“Murkhram Ji, Order Aaya Haiga. Kidar ho tussi?” I shouted at the top of my lungs, commanding my only team member from the room on the roof. Murkhram would not listen. He was busy shaving.
“Oh, Murkhram! A student has placed the order. Where are you? Today is Saturday. Post office will close before lunch,” I leaped up from my chair, walked outside my room, and called him again.
“Murkh,” (simpleton) I spoke under my breath and climbed downstairs.
Murkhram looked at me from the mirror. He turned on the tap, gathered water in his hands, and splashed it on the face. He took another round full of water and washed his eyes. After finding me standing behind him, he hurried and wiped his face with a towel hung beside the mirror.
Although Murkhram had a house, two boys, and seven grandchildren, he spent most of his time in our home. The reason being an old widow in the neighborhood once beamed at him.
Sixty-five years of age was just a number for Murkhram.
It was when we both were sitting on the balcony, Murkhram had a word to say. I was reading a book, and as usual, Murkhram had his eyes stuck on the widow’s house. Whenever he wished to talk, he usually made weird noises to gain attention. Either he took a deep breath and released it with a loud noise, or he started coughing.
“What happened, Murkhram? Are you fine? Shall I bring you some water,” I asked him.
He put his hand in the back pocket of his trousers, pulled out a comb, and teased his mustache, “I’m not going away for at least thirty years more.” His eyes stuck on the widow’s house, “Nakul babu, what you think of my age?”
Without giving me a chance to say anything, he slipped his comb back to his pocket and said, “I know you would say fifty. But you’re mistaken. I have to live for another thirty years. I’m still in my forties.” Murkhram smiled and slapped against his paunch.
“Murkhram ji, for how long I have been calling you. We have received an order for our study material. The student is from Odisha. Today is Saturday. If we don’t hurry, it will take a few more days to reach the student. If not me, think about the students. They are at the beginning of their career. So go and get it ready to be dispatched.”
He put his hand on my shoulder, “Nakul babu, what on earth are these students studying during the lockdowns? The country will not open any soon. Do you know Krishna, the oldest of my grandchildren? The government declared the results last week. Everyone was passed with first division. So our Krishna. You should also write an application, pleading the government to pass your students.”
“It’s competitive exams to win a job, not your 10th board exams.”
“Nakul babu, everyone is saying there are no jobs in the country at this moment. Who on earth has created them?”
I did not answer.
“However, as you say, the parcel is ready. Just give me the address. Don’t you believe me? Come and look!” Murkhram said firmly.
As I entered the room allotted to Murkhram to work and rest, I found a pile of booklets dumped in the corner. The T.V. was on, and a news anchor read the headlines.
“Good morning, this is the top headlines for today… Farmers’ movement continued for the fifth month. Rahul Gandhi demanded the government to pull back the farm laws. He drove the tractor to parliament to show his support. ‘We don’t let the government kill the democracy,’ shouts Rahul Gandhi with a stern look.”
Murkhram walked towards the T.V., switched it off, and thumped the remote on top of it, “Now, these chootiahs will not let live the farmers.” He again picked up the remote and put it down; this time, the noise was even louder.
“Murkhram ji, we cannot afford another television,” I said gently.
He passed a grim, “You-teachers are educated. Why don’t you teach something to these politicians? You think about jobs only. Have you thought about the farmers?” Murkhram went behind the table and came with a studded package. “Yelo, here is your study material. Perfectly-wrapped.” He placed it on the table, picked up the remote, and switched on the T.V.:
“Moti Lal Nehru Marg was under Section 144 of CrPC, and no gathering was allowed. Police seized the tractor and detained Congressmen. An investigation has begun to find how the tractor entered the prohibited area.”
Before Murkhram could beat the television once again, I interrupted, “Murkhram ji, I’m sending you the address. Make sure to dispatch the material by 1 o’clock.” I marched out of the room without waiting for his response.
Murkhram has a way of his own to go around the work we direct him. Despite all his murkhata and expert opinion on every national and domestic issue, he never delays his services. Although he is not like the English Butler, Stevens of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of The Day, he is a perfect Indian butler. He is our butler.