There are some people whose death saddens even those not related to them by ties of kinship or friendship. One such was the Postmaster of Mayapuri DDA colony, Raj Kumar, who died suddenly in a road accident. He was on his way to the post office on his scooter from Janakpuri in the morning when he was knocked down by a reckless driver and succumbed to his injuries. The post office remained closed last Tuesday since the keys were with him. That was the day when no one saw him smoking outside the office during the lunch break.
A tall man with well-groomed hair, who would have retired in a few months, he was, unlike most postal staff, an amiable person, so punctual and efficient that he arrived every day before 9 a.m. and worked even after closing time. No matter how long the queue, he never disappointed anyone. Once he worked all night when postal banking was introduced in Mayapuri.
A few months back, while working hard in the office he collapsed because of the strain and had to be taken to hospital by customers. He recovered and was back in his chair after a few days, in which he even managed to get one of his children married.
The postmaster in, I think, one of the A W Gardiner’s essays, was a grumpy old chap, who would ask those standing in the post office whether they were taking shelter from the rain. Raj Kumar was just the opposite, who never had a harsh word for anybody. His popularity was such that the whole colony is still to get over the shock of the passing away of a dear Postmaster, who didn’t have the airs of the postal employee “Mr Shahiduddin Postman”, portrayed by William Dalrymple in his classic “City of Djinns”.
Urdu poets adopt unusual pseudonyms (Takkhulus) but perhaps the strangest of them was that of a shair of Hyderabad, Pagal Adilabadi. He died some years ago at the age of 66 but is still remembered for his witty poetry. “Pagal” means mad, and though poets are generally regarded as such, here was one who proclaimed it himself…
Another shair, Adil Adeeb, has written an article on Pagal Adilabadi, in which he has not only praised his shairi but also his humble nature, because of which he always passed on the honour of presiding over a mushaira to some junior poet.
Commenting on the changed times, in which even descendants adopt a casual attitude to their departed elders, he says in a sher: “Dada ki fateah halwai ki dukan par/ Parthe hain potey jhat pat lahual willa quwwat (Grandsons now offer prayers for their grandfather’s respose, not on sweet bought by themselves but in front of the sweet-seller’s shop, where there is a lot of mitahi, for which they don’t have to pay a penny. Just passing the buck for a hereditary custom. The poet was not so mad after all!
Hospital forms that have to be mandatorily filled up always turn out to be a menace, especially when a person is in hurry or in the plight of an emergency. But sometimes, due to a misunderstanding, these forms can make one chuckle too. A few days back, a colleague had to rush his cousin to a nearby private hospital. On reaching the hospital, both of them were asked to wait for a few minutes as the doctor was busy attending another patient. Meanwhile, the receptionist asked our colleague to fill out a form requiring basic details of his cousin. He handed the form to his cousin as he was unaware of some details. His cousin filled out the form in a few minutes and handed it back to our colleague. Just to ensure that everything was in order, he just glanced through the form and was soon laughing. In one of the columns that asked the relationship of the person attending the patient, his cousin had written “Single” instead of “Cousin”. Our colleague then wondered whether the increased engagement with social media and other online dating platforms are the result why this generation is so confused with the basic answers as well.
Our inhouse wisecrack quipped: Sachin Tendulkar, the cricketer, was an opener and scored big but as a Parliamentarian, his debut speech in three years ended in a duck!
(Contributed by: Rakesh Kumar, R V Smith, Kunal Roy and Asha Ramachandran)