Washing the stigma of his father’s misdeed

In the Indian epic Raamayan, Raavan abducted Sita but did he only get the punishment for his misdeed ? No, his whole family got the punishment and the stigma of that misdeed of his stuck to the name of his whole family. His son Indrajeet or Meghnaad got killed in the war because of the wrongdoing of his father despite being innocent from his side.

Similarly, a thief’s son is labelled as such for the whole of his life and he has to bear this punishment despite no fault of his. That’s the tragedy of being the offspring of a criminal or a baddy. How can an innocent child get rid of this misfortune? Hindi novelist Surendra Mohan Pathak’s thriller novel – Ek Karod Ka Joota (the shoe worth Rs.one crore) is based on this theme.

The hero of the story of Ek Karod Ka Joota is a Sindhi youth Moti Aavataramaani. Presently he is 27 years old but his misfortune came into existence 17 years back when he was a ten years old kid. His father Gopal Aavataramaani was the chairman and managing director of a prosperous company named as Elektra Corporation. Gopal was a highly successful businessman and running in money like anything, less through his business skills and more through his manipulating skills.

He, along with his confidante Shardendu Chakravarti aka Chakki, used to embezzle the company’s funds and also keep on cheating various organizations for his vested interest. Moti’s mother who was a Christian lady, had died long back. Gopal was having an affair with a girl Rani and was willing to marry her. Gopal loved his the only son Moti very much and Rani who was dreaming to be his wife, also loved Moti just like a real mother.

But times never remain the same. Gopal and Chakki got trapped in the web of their own misdeeds. The government agencies started keeping a vigil on them. A committed director of Elektra Corporation named as Shankar Rao Kotwaal started opposing Gopal in the board of directors. And a stroke of bad luck left Gopal amidst heavy financial loss. Gopal used to talk to his loving little son Moti from time to time.

One day when alone with him in the house, he showed Moti a white shoe whose heel was hollow. Gopal told him that the diamonds worth Rs. one crore were hidden by him in the heel of that shoe and also that if some day he happened to see him as wearing that white shoe, then he should understand that his father was in danger. Gopal obtained a firm commitment from Moti that he would never reveal the secret of the shoe to anybody.

On the fateful Diwali night that had come 17 years back, Moti saw his father wearing that white shoe and going out of the house with a stranger. And then he never came back. Moti had to live with his greedy aunt (the sister of his deceased mother) who was ill-mannered and oppressive to him (though his uncle was sympathetic to him). Plus he had to hear a lot of rumors about his father. Almost everybody was calling his father a thief who had run away with the money embezzled by him from the company. The whole world seemed to be against his father.

It left a very bad impression on his tender heart. And little Moti started penning a diary, mentioning even the most trivial things of that period in that. His good luck brought him into contact with a benevolent person – Raj Bundela who, considering the poor treatment given to him in his aunt’s house, obtained his custody through the court.

Moti has grown up always remembering his lost father and also mother-like Rani who had also disappeared from his life thereafter, listening to people’s negative talks about his father and getting no information about him but a money-order worth Rs. two thousand every year on his birthday which appears to be sent by none else but his father only albeit every time from a different place.

Now, seventeen years after Gopal’s mysterious disappearance, when the ten years old kid Moti has become a twenty-seven years old young man who runs a restaurant for his living and is very much willing not only to know what had happened with his father and where he is now but also to wash the stigma of his father’s misdeed from his name whereas Shankar Rao Kotwaal and the other people associated with Elektra Corporation are still busy in finding the embezzled amount; a development takes place.

His father’s confidante – Chakki who had been arrested after Gopal’s disappearance and sentenced to imprisonment under the charge of financial fraud, visits him and proposes to search for the missing embezzled amount, especially the diamonds hidden in Gopal’s white shoe which were worth Rs. one crore at that time and now must be worth at least Rs. ten crores. He has a clue to begin the search and take it to the desired destination – a diary containing a number of names and addresses which are to be checked in this regard.

