Advaitam by Yandamoori Veerendranath
Bhanu murthy suddenly woke up. This dirty sound is disturbing him for the last so many days. The single stupid rat that somehow came into his house is chewing up everything in the house. He lay awake in his bed, unable to sleep. Slowly, without making a sound, he picked up the long powder tin nearby and in the dim light he aimed the tin at the rat. Bang !! The rat escaped alright but his four year old daughter woke up and started crying at the highest pitch. Now Bhanu murthy's wife Kamala scolded him that anyway it is not possible to hit the rat but she said she could not understand why he behaved so odd at midnights, knowing well that his daughter would give both the parents a nightmare, if disturbed in her sleep.
The side effects were many. The utensil where milk was kept overturned and that milk flowed freely on the floor. With a sigh Kamala put everything in somewhat orderly manner and went back to bed. Bhanu murthy could not sleep. He felt ashamed of his act. He lay awake for long time. At last near dawn he had some sleep and woke when the milkman knocked the door.
The day has started. The race to offices has begun. As Bhanu murthy reached his office, he could see several of his friends discussing something. The matter is like this. Bhanu murthy is the most senior who is waiting for a promotion since a long time. But the contender to Bhanu murthy is a politically powerful person even though he joined the office just four years back. He had gone to Hyderabad to move the matter with people; and the talk, it is very clear to Bhanu murthy, is aimed at this only. So far nothing has been heard. To turn the matter from becoming serious, Bhanu murthy put his problem before his audience. The rat is causing him so many sleepless nights. Some said the cage is the best to catch a rat because killing is not fair. And some felt that poisoning is better, because if you do not kill the rat, it will kill you slowly one day.
Somehow Bhanu murthy could not conclude what to do. The day passed pathetically for Bhanu murthy. His boss called and asked him to make a draft of certain letter. In his absent mindedness Bhanu murthy wrote 'riots' for 'ryots'. Irritated by this, the boss scolded Bhanu murthy left and right. He became more depressed by the time offices closed and took his way home. On the way he stopped by the medical store and purchased Zinc sulfide. The hunt has started. Despite this, at night the rat eluded the poison and ran freely in his house. Bhanu murthy's sleepless nights continued.
As he slept through the day break, one day Kamala woke him up saying that someone is making bad remarks outside on Bhanu murthy. He went out and found that the Kabuliwala who loaned him money is demanding it back then and there !! Bhanu murthy stood there, not knowing what to do. As the drama continued for sometime, the neighbor came to the rescue. His neighbor paid him rupees two hundred and advised " You should not get into these hands of Kabuliwallas. Once you get in, you are perished !! ". Bhanu murthy opened his lips to say that he knew it very well but then he shut his mouth thinking that this very gentleman saved him that morning. " Can there be a worse day ? " wondered Bhanu murthy.
He borrowed a rat cage from one of his colleagues and decided to set it for the rat that night. As he came home, his wife reported that the 'Mangal sutras' she kept on the table last night were missing !!. Without a word, Bhanu murthy decided that the rat is the culprit and started digging it's burrow. Whatever the time, after about two hours of hard work, he could find the Mangal sutras right below the burrow. But the rat is still not found. Now he relaxed with a sigh of relief. As he closed his eyes, his daughter came up and asked him whether he would like to eat a small laddu. With a surprise, he asked his little daughter as to where she got that laddu and demanded to know whether it is the maize flour she is wasting. His daughter said that she is not wasting the maize flour but she made those laddus from the flour Bhanu murthy bought from the medical shop to catch the rat.
He sprang up and the next four hours were the hectic times Bhanu murthy had ever faced in his life. The doctor at the medical wards said that a small stomach wash would be sufficient and gave her the wash and charged him rupees three hundred. Bhanu murthy had to pawn the Mangal sutras to get this money. As he left the hospital, his wife reminded him to ask the doctor how to use the medicine next morning. He came back alone and heard from behind the door, the doctor speaking to the nurse on duty " What a great income ! That girl ate maize flour only but when the parents demanded too much to know from her she got frightened and told that she ate the Zinc sulfide. As long as people like these are there, there are no problems for our business".
Shocked, Bhanu murthy came back. On his way, he told his wife " I think the rat had done a good job for us. Had it not taken the Mangal sutras, what else could we have pawned today ? "
Next day he reached his office and heard that his contender who had gone to Hyderabad had come back and anytime he could receive orders of promotion. Now the only course left to Bhanu murthy is to expect a transfer to an agency area where there are more rats. In his utter helplessness, he just worked on. As the afternoon progressed, a call came from his boss. He walked in and stood there as if to receive the final crucifixion. " Congratulations Bhanu murthy garu, for all the hard work you have been doing here, I have written a special recommendation for you and I am happy you got the promotion. More good news is that you will not be transferred anywhere. You will be just sitting in my seat and I will be moving out " he was told. He took the promotion orders and the hand of his officer, shook it and walked out as if in a dream. The word has already spread outside among his colleagues. Now they demanded a party from him. Bhanu murthy had no money to throw a party however small it is. So again another colleague loaned him some amount and with this, they made merry.
On his way back home, he stopped by the flower stall and purchased jasmines for his wife and sweets for his daughter. As he entered the street where his house is located, his daughter came running to him and announced " Nanna, the rat is about to die. The cat has attacked him. Come and see !! ". As Bhanu murthy made his way in, he could see the rat struggling to survive the attack of the cat. It was severely bruised and the skin had come off completely, but not dead yet. It looked at Bhanu murthy and the look is like the final farewell. Bhanu murthy stood there watching it. Now Kamala came out and heard her daughter saying " Amma, Nanna is crying ". And Kamala could see tears rolling down the face of Bhanu murthy.