Continued from "The Secret ... "
After a hard day's strenuous work, Kannan returned home from his factory at 5.30 p.m. Krishna Industries was the name of the factory situated 3 km. outside the town. He was one of the partners in the factory. His father-in-law, Manohar and himself were the active partners in the factory. The other partners were really sleeping partners! Though Manohar was the Managing Partner, Kannan was the real Chief in the industry.
The debt incurred by his father was amounting to Rs. 51 Lakh. By disposing off accessories of machines, bank deposits, one small building, etc. the loan amount was brought down to the tune of Rs. 30,000.
With the assistance of his father-in-law, Kannan was paying Rs. 5000 or so every six months to the parties concerned to reduce the burden of loan. Within 3 to 4 years he would be free from all those pestering things! He was disappointed by his friends in his career and his own misguiding relatives and other parties in his personal life. As he was exhausted due to those misfortunes, he had to listen to his father-in-law for all matters, both personal and common for sometime.
Kannan washed his face, went to the dining room and had a cup of coffee. Mrs. Manohar was the substitute for his mother. Both Mr. Manohar and his wife were living with Kannan for more than ten months. They had come and settled with him when he had agreed to work as a partner along with Mr. Manohar and his brothers. Though they had lost their only daughter, they got solace to look after their son-in-law. By doing so they thought that their sin which took away the life of their daughter would not affect their son-in-law also!
Then Kannan went to his room and sat on his favorite chair. Through the window he saw the changing hues of the Sky in the West. After one hour, his physical tiredness had gone away. The calling bell of the house rang twice and stopped. It was Gopal. The elancholic face of Kannan turned into a cheerful one. A new enthusiasm ran over his body!
'Hello Gopal! How are you?' greeted Kannan.
'It is a longtime back I have seen you. I am well and what about you?'
'I am very happy to see you. I am also well along with my substitutes for my parents!'
He took Gopal to his room balcony. They sat comfortably on a sofa facing each other with a beaming smile.
'Come on Gopal; tell me your story about your activities so long! I shall tell you what I did and what I am doing now.'
Kannan lit a cigarette and helped Gopal to light his cigarette. By keeping an ash tray on a tea-poy, Kannan started listening to Gopal's story.
'I have to finish my final year in the B.L. Degree Course. I want to become a criminal lawyer. I like to work as a junior lawyer under the only best criminal lawyer of the town, Mr. Ramanathan.'
'Why do you intend to become a criminal lawyer?'
'That is a relevant question. I have reasons for it.'
'Yes, you may go ahead with your story'
'Well Kannan, in our town there are many civil lawyers. Criminal lawyers are less. Crimes are too many in our State. There are a lot of opportunities for criminal lawyers. That is why I prefer specialization in criminal cases.'
'What is the reaction of your family regarding your desire in this profession?'
'They are all illiterate people. I am the only one of my family who has educational qualification. They think that I shall live separately leaving them to die in miseries. There is quite a lot I have to do to develop my financial position. That you will know as time passes on. What is your story, man?'
'My story is not as simple as yours Gopal. It is an incredibly true one! It is connected with different characters and incidences, which have become a matter of imagination now!'
'It is quite interesting to hear, Kannan! Please proceed further.'
'Two years back I joined THE TREASURE magazine publishing office as a writer. You know that. First they asked me to go to Bangalore as a Sales Officer for the magazine. Immediately the program changed! I was asked to go to Logun's Engine Limited, Bangalore under the guise of the representative of Ramakrishna Brothers, Madras to observe the actual activities of Longun's Sales and Service. By doing one work, I was collecting information for two companies ' one to enlighten Ramakrishna Brothers about the suspected fraud dealings of Logun's and secondly matters for articles to be published in THE TREASURE.'
'Then what happened, Kannan?'
'The proprietor of THE TREASURE could not improve the sales of his magazine. There was trouble in his family circles. He got the Staff Editorship in a company in Bombay. So, he settled the accounts, gave salary, etc. to his staff members and closed THE TREASURE Office once and for all. So, I have come back here again.'
'What has happened to the Ramakrishna Brothers in Madras?'
'They got a lot of information from my reports about the Logun's people. The Logun's objective was to market their products through the influential businessmen through out this country. Once their materials were marketed, all the areas should have to be brought under the control of Logun's men. By some reason or other the influential businessmen would be forced to give up their dealerships with Logun's Engines Limited. In that way they could establish their monopoly in India. So, Ramakrishna Brothers immediately cancelled all of their connections with them before they met with the business disaster at a later period!
'I see. Then what were you doing along with the Logun's men and what were the articles you wrote for THE TREASURE magazines?'
