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   Chapter 5 My Neighbor

Episodes That Pervade My Heart By Sundaram Characters: 5983

Updated: 2021-01-09 05:23


I had a neighbour. Not an ordinary man he was. He was the District and Sessions judge. One day a couple of constables fettered and took away a fellow from his bungalow. "Sir, anything wrong happened?" I asked the judge. "That blackguard is drunk. So I handed him to the police."The blackguard was his only son. He was doing medicine in college. A weekend trip home from the hostel, unfortunately, landed him in prison. A professional college student's boozing is no strange event. But such a fellow had no room even if he were his son. That was Mr.SL the judge. Strange as he was and so were his judgements too, but quite sensitive. A teen-aged girl after a vacation returned back to college in Salem. From the bus terminal, she took an auto-rickshaw to her college hostel that was a couple of kilometres away. The fellow who rode the three-wheeler was a young person around thirty. Even as he rode he looked through the rearview mirror. And she knew he was peeking. Unmindful of his attempt she coolly enjoyed his restlessness to capture a view of her. She bent forward in the back seat and willfully dragged him into a dialogue. "Hm…why this rotten machine? It's nauseating. It looks as though you've designed it to spew smoke into the cabin and it's certainly no match to a person as impressive as you're"The fellow was inebriated. The four o clock sun-scorched as at noon. He saw that she was quite a beauty. She looked lavish in her black sleeveless top and tight red jeans. The costumes contrasted well with her rosy skin. Her sweet breath and perfumes at close range made him venture. "Sorry mam, next time you show up in my auto you'll be totally in for a surprise.""Well, well, come on shake my hand. I see you care for passengers' comfort."He lost balance almost but he did shake her extended hand. He felt a bunch of flowers in his hand. Suddenly the engine stopped and out sprang the girl. "What the hell has happened? It's just half a kilometre more.""I'm terribly sorry mam. Just a few seconds and I'll see that we get going.""Don't make promise after promise. Do it quick and call me."She loitered around, looked ahead and spotted an abandoned roadside shelter. She walked there and the rickshaw man dragged his auto to the edge of the blacktopped road. With walkman and earphones set in her person she settled on a stone bench at the shelter. The dusk was already getting into dark. There was sensational headline news the next morning. 'Girl raped and found unconscious near the ladies' college hostel.'These days social workers advocate capital punishment to rapists. But what happened in this case? The rickshaw man was let off free. The judgement said: 'Dressing with intent to haunt the minds of the opposite sex and causing sadistic emotion is for sure, unbecoming of girls; if they run the riot they get locked in the hands of rapists. The instant case maddened the innocent to become a criminal. Knowingly or in ignorance the victim is responsible for th

is offence. This court lets go off the girl that she will mend her ways and the youth that more trouble will be in store for him if he does not practice restraint.'Who do you think the author of this judgement is? It is none other than our Mr.SL. "Sir, by letting the automan free you're only abetting the culprit, aren't you?""No, if he's punished he'll only indulge in revenge. That way the girls may also aware of themselves remembering the offenders getaway."What logic? Likewise his tastes for things were also different. A movie played in the city at that time was not a hit. However, my neighbor was all praise for it. The movie portrayed a criminal in several outfits. The actor who made the role of the criminal fitted well in each outfit of Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. The police in this film couldn't get him to confess despite their rituals. One CBI sleuth suggested that if the criminal was beaten in sleep he was sure to utter in vernacular his agony unwittingly. 'Moose' cried the criminal when he was beaten in sleep. Everyone ransacked the library and all the lexicons only to end up with the note that the word did not find place either in spoken or written language. This was the scene that our eccentric judge appreciated the most. He was about to retire from government service and I was just a beginner in government service. I was a bachelor then. I happened to attend an interview in Chennai to try for further elevation in service. They insisted the candidates to produce at the interview a conduct certificate from a public personality. You guessed it right. I got a certificate from Mr.SL. In the interview, one of the examiners said: "Hey, you! How come you know this person?"Thinking I ran into a friend of Mr.SL though the officer belonged to the IAS cadre, I said beamingly: "Sir, he's my good friend and well-wisher.""That speaks for you. Well you can go and the interview is finished." said the IAS. I pulled, pulled because of the certificate or by fate, I don't know. One evening when I was jogging with Mr.SL, another neighbour's family crossed us in a jeep. This neighbour was an Inspector of Police. "How do you think the man using his government vehicle?""Misusing..." I hesitated. "Hell with you. So you save for the government. Unless you equip yourself well, how'd you work for others?"Again a logic that is characteristic of Mr.SLDays rolled down. I am towards retirement now. If this man was successful in his career what benefit did his family acquire? I just don't know. Once I said to him: "Sir, my mom is dead. She was such a nice woman and I plan to write a book on her.""What's in a woman? Was she a PM or CM?""But, Sir, she was so dear….""Shall we wind up?" I was discouraged and felt why at all I opened the topic to him. The judge was infamous. At the distance of time I cannot say if he served the right justice to people, and yet I write of him. "Would I ever write of my dear mom?" Certainly, I'll someday.

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