हिंदी मूलपाठ के लिए कृपया पूर्ववर्ती पोस्ट देखें
For Hindi version please see my previous post
Lakhan Singh (Lakhu) was a twenty-five year old, straightforward, post-graduate and the most educated youth from Bairgachi village in Araria district of Bihar, but unemployed. He appeared many times in competitive examinations, but success was far away. He also passed the written examination for service in banks twice, but failed in the interview. The villagers also started talking ludicrously about him with a muffled voice. Sometimes his heart used to get filled with guilt, “Did my father sell all the fields for this day?”
He didn’t like his father working as an agricultural labourer to support his family. He was ashamed at his own worthlessness. Sometimes he felt that instead of his father, he should do work as labourer. But then he would also realise, “Working as a labourer after getting highly educated? What will people say?”
Lakhu started feeling as if all the doors had been closed for him. But all the doors are never closed, we just don’t see it in desperation. Lakhu also finally could see a small door of tuition.
And Lakhu started tutoring some young children from his own village. But he was finding it difficult to teach those young ones, as he had to read their books first, as if he were a middle school student, while he had graduated with PMC (Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry) and did his Masters in Mathematics.
One day the village head (sarpanch) called him and said, “I have a friend in Araria, Ramadhar Singh. He needs a tutor of science for his sons. Go get it. The money will be good.”
This statement of the sarpanch was like an order for Lakhu. The town of Araria was situated only nine kilometers away from his village. He agreed to teach the three sons of Ramadhar ji. There Lakhu developed some more contact and started tutoring in five houses. He came across two students who also wanted tuition in Biology. He readily agreed, as he needed money. He would first read their books, understand and then teach them. Lakhu was working hard, but the money he was able to earn from tuition was not sufficient to meet the expenses of the whole family.
He was striving hard to ameliorate the financial condition of the family. He approached a coaching institute located in Araria. Incidentally, they needed a math teacher. The salary was also attractive, compared to home tuitions. He left three houses, but continued to teach in two houses, along with the job in the institute. Gradually, his reputation as a good teacher of mathematics and science began to grow. He could see some rays of light in front of his door, albeit a little farther away.
About forty kilometers away from Araria is Purnea, the most important city of Seemanchal. Lakhu got an offer from a reputed coaching institute there, on double salary. He immediately picked up the sack and started towards Purnea. He took a room on rent near the institute and started living there to focus on teaching job. He murmured to himself, “What an irony! I’m going to guide for the same competitive examinations which I couldn’t qualify.”
Life had started to get back on track. But on weekends, Lakhu used to go from Purnea to Bairgachi and every time he would meet the bubbly Lakshmi, on the pretext of meeting her younger sisters. Lakhu wanted him, but could never speak his mind, as he was also worried about the marriage of his sisters.
Then one day at the coaching institute, he got a very attractive offer from a fellow tutor, Shyamkunwar. He called Lakhu home and said without much hesitation,
“Can you write the exam in place of a candidate?”
“What do you mean?” Bewildered, Lakhu asked.
Shyamkunwar then explained to him in detail,
“You know Pratyush, our own trainee. You have taught him too. He is from Madhepura and preparing for bank exams, but has failed many times. His father met me. You are his son’s age, there is also not much difference in the physical appearance. You take Pratyush’s admit card and go to the examination hall, and wherever necessary, sign as Pratyush. His signature will have to be practised a little.”
“But there is a lot of danger in this”, retorted Lakhu immediately.
“If there is danger, there is gain too. You will get twenty five thousand rupees for this work, and double that means fifty thousand rupees if you pass the written examination. And yes, twenty percent of the same will have to be shared with the director. Think carefully, but remember, No risk, no reward.”
Lakhu could not refuse the proposal of Shyamkunwar to impersonate a candidate at the exam. He thought to himself,
“I could not pass myself. Let me see whether I can make others pass. Thereafter he himself will also pass. After all, he will also get good money.”
The proposal was tempting, but also trickery and illegal. Lakhu was however convinced by Shyamkunwar, “All the schools in Madhepura have been set by the director. No teacher will catch you. This is not the first case, my dear.”
His morale was further boosted when Shyamkunwar confessed that he too had done this many times.
The examination was over and twenty five thousand rupees came in his hand instantly. Of that, the entire twenty thousand belonged to him. He liked it very much and it went on. Lakhu’s happiness had doubled. He started thinking of Lakshmi. He would muster courage to speak his mind. The talk of the sisters’ marriages had also started. Then he had a mishap. His impersonation came to the fore during an examination, and he was caught red handed and sentenced to one and a half years’ imprisonment.
