Short Stories >> Kheryal Dharti >> Jiandani is dead (Jiandani Mari vyo)
Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
However much I hurry it has been impossible for me to reach office in time. The other day because I had completed writing a play I was happy that I did not have to fear anyone today. I had just one compulsion that somehow I should go to Mr Jiandani in his office during much hour and read out the play to him. I rubbed my hands and made them warm. As I was quickly reading the file the phone rang. These days my friend-circle has increased so much I am fed up of it.
"I don't know who is this" thinking this I answered the phone. Somebody was whispering. I asked, "Who is it? Is it Jiandani?" A very heavy voice said, "Jiandani has died".
"Huh! Jiandani is dead?" The receiver slipped from my hand. I picked the receiver again and asked, "When?"
"This morning, at eight".
"I was flabbergasted. Just five minutes ago I was thinking about meeting Jiandani. Rightly, 'Man proposes, God disposes' But what happen to the play 'Nav Atma'? My mind questioned was I not sad about Jiandani's death but I was sadder about the fate of my play?
I replied, "Yes. While writing my play the face I had visualized was that of Jiandani himself! He was the life of my play. When his huge statured body would stand under different colored lights and say, "Friends! When the mirror was hit by a stone, it broke into several pieces but then ...in each piece of the mirror one can see the image of Nav Atma! The people of the world have hit the stone of atheism on the mirror of theism. But look at the strange thing that every piece of the mirror has turned into the image of 'Nav Atma'! The Image of God! Countless Gods have turned into countless human beings of the world! Those who have made themselves responsible for the welfare of this country...including we Sindhis too..."
Suddenly someone tapped my back. I turned and saw Sawlani! "Hey friend, our Jiandani has died".
"I just got a phone call!"
"Have you informed our friends?"
"My mood is so off" I put my hand on my cheek and sat down.
"Arey Yaar! They must have gone to book the hall for the 'Sanmaan' play and then without Jiandani who will play the main lead?'
"In my new play 'Nav Atma' too I had kept him as the main lead..."
Sawlani is our strong and lively friend. We always entrusted him with jobs like getting permissions for plays, keeping discipline I the hall etc.Quite often our director has praised him by saying, "Without Sawlani it wouldn't have been easy to present the play so easily". But today everybody will come to know that it is just not possible to stage a play without Jiandani...
"Come on friend. You are shedding tears like a woman. Just see how I am quiet. Although for me he was a friend, true advisor and what not... we were together even the day before yesterday..."
"Sawlani! Tell whose friend he wasn't? Even then, more than us, our community has lost something. When he used to express the sorrow and pain of the Sindhi community he spoke with so much emotion as if the whole community existed within him..." My heart became very heavy.
Sawlani pulled my hand and said, "That's it. He was a soul! He interacted with each one in way that there was no wall in between. Such souls are needed to build a new society in India...But friend it won't help sitting here. Let us go and meet his wife and ask what exactly happened to Jiandani".
I took a deep breath and got up. Sawlani was right. I took permission from my boss and informed my other friends. I had already utilized my leaves before for my dramas, so with lot of persuasion I got one today.
Sawlani said, "My friend Hiranandani is getting his car, we shall go together with him". I said, "Then we should call Usha and take her along too because she was very fond of Jiandani's plays".
Sawlani said, "But be careful, don't tell her on the phone that Jiandani has passed away, she will create a scene in the office".
"I am also aware that this beautiful artist of ours is too closely related to crying but how will she get a leave without any reason?"
But surprisingly she said on the phone, "I'm just coming". These pretty girls seem to have quite an influence on their bosses.
Now the problem was how to break the news of Jiandani's death to this girl. If she starts crying right here in the office itself, the entire office will go on a 'pen-down' strike.
Sawlani then said, "We can tell even outside the office".
I said, "There will be a bigger problem outside with passers by drawing conclusions about her crying".
"So we will not tell her! Why the hell did you call this idiot?"
"Listen Sawlani, we will only tell her that Jiandani is seriously ill". Sawlani was convinced by this agreement but the waiting period made us a little restless.
Somehow we all got into Hiranandani's car and reached Jiandani's residence. We stifled Hiranandani's questions with gestures. We two also did not utter a word. By the time we had crossed Worli Naka, Usha's restlessness had already started bringing tears to her eyes. I rang Jiandani's door bell. His wife opened the door. Often her gaze fell on us in a harsh way because according to her we all were responsible for Jiandani's keeping late nights to stage plays. That is why we also are a little irritated with her. But today...Today we had great sympathy for this lady.
Today I simply gave the credit for Jiandani's success, for keeping her awake at nights, for eating cold meals and what not.
Usha just put her arms around her, "Where is Jiandani sleeping?" and pulled her away from us. We all friends were then in for a shock! Across the room, at the dressing table, Jiandani was sitting, wiping his hair with a towel!
"Arey You Jiandani!" we all three screamed. The next moment I asked angrily, "Then who had called up today?"
"I myself had called...Can anyone forget a living friend for fifteen days? That is why I said Jiandani is dead. Won't you get angry?"
"Oh brother, I have written a three-hour play. 'Navi Atma' I thought I would surprise you". But who could hear this amidst the laughter. I was like a silly April-Fool!
- Translated by Arun Babani