© Amar Sneh
It is said that your perceptions are the reflection of your metal makeup. The colour of the world looks as per the colour glasses you wear. If you have the same self-perception of your own, what would happen; and that too if your self-perceptions are very conservative and very narrow, could you imagine of self-respect and esteem for yourself?
Some days back a young woman bearing an appearance of a descendant from well to do family, craving to make a mark in film industry, whose one percent nude photograph appeared with her interview in one of the newspapers. It was written there that she stated with an air of arrogance and pride that, she is a very dashing woman, though she appeared like fat old vintage taxi model, well that is besides the point here; she continued that for the social status, popularity in the films and opulence, she can go to the last digital exposure of her body and is prepared to pay any cost to achieve the success. Think what worth is a person, who has such a low self-esteem. Is not it discomfiture of oneself?
Earlier behind our own back shying away, under the curtain, against our conscious, if at all we indulged in any uncalled for act, sometimes deliberately or may be accidentally, the same pinched us so badly and we always felt sorry for it, but today in the newspapers, on the posters or advertising hoardings or on TV and in films you see hoards of nudity exhibition of so called women, whom civilized people address respectfully as ladies, with fierce and sting competition, oh! She dare exposed this much? I shall expose further and the other exposes still more and more from point of no return exposing various postures and parts to shrink you awkwardly in your stature. These modern women sound like challengers, how you dare could perceive them like mothers and sisters. Let them first behave like normal self, since for them, it seems, brothers are like alien. Hey! We are going too far from our main course; we should not be waylaid from our subject.
I was in hurry to reach my own compartment in the long-stretched train on the platform and I am fathoming the length and trying to match my speed, hastening I moved, to my delight I saw a lady wearing jeans barely covering her big protruding hips with a top which lay her back open full with a mere necessary wrappings. Rolling of her buttocks must have even drowned the almighty, the creator with shame for his own creation. The sight plunged me in confusion whether to look for the compartment so laden with the burden of luggage or keep enjoying the unprecedented gift of sight. Gentleman! Should I call myself lucky that the god accepted my SOS call and the silent prayers though in nervousness? The lady was seen entering my compartment and aghast! To my unexpected pleasant surprise, it was nine days’ wonder; she occupies a berth opposite me. Suddenly 440-volt shock ran through me and shattered my imaginations and hopes turned to dust to unearth the reality that all in all there exists a difference of thirty years between her (back) rears and her front. What a jolt it was? The god could ever be so kidding like this, I thought. While I was just getting out of this jerk, some episode that happened in the compartment, which drew us in a big laughter together and we smiled at each other as if we both waited this well rehearsed moment. In the rush and hasal basal with loads of luggage a man is stuck making his way through an aisle; a person at his back in panic said, “Oh Uncle! Please give me way”. The gentleman turned his face scanned the person head to foot and in stern askance retorted, “Do I look like uncle to you?” The person at the back replied coolly, “Sir! You are not aware, it seems, a big round moon has risen on your baldhead, so looking at it mistakenly I called you uncle and by the by let me give you a piece of advice, he uttered mockingly, “if at all your are interested in making some alliance with somebody, remember! Let it be face to face and do not show your back else you will repent.” Listening to this remark the lady of dream and my fancy laughed and I followed her suit and the matter ended, while my mind was entangled with a thought, imagining could it ever be possible that this lady be turned miraculously to her twenties?
Behind the back is a wonderful world. I feel the entire human race in this world is more interested in things behind the back rather than matters happen face-to-face, else describing a prestigious man of letters as most ordinary man in the street would not have been so amusing. Hey man! Behind back there is a lot of fun and wit in all crafty deals, progress, and promotions. You know ninety percent of the man’s total energy is consumed in behind the back matters. There are great achievements of this phenomenon—–once a squad of police force was chasing a culprit they were at his back, they found it difficult to catch him since he was dodging them finally when encounter took place the person whom they were looking for since a year was a different man. Yes! Sometimes contrary to this appears in the newspaper while chasing a run away culprit from jail, who returns fire and constables and a police inspector are killed. Well these policemen are gone but other policemen are behind the back of this run away culprit.
