

And a happy day’s sweet sleepy night was gone leaving a daydream. 

The next morning changed into real morning he had forgotten that – “Now, he had to wake up early every day.” Yesterday had gone and today what happened is every day happening.

“Tomorrow will remain tomorrow, how can it be today?”

Sleepy eyes opened but did not care to wake up early. The same alarm rings, the same panic and the same alarm goes off and he sleeps. The desperate bid. The same tons of calamities. The same problem showing their face one after the other. There was no milk when the fridge was opened. The cereal box was also empty. Even there were no tea bags for making even black tea. 

The crow sitting on the parapet outside the window had a piece of bread in its beak. Crow’s fortune! He was watching with tempting eyes the crow having his breakfast. 

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