Three, whether it comes to charging for the material he purchases or for the labour he puts in, Satyender is scrupulously honest. These are also the reasons for which common people seek his services even if it involves a wait. But few know the heavy cost that Satyender has to pay and the psychological burden he has to bear for being the preferred choice of so many people.
“The secret of my success”, he confessed ruefully, “is my mother, Savita Devi. But that has also become a big problem. She is such a stickler for honesty, she slaps hard me every time I even think of slightly raising the rates for certain items or my labour charges. Always, the slap is on my left cheek. Haven’t you noticed how that cheek is sometimes swollen? That’s because it’s been slapped hard repeatedly. ” I was nonplussed. “ Your mother slaps you at your age?” I asked incredulously. “If you know she slaps you, why don’t you stay out of slapping range?”
Satyender shook his head in a resigned fashion. “I can’t. I can’t escape from her because she is now a spirit. She died when I was just 11 years old but she never left me. She has always been by my side, guiding me, ensuring that I do my best that I never go astray. I am where I am today because of her, but now my mother’s constant monitoring of my actions has resulted in the creation of dangerous situations for me”. “You mean the slapping has become excessive?” “No, no, the slapping is a problem but there is a larger problem.
“Because all my rates are very reasonable, they’re far lower than those of other electricians, carpenters, etc. And because my work quality is superior to theirs it all adds up to a situation where they show up in a poor light and people sometimes call them thugs, citing my example. This has created so much enmity, I’ve been physically attacked a few times and I’m threatened ever so often, so much so that I now always take a different route home and arrive home at different hours. ” “But surely your mother’s spirit protects you?” “Yes, she saves me each time, but it’s hardly a way to live. My wife is always tense. My two children are now grown up enough to understand the danger and they too worry. My mother’s spirit dominates my wife too who resents having to do the bidding of a spirit”.
“ I don’t know much about the paranormal, but the best thing for everyone would be if she’s somehow given a role to get scam tainted or corruption inclined politicians into line. Slap, slap, slap, they’ll get slapped each time with an invisible hand .”
So far, Satyender hasn’t ever tried to find a way of releasing his mother’s spirit from earthly bonds. “Nothing will work because she’s so strong willed. Her only defeat was against death. Being an illiterate village woman in Bihar did not prevent Satyender’s mother from nurturing high flying dreams for her son, the third of five sons. A stickler for discipline, she observed that Satyender possessed an intelligence, talents, qualities and traits that her other children did not. She therefore focused on shaping the young Satyender into someone who would one day go beyond village boundaries and make a name for himself amongst the rich and powerful. Unfortunately, while she had ambitious plans for her son, destiny had other plans for her.
She, who could carry 40 kilo loads on her head with ease and work the whole day through without tiring suddenly found her energy ebbing away. Although they lived in the rural hinterland, the family had substantial land holdings. When local doctors advised advanced tests, they had enough resources to take her to Delhi where it was found that she had ovarian cancer which had spread to her vital organs and she was now in a terminal stage. But her family refused to accept the inevitable and sold off most of their prime land in trying to find a cure for her. Worse, the children’s schooling was affected.
Before passing away, she pledged to assembled family members that she would never desert them. And she has kept her word. Her writ still runs in her village home and in Satyender’s life. Being a spirit, time does not exist for her, nor do physical barriers, and she commutes between her village home in Bihar and Satyender’s home in Delhi in seconds. Moreover, while in Delhi she’s fully aware of what’s happening in the village and vice versa. “In her spirit form, my mother is more powerful than when she was alive”, points out Satyender. So what is the solution to his peculiar situation, to his village family members situation and that of his mother’s spirit?
“My mother continues to be not only strong willed but also very particular about honesty. In fact, she has a fetish about honesty. I don’t know much about the paranormal, but the best thing for everyone would be if she’s somehow given a role to get scam tainted or corruption inclined politicians into line. Slap, slap, slap, they’ll get slapped each time with an invisible hand . That way, she’ll be with us as well but her pressure on us will ease, because frankly despite getting slapped so frequently and all the other problems, I’m not keen to banish her to the other world.” Dishonest or errant politicians kept in check by a determined spirit? It’s a possibility worth exploring.