Look here gentleman watch these flock of women folk; they are very happy to hear from someone that all their members have come but for Partap kaur. This is a matter of joy and amusement for the rest of them. Let that be any time, any occasion and any place; it does not matter whether they are two or three or more in numbers, they enjoy absenteeism of any person for instant Partap kaur. Oh God! Give such opportunity to every one. Behind her back all the gathered ladies are gossiping and commenting what all things about her known, unknown and extra imaginary flare would be poured out that either the ladies know or the god. On their dispersing the comments on absentee poor Pratap Kaur with extra wings will spread across the colony and slowly it grasp the entire town though, there is a warning of hole and corner policy (secrecy) that this matter is strictly between we two women folks and not to disclose to any other woman, but the other woman tells the next taking a vow from her that she is telling it to her but it should not be disclosed to any other if at all disclosed that her name be out of it. Like this the gossip tosses with different shades and colours of individual additions and deletions with carved articulations of variety of sparkles and tastes and reach the zenith. It flips flop with individual mental make up and reaches from spitting to licking, keeping on toes to kicking, from conquering the thrown to sweeping, from pitch battles to Pease, from poisoning of ears to biting of ears, from desperate heroism to martyrs; smothered hearth lights up again giving currency and thus the gossip keeps shunting like train from one rail-track to another; from Allarakha’s harem to Salamuddin’s tomb; from Partap Kaur’s kitchen to aunt’s liquor joint; from Akashanand’s cellar to sky-scraper from e-mail to female and from female to Frontier mail.
When the small matter bloated to magnific proportion from a spark to the sun and from small spike of talks to chaos, making a mountain of a molehill; a fact-finding committee is set up, which made them to run with the hounds and hunt with the hare and started digging the mountain, but a mouse out forth from it and that too it escaped. It is heard that the mouse nibbled and masticated the cap of some politician. It is also stated that that the politician keeps the same mouse as a pet and some one was telling… Who was telling? Well! Let it be, oh! Dam it my memory fails, anyway some was telling that the mouse is being trained now to masticate CBI files… gentleman this is an example of tittle-tattles behind your back…
In the spread of rumours this phenomena, “Behind the Back”, has a great role to play. It is hear say that some stately mason while building a pedestal for a deity in a temple obscured a beef-bone underneath the pedestal; now it is very difficult to find the truth, since who would dare lift deity’s feet that too of lord Hanumanji’s? The matter directly relates to almighty God; to resolve such matters related to God and religion Jihad is the order of the day that leads to tumult, commotion, turmoil and chaos. I may please be excused, “I am not saying this. I overheard two historians discussing the issue behind my back but incidentally my ears lay open and I heard them. See how prudently these historians have chosen a place that too behind my back; god knows what all they keep taking about. If it were in my power I would have issued a Fatwa (Religious Rulings) on them like mullahs do, that is all, which is left now. Do you know what all they were telling? “Goons who created this unrest and hullabaloo are all safe and sound, but those innocents, who had nothing to do with this died; well let us be patient, thinking that it was a destiny and that we are but puppets at the hands of the destiny. Those innocents were destined to the dust so they were gone.
Oh no! There are rumour sizzling and cooking even behind the back of the unfortunate dead victims now, the public have proclaimed the victims as martyrs, public meetings are taking place and in the congregation discussion are very hot, Yet in the hearts there is a ethos of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, though facing the situation but back biting is vigorously in the air. Some one was telling that to disembark the ruling party from the government there is a likelihood of an announcement of observance of black or yellow day every year as martyr’s day. And the day will be marked in red on the calendar. To all this aids have already started pouring from neighboring countries. All what had happened or is happening now, I feel, the phenomenon, “Behind your Back” is playing a big role.
Nandini returned empty handed. Narendra was unable to make his mind; he was confused. Being an active labour union leader, he was left in abeyance on some or the other pretext with false accusations and allegations since the opposition party came in power and formed the government. Six months have passed; state of affairs is very bad that he is supposed to vacate his rental-house. Neighbors and others have backbitten ears of his in-laws. Some one says he is removed from the job on the charges of theft. Other added oh! He remains absent almost all the time, he spent gambling whole daylong. Many mouth many facets of gossips. Nandini’s parents cannot face the world; they are shying away due to misdeeds of their son-in-law, though the parents have learnt it just recently but they are avoiding people without confirming the facts.
On return of Nandini at home, a neighboring lady pacifying Nandini passed a remark, “Most of the parents are longing to keep their son-in-law home and look here these parents are not bothered to help”. Narendra was advised,” No man is hero to his valet one who rules have valet-full; leave those who let you be in the misery.” Those who were showering soothing words at Narendra had already fueled the fire at Narendra’s in-laws saying that the situation at Narendra’s house is so sour that poor Nandini and her children may have to beg alms now; pacifying her parents the man said, ”Nandini is so well bred, but poor girl is facing this misfortune; she was so good and what has happened of her… oh! I feel so sorry for her”. The man did not end his pouring fuel to the fire here but further labeled Narendra as a drunkard, a gambler, a squander and said,”He goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing”; the man further added,” Narendra has brought a slur on good name of your family and not only that Narendra will be thrown out of his house but also will be expelled from the locality”.
