Friday, April 10, 2009

Osmania Biscuit XVI--Part II:Of Martand Rao, Osmania Biscuit, and the Richest Man in the world

continued from part-I

Tubelightla Srinivas did not know about either Martand Rao or The Richest Man in the World. He did know about Osmania Biscuit though, mainly because Lingam Yadav was so busy popularising it. Srinivas was in his own world. His parents having migrated from a Coastal district of A.P., promptly found employment in the secretariat (dont ask me how). He was biologically slightly elder than Lingam, but historically too young. He didnt have any idea of either Hyderabad (since he grew up with mostly kids whose parents had migrated, like his), or of his native place (since his parents thought it would be unimportant in Hyderabad).

So what did happen on that casual evening during the usual unscheduled power cut?

Under the dull 'kandil' light, the scene begins with Lingam savouring an Osmania Biscuit and his usual gang of jobless people awaiting with baited breath for another chronicle of his. In the meanwhile, sporting his thick round glasses (called ’soda-buddi’), a striped full shirt, a local-tailor stitched trousers and a wide grin that revealed a slightly creamish dentition, in strode Srinivas (or ‘Tube’ as he was called here). As he was about to go after buying half a kg of idli rava, he thought it would be a good idea to add his 2 paise to the ongoing discussion about Nizam, and blurted out “Without Nizam, you wouldn’t be eating this Osmania Biscuit Lingam. You know, we owe a lot to Nizam's rule, now that I think about it.”

And there was silence.

Everyone was staring at him. Then Lingam finally opened his mouth and asked as a matter-of-fact “Do you even know what you are talking about?”

Tube just stood there blankly staring from face to face. He wasn’t expecting this sort of reaction and much less prepared for it. He nervously raised his eyebrows and made a half-hearted attempt at adjusting his soda-buddi glasses.

Lingam heaved a deep sigh and looking downwards, he slowly began his narration (of I presnet my own version here in English)--
In Hyderabad, there lived a man named Martand Rao. For a single beedi, he used to walk from his home in Shah-Ali Banda to our home in Gowliguda Chaman and after having a smoke (when my grandfather was not at home-- He was really scared of my grandfather catching him stealing his treasure), he used to go to Secunderabad to see his close relatives-- A good part of 30 kilometres is my guess. Everyone used to wonder at this extremely simple, white jhubba and puna-pant clad man walking his heart out for simple pleasures. He had no money (nor did he want it), no job (nor did he try for it), and no wife (he wasn’t interested). All because he was technically, well, insane.

Most of the time, Martand Rao was calm and composed. He had great affection for his sister, my Ajji, and his nephew, my father. My Grandfather also humoured to his innocence by talking really sweetly to him. The only time his nostrils flared, his eyes reddened, his body shook with rage, and he showed all signs of insanity was when someone uttered the words ‘Razakars‘, ‘Nizam’ or even ‘muslims‘.

True, the terror inflicted by Razakars was not just a passable phenomenon in the long history of TelangaNa. But there was something more to it. While as a teenager, he was returning home from a nearby shop, he was caught suddenly in Razakar violence and bullets rained everywhere. One of the bullets hit him, and Ajji says the bullet went “aar-paar” just above his ear, but my father corrected it saying that it grazed his skull. But the damage was done. A young life, full of promise was, laid waste. He was condemned to a long life of insanity, his potential crushed under the ambition of a very very Powerful Man. A man known, simply, as Nizam.

to be continued...

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