'I roamed about here and there in Karnataka State and Tamil Nadu State along with the Logun's men observing their activities as well as the performance of the robust Logun's engines working in various places like the mines, mills, industries and factories. From place to place Logun's men changed. But in each place there was one Logun's man to take me to the spot where their engine was working. Each one said the same in the same words! Each one on his tour visited his family and children if possible. Those men left their wives and children to live with money! But those men spent their time like kids in assembling and disassembling Logun's engines and taking heavy drinks in the nights!
Their customers were provoked to spend much of their money on buying spares whether they were necessary or not. Instead of rectifying the actual defects of the particular device of the engine they replaced the whole thing by a new one taking freely from the customer's stock! No real defect of a new engine was considered to be a genuine one! The defects came up due to the improper maintenance of the customer (operators) always as per the detection of the Logun's men!
Every evening they wrote reports, took drinks and slept well! In the meantime, I wrote what I found out there to THE TREASURE. The magazine made travelogues and articles out of my reports and conveyed the actual faults of the Logun's men to Ramakrishna Brothers. That was how life went on till my training with them came to a halt!'
'Quite a fun, Kannan! Logun's men live in child's paradise! The scope of their lives is limited. Poor fellows, in fact!'
'In the official circle, Gopal, there were certain characters I cannot forget. The time I spent in the field service, I can't forget Prakash, one of the typical Logun's men. He was living the life I just described in general. Gentlemen like Jack, Brown and Parker in the Logun's Engine Limited, Bangalore and Janakan and Meena in THE TREASURE are the characters that I cannot forget forever!'
'Kannan, these characters may be useful to you for the purpose of portrayal in your fictions or novels. At present they are of no use to you. What is your present position and what is your plan of action?'
'Yes Gopal, what you say is my plan. Though the magazine works have stopped I am still capable of writing in any form what I feel. I shall compile what I write in the form of a book and publish it one day! This is one of my plans of action.
At present I am doing as an industrialist. Along with my father-in-law and his two brothers I am manufacturing electric equipments such as fuse boxes, terminal boxes, etc. We plan to manufacture electric starters in the course of next year. When my father passed away along with my mother and my wife in the car accident, we were having a debt of Rs. 5 lakh, which after paying back was reduced to Rs. 30,000 by disposing off electric goods such as motors, grinders, welding machines, fans, etc., diesel engines from the stock, Radio spares and pump sets and a building worth Rs. 60,000. The balance amount of Rs. 30,000 will be reduced step by step say to the tune of Rs. 4000 twice a year.
With this in mind I am working along with my father-in-law now. This way I can dispose off my debts within four years. This material debt can be settled, but the mental debt i.e. writing articles such as poems, stories and novels to settle down my mental pains due to the disappointment in my family life and in the Halo friendship, is hardly possible to clear soon! I don't know when I am going to solve this problem.'
'Take it easy, Kannan! The industrial work you handle is much better than the writing profession. You can do one thing. You look after your factory work first and last. When you are in holidays, you take up the writing work and pour out what you have in your heart. To put it in a nut shell, you can take up the writing work as a sort of hobby.'
'This suggestion is solacing me, Gopal. Now I feel you are really acting as a worthy friend. Say such things to me so that I shall regain my spirit. Thank you much, my fellow!'
'Okay! Do you know anything about our friends? I have some information regarding Selvam. Have you got any letter form them?'
'Vaithianathan is silent. Selvam wrote letter soon after he reached Madras. That is all. But Balu is regularly writing letters to me. I am also responding him well to the best of his satisfaction.'
'I see. Balu is writing letters to me. But I am not able to drop him replies. What has he written to you in his last letter?'
'Balu writes that mainly due to our letters which he receives now and then, he gets a cheerful mood.
He feels he is lonely there among strangers. Daily he expects some letters or other from us. He is happy that I am regular in writing letters to him. He is going to write IAS Exam. He is preparing for it. That is all. What about our Selvam, who is now in Madras?'
'Selvam has become a junior lawyer under a good lawyer, Krishnasamy. He feels if he has a good training in the high court there; he can shine well in this profession. At present he is staying in a small house for rent. Time is going fast, he says. He is exhausted after he returns to his place in the night around 8 o' clock. It seems he has got very tight schedule in Madras. He has not written much about his professional work there. It is a very great change for him'
'Okay! Any news from our humorous man, Vaithianathan? I don't understand him.'
'Kannan, though Vaithianathan is lucky in getting a job, he is not suitable for it. Please have this information in secret. One day I went to his house. His mother was there; she was very sad. I asked her for her state of affair. She told me a lot about Vaithianathan which you cannot imagine even in your dreams!
It seems, one day his brother has reached Coimbatore and direct to his office. Vaithianathan without even regarding him took him out of the office and asked him to get out of the place immediately and forever! That chap returned home with great dejection.
After a few days, Vaithianathan left the office and returned home without informing the authorities and bothering about rejoining the job. He decided to quit the office and take up the study of law. His mother was very much perturbed. After a great trouble, she took him to Coimbatore, begged the officer to take him back in the work. Now he is there. Because I went to his house, I came to know about these matters!'
