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Short story: Different Standards — Indira Dangi

"Different Standards" Indira Dangi's short story 'Paimane' in English 

Translated by Dr. Mahendra Jagannath Dutte

Short stories of Indira Dangi in Hindi have been striking chords of Hindi literature lovers. "Paimane"  has been one of my favs of her stories, and  I was very happy when she told me that it has been translated into English. Cheers!!!
-Ed

Indira Dangi’s Hindi short story “Paimane” was published in “Shabdankan” in March, 2015. Here’s the English version – “Different Standards” of the same, translated by Dr. Mahendra Jagannath Dutte.




Different Standards

— Indira Dangi

The internal meeting is in progress:
The dark silk curtains have given a bit darker glow to the dark red sofa – chairs.

Shrivastva, the senior officer told the junior officer Malhotra,
“Malhotra, this is the list that includes all the names from ‘who will light the candle’ to ‘who will pay a vote of thanks’’.

“But sir, this has to be decided in today’s meeting. Discussion on names sent by the Advisory Board of Writers for the Composition Recital Programme…”

“We will do that too, but this is the final list, it has come from the house of Super Boss.”

“from the house?”

“Yes! Do you not know how great a writer our boss is? He called me home this morning; sitting in lungi and vest outfit he prepared the list. The journals that print his creations, the institutes that honour him with Awards and Rewards, the writers and editors who belong to his group…”

 “Then sir, what is left to call the meeting! Let me see how the Big Boss has planned the programme. Has he named himself to be a Chief Guest?”

“Malhotra, you are so simple! Had you not been my nephew’s son–in–law, I would not have been explaining all this to you. Recently you became an officer by passing the examination; it will take time to learn to be an officer!”

“I didn’t understand sir!”

“This is what happens with officers we understand everyone but no one should understand us”

It means the Supper boss won’t be in this programme. 

“He will be there or he won’t!”

“You mean?”

“This means that Super Boss will speak at the end of the programme – off the record! Malhotra, you should keep in mind that you have to make other speakers leave the mike quickly so that the Boss will get sufficient time to speak at peace. Nowadays, he is working on the preparation of the same speech. He showed me the rough draft.”

“If he is going to speak, why don’t you put his name on display?”

“How can we? Won’t it affect the transparent image with the media! Only the honorarium won’t be there but the rest remains as it is.”

“Then, what do we have to do in today’s meeting?”

“What to do – meeting! what else?”

Both laughed together.

“Malhotra, we will do everything officially. We will listen to everyone with respect; in between, you have to take some notes also. And yes, consult with all the writers of Jury personally whom to call for recitation among the new writers. Note down the names recommended by them but keep it confidential that they do not get to know each other’s recommended names; these literati are highly sophisticated behaviorists – it is sure, they will embrace their companion when they are in front, but they don’t forget to do backbiting.”

“But sir, what is the need to do so much, the whole programme is ready”

“If we don’t make them feel happy, later…”

“How will the Super Boss get his own photos as a prominent speaker in the photo gallery? … Sir you follow my advice, you too start writing something. Nothing is left in our department – however, it can help someone become a writer of international repute.”

They laughed again.

“Hey, take it seriously; my first poem was printed last week. I forgot to tell you, the editor himself called and congratulated me, he was saying that he was not praising me because I have occupied a position of an important official, but I am really a good poet. There are different types of craft among the people who are writing at present. There is a spark in my poem.”

Shrivastav sahib got lost in self–praise repeating the words of the editor.

“So sir, should I include the name of this editor for the Conference on short–magazines?” “Malhotra, you will earn fame as an officer in the future.”

There is a winning smile on the faces of the officers for successfully holding an internal meeting – before the start of the meeting.

He has come straight away catching a bus from outside the railway station. 

Hindustan House!