Surge of neighbors into spread of rumours and misunderstanding with might and main finally brought Narendra and in-laws’ family at dagger’s drawn stage; neighbors were fulfilling the duties of being good helping neighbors. The day is not far; weary of neighbor’s taunts and torturing Narendra and Nandini may commit suicide any time now.
Hey! Look here, a social welfare sacrifice ladle lights up, people from all around are enchanting mantras pouring clamours, reputes and misgiving into holy fire-pit; the matter has blown to such an extent that Narendra’s in-laws got him into jail and sue him for harassing their daughter for extortion of money from her parents as extra dowry and threaten her to burn her alive for not meeting his demands. Narendra is in jail and Nandini along with her kids have moved to her parents. All this is a culmination of a small thing thrown out of proportion, which is happening behind your back. Aghast! If people turn around to realize, what all is happening behind their back.
No matter it is your personal life or family life; whether it be your business or government job; let it be a matter of your promotion or transfer; may it be that you are happy or sad but if you are not careful, the phenomenon, “Behind your back “ plays such a nasty role that the matter reaches point of no return; it becomes irreversible such that the things, which should not have happened happens or then people enjoy their strength in doing so.
Nina, in pretence, is enquiring of Shibu of his welfare while making complaints as to why he has not returned her phone calls since she was trying to contact him for last two days. Shibu in his response was bit reluctant and simply kept nodding his head in yes…. hum…. yah. Irritated at his response, Nina asked him,” What is the matter with you? What has gone wrong?” Shibu retorted saying,” Do not pretend Nina, you know every thing”
Nina replied, “What do you mean? Let it be, but it’s too much, there is some misunderstanding about the matter.”
“No no there is no misunderstanding, I know my worth now”.
While this conversation is on Nina’s mind is busy crafting a conspiracy. In her mind the thoughts are tossing that she should take revenge since Shibu, for luring Ila called Nina ugly and mean. Nina decided that she would show him his worth. With this in mind Nina bore a pretence in her voice and said, “Believe me Shibu, I love you more than anything in this world, please do not pay attention to what others talk about; you know Shibu people jeer at our relation.”
Shibu paid her back in her own coins. He too had sneaky thoughts to teach her a lesson. In his mind rolled her rebukes, “Oh! She painted me black saying that I come from an ordinary family and that I am hollow, I am shallow and that I am mediocre. Oh! You dirty pot calls the kettle black; I shall not spare you bitch, I shall ruin you.” With these thoughts he promptly replied, “ I swear Nina, I never meant all that; I do not know myself as to how did I utter all that, I am really very sorry; you know Nina, I can’t imagine of my life without you. I can’t withstand staying away from you for even a moment. My Nu. My Nunu, I love you, please Nunu just leave every thing and let us meet right away at Gandhi-Park below the lover point tree there.”
Oh! Shibu, I am just reaching there, I shall tell you all what Ila spoke about you; she called you a dog with no tail. Shibu she is a real bitch; she is playing a very dirty game. Oh! Shibu are you weeping? Please take care; do not worry! I am reaching there; you also start for the place immediately.
Counters and encounters are knitting a web of falsehood of deceptive relationships and a big net is formed. Behind the back this network is expanding slowly. It has started from Nina to Navaroz; from Ila to Inayat; now from Shibu to Shilu, from Shabri to Gonzalez and slowly the network is spreading. One day it is learnt that some one out from this network committed suicide in college hostel room. The parents, college principal, police and others are finding as to who is behind all this? I feel, once again, the phenomenon, “behind your back “has played its role and smilingly it is hiding blood stained hands behind its back.
Gentleman! The government is formed and it has fallen; while falling, politicians dusting the caps stood again; weary of standing one-legged before fixing the second leg firm on ground the government has gone to dust again. All the same getting up from the fall the politicians started throwing dust in the eyes of one another. While sweeping off the dust; they bore pretence of goodness on the face and devil’s mind working behind it like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Behind the back, they carve to pull down the government of their party so that ministerial berth in opposition party is confirmed; they turn their coal so fast like anything. Crafty shrewd are wearing the crowns, but they are like a dog in the manger, if they are not crowned they lay sword on others beheading them ruthlessly.
Today to run the government means to keep the mandatory number for the majority undamaged and to keep that number intact, they fight tooth and nail while keeping patriotism at stake. Gentleman! You have to spare all your strength to keep the number intact. Those who are working behind the back for this cause of numeric management, a strict vigilance is necessary behind their back, else there is an apprehension that they may topple the government behind the back.
This is how the biggest democracy of the world runs politically today, where the phenomenon, “Behind your back” plays the most important role. Alas! Could there be right people to back up this democracy?
It is said man deceits himself the most. Behind his own back, he knits a web of imaginations of so many good and bad things by deceiving his own conscience. At this juncture one starts thinking, how mysterious and complicated is the man’s nature and how ridiculous fabricated things gain some much of importance for him?