Lakhu’s remorse knew no bounds. What did he plan and what happened! He and his family’s name got maligned in the society. He often cried thinking about the state of mind of the family members.
One day she was seen crying by Rajendra, who is serving a sentence in the same jail in another case, but he was aware of the episode. He had sympathy for Lakhu. One day Rajendra explained to him in detail,
“My Seth (employer) lives in Madhepura. He needs a smart educated person like you. You should meet him after you are released from jail. Your work will be done. Now you will not be able to teach tuition, but you have to do something to feed your family.”
Lakhu liked Rajendra’s soothing words that he would not sit idle after coming out of jail. But he was in doubt in his mind whether this too was a deception. After all, 420 IPC case was going on against Rajendra too. Once bitten twice shy. But if there is nothing else in front, then what other option is there than to take a chance once again?
How could he go back home with such a tainted face? Therefore, after his release from jail, he did not go to Bairagachi and went straight to Madhepura to meet Rajendra’s Seth Dulichand. For a few days he stayed in a warehouse of Seth and familiarised himself with the work. Seth had a grocery store and Lakhu has basically to work as his accountant. The work was not much, but the pay was good. He took a room on rent and started organizing himself.
Impressed by Lakhu’s understanding, Seth Dulichand entrusted him with the work of the bank. This work was a bit tedious. Cash had to be deposited in the account of the grocery store, so that the suppliers of the goods could be paid by cheques. Cheques received from clients had to be deposited in another account to take cash payments. This second account was in the name of Seth’s nephew, but the transaction was done by Seth himself, as the nephew was abroad.
Whatever cheques Seth gave, Lakhu would put the same in the clearing to be deposited in another account and two days later would take the cash payment and give it to Seth. One day when he was receiving payment in cash, two policemen came out of the branch manager’s cabin and caught him in the case of forgery and once again he was behind bars.
The allegation against Lakhu was that he was taking payment from a benami (anonymous) account by putting fake cheques in the bank. Several banks had complained to the police station that payment for stolen cheques were being collected from a bank branch. Lakhu was in awe. He was completely unaware of the allegations against him. But it did not take him long to understand that Seth Dulichand had implicated him, because the account in the name of the nephew was actually benami.
Lakhu was broken from inside. In the prison he would not meet anyone. He kept mum. He was blaming his own misdeeds and fate,
“Is this my destiny? How can someone fool me like this? Am I so stupid that anybody can take me for granted Why someone would now give me a job? As a two-time convict, have I not become a burden on my family and this earth?”
All the roads were closed for him. In this state of depression, one day he decided to commit suicide. Only a closed door was visible in front of his eyes. There was no fan. There was a peepal tree, whenever he thought of climbing on it, he could see the big door of the jail.
Suddenly a thought flashed in his mind,
“If the closed door doesn’t open, why not break it? Suicide is passivity. Allowing those who have put me in this state to continue committing crimes in the society is cowardly, immoral, and criminal. It’s like being a partner in crime.”
He made up his mind that now there would be ‘no solicitation, but a fight.’
When Lakhu came out of jail after two years, he again went direct to Seth Dulichand. This time Rajendra was also there. Lakhu asked for work, Seth agreed, but this time he was asked to run a grocery store, as Rajendra had taken over the banking work by opening a new benami account. Lakhu took Rajendra into confidence and set out to find out the modus operandi of the forgery. After a few days, Lakhu reached the police station, but this time he had gone to lodge an FIR against Seth Dulichand.
Lakkhu told the police how Seth Dulichand used to cheat a postman and a bank employee. In those days, for a new cheque book, one had to go to the branch and apply. That bank employee himself would apply to accounts that were lying inoperative. The postman would deliberately hand over a new cheque book to Seth under his forged signature and record the delivery.
After that the specimen signature would be conveyed to Seth by the bank employee and Seth would put a similar signature of the concerned customer on the new cheque and put it in the check collection and get the payment done. All the three criminals were caught. Rajendra was also caught. In this way a strange fraud was exposed.
But Lakhu was not at peace. He also had to expose the dark exploits of tuition. He once again went to that institute in Purnea, but found neither Shyamkunwar, nor other teachers of his time. Maybe they were in jail or had gone somewhere else. But the director of that institute was still there, who was actually the kingpin and mastermind of this racket, but he escaped every time due to lack of evidence.
The institute was linked with impersonation in competitive exams many times in the past. Some other teachers also went to jail. Lakhu told the police how this racket was being run at the behest of the director and how he used to collect his commission from the tutors. He gave a written testimony. A case was registered against the director and finally the administration decided to close down the institute.
There was peace in Lakhu’s mind now. He came back to Bairgachi and opened a tea shop on the main road, by the name of “M.Sc. Chai Wala.”