Mecca of the writers! How many times it has grabbed the news headlines for its achievement and honour at the National – International level! Every writer of this province feels grateful on reading his creative work here on the topics such as genuine – counterfeit, officer, starvation, Home decoration, travelers etc. The photograph that has been clicked during the reading of the creative work, has been uploaded on Facebook by some, on Twitter by few, or those who are unaffected by the modern technology and digital media have decorated their meeting halls by enlarging the photographs and hanging them on the walls. Later on, the sons and grandsons will offer a garland and incense as a mark of respect on it. When the daughters-in-law and granddaughter in-laws will touch it with a broom while cleaning, the elders will make her cautious, 

“Careful, it has been clicked in Hindustan House!”

Twenty-three-year-old young writer, Govardhan is overwhelmed with the thrill to see the Artistic building in a vast courtyard like a sandcastle on the beach of the infinite sea created by Sudarshan Patnaik. The young writer touched the dust in front of the main iron – gate and applied it to his forehead – like a bhabhuti.

A guard of the adjacent security cell smiled obliquely,
“Are you a new litterateur, brother?”

Goverdhan moved there as if the guard also has referral importance.

“My name is Govardhan Gajbhiye. I am from Sanatanpur village, Datiya district. I am a short–story writer. I have to submit this application; I wish to participate in the Recitation Programme. I have three awards…”

“Then make it hurry, the senior officer is in his seat.”

The guard told him while crumbling the tobacco leaves on his palm. The young man in panic kept his application inside the bag and moved ahead.

“I shall offer you tea when I come back”

From behind, the guard smiled – at both his application and his innocence. 

The young writer felt as if he was climbing the stairs of heaven, he was not on the ground.

– How beautiful Hindustan House is! 
– How colourful English flower!
– How wonderfully carved strange stone sculptures!
– What a cool breeze! What weather – like the respect indignity of an artistic house.

The enchanted boy remembered – The senior officer is in his seat now.

He straight moved in the direction of the office.

“Aye, where do you want to go?” – The peon asked in an emphatic voice when he saw him dressed up in kurta–payajama, jhola hanging on shoulder and with a humble facial expression. 

“I have to meet the senior officer; I am Govardhan Gajbhiye, a short–story writer from Sanatanpur village, Datiya District. Here composition recital…”

“There!” – The peon pointed his finger.

“The junior officer sits there, and the senior officer is not available for everyone.”

He has waited for a call from inside for thirty–five minutes after sending his name on a piece of paper.

“It is very busy here! It is true that it is not a joke to run such a renowned institute!”

He said looking towards the peon near the front cabin, but the peon was thinking something else and was unaware of this.

Now, he is allowed to go inside.

God knows if the peon himself sent him in, the officer was engrossed in watching TV struck on the wall.

 – He collected the courage.

“Hello sir, my name…”

Ignoring the writer, who is bowing with folded hands, the officer is laying in the comfortable posture in the chair, is spellbound and beckoning him to be silent with his gesture. 

“Wow! Wow! What a shot! Live long, Little master!”

He stood by the side.

These are the highlights of yesterday’s match!!

 – Still, he is humble.

Ten minutes later, when the next programme started, the officer’s round chair moved to face in his direction. He is careful about his body posture. There is no expression of remorse on his face… acting does not happen on the stage only.

Putting the application in front of the officer, he started speaking as if the innocent child was reciting his best poem.

“Hello, sir! I am Govardhan Gajbhiye, from Sanatanpur Village, District Datiya. I am a short story writer. I have received an award from the District Writers Association for the story – the Kompal Kahani Award. I got another award for gaining first position in the Interstate Story Writing Competition. 

Barely half a minute… the officer heard him for half a minute and saw his application; then he moved a bulky file in front of him. 

“We invite only well–known writers for the recitation.”

Now he is perturbed. He had sought rail–fare from his father convincing him that Hindustan House is the protector – gardener institute that gives the opportunity to grow the young talented writers by holding with both the palms. The only thing is to go and meet there. It has been published in an interview of a famous writer that he had read his third story in Hindustan House, which further brightened his career. 