One day I accompanied my friend, who was visiting his friend. The house was an ordinary one in a good clean locality. We were sitting in the drawing room. A lull followed after a brief talk and we were uncomfortable in the situation. We started observing the articles and the photo frames in the room. We were stuck at a photo frame of an old man wearing a crown; any one would carry an impression of a theatrical mythological character; to pull the strings of the silence we enquired of the host as to whose photograph it is? At this query the host became very quite and took a deep breath bearing a very serious stance and exclaimed, whose could it be? Oh! Let it be; if I tell you glorious past of this grand historical personality, you will not believe me; this is Maharaja Surya Pratap Singh, my great grand father, the last king of Begrajsingh Bhumi dynasty.
We were taken aback listening to this introduction; even my friend also appeared astonished. There were no signs of princely bearing either in his behavior or his household or his attire; it all looked most ordinary. As much his chest stuck out with pride narrating the glorious history that much our heads were down to hide our faces from him drawing a veil over our feelings so that he would not read our expressions full of doubts, but he did read our minds it seems.
After a brief silence, he occupied a seat in sofa and like born in purple took a kingly posture stretching his arms straight resting on the sofa he twisted his mustaches in arrogance giving himself airs continued his narration of their magnificence and said,” it is a mysterious saga of our dynasty; Maharaja Surya Partap Singh was a grand father of my great grand father; he was known for his grandeur, opulence and he was thick to his words. Once he was so pleased with his barber that he gave away one entire village as a gift to the barber. This news spread to the neighboring state; the king of that state gave away two villages to his barber to show his superiority, strength and generosity; hearing this Maharaja Surya Partap Singh gave three villages to the barber and thus cut throat rivalry continued to the extent that finally Maharaja Surya Partap Singh gave away the last remnant of his state to his barber. With this a big chaos broke out in the subject of Maharaja Surya Partap Singh and the subject requested and urged the Maharaja to take back whatever was gifted to the barber and save them from the catastrophe, but Maharaja Surya Partap Singh said,” I shall not turn back from my words, I do not believe in breaking the promises; let whatever may happen”.
On conclusion of this saga, the gentleman became very grave and broke in tears; wiping his eyes with handkerchief with a sense of pleasure mixed with snobbishness he said, “ we all very proud of Maharaja Surya Partap Singh for his virtues; we may descend down from the current status and conditions but we shall always honour his kingly piousness. My father took a promise that I shall never ever disclose and narrate our glorious past to anybody, but you are being my close friend I narrated it so that you also should be proud me being your friend.
There were lot of thoughts and doubts up surging in the mind but without offending his feelings, though the saga was rubbish we kept our balance and patience and we took his leave.
The moment we were out of the house as our back turned, my friend who shared and witnessed the scene felt very much embarrassed and ashamed; he said, “ as a matter of fact my acquaintance with the gentleman is also new.” Then my friend narrated a very interesting episode of this gentleman.
He said,” one day I went to religious congregation. It was summer and the fans were on at full speed; suddenly one man got up and switched off the fan in that scorching heat of summer. When the fan came to halt I could see the name and address of the donor inscribed on the blades of the fan. For a while the fan remained unmoved; I was sitting there, I got up and switched on the fan, seeing this he slipped closed to me and introduced him. I read his intention and asked him, “ did you donate this fan?” smiling he replied, “I am an obedient servant.” This was my first encounter with this descendent of Begrajsingh Bhumi dynasty.”
Please do not consider this episode as most ordinary one. At time unknowingly we also commit such blunders. Human nature and the circumstances do give rise to such faux pas, which plunges us in astonishment. Blowing one’s own trumpet is an innate of human nature.
Right away, while I am scripting this, “Behind Your Back” the phenomena is in action here too; my grand daughter, Mona, was playing with my spare spectacles behind my back, suddenly a sound of cracking of glasses was heard, which fell on the ground; I could make out that the spectacles are broken; I did not respond to it thinking that she may feel embarrassed, so I kept writing. She very quietly kept spectacles in its case and ran to the other room. After a while Mona returned and started pretending extra care for me showering her love. I asked her, “ What is a matter? Why this extra love for me?
In that doting play she removed my spectacles, which I wore and said in that childish stammer, “Grandpa shall I show you a magic?”
I exclaimed, “Magic!”
She said, “Grandpa like a goody goody child keep quiet and do not look at the back.”
She removed the broken spectacles from the case and kept another good one instead and said, “Now puff a gentle air on the case.” Ok! I said and I did as asked; then she said, “open the case and see how the magic worked, a broken specs have turned into good glasses” saying this she busted into a big laughter and sat in my lap.
(Original in Hindi, Translated in Marathi and English. The story published here translated by D. Dhananjay.)