'Yes, why do you ask about that?!'
'Then how are you? How are you going on with your study of law?'
'Law is interesting. I never miss any Class. My problem is in the house only.'
'What is it, man?'
'You know well, Kannan that our family is a big one. I have many brothers and sisters. It is very difficult to keep a thing safely in one place in our house. Only in the open terrace I have a portion 8 x 8 in size. If I build a thatched roof in that portion and a door, I can keep my books and other materials undisturbed in my house. I require Rs. 100 for this work to complete. I am struggling to collect this amount from others. Otherwise, everything will go as smoothly as possible.'
'Have you approached anyone for getting this amount?'
'I thought of getting this amount on loan from an outsider. Selvam also knew about this. He promised me to help in this matter. I have to meet him one of these days.'
'Please don't postpone this matter. I can give you Rs. 25 now. You contact Selvam through a letter and soon collect the balance amount in postal money order service. Then immediately put the thatched roof on your house terrace and start your work at the earliest. You need not pay me back this amount. Wait here. I shall bring the money for you.'
Gopal received the amount from Kannan with much encouragement and left him to attend to his other engagements with an inspired mood.
Kannan regularly followed his routine with the view to settle all of his debts. As to his plan he paid to the parties concerned the whole of his loan amount with interest within three years.
Though physically gone down, he did not lose his mind. Though he had disposed off his debts, he did not feel any sense of satisfaction. His mind was firmly nailed to the idea of becoming a writer one day. His long cherished dream had become a great ambition then. It was totally impossible for him to write even a single word during the past three years!
Then he felt he could revive his old spirit and proceed with his ambition.
In the meantime, a few more changes took place in the activities of the Haloens. Selvam left Madras for Pudhu Town once and for all as he could not coup with the city life and habits of the people there.
Vaithianathan had been transferred from Coimbatore to Cuddalore. Gopal had become a junior lawyer under a well known criminal lawyer in the town.
Before Gopal, Selvam also enlisted himself as a junior lawyer under a well known civil lawyer. Balu after taking great efforts and doing hard work was able to become only an assistant grade officer instead of an Indian Administrative Service officer.
They were able to pull on the days rather than live a satisfying life. They were able to follow their routines very precisely rather than achieve any praise worthy thing. Indeed they had not met with any failure; yet the little success they achieved was not at all to be reckoned with as per the Halo standard.
On the seventh day of December the Sky had became very dark though it was only 6 p.m. A 60 watt bulb was burning in a spacious single room. Kannan was just lying idle on his bed looking at the ceiling in a contemplative mood. A spider had started constructing a net using its won thread of cob-web. It was often falling down from the ceiling and climbing up without reducing its speed of activity! The spider’s activity caught the observation of Kannan and he wondered at the relentless efforts of the small insect with a little interest.
There was a cautious tap at his room door. Again there was another tap. Kannan knew that it could be Selvam because of his keen sound observation. There was another reason also for that sort of power to predict who it could be. That was due to the fact that Gopal met him without doing that tap noise; Vaithianathan also did so; but Selvam though met once in a while, he entered the room only after knocking the door twice.
“Yes, Selvam, come in,” said Kannan.
“Hello, Kannan! How are you?”
“I am as usual well and how are you?”
“How did you know that I tapped at the door, man?”
“Selvam, I know you pretty well! What is the matter?”
Selvam who glanced at the door turned back with a smile and looked at Kannan.
“Selvam, please call Vaithianathan too in.”
“How do you know that Vaithianathan is there at the door, Kannan?”
Selvam, I know Vaithianathan too pretty well!”
“How are you Kannan?” said Vaithianathan.
“I am okay. How are you both?”
“Don’t we look all right?” returned Vaithianathan.
Kannan did not say anything but he simply looked at Selvam in order to know what his point of view would be.
“Today is your birthday! We have come here to wish
you a happy birthday, Kannan.”
Selvam said so in order to see how Kannan could respond to them.
“My Birthday! My Goodness! What about our other friends, rather other Haloens? What is there in my birthday, men? I consider this day as any other day of the year. Why do you wish me so much for it, after all?” With no note of thrill Kannan said so and looked at them as calmly as he could.
“What have you planned to do?” said Vaithianathan.
“We want to hear something interesting and things like that,” said Selvam.
“You want to hear my words! Okay, okay! I shall tell you a story I remember now. Listen well. Once upon a time in the old Portugal there lived a King called Robert Bruce. He was a good king. Do you know what had happened to good kings in the olden days?
They used to be thrown out of the kingdom by some wicked ministers or knights or some people of that sort. You must have studied As You Like It or The Tempest by Shakespeare in your college. But the story I am telling you is perhaps older than those stories and could have been taken as a model for writing those dramas too! I am not sure. But it may be so.
Continued to : "A Letter : The Halo Dreams"
The Halo Dreams:
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