The young writer is heartbroken… the gardener lifts the finger from the tender buds!

No! He can’t leave hope so quickly – neither in the story nor in life! He stood quiet for two more minutes – looking forward to something better happening.

Finally, the officer looked at the file and said,
"Look boy, you will definitely be a litterateur in your village and town, but to recite a text here, the name of the litterateur should be famous. Reading the composition on the stage of Hindustan House is a very great thing compared to these towns – colony awards!”

"But Sir, I have heard that here even the budding writers are given the opportunities, encouragement ..."

"That may have been the provision at the time of the earlier staff, but now we do not follow this."

"Sir, but a request ..."

Then the sound of TV became louder, with broken a heart, with the returned application he came out.

"He was not even asked to sit!"

He kept himself composed. It was the first entry in this great premise; he was careful not to let the dejection of the heart to come out through the corner of the eyes.

Wandered around for a while: ... English flowers, ... paintings, ... books, ... Heritage documents of writers. When he returned with a gloomy heart, he went back, took out the camera from the bag, and asked the guard to click his photo smiling near the nameplate of Hindustan House.

And giving a note of ten rupees for tea, he said,
"You guys are lucky, brother!"

On a return journey by the train, he threw the pieces of application into the air from a river – bridge. He has the junior officer’s words in mind. 

 – Only famous writers!

Five years have passed.

Twenty-three-year-old Govardhan is now twenty-eight – MA, Ph.D. Dr. Govardhan Gajbhiya.

"If you have to teach in a private college, it is better to do the job here only in Datia; what is the need to go to the city so far, son? ''

Bauji said, but he went out to the capital city with his wife and children,
 – The Hindustan House is there!

This time there is no bag in hand, but a thick file of clippings of achievement.

Only famous writers! – He always remembered the phrase and in the last few years, his compositions have appeared in most of the minor and reputed magazines – all accounts are in hand. Then what is the matter; Hey, I have earned so much fame; now, the officer will definitely ask to sit and offer tea!

He did not find the junior officer in his cabin. The senior officer is sitting in his cabin. The embellished literary success earned in five years got absorbed in the dust of government office; when the peon did not let him go there. Assistant Professor Gajabhiye offered fifty rupees which influenced the official peon more than the five-year literary reputation.

"Look brother, today an important meeting is to be held here; both the officers are preparing for it. You may wait and sit outside, but whether the senior officer will have time to meet you or not, it is your destiny! ''

And with his luck, he sat on the bench on the side of the cabin of the officer. 

The inside loud laughter which is filtered by the window blinds is coming out. 

The internal meeting is in progress:

Heard with all ears; Looks like an interesting conversation:
" Kashyap, what were you saying after looking at the previous photo of this poet that day?" – The senior officer Chauhan, while looking up at a literary page from afar, initiated the discussion in a very restrained voice with the Jr. officer Kashyap.

Kashyap replied in an equally delighted voice, 
''She looks like a heroine in the photo. New photo with every poem – all types of looks; from casual look to bride like!

I was reciting the Vidyapati’s lines that day,
“Enchanting woman taking a bath,
Wherever she looks penetrate the hearts!”

''Mind blowing! If Vidyapati were today, we would have called him too in the recitation! ”Officer Sahib smiled in an oblique way.”

"Hey Sir, it doesn’t matter though Vidyapati is not there, we will call this poetess but I am sure she will be five to eight years older than she looks in these photos.”

"How can you be so sure?"

"Sir, you were the head of the Animal Husbandry Department before this." You would have been far away from the people of literature – The writers who do not write the year of their birth in their introduction ... Sir! I have been here for a long time. No one comes here except writers.

"Even then this poetess will not be a bad choice! She writes awesome! I went to the ministry yesterday; Big Boss has also read that very famous poem by her. What is the title ...”

''Bed!'' 

