Kavita Nalawde

Dooth

Ashok was in the local train going towards Churchgate. His destination was Charni Road where the big wholesale market for wedding cards was. His only daughter Tanya was getting married and somebody had suggested this place to select the design as he could then get it done for peanuts.

He hated travelling by train but then the thought of saving a considerable amount of money was too good to resist. He had been a miser all his life. Everybody used to mock him as he had so much of money but would still drive the 20thcentury piece of metal, which he called his car. He always said, ‘You should definitely value money.’

Ashok would use an item till the point when it couldn’t be used anymore.  His wife Minoo would always tell him, ‘you have earned enough; it’s time to do some charity’.

Ashok would just rub her off saying ‘charity begins at home dear, I have not worked so hard to loose it all.’ He would guard even his cheapest of belongings with utmost dedication.

This attitude was a direct result of extreme poverty and troubles he had faced in the past. His parents had died when he was seven years of age and his maternal uncle raised him with great difficulty, as he was himself struggling to make two ends meet. Ashok completed his basic education and left school. He took a small amount as a loan from his uncle and started a small business selling toys. As the days passed he became more and more successful and within five years became one of the top merchants of the toy industry.

His uncle got him married to a simple homely girl and soon they had a little daughter.

However, his wife soon realised that Ashok was a complete miser and it was very difficult for him to part with money. He was extremely well off and could afford a million outfits however; he would still wear the same for many years. His friends often joked; you could imagine the sun rising from the west but nobody could get a free drink out of Ashok.

Now after so many years it was the time for his daughter to get married and the prospect of spending money on her marriage was giving Ashok sleepless nights. He would tell Minoo ‘Why so much fuss for a wedding? Let’s just exchange garlands in our local temple.’

However, Minoo would always get angry and say that Tanya was their only child and she would get her married in style just like a princess. Tanya was very excited for her wedding as well. She had known Jay for four years now. They went together for a holiday in Italy after completing their studies. Jay proposed to her in a gondola in Venice with so much of sincerity that Tanya couldn’t resist. They came back to Mumbai and decided to get married.

Jay’s parents were extremely well off and their family was regarded as one of the richest business families in Mumbai. Hence it was a matter of prestige and the marriage celebration had to be memorable. Ashok had to finally bow down and with great hesitation agreed to a grand reception.

He was talking about printing wedding cards when one of his friends suggested a place in Charni Road. Although he could have easily gone in his car, he decided to take the local train for two reasons: it would be faster because of the bumper to bumper traffic and second a train ticket was much cheaper than the gallons of petrol he would need to reach there.

It was a Sunday afternoon and hence he was lucky to get a seat, which is a rarity if you ever travel in a Mumbai local. He was preoccupied in his thoughts when he saw a man sitting on the opposite seat staring at him. He became conscious and uncomfortable when the guy spoke, ‘I see that you do not travel regularly.’

Ashok looked at him suspiciously and just nodded.

‘My name is Dooth’, he said.

‘Dooth’, Ashok asked, ‘what sort of name is that?’

The meaning of ‘Dooth’ was messenger. Ashok thought in his mind it sounds like a Sanskrit name but why would anybody name their child a messenger?

The guy smiled and said, ‘I am called ‘Dooth’ since I am a messenger’

‘messenger of?’ Ashok asked.

‘God’, he laughed.

Ashok thought he must be one of those godmen trying to cheat people in local trains and get money out of them.

He immediately said, ‘I do not have anything.’

‘I don’t need anything from you, is there something you need?’ Dooth asked.

Ashok became suspicious and said, ‘I don’t need anything, but why did you ask?’

‘I have a job to fulfil one person’s desire each day and I have chosen you today.’

Ashok looked at him more closely this time. Dooth was wearing a perfectly ironed Peter England shirt and Raymond trousers. His face was clean-shaven and he did not look like a cheat from any angle whatsoever. Infact he was not looking like a person whom you would encounter in a local train. Ashok grew more suspicious, he doesn’t look insane, he thought.

Dooth just smiled and said, ‘I am not insane, it’s my job to be prim and proper. I am the god’s messenger you see,’ he said with a smug smile.

Ashok looked out of the window as the train was approaching his destination Charni Road. He smiled at Dooth and said, ‘Hope you find some other person as my station has come, have a nice day, Goodbye.’

Dooth smiled.

Ashok found the wholesale card market and after a lot of haggling and bargaining chose a design. He ordered sufficient copies and requested home delivery, as he didn’t want to travel again. He had already calculated in his mind the amount of money he saved in ordering from here and decided that even after the minimal delivery charge this was a good deal.

Happily, he returned back to the station and caught the next local to go home. It was crowded now as it was almost 6.00pm in the evening. He was trying to balance himself carefully when he saw Dooth near the entrance gate still smiling at him.

He became more uncomfortable as even after a whole day Dooth was still looking as fresh as ever with his white shirt still clean and ironed as it was earlier. He looked at his own clothes and they were wrinkled and filled with sweat due to the hours he had roamed in various shops to get the best bargain.

He tried to look elsewhere but every time his mind would make him look towards the gate to find Dooth smiling at him. He got down at Borivli and was on his way to catch a rickshaw when Dooth came to him and said, ‘Hey friend you haven’t told me your wish yet, the day is almost going to end and I have chosen you today so you must wish for something.’

Ashok looked at his smiling face and stood still.

He said, ‘I don’t need anything now but I would definitely ask when the need arises.’ He was trying to avoid Dooth.

Ashok caught his rickshaw and reached home. He paid his fare and turned back and there he could see Dooth still smiling. His heart was now pounding fast. What sort of weirdo’s you meet in the trains? He thought.

Finally, he reached home and shut the door tightly. He spoke a few hurried statements to his wife and looked out of the balcony. Dooth was standing next to the tree just opposite his house. Ashok became really nervous now and told his wife about Dooth. She looked from the balcony and could see Dooth smiling gently.

‘He doesn’t look like a lunatic,’ she said.

Tanya who had been waiting all day for her dad to return, came in to check the card design when her parents told her about Dooth.

Tanya saw him outside and just laughed, ‘Don’t you worry Mom. I will go and ask a wish on Dad’s behalf.’

She went out of the house near the tree where Dooth was standing in all his glory. Tanya said, ‘Sir, can I make a wish?’

‘Only if it is for the benefit of your father,’ Dooth said.

Tanya said, ‘Oh yes!’ and whispered something in his ear.

Dooth gave a big grin and said ‘so be it’ and walked away slowly.

Soon after that day everything began to change. Ashok was no longer bothered for petty things and began to enjoy his life with an open heart. Minoo was pleased and told Tanya that she had never been so happy in her life.

She said to her, ‘you must tell me what you wished for your father.’

Tanya laughed and said, ‘I just asked Dooth to make Daddy the master of his own wealth, till today he was the slave but now he rules it.’