Why the story of Gheesu- Madhav, one off the cuff story then, assumes the macabre proportion of the real life Frankenstein in our homes today.
If I were asked today, despite being a writer in English, as to who was the greatest story teller who fascinated me the most, my response would be: Munsi Premchand. Significantly, my reading of Munsi Premchand goes back to my sophomoric years when I chanced upon to read many of his masterpieces, including that of Kafan (The Shroud Short Summary).
Kafan, indeed is the piece of garment which is dedicated to the deceased, considered as sacred among Hindus. Interestingly, the story (Kafan Premchand Summary) which was one off the cuff then, has become infectious today. No wonder, Munsi Premchand’s foresightedness to capture the unconventional portrayals in his stories, over the passage of decades, appears so very pedestrian.
Kafan (The Shroud) Story Summary
The story goes in this way: Ghisu and Madhav were the father-son duo, who were duffers; in fact, they loved abstaining from doing any work and survived on the income earned by Madhav’s wife, Budhiya. Worse still, not only they refused to work but, in exhibition of brazen insensitivity, they would drink and, in the spellbinding impacts of the alcohol, they would even start hurling abuses at each other; in the process of their brawl, they seldom retained their mental balance, often crossing the sacred Lakshman Rekha of sanctity of a father- son relationship.
The bizarre bickerings between Gheesu and Madhav, continued unabated: Budhiya, during the period of her conception, had succumbed to a deep, excruciating pain; instead of taking cognizance of the gravity of the issue, they awaited the pain to cease without the help of medication.
Adding to an ironic tinge to the unfolding paradox: while Budhiya cried in agony, the father son duo, rejoiced at the prospect of Budhiya’s stupendous nemesis, revelling that she was getting recovered. Unable to cope with the severity of pain, Budhiya, finally bade good bye to the world.
Now, the father and son duo, began wailing, camouflaging their grief of bereavement, they went collecting money for the Kafan (Kafan Short Story) for Budhiya. The passersby, evincing sympathy for their bereavement, had donated generously for the cause. As the dusk settled, both Gheesu and Madhav craved for food and drink. A while later, munching on Kachauris, and gulping the alcohol, Madhav, the husband of Budhiya, exclaimed, ‘ What a great woman Budhiya was!’ Gheesu seconded his son’s observation, ‘ Indeed do, or else see, even after dying she offered us this palatable dish.
May divine bless her soul!’ Suddenly, the son Madhav remembered something, as he anxiously burst forth, ‘ But now, as we have exhausted the money we collected for Kafan, who else will provide us for the same?’ Gheesu in a tone of consolation, reassured Madhav, ‘ Those who provided us the money for Kafan, will duplicate the same’.
Indeed the stark portrayal of the characters of Gheesu- Madhav who seldom exhibited any compunction for preying upon Budhiya, going to the extent of feeding themselves on her Kafan, is the stark reality of contemporary world, where the people consider themselves smarter if they have greater manipulative skills and predatory tendencies to prey upon the deceased; in fact, one man’s sorrow becomes the cause for others celebration.
The pandemic Corona had brought the world face to face with the ghoulish death. When the entire world was in the state of panic, the predatory tendencies of those who could make their kill out of the nemesis of others, was on full display.
The hospitals exorbitantly raised their charges; the doctors too felt the sadistic pleasure in fleecing the patients as best as they could; the auto and taxi drivers, as if there was no tomorrow, hiked their fare almost twenty times to harass the patients and their kith and kin.
Worse still, the role of media in this whole sordid affairs, beggars the belief that humanity degenerated to its beastly form of pre- historic days when human preyed upon each other. Further, the spectacle of crematoria across the nation, bore the semblance of the death nakedly dancing on our heads. Unequivocally, the gory unfolding of those days, was the brute reminder of the whole world having irreversibly degenerated to that of the syndrome of Gheesu- Madhav having engulfed the world in its deathly tentacles.
Whereas the ghastly scenario triggered by the ghoulish Corona might have subsided now, yet the shudder of witnessing the brutal world bereft of the last vestiges of human sensitivity, was best exemplified when humanity experienced the naked tandav of death all around.
With the benefits of hindsight, what becomes a matter of deep rumination is this: why men preying upon others, presuming the other one to be gullible; the sadistic pleasure derived on preying upon others, is the vindication of the sign of mental and intellectual maturity.
Thus the hospital owners who looted the patients by inflating the bills, almost twenty fold; the doctors who forgot the nobility of their profession, openly embracing the role of peddlers of life givers; the auto and taxi drivers who forgot that they too could succumb to the same fate; the media fraternity revelled on dishing out death, day in and day out, too, forgot that their own families too must be the ones falling casualty to their screaming death, ceaselessly, were, in fact, all the insensitive Gheesus and Madhavs who seldom felt the agonising cries of their own fellow beings.
Small wonder then, the writer with such a great foresightedness like Munsi Premchand could never have been wrong in envisaging the bankruptcy of humanity in this Kalyug when men would expediently turn into their own enemies; the humanity which drove human compassion for each other, would long be consigned to the pages of books, meant only for talismanic talks and lofty portrayals of the tales of erstwhile years. Small wonder then, the characters of Gheesu- Madhav, which were one off the cuff then, has come alive in our homes as the living testimony of our times and era.