"Yes, something like that!" ... Kashyap, call her in the National Youth Recital Programme to be held next month.''

''Yes sir.''

"And yes, Big Boss has said that the whole budget has to be finished before March. How much can this program cost? ''

"As much as you wish sir if you wish we will finish all funds. We will invite all the celebrities. I have brought the prepared list from home; you yourself see there are many names with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan Awardee! We will book the same hotel as usual. The poetess will stay in five stars! ''

"Kashyap !!"

"Sorry sir, I meant to invite all the invited writers to stay in this five-star hotel."

"Yes! over! This will be final the programme plan" 

"And sir, we will take the writers on a tour too." Let's make a three–day trip this time. '' 

"I like this, Kashyap!" You do everything perfectly without being told!

"Because all the officers think in the same way, sir!" Well, there is one thing, Sir…!

"Yes, yes, tell me!" There should be no flaw in preparations.

"Sir, we will have to ask this poetess if she comes with her husband and family.

''Huh?? Is it practiced so?''

"Everything happens in the world of literature, sir?" Well, this is not a problem; there is another writer as well; nowadays she is hanging over the mainstream magazines. And she is dying to come here!”

"That too with family ...?"

"No sir! Recently I saw her at a program of the Ministry of Culture; how beautiful she looks sir!”

"Good!" – The officer spoke less and was quieter. His silence was also speaking before the subordinates. 

The inside voices stopped coming out; the internal meeting was over – before the meeting starts.

 – So next month is the National Youth Recital Programme!

Again, the belief lighted up in the mind of the young writer, whose whole attention was towards the window – the old belief.

"Think of Hindustan House as a protector – gardener, Bauji!"

When the Jr. officer stepped out, the young writer followed him.

''Hello, Sir! I am Assistant Professor Dr. Govardhan Gajbhiye – You must have heard my name! ... ''

The officer was going out at a fast pace ignoring the writer uttering just – hmm, hmm in a blurred voice and nodding his head, the young writer followed him. He was trying to tell the officer about him.

"Sir, I have also been awarded an award last year by a literary organization here – on my first book only."

"Now say nothing about literary organizations! Those people take so many grants from the government; Advertisements for souvenir is an addition to it! Thus, their main focus remains on the fund; they don’t bother about Awards. It’s just formalities for them. They call one or two famous writers and to make the crowd they call local writers to save expenses. ''

The Jr. Officer came out of the premises and reached to his Sedan car’s driver seat.

"Sir, I wish for an opportunity in the National Youth Recital Programme next month."

At last, he said his point.

"Look, Assistant Professor Sahib! There are so many writers in Hindi you may say that they are countless, and they all wait for years, but we cannot call them. ''

The car's gritty sound and dark smoke filled the atmosphere.

"But sir, you have called many writers three times in a year; I definitely read every news printed about here ... ''

The car drove off and the young writer stood up with his broken talk, he stood there with another denial. Now, he has no courage left to go back to meet the Sr. Officer.

He felt lost; even after five years of hard work, he still stands there in the Hindustan House like before.

 – Govardhan Gajbhiye, Village Sanatanpur, District Datia – Want to read the story here!

... the same newborn bud! ... same dutiful gardener!

And another next five years have passed.

Dr. Govardhan Gajabhiye is Associate Professor of Hindi at the University – two collections of fiction, two short stories, a travel memoir book, and numerous awards of honour, attended all the literary events of Hindustan House.

Again, this year’s National Recitation Programme is scheduled – the writer fraternity scattered in small groups are gossiping on the campus just before the program.

The old master has a cup of tea in his hand,
"Gazbhiye, two months ago, your name was finalized in a way for here. The president of the left was claiming that ... what has changed then?

"The government has changed sir!" – the author said gazing at the front stone wall adorned with huge hoardings, which had a new head – minister's photo with a Padmashree writer – nationalist face!

