“Never judge a person by his words,” said Mr. Deshmukh the other day. We were sitting and enjoying a cup of tea and the famous kachoris of Mhow one evening when the talk turned to how people say one thing and mean something else. What struck me was the emphasis that Mr. Deshmukh placed on each word of the sentence. I was sure he had something to share with us. So I asked him whether there was a real life incident he wanted to share with us. Something which reinforced what he had said. Mr. Deshmukh smiled. “Let me tell you something which happened more than twenty years ago,” he said.
”I had just finished college,” he told us, “And I had not yet got my job in
”Well,” said Mr. Deshmukh, “one day a friend’s cousin came to me and asked for some help with some concepts of accountancy. While studying for my bachelor’s degree in commerce accountancy had been my favourite subject. So I did not have any difficulty in helping him.” I knew where this was leading to. “Did he start coming every day?” I asked Mr. Deshmukh. “Yes,” said Mr. Deshmukh with a hearty laugh, “He liked my clarity of thought and the soundness of my knowledge so he started coming every day at Soon some of his friends had also joined us. And it was quite a lively group which used to collect every evening.”
“Did you charge them any fee?” I asked him, “Or was it all social service?” Mr Deshmukh paused and said, “These students were willing to pay me a small sum every month. As I was not earning I could do with some pocket money so that I was not a burden to my parents. But my house owner did not like the presence of so many young men in his house every evening.” I was taken aback. “Where did this villain spring from?” I asked. Mr. Deshmukh smiled again and said, “I do not blame him. He had three pretty daughters.” All of us started laughing loudly when he said this. “And then what happened?” we asked him. “He told me that he wouldn’t allow any commercial activity in the house. And I would have to search out some other venue for my teaching activities,” said Mr. Deshmukh.
”Did you wish to continue teaching your small group,” we asked him, “or did you decide to stop teaching?” Mr. Deshmukh gestured with his hand. He wanted us to stop speaking so that he could continue with his story. “I realised that I was loving every moment of it. I liked the respect these youngsters were treating me with.” He told us how he searched for a small room where he could continue his teaching without worrying about house owners who were concerned about the safety of their daughters. ”The main problem I faced was that most people I contacted for letting out space would ask me for huge amounts as rent once they came to know that I intended to teach accountancy in the rented premises. I was at my wits end. I did not want my students to go to somewhere else. I was sure that if I continued like this I could be the owner of a flourishing coaching institute within a few years and then I wouldn’t have to search for a job or employment,” said Mr. Deshmukh.
”Then what happened?” I asked him, “it looks like you were an innocent young man lost in the cruel world of commerce and rents and agreements.” Mr. Deshmukh looked at me sternly. He was right. I was speaking too much. I promised myself that I would keep quiet and listen to his story. “Well to cut a long story short,” said Mr. Deshmukh, “a cousin came my rescue. He told me about Baba – an old man – who lived not far from where I lived. Baba lived in a huge hall. He would allow me to take my classes in one corner of the hall. But he had a condition.” “What was that?” I asked, forgetting my promise to myself to keep quiet. Mr. Deshmukh smiled. He knew that it was impossible for me to keep silent. “Well, he said that he would be lying on his cot in one corner of the hall while I taught. He wouldn’t disturb my class but he would make an occasional cup of tea for himself or cook his dinner. I should not have any objections to that.”
”That was indeed a stroke of luck,” I said, “I am sure that you had no objections to his condition. Am I right?” Mr. Deshmukh nodded his head in assent and smiled, “Yes, I was ready to teach on the railway platform. This hall was a god send for me.” I asked him whether the Baba had told him how much rent he wanted. “Ah, the Baba was very firm that he wanted a hundred rupees as rent every month. And he told me that he would like it in advance every month. Well a hundred rupees was a large amount in the mid eighties. But I managed to take a loan and pay him the rent for the first month. My old students returned. And a few new ones also came and I started my teaching with renewed vigour.”
“And would the Baba be lying on his cot in one corner of the hall when you taught?” I asked. “Oh yes,” said Mr. Deshmukh with a smile, “he was my most regular student. I have a suspicion that he listened to every word I said. On rare occasions I saw him getting up and making himself a cup of tea. Generally something would be cooking on the wood fire when we were there. Luckily there was a good exit for the smoke so we did not find it difficult to sit there. I remember he patted me on my back on a few occasions and told me that I was a good teacher and that my students were lucky to have found me.”
”And what about the rent that he was so particular about?” I asked. “Yes, the rent,” said Mr.
Deshmukh, “He would often remind me on the 30th or the 31st of a month that the rent for the next month must be paid in the first week itself. In the beginning I used to be offended but I realised that such was his nature. He could be effusive in his praise for my teaching techniques but extremely curt when he wanted the rent. I would make it a point to collect the fees and pay him the rent in the first week itself. But I realised that this arrangement helped me too as the fees from the students would get collected during the first week itself.”
”Was the Baba a bachelor?” I asked Mr. Deshmukh. “No, he had a family but they lived in Pithampur where his son was working in a factory. His wife would visit him every Sunday along with a grandchild or two. His son would visit him once a month. But if he visited
“And what did Baba say?” I asked him. “Oh, Baba was sad to see my classes closing. I was sure that he would miss the money more than he would miss me. But I was surprised to see that he had tears in his eyes when I went to say goodbye. He blessed me when I bent to touch his feet. . When I was about to leave he called me back and gave me the hundred rupee note that I had given him. He said that as I had not even finished a week of the new month he didn’t want the money. And that I would need every penny in
”Did you not return to
All of us were fully alert now. “What happened? Please tell us,” we spoke in unison. Mr. Deshmukh paused and sipped some water. He had been speaking for quite some time now and we were sure that he must have become tired. “Well, a few days before my leave ended and I left for
Copyright © Dev Kumar Vasudevan 2007.
hi pf... thanks for the visit, the comment, the compliment and the wishes... it would indeed be thrilling if this gets selected in the final round of blogprint... i had heard this story just a fortnight or so before i posted it from the person i have named as mr. deshmukh in this story... i wonder what i would have tried for blogprint if i hadn't heard this one...
a gem of a story. loved it...absolutely!
really wish there were many more babas in this world...
i am sure to see this one in the book!
really a touching story. specially today i needed to read it,
i was furious with a friend who finds some psychological pressure in talking rude. i write him a letter to match hisa rudeness. then i read this and was reminded that he actually is a kind.and honest person.