A Replacement


         This cold night was nearing its end. Thus another day of December month passed and today it has brought its coolness to its peak. Can anyone expect to be seen walking on the road, even in such a harsh cold? Yes, it can happen if he is a watchman and is doing his work honestly. What do you think? Can honesty be a replacement?

         Even after crossing 6 decades of age, the enthusiasm towards his work has not been shown even among any young person today, which is seen in the Gurudham Society’s Chowkidar Gaya Prasad. Even at this time, when you step out of your softest soft mattresses at three o’clock in the night and peep into the street, you will hear the sharp noise of his whistle , which may be staggering due to the cold but it never stops. Surely these sounds will make you relax to sleep.

         At this stage of age, when everyone thinks about retirement or rest, Gaya Prasad was still busy with his work. There were two reasons for his enthusiasm – first, that he was in this society every-day from the age of twenty. He has been continuously working, which now seemed like his home. The second main reason was his grandson Sandeep, whose upbringing was the responsibility of Gaya Prasad. Sandeep is the fifteen-year-old son of his younger son. Sandeep and Gaya Prasad are everything for each other. Sandeep was one of the unlucky children who lose their parents at an early age. Gaya Prasad’s elder son, who ran a small shop. He had already expressed his inability to Gaya Prasad and Sandeep. Therefore, his relations with Gaya Prasad were almost over.

         Despite having a nominal amount of some 6 thousand rupees a month for watchman work, Gaya Prasad was always ready to raise his grandson’s upbringing. Sandeep was busy preparing for his annual exam in the first step of his future ie High School. Sandeep was a promising student. Last year, Sandeep had topped in his class. Meanwhile, Gaya Prasad was not feeling well, which often happens to people at this age. Sandeep’s upcoming higher education often caused a huge expense to put Gaya Prasad in difficulties. Today, when Gaya Prasad returned from the work of watchman in the morning, he saw that Sandeep is not getting ready to school today.

Gaya Prasad asked- My Son, Are you not going to school today. But Sandeep remained silent.

Gaya Prasad- What’s the matter, my son? Are you not feeling well? Sandeep still remained silent.

Gaya Prasad – Why don’t you speak? Tell me, you swear on me.

Sandeep- Grandpa, You relax. You are awake all night. Your health is also not good. When you will get well, then talk about this.

Gaya Prasad- No, Now you tell me. What is the matter?

Sandeep in hesitation- Grandpa, preparations have started fifteen days before for the experimental examinations in the school. For which some additional fees, Books and files are needed and all these require fifteen hundred rupees, It is necessary. Day after tomorrow is the last day to submit them all.

Gaya Prasad – Just such a thing. Go, see. There are fifteen hundred rupees in my shelf, Take them and buy all your things.

Sandeep- No grandpa. There are ten days now left in this month to end and today you have to check up the doctor as well. Your medicines are also going to end. I can’t take this money.

Gaya Prasad- My son, I will make arrangements now. There is no problem with this. Take the money and go to your school.

        Sandeep got ready and left for the school happily and on the go, instructed his grandfather to visit him to the doctor. As easily as Gaya Prasad spoke about the arrangement of money, Arranging money was not that easy. He thought that the money would have to be arranged by the help of society members. After all, he has spent forty years in this society too. So will no one lend even for ten days. But he was forgetting too that the last ten days of the month are tough, not only for the lower class but also for the middle class.

          But Gaya Prasad no longer had to take care of his health, it was more important to arrange the money first. For money, Gaya Prasad thought it appropriate to say about the money from those whom he believed as elite. So first of all he told his problem to Mr. Sharma and asked for help.

Mr. Sharma- It’s okay, but you know my condition. Today is the 21st, I am not able to help for this money. If you will come on 2nd of next month, I’ll be able to do something.

Gaya Prasad – Till then, I will have money. I need it now. If I had the money, I had been left my work.

Mr. Sharma- Sorry, I will not be able to do now.

           Frustrated from there, Gaya Prasad thought that let me ask for help to Mr. Banerjee.  Gaya Prasad went to Banerjee and explained his agony.

Mr. Banerjee- Gaya Prasad, I have no difficulty in helping people, but I have a lot of expenses right now.

Gaya Prasad- But you have daily earnings. If you want, you can do something.

Mr. Banerjee- You are right that I get paid every day, but there are daily expenses. There are no savings that I can help you right now.

Gaya Prasad- Banerjee Sir. I have been working in this society for forty years. Please help me, do something.

Mr. Banerjee- It is no longer a matter of working for forty years. You have been paid a salary for forty years. Now go. I have to leave for work now.

        Then Gaya Prasad got his eyes on the shop in the society’s corner. Mr. Gupta, the owner was sitting without any customer at this time, so Gaya Prasad thought it is the reasonable time to go to him.

Gaya Prasad – Gupta sir, I am not feeling well nowadays. I would have returned you at the beginning of the next month if you helped me for fifteen hundred.

Mr. Gupta – You can see it. The fact is that the month is about to end and I have to pay payments to all the wholesalers. You are watching the customers, how much silence is there. I will not be able to give money right now. If you want some goods for the house, then you can borrow it.

         Gaya Prasad came back from there too. Likewise, in the Society, he had to return empty-handed, hearing different answers from Mr. Yadav and Mr. Khan. Hearing such disappointing replies, Gaya Prasad realized that even though he considers this society as his family but he is only a watchman for this society. Desperate, he returned to his room to relax his fatigue. He could not sleep in the thoughts of his grandson’s future and his circumstances. When Sandeep came in the evening, he asked- Grandpa, Had you visited the doctor.

Gaya Prasad- Yes, My son. Doctor said that it is an effect of old age. There is no cure for it. There will be no benefit from any medicine. Therefore, he discontinued medicines also. It is said that drink extract of basil in the morning and evening, Will give the same benefit.

           After eating dinner, Gaya Prasad left his room. He got lost in his thoughts after complete a circle of society. Today he was not excited in his voice, but rather a reflection of the pain that he had received from the society members. Gaya Prasad was going in the same turmoil that something hit his feet. He saw that someone’s wallet was lying near his feet. He picked up the wallet and looked curiously that who had fallen it. When he opened the wallet, he saw that there were fifteen hundred rupees kept in the wallet. Mr. Banerjee’s driving license and some papers seemed inside the wallet. Now there was no doubt that this wallet belonged to Mr. Banerjee, but there became a duality situation for Gaya Prasad that what to do of the wallet now. He thought in his mind – well done. He was saying that he has no money. You have been earning a salary for forty years. he does not value my forty years of service. He doesn’t have the slightest sense of belonging. Is there no value of my honesty, Now when fifteen hundred is lost, he will understand. Whatever happens, The almighty sees everything. God always does justice. He appreciated my services only then I got this money and it is related to him. But then inner soul of Gaya Prasad said – If the almighty values my honesty, then should I end my honesty for some money. No person in this society can doubt my honesty even for a single rupee.

        Then Gaya Prasad remembered Sandeep’s face – if this money was not mine then why would I have got it. I got as much money as I needed. This is my money. He thought about the respect that has been shown in the eyes of the members of the society for Gaya Prasad. Nothing has been lost or stolen from this society in forty years, now my honesty will be stained. Faces of Sandeep, Doctor, Banerjee, and many faces of the society members began to rotate in front of him. Defeated, he sat on the bench and lying there and became calm and relaxed. It was becoming very difficult for Gaya Prasad to pass the remaining night.

         As it was morning, The sun cleared all the darkness of the earth. Similarly, this morning, whatever darkness in the mind of Gaya Prasad  was removed. As soon as Mr. Banerjee woke up Gaya Prasad reached his house and said- Mr. Banerjee, last night I got this wallet, dropped out. It has your driving license and fifteen hundred rupees. Mr. Banerjee became happy when she saw the wallet but remembered how he lied for this money yesterday. He understood the only way to hide this thing and he said – there were three thousand rupees in it. fifteen hundred rupees lost. Why did you open my wallet? I remembered that yesterday you had come to ask me fifteen hundred rupees and when I did not give, then in the night you cut my pocket. You have so much courage that you started cutting pockets while doing watchman work. Police will have to be called now.

         Mr. Sharma, Mr. Pandey,  Mr. Gupta, Mr. Yadav, Mr. Khan and other members of society also came there hearing this noise. They scratched off the integrity of forty years and the compulsion of Gaya Prasad.

Mr. Sharma- For fifteen hundred rupees, How far was it right to do such work in society? Does anyone steal in his house himself? If there was so much need, he had to take it from someone.

Mr. Pandey- He should learn, the nature of money is temporary, but trust is permanent.

Gaya Prasad- I did not cut anyone’s pocket, This wallet had only fifteen hundred rupees when I opened it.

Mr. Gupta- What was the need for you to open the wallet of another and will Mr. Banerjee tell lies without reason?

             Seeing so much mistrust for himself in everyone’s eyes, Gaya Prasad was very upset. Gaya Prasad’s weak body could not bear the shock. Gaya Prasad fell there. After seeing this, Sandeep came running and started crying with his grandfather’s body in his lap. Gradually, each member of society started going from there. When Sandeep tried to ask people for help, all the people had gone. He ran and called his close friends. A friend called Panditji for Gaya Prasad’s cremation. Panditji came and said- My Son, Your grandfather’s funeral will cost fifteen hundred. Sandeep had lost of his mind then he remembered that the books and files he had brought yesterday. He returned them back to the shop and got fifteen hundred rupees. He did funeral of his grand father with the help of his friends.

sad boy
Sad sandeep, Image credit- Kat J

        Sandeep came back in society remembering his grandfather with moist eyes. Where there was a lot of silence today. It was only fifteen hundred rupees only that he lost his grandfather, who had worked sincerely for this society last forty years. At the same time, the people of the society were happy that now a new young watchman has come in this society will guard with more honesty and hard work. They hoped that this new young watchman would be more honest than the old watchman.

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