"There are many slips between the cup and the lips!" Said the master of experiences; Then he himself said to alleviate the atmosphere,
"So, Ghazbiye, you haven't seen that new young storyteller Jay Sharma yet; only after writing two stories, he got a chance for recitation in Hindustan House! ... There are different standards, parameters of competence here. ''

"I wish we too were born with Sharma surname; you would be lying in some parameter!” – the careless adult critic Atal said and laughed in vain – as if he had mocked his own words; then took the last sip of tea and said,
"Who is another poet on this flex hoarding, Sir Ji – Shikharchand!" Never heard before in literature!

"He is a high ranked officer – so high that even he can spoil the fate of the officers here"

"Is he a poet?" – The reviewer asked while picking up another cup of tea.

"Now, if he has been invited to recite the poem, then there will be some poetic as well!"

"The second parameter!" – The travel enthusiast reviewer smiled bitterly, having a sip of sweet tea.

"If you are doing research on parameters, then you can get a lot of help from your friend Gajabhiya!" 

The old maestro saw the miserable face of the new writer, and the topics changed again,
"You did so well that you did not participate in the internet campaign that lasted months." Government employees should stay away from all these honesties. Those writers, who were blaming dictatorship, and putting different charges on the administration of Hindustan House, you will see how they suffer in days to come!” – a distance standing Maestro said while talking to the guest writers about all senior-junior officers who feel proud to be the host. 

"Has anything happened to them?"

''No! One should not swallow so hot that the ruler's palate burns. Let the matter cool down, then you’ll see those narrators – writers to be helpless like the fish lying in the plate''

Old writer Gajbhiye baring all his anger said,
"What would be worse than this; at the most, the officials will blacklist them. Anyway, they were not being called – Otherwise what was the need to raise their voice? ''

"What did they change after raising the voice?" At least the hope was left if they had not raised the flag of justice. One of them is a government employee just like fish living in the water owned by these people. The other has just retired from government service; His pension has not been operational till now – now God knows if it will be or not!

All three remained silent for a few moments.

At some distance, guest writers and host officers – senior officer Sharma and junior officer Gupta – have laughed at something involved – the moment the atmosphere was shaken with laughter.

"Dude Gajbhiye, I don't understand this thing; after all, why don't these people call you?''

The master replied to the reviewer friend,
"Gajbhiye has not served them so they don’t call him?"

All three laughed together; as if they were sharpening the edges of the rusted truth.

"My child!" – Maestro placed a hand on his worthy disciple's shoulder,
"The stark writer finds a place in such government places only after death; yes, but he gets a lot more other things when he is living. These institutions, officials, dishonesties – these are lessons of life! Big lessons! The knowledge to grasp! ''

The upset grown–up writers and carefree reviewers are looking towards Maestro with the hope of getting light.

The maestro litterateur looking at Nirala’s photo adorned in the inlaid government frame on the front high – wall, giving the meaningful advice that he gained from the experiences of his life said, 

“Because, the one who has faced the most ordeals in life, he has got more success.”

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Writer:
Indira Dangi has carved her name as a novelist, playwright, and short-story writer on the panorama of Hindi Literature. She has written one novel, two theatrical plays, and several short stories. Her works are widely acclaimed and acknowledged. Her play, <Rai was enacted several times in India and the USA. She is a recipient of the Jnanpith Navlekhan Anushansa Award 2014 Dushyant Kumar Memorial Manuscript Museum Award 2015.
Contact:
Indira Dangi
Khedapati Hanuman Temple, Behind Bharat Petrol Pump
Laukhedi, Airport Road
Bhopal


Translator: 
Dr. Mahendra Jagannath Dutte has been working as an Assistant Professor in Department of English, Tagore Govt. Arts and Science College, Puducherry. He has more than a dozen research papers at his credit published in journals of National and International repute. Apart from this he has translated the lectures allocated by NPTEL.
Contact:
Dr. Mahendra Jagannath Dutte
Tagore Govt. Arts and Science College,
Puducherry – 605008

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