Interaction between an ageing Mr Diwan and young Avinash
| THE TYCOON
''Wake up Avinash .Avinash Avinash - get up. Something terrible has happened. Please get up.''Rahul's agitated voice pierced the groggy , still sleepy mind of Avinash. It took him some time to register where he was.
As he emerged from the depths of slumber, he became aware of the familiar bed, the patch of dampness on the left corner of the ceiling, reminding him that he was in the domestic quarters of The Great Indian Hotel, which had been home to him for the past six months. The anxiety in Rahuls's face, studded with tiny drops of perspiration, the sheer panic in his whole demeanour, seemed to engulf him also, as his heart filled with an unknown dread.
He sat up straight, eyes wide open trying to make some sense of the babbling Rahul.
''Today in the early morning a guest in the penthouse jumped from the balcony. O dear , this is so terrible, never has such a thing happened in the history of this hotel. The durwan found him lying on the pavement, ----- blood all around him,------- his -- his head was smashed open---- his brains lay all over the pavement.' 'Rahul shuddered as he lived through the scene mentally once again.
'' There is pandemonium in the lobby, with police reporters and investigators crawling all over. Mr Banerjee is in such a state ,his prestegious hotel being dragged in such a muck,- I think I have seen him without his jacket and bow-tie for the first time., but you better hurry up, the police want to question all the staff members, so get dressed quickly and come to the office.''
Finally Rahul got to the point why he was in Avinash's room that morning.He was still muttering incoherently while Avinash tried to make sense of his disjointed sentences.
When finally the truth of the matter dawned on him, Avinash found himself in the grip of a strange fear. The events of the previous night rushed through his mind as he hurriedly buttoned his shirt, pulled up his trousers and buckled his belt.'' It cannot be Mr Diwan. It cannot be Mr Diwan.''He tried to convince his mind with the repetition of these words, but his heart was fearing the worst.
As he rushed out, waistcoat still in his hand ,the events of the previous night played in his mind once again.
It was late in the evening , around 10.30 pm ,and Avinash was on duty at the help desk . Being a weekday it was quiet by their standards, and he was trying to understand the intricacies of the international bestseller ''Rich Dad Poor Dad' 'He was desperate to do something great in his life, and these books gave him a glimpse of the path he should persue to achieve his goal.
Through the corner of his eye he saw Mr Diwan enter the reception area. One of the regular guests of the Hotel, moreover one generous with tips, made Mr Diwan a favourite with all the bellboys, help desk personell, and the staff in general. Avinash stood up with a genuine smile on his lips and wished 'Good evening'' in a hearty voice.
When he did not get a reciprocal hearty '' Good evening to you my son' 'He looked up to see the lines of anxiety covering Mr Diwan's brow. His penetrating glance caught the lapses in his usually immaculate appearance.
His ash grey suit was crumpled, his tie was partially undone, his left cufflinks was missing ,his hair was ruffled, he walked towards him with a shuffling gait, all indicators of the ravages of a gruesome storm, either internal or external , Avinash was not sure.
He did not know why he came out of his help desk to assist Mr Diwan. It was an instinctive jesture, like one would like to protect a wounded lion till he recovered enough to fend himself.
Mr Diwan accepted Avinash"s steady hand, took a deep breath, and asked shakily ''Avinash, will you please help me to my room.''
Another endearing trait of this great man; he remembered and addressed all the regular staff members by their names; thus winning their hearts forever.
Any hint of hesitation , still remaining in any corner of Avinash's mind, was firmly dispelled with this request. The youthful hands full of vitality supported the aged , mature but tired hands , down the corridor , to the lift , right upto the top floor to the penthouse.
After making sure that Mr Diwan was comfortably settled on the sofa with a rug pulled across his knees, Avinash discretely tried to leave the room , when he was stopped by a gesture by Mr Diwan ,to sit near him .
Weighing the hotels policy against taking any liberties with the guests against Mr Diwan's present vulnerable condition; Avinash resolved that an exception could be made this one time .
