(A short story-film)
‘Dad, I have an interview tomorrow at Patna. I need Rs 500’. Pankaj told his father while they were having dinner.
‘Pankaj, how many examinations and interviews you have attended in the last two months? I have given you more than Rs 2000 in this month. You had gone to Patna, Ranchi, and Kolkata for attending interviews and tests. Why nothing is ‘clicking’ for you?’, Pankaj’s dad asked.
‘I don’t know Dad. I have done the tests and interviews well. But we need to try the luck with many tests. I am sure I will get a job soon. Tomorrow I am having the interview in a US company for their Boston office as I cleared the written test already’ Pankaj said confidently.
‘I am just a primary school teacher. You know very well that the government has not paid us salary for last five months. I am finding it difficult to pay money to the grocery shop.’ Dad said.
‘Give him the money. Why are you telling him all this when he has an examination tomorrow. Let him study peacefully’ Pankaj’s mother told his father.
Pankaj’s father got angry. He shouted at his wife: ‘Is he bothered about how we struggle for money in this house. Everything is because of his studies at the Patna college. You forced me to send him there!’
‘What happened because of that?’ She asked him as she put hot rotis into his plate.
‘You don’t know? Every one of his friends who studied in the C M Science College in Darbhanga got jobs. Of course they may be at low salary. But they are not wandering like my son who went to the city for studies staying in a hostel. He was a topper in School. But he became irresponsible in college.’ Pankaj’s father continued to shout. ‘I am finding it difficult to repay the loans I have taken. I need to sell the only piece of land to marry of Sunita’. Father left the dining table without finishing his dish.
Pankaj went to his room after quickly finishing the meal. He lay in bed blindly looking at the old ceiling fan. He has never seen his father becoming so upset. He was disturbed because of the financial strains. The government has not paid him salary for last few months. He recalled the words of his father at the dining table. He went back to his past.
‘Yes, I was irresponsible while at the college. But that was only during my degree course. I never attended the classes regularly. I watched all types of movies. Went for weekend parties with friends. Roamed in the streets of Patna. But all that I stopped after getting such low marks for the degree course. The school topper just managed to pass in the degree examination. I studied hard for my post-graduation in economics and got a first class.’ He talked to himself.
He continued to be in the bed for a long time. He turned towards the wall where he had pasted his favourite words of Vivekananda, ‘Arise, awake, stop not until your goal is achieved’. Many times in the past when he was down, those words had given him inspiration. But, not this time. He was deeply pained by the words of father and how much struggle father was making to run the family. He closed his eyes. He thought of going to Gaurav’s house to borrow money, though he had not paid the money he borrowed for buying a gift to Sunita on her birthday. Gaurav was his classmate and friend for past several years.
Suddenly a hand was on his left shoulder. He turned back and saw his father standing there. Pankaj suddenly tried to get up. Father said: ‘Beta, you sleep peacefully’ He sat on the bed near Pankaj and continued, ‘I will give you money tomorrow morning. Go and attend the interview. I shouted at you because I was not in a good mood. The stupid clerk misplaced my provident fund withdrawal form sent by me weeks ago.’ Father got up after covering the blanket over Pankaj.
Pankaj woke up early morning and got ready. He wore a white shirt and called Sunita to help him wearing the tie. Though he wore it for many interviews, he was still not good at putting the knot. He always took the help of his sister for that. He had to travel by the local bus to the railway station wearing the tie and people used to curiously look at him. He enjoyed that.
While sipping tea given by Amma, he asked: ‘Where is dad? I need to start now’. Amma said, ‘He will come now. He has gone to Sahayji’s house’. Sahay, who stays in the next street is the headmaster of the school where his dad is teaching.
As Pankaj anxiously waited outside the house, his father reached pedalling fast his old bicycle. He took Rs 500 from his pocket and gave to him. Pankaj touched his father’s legs. ‘Do well my son’, his father blessed him.
Pankaj Kumar Singh, s/o Dinesh Kumar Singh residing at Hanuman Nagar of Darbhanga village walked fast to the bus stop carrying all his certificates in a thick black bag received by him when he attended a national seminar at the university.
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He reached the venue of the interview on time. Rest is presented in a single-shot video format below.
Click below to view the short film (2.53 minutes)
© Sibichen K Mathew