Sahebji Salaam

The wall clock struck 2:30 am and just then, the lizard moved a slight inch forward to catch her prey. Sadananshiv sheepishly stared at the creepy wall creature who was about to pounce on her dinner for the night. A few minutes back, the lizard’s dinner, had troubled Sadananshiv by constantly buzzing in his ears. He rather felt bad to see the mosquito about to lose its life.

Just then, he heard the clangouring of a vessel. He was up startled, but soon realised that ‘Timmy’ must have caused the sound. Timmy was a cat, residing with an elderly woman in flat number 301 of ‘Emperial Heights’, a high-rise building located close to Mumbai’s Santacruz station.

The owner of the cat, Mrs. Shanti Ramdayal Surve, was a widow, who suffered from Neurological vision impairment. She had lost her husband at a relatively young age of 42, in a car accident. She survived after being in comma for nearly a month. The accident led to a traumatic brain injury, which resulted in a blurry vision. She could work independently during the day, but require assistance in the night, for which she had hired a caretaker. The caretaker would come around six in the evening; cook and feed Mrs. Shanti and Timmy, wash the utensils and lay them to dry on the kitchen balcony. Before tucking Mrs. Shanti to sleep around 11:00 pm, she would finish any pending laundry or some basic household chores; and leave.

Mrs. Shanti had only one son Sameer, who was married and settled in Pune. He had tried convincing his mother repeatedly to shift with them to Pune, but each time, to not leave Mumbai, Mrs. Shanti would state an emotional reason. For Sameer to leave Pune was difficult since his company did not have a branch in Mumbai and he being at a very important position could not resign abruptly. He along his family would visit her every 2 months and spend the weekend together. Mrs. Shanti had kept herself occupied in many activities and therefore felt lonely occasionally. Her constant company was her pet cat Timmy, gifted to her by her son. Mrs. Shanti had loved pets, but could never keep one when Mr. Ramdayal was alive and on receiving Timmy, her happiness knew no bounds.

Sadananshiv was a 35-year-old security guard of ‘Emperial Heights’. People lovingly called him ‘Shiv’. He was the night shift security guard of the building. Late in the mornings, he would go around doing odd work for the residents of the building. Shiv could never accomplish a task without secondary help given to him. To fetch basic stuff from the market, one would require giving him the precise list and approximately exact cash. One thing most people liked about him was his honest nature. He never lied. As such in true sense, he was a man with clear soul.

Unlike other qualities of ‘Lord Shiv’, our poor chap Sadananshiv was a fattu. The irony of his life – he was a night shift security guard. To avoid working in the night shift, he had tried his hands at all sorts of manual labour work: be it a carpenter, mason, construction worker, electrician or a plumber. However, he failed at each of the above-mentioned field and would be sacked in the 1st week of joining.

Eventually, on much pleading done by his uncle to the secretary of ‘Emperial Heights’, Mr. Khurrana, Sadananshiv got the job. His duties included securing the building premises by patrolling, monitoring surveillance, inspecting building’s equipment and access point and permitting entry. Precisely at 5:30 am he would have to wake up his companion (if he had fallen asleep, which was almost daily) so that he could go, on the taps, on the terrace for water to be filled.

Shiv was terrified of darkness, but would never let it show. During his regular strolls he would keep a torch handy, to avoid being in situations of complete darkness. He was a firm believer of Lord Shiva, but would recite Hanuman Chalisa during the nightly patrols.

Shiv returned to continue starting at the Lizard and wait for the clock to strike 3, which was when he would go around the premises for regular inspection.

5 minutes or so would have passed when Shiv heard faint cries of some woman. At first, he thought someone would have slept with the TV on and the sounds were coming in from there, but the cries were followed by one more noise of a glass falling down.

Shiv was up all tensed, unable to understand what was going on. He would always pray to God for a smooth and trouble-free night.

Several thoughts flushed into his tiny-miny brains. He mumbled to himself, “could it be a thief or the notorious chaddi-gang. No no, I do not feel it could be them. Then? Could it be the Chudail these previous security guards have spoken about? The soft cries are how a Chudail attracts attention. Jai Hanuman Gyaan Gun Sagar….” He kept reciting the Hanuman Chalisa and moved forward in the direction of the noise. The cries stopped and suddenly there was a pin-drop silence.

He heaved a sigh of relief thinking his problems had ended and started walking back towards his cabin, when again he heard a loud thud and an even louder meow of a cat. Instantly he felt it was the Timmy, desperately calling out for help. He ran inside the main door of Emperial Heights towards the lift. The lift was on the 14th floor and if he would have waited, may be something could go wrong. Hence, he dashed to the staircase and climbed up 3 floors to reach flat number 301. He stood still for a moment to confirm whether the noise was coming from 301 or no. One more purring of the cat and he was sure it was Mrs. Shanti, in trouble. He rushed to the door to find it firmly shut, which meant that getting inside, needed some strategy. He looked left and right, wondered if he should ring the bell of flat number 302 for help, but quickly dismissed the thought. The building had glass openings all the way up its staircase, a deliberate architectural design to be used incase of a fire.

He charged towards the window, only to find it half-open. A chilling thought rushed his mind, what if a thief had entered Mrs. Shanti’s house from the same place. He freezed at the sheer notion of the same. The thief could be well armed and hurt Shiv on finding him inside the house. At that very same moment, a dialogue from Bahubali came in his mind, “Samay har kaayar ko shoorvir banne ka ek avsar deta hai, veh kshan yahi hai.” The mere dialogue gave him the strength and he leapt out of the window. The balcony was at a 2-inch gap, which was easily accessible. Shiv quietly entered the balcony and waited to observe the situation. Just then, he felt the cat’s mouth on his pants, asking to be followed. Mrs. Shanti was lying on the floor barely breathing. Shiv in literal sense sprinted to check on Mrs. Surve and on an impulse called on Mr. Shah’s number. Mr. Shah was a doctor, residing in flat number 1103 of the same building. He reached well in time to attend the collapsed Mrs. Shanti and made necessary arrangements to admit her to the nearest hospital.

Next morning all were in praises of Sadanandshiv, who overcame his fear and saved Mrs. Shanti’s life. Mrs. Shanti’s son rushed from Pune to be with his mother and applauded Shiv for his quick thinking. He also rewarded Shiv with some cash.

Shiv instantly became everyone’s favourite and all the security guards of other buildings came to appreciate his smart gesture.

Shiv could not stop thanking God and Amendra Bahubali for giving him the strength that night. He shut his eyes to thank God and just then, he heard faint cries of some woman and a cat meowing.

When he opened his eyes, the clock had struck 2:30 am and the lizard moved an inch forward to catch her prey……

Author: Ishita Tanna Tavadia

A way to express what you feel can be best said in a non-verbal way !

2 thoughts on “Sahebji Salaam”

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