He sat down next to the venerable old man; not saying a word; his intuition telling him his presence was comfort enough for the time being.
The boundaries blurred, old and young , rich and poor, prologue and epilogue; they sat together as two terminal points of one throbbing process called life.
The minutes passed .
''What do you think is the meaning of life?'' Mr Diwan finally broke the silence,
Taken aback by this sudden question; Avinash recovered quickly.''Life itself is only a series of experiences , we give meaning to it by choosing what is important to us , what moves us to the core of our capability. Life is a journey and how joyfully you have travelled, by what beautiful pastures you have paused to drink in it's beauty, what strenuous efforts and struggles you have made to overcome it's mountains, is what matters, because the final truth, the end is the same for each one of us.' This was the the sum total of all of Avinash's limited acumen and knowledge.
Listening attentively to each and every word, weighing their authenticity against the touchstone of his own experience; finding each one to be as worthy as it"s weight in gold, Mr Diwan secured them safely in the vault of his heart.
The slight nod of approval , of appreciation was all that Avinash needed to go on. "I want to be a businessman like you sir ; self made , who has risen above all the hindrances of life with sheer hard work and will power, to reach the pinnacle of success. Sir you are my role model and if I can achieve but half of what you have done I will consider myself to be most fortunate.'' The realisation that he may have over reached himself suddenly hit Avinash , stopping his tirade abruptly.
''You know when I see your enthusiasm, your zest for life , I am reminded of my own self , some 40 years ago. The same spark of intelligence , which is gained not by reading any book or attending any college; but which is gained by observing life keenly , attentively; the same burning desire to do something great, to make one's own mark on the world; this will take you a long way.' 'Mr Diwan patted his hand fondly.
'' You know when I came to Calcutta in the late sixties all I had was sixty rupees in my pocket , a multimillion dollar idea in my head, and fire in my belly to make a mark in history. Through all the adversities , hardships, humiliations , this idea refused to die; in fact each challange thrown at me made me even more determined to succeed. Remember , everything that is created in this world begins as an idea, and if that vision is strong enough to overpower the doubts, no power on earth can prevent the vision from becoming a reality one day.
I worked in the docks, as a salesman walked down the lanes and bylanes of this city , no job was too menial or small for me as long as it took me one step closure to my goal . Learning the tricks of the stock market was my big break and from then I never looked back.'' Mr Diwan was reminising about his life , more to himself than to Avinash.
'' You know when you start to fail in life, when you have no new dreams. As success brings comfort and luxury in life, a complacent attitude sets in; you tend to look at the past rather than the future; and that my friend is the beginning of the end.' 'His voice which had started with hope and enthusiasm , ended by being cynical, dejected and forlorn.
The soft voice was almost a whisper and Avinash had to strain to listen to the next words.'' Then someone younger with a new vision, new enthusiasm, new idea comes and overthrows your empire while you are left wondering what happened'' The voice was so soft as if he was talking more to himself than to Avinash, the bitterness and despair in it gripped Avinash"s heart making him shudder.
'But sir one always has the option of rising up to a new day, which is pristine , novel and virgin, to wipe out the past and persue a new passion. 'Avinash tried to bring hope to a beaten man.
He andheri raat par diya jalana kab mana he
Kya hawaye thi ki ujda pyar ka vo aashiyana
Kuch na aaya kaam tera shoor karna gul machana
Naash ki un shaktiyo ke saath chalta joor kiska
Kintu e nirmaan ke pratinidhi tujhe hoga batana
Jo base he ve ujadte hai prakriti ke jad niyam se
Par kisi ujde hue ko phir basana kab mana hai
Hai andheri raat par diya jalana kab mana hai
Unknowingly the words of Harivansh Rai Bacchan slipped of his tongue, in a desperate attempt to give hope to Mr Diwan.
Though the night is dark .who is stopping you from lighting a lamp to dispel the darkness.
Whatever is made in this world has to be destroyed according to the laws of nature, but who is stopping you from rebuilding over the ruins of the past.
