A very happy New Year to all of you, dear readers! I'm delighted to share another charming story from Murari Saikia today!
It was early March ’84, a balmy spring Sunday morning in the salubrious climes of Margherita. I had just returned from the factory; manufacturing for the weekend done and dusted and the factory locked and sealed.
He looked quite distraught, so I asked him what was the problem, and the man blurted out in Assamese, ‘Sir, my wife is expecting and I had taken her to the hospital, the doctor is away and the sister says that she’s to be transferred to Digboi AOC hospital. The ambulance has already gone out with some patient, we don’t know when it will return!! Sir, my wife’s case is urgent. Emergency, sir’.
I knew what was coming next; he had come to request me to help him with my car - it does happen at times, especially in situations like the one my poor staff was in! I told him to fetch Dhaniram driver and that he should be ready to move, ASAP. The babu bolted and in a short while, Dhaniram was standing outside, to take my instructions.
I told him in the usual bagan lingo, to take the babu and his wife to the AOC hospital and return as quickly as possible after dropping them off, adding that I had to go out, so he’d better hurry back!!
It was past twilight, but, no sign of Dhaniram or my car…I was beginning to get worried while a lot of thoughts plied through my head. Time ticked on, and I realized the other lads and I would not be able to get to Digboi club in time for the Sunday movies either, none of the other Assistants had any conveyance (four wheeled types), I was the only guy with a vehicle, and the other chaps depended on me!!!!
After another nerve racking hour for me, I could see the headlamps of a vehicle at my gate, and as the car drove up the short driveway, I realized it was my car, in one piece; as good as she was when driven out in the morning!
As Dhaniram alighted I was about to bombard him with a mouthful. He disarmed me with a toothless grin under his handlebar moustache, and with a flourish brought out a folded piece of paper, ‘from the babu’. On my query as to why he was late, Dhaniram in his own way informed me that 'the babu requested him to wait, and he had to take the babu to the market to fetch some things, and babu has explained everything in this letter. I was fuming at the undue liberty my staff member had taken and mentally made a note to ‘give it to him’ at some point of time.
Dhaniram stood by, while I was seething in anger as I read the note which went thus:
My wrath vanished in a jiffy after reading the note...the baby would not have been there without me!!
As they say, it’s 'cha ki baat' - it could only happen in a tea garden!!
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My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, long, or short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull.