The Mobile Tower
Janki dadi is the universal dadi of our village. Everyone calls her Janki dadi, even people older than her. She is around 65 but looks much older, because of her arthritis and other 2 dozen of health issues. She is unable to move and need support for even going to bathroom. She is sitting the whole day, at the corner of their house on a charpai and cursing the whole world. Given a choice she will like to burn the whole village, rather the whole world, thankfully our village is her only world. She is frustrated on her situation and venting venom through her mouth and victims are her family and who ever comes Infront of her. Good thing is she doesn’t discriminate and yells at everybody. Once she yelled at 3 years old Rani and now her family make Rani eat food saying “eat food or else, we will take you to Janki dadi”, Poor Rani eats food.
Janki Dadi has 3 sons and 2 daughters. All of them are married and settled in their lives. Janki dadi’s husband died 20 years back, he was a civil contractor of his time. He made this big 2 stored tall house where her 3 sons with theirs wife’s and kids lives. It was kind of a joint family with separate kitchens and brotherly competition. Janki Dadi lives in the ground floor corner room and outside the Varanda she has her charpai, where she abodes like a statue in front of a temple. Foods comes from 3 houses but mostly her yonger son Akhila and his wife sumati do most of the work of her. Janki Dadi slightly like sumati then her other two daughter in laws that’s why she chooses to be with them. But she always complains Akhila that, his wife Sumati is not of good character, she must have some extra-marital relationship. Sumati is always on phone and runs to distance to talk to the boyfriend. Janki dadi add, the whole world is very corrupted, Akhila should keep an eyes on his wife. Akhila just ignores.
In our village mobile network had a big issue, to have a decent conversation everyone had to go to half a kilometre away where the signal catches. Our village has sizable population in electoral politics and keeping in mind the upcoming sarpanch and jilla parishad election, the prominent ruling party declare that they will install a small satellite mobile tower in our village. Purthiraj, a local wannabe politician was instrumental in getting this Mobile Tower. Janki Dadi’s house was chosen because of its height and as its corner location.
The installation day came, 4 people came with big machines, wires and what not, took the whole day to install tower. They went on top of the roof, where Janki Dadi never went fearing some witch who comes and sit on the roof top. While winding up in the evening, Janki dadi asked one of the bearded man, what did they do after the whole day tamasha? The bearded man looked at Janki dadi went to her and said that he installed a machine on the top of the roof by which now she can listen to everyone. Don’t mess with me, Janki Dadi warned the beared man, but he smiled and said , no Dadi, not joking, just see this machine and showed her an instrument where in a dail one needle was moving. She was surprised but didn’t believe him. These beared men are never trustworthy, she told to herself.
Next day afternoon, Janki dadi heard someone voice, it was her youngest daughter in law, Sumati. She was talking to someone about her father. She paid attention and try to listen what is the issue. It was Sumati who is talking to her mother and asking about her father’s wellbeing. Sumati’s father is not well Nobody told her anything. That man promises to pay 10 gram of gold as a dowry but only gave 8, but a sweet talker.
In the evening she called Sumati, Sumati came hesitated knowing Janki dadi nature. Janki Dadi ask what happed to your father?
Sumati first taken a back but told that her father had a paralysis attack and now he is completely bedridden. Their family is in big trouble, his younger brother is still very small and how their uncles are taking advantage of their situation. While saying all this she was almost choked and eyes were teared. Janki dadi listened everything carefully and said “World has just got rotten” no point in living. She console Sumati and told to convey her prayer to her mother. This is the first time both of them were talking heartly. Janki Dadi realised that its not any boyfriend Sumati is keep talking buts its her mother and family she keeps checking the wellbeing. That evening Sumati also asked what Janki dadi like to eat and she said she is craving for some sweet. Sumati made her tastiest kheer and gave it to Janki dadi. I can make better kheer, this new generation don’t know how to make kheer, thought Janki dadi but eat it without complain.
Similarly other day she listened another voice, it was, Rani’s mother. She was warried and talking to someone to fix an appointment to show Rani. What is wrong with the 3-year-old, exquisitely Janki dadi thought. She called Rani mother inquired. Rani is suffered from congenital dieses, and required a surgery. Rani came 5 years after their marriage and now this situation. Both the parents and family are completely shattered. Next morning Janki dadi asked Siba, one of the grandson to get her some guava from their backyard. She called Rani and tried to gave this guava. After one hour of persuasion Rani somehow manage to came, grab the guave and ran back to her mother.
From a distance she stared at Janki dadi and realised that she can delt with her. The same night Rani’s tantrum of not eating reappeared. Janki dadi’s fear is no more working now.
Janki dadi is a changed person now. She has this supper pawer to listen to people and their problem. She got to know the dude like, wannabe politician Pruthiraj is trying to go Mumbai for doing a security guard jab. It’s the mobile tower which empowered Janki Dadi to listen everyone problem and made her realised that she is just suffering from old age but other has their share of problem as well.
I was in my village for a vacation. One day I went to met one relative and from their I thought let me pay a visit to Janki dadi. I took a shortcut from the back side of Janki dadi’s house. Back side of Janki dadi house, has a vast field with bushes, where people let their small ruminant gaze. While walking from the backside of Janki dadi, I got a call from my office for some pressing issues, which I had to resolve by making couple of calls. After finishing the call, I went to dadi and touch her feet for bidding my respect. She asked me to sit next to her and asked me about my mother and my family. While chitchatting she advise me to keep calm while working and not to lose cool. I said did you hear my calls? She replied sheepishly that she can hear everybody now as there is a mobile tower in the top of her room. I paused and didn’t feel like correcting her. I know what happened but thought let it be the way it is. Janki Dadi got a super power from The Mobile tower and she is now able to understand people. I just touch her feet and said her good bye. More than the feeling of respect, it was a strange feeling on the way life works. All of us has our own mental hooks, believe systems and these things are makes us unique characters.
Writer: Biren Sahoo
Animator: Zaid Khan