Tired elderly eyes met the youthful enthusiastic gaze, but faltered,' 'Sometimes it is better to sleep forever than make an effort to face the new day. Now I want to rest for sometime, will you be so kind as to shut the door as you go out' 'Avinash knew he was being dismissed. The struggle between the passionate heart and logical mind was severe, but the passion won. Throwing caution to the wind Avinash sat down beside Mr Diwan. The voice was firm and sincere "Sir whatever losses you may have suffered today, whatever setbacks may be in your path, You will always be my Hero, my Ideal I look up to you please do not let me down. I want to walk in your footsteps ''
Through his blurred teary gaze Avinash saw a glimmer of hope reviving in the old eyes ,the oil from the new lamp spilled into the nearly extinguishing old one , causing it;s flame to burn brightly for one last time.
Avinash walked out of the room not sure if his words had the power to cut through the thick mist of despair and hopelessness.
The sharp voice of the T.V anchor rang through the reception. All eyes were glued to the set ,all ears listening to the words with baited breath.
"Famous business tycoon Mr Raichand Diwan files for bankruptcy. Raichand group of industries had invested heavily in drilling for oil in the offshore Bombay High. A series of accidents had made the venture a costly failure , plunging the group to the verge of bankruptcy. Rumours of arch rivals ,, The Mehta group, making a bid to take over the company are hot , but no confirmation has been given by either group yet.''
Avinash's troubled mind forced him to call the floor manager of the penthouse to personally check on Mr Diwan, and only after he was assured of his safety did Avinash go to his own room .
That was last night.
"'Dear God please let him be safe, God please' 'The words formed a mantra in Avinash's mind as he rushed through the lobby to the service lift to the penthouse. Cursing himself for leaving Mr Diwan in that state yesterday, Avinash felt the cold grip of fear clutching his heart.
Feet leaden as he approached the open door of Mr Diwan's room; dread coursing in his veins, eyes blurred with unshed tears, Avinash entered the room.
The sofa where he had last seen him slump down was now empty, the rug with which he had covered his feet was lying crumpled on the carpet below, the glass in which he had given water to Mr Diwan lay empty on the side table. There were traces of his perfume mixed with the fragrance of his cigar in the air.
As a dry sob escaped his lips ,Avinash heard a sound in the balcony. Turning towards it his heart leaped with joy to see Mr Diwan safe and sound standing in front of him.
Forgetting where he was, who he was , Avinash just hugged Mr Diwan in a tight grip as if he would never let him go, all the time repeating '' Thank God you are safe, Thank God' 'as if he could not be sure of this fact unless he repeated it to himself continuously.
Now it was his turn to be guided to the sofa, given a glass of water.
Mr Diwan had a slight smile on his lips as he said '' My boy, you seem to have little faith in me if you thought I had jumped down last night.''
Pausing for a moment , he thoughtfully continued, ''Actually you are not quite wrong, last night the idea did cross my mind, of ending it for once and all. As I contemplated on your words, the words of Harivansh Rai Bacchan, then a new realisation dawned on me. Only when I had lost everything I understood clearly that what I had lost was mine definitely, but not ME. My business empire, my luxurious homes, my fancy cars and even my reputation , was a part of me, an accessory, important no doubt, but not ESSENTIALLY ME.I am the life flowing in this body, the power behind my actions, the energy which gives rise to all my ideas, that is what makes me Raichand Diwan. Only when the superfluous parenphenelia was removed, I came face to face with my real self; And I can tell you it was the most liberating experience of my life.
Now I know I cannot control the external circumstances but my internal mileu is now totally in my control. No power on earth can disturb it unless I allow it. This knowledge has changed me, given me a new perspective of life.
Now that the slate of my life has been wiped clean, I hold the pen once again to write a new chapter; this time with the great enthusiasm of a fresh knowledge on one hand and experience and maturity on the other. Are you with me Avinash?"
"Always sir" replied Avinash