It had been raining for the past few days. The narrow road leading up to his home was filled with the water that could not flow away into the drains as the sewage system was clogged from all the waste the neighbours dumped in there. The corporation was lazy when it came to cleaning the drains and maintaining the city’s natural beauty.
The mosquitoes thrived in the stagnant waters and the stink from the waste piled up began to be something Kochi was known for. People would say ‘Ah we reached Kochi’ the moment some foul smell found its way into their respiratory tract. They had no clue how it irritated him.
His uppa was always slogging away all his life. The only source of income was his job at Rayons which was closed for many years by now. His umma always tried to push him to study, so that he would not end up like his father who could not even read or write. She wanted to see him in a bank, earning a fat pay cheque. He was an only child to his parents and could not think of leaving his home, his parents and his friends from the neighbourhood, which was precisely the reason he chose to pursue his education in Royal College even when he had the option to leave the city to go to a bigger college.
For her sake he had written bank tests and attended the interview.
He worried as he held the letter that the postman Sankaran brought for him. He was eager and worried at the same time. This letter had the potential to change his entire life. They were saying that muslim candidates fell into the minority quota and that they had a reservation. The idea of reservation did not do anything to comfort him for he was sure that the first posting would definitely be in some remote corner of the country where he would have to stay away from his parents.
Uppa was impatiently strolling to and fro in the small courtyard that they shared with their neighbours, eagerly awaiting his dear Javed who would read out the contents of the letter to him.
Sending a silent prayer to Allah, he opened the envelope. His eyes welled up as he read out the letter to his anxious parents,
Dear Mr. Javed Ali,
With reference to your application and subsequent series of tests and interviews with us, we are pleased to appoint you as Assistant Manager in our organization on the following terms and conditions.
Place/Transfer: Your present place of work will be at Kalamassery, Kochi but during the course of the service, you shall be liable to be posted / transferred anywhere to serve any of the branches of the bank or any other establishment in India or outside, at the sole discretion of the Management.
God had heard him call, he would not have to leave his parents behind after all!
Uppa, Umma: Muslims address their father as uppa and mother as umma in Kerala, a beautiful state in India. Kalamassery is a small town in the district of Kochi, the financial capital of the state of Kerala.
Last week, we wrote about some of our favourite memories and starting from today, Leo and I are writing stories keeping the central character the same. Read his version of Javed's story for Day 8 of the UBC. Hope to see you here again tomorrow :)