Moti accepts Chakki’s offer not for the sake of money which he badly needs but for the sake of washing the stigma from his name which is a curse for his life and career. He meets Shankar Rao Kotwaal who hates his father like anything and not ready to trust him also (because he’s Gopal’s son) and proposes to return the embezzled amount to Elektra in return for some reward. After some hesitation, Kotwaal agrees to it and allows him to go ahead considering himself as Elekta’s representative for this mission.

As Moti starts his journey alongwith Chakki’s employee – Sujaata, new and hitherto unknown facts start coming to his notice. He not only meets certain people associated with his father in that period but also is able to find out Rani, his father’s betrothed in real but keep in the eyes of the world. Chakki suddenly disappears and attacks start on Moti’s life.

Whether Gopal is dead or alive, what happened to the wealth hidden in the white shoe, who was the mastermind behind Gopal’s disappearance and what’s the reality of his disappearance; the answers to all these questions come to Moti as well as the readers of this novel in the climax.

This mesmerizing novel is not only damn interesting from start to finish but also very very inspiring. Fathers and sons always share a special bond between them. And seasoned author Surendra Mohan Pathak has underscored the special affectionate bond between Gopal and Moti in a highly realistic as well as touching manner.

Since Moti is the hero of the novel, the author has delved deep into his psyche as a child who feels that injustice has been done to his father and who is restless to know about his missing father. I am amazed to see how wonderfully has the author accomplished this job. The reader can feel the pain of the tender heart generated by people’s uncalled for comments. When Kotwaal’s daughter Shaanta calls Moti as Dogla (mixed breed) because of his father being a Sindhi and mother being a Christian, the gloom in the heart of that young kid is so deep that nothing is able to soothe him.

Moti’s restlessness to wash the seventeen years old stigma from his name and move ahead in life is highly inspirational. He’s a man of strength who is not ready to quit even when the odds are highly against him, a real hero who knows that money may be cursed but it is essential to survive and prosper in this world. His childhood desire has been mentioned as not to become some doctor or engineer or scientist or a govt. officer or a big businessman or like wise but to become rich and that too through completely fair means.

This novel is an evidence that the author has seen the world and the various kinds of people making it from pretty close. People’s circumstances have a bearing on their activities, attitude and behavior and naturally a change in their circumstances over a period of time brings about a reciprocal change in their activities, attitude and behavior. People change because time changes. Thought-patterns do not remain the same when enough water has flown down the river over a period of years. Surendra Mohan Pathak has demonstrated it very beautifully on the pages of this novel through various characters including the lead character. Out of need or helplessness, nice people may also commit wrong things but they repent also and go for penitence later on when their circumstances allow them to do so.

The author has put forth the feelings of a woman towards the love of her life through the character of Rani. The world may defame her by terming her as the keep of Gopal but within her heart, she knows that she’s not a keep but Gopal’s genuine love and sooner or later, their marriage is going to take place. The way she loves Moti just like her own child, highlights this fact that a woman need not essentially deliver a child from her womb to foster motherly feelings in her heart.

In the end, the author underscores a very significant point from Moti’s mouth (being told by him to Shankar Rao Kotwaal) that never tag the misdeed of a particular person to the whole community that he belongs to.

Written in simple Hindi but with witty dialogs, the novel contains every color of human life – love, hate, greed, benevolence, penitence, fraud, crime, suspense, uncertainties of life and destiny; the works. The story begins with the scene of Moti’s 27th birthday celebration and then the flashback starts to explain the events of the bygone era. The skilled author has moved the story back and forth through many flashbacks in a wonderful way without confusing the reader even for a moment.

A masterpiece from the pen of the eminent Hindi novelist, this novel was first published in the early eighties, i.e., more than three decades back. Terming the shoe of the story worth Rs.one crore even seventeen years prior to the period of the main story, this shoe must be worth hundreds of crores of rupees today. But the lessons for life rendered by this novel are even more valuable.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Washing the stigma of his father’s misdeed

  1. rationalraj2000 says:

    “Written in simple Hindi but with witty dialogs, the novel contains every color of human life – love, hate, greed, benevolence, penitence, fraud, crime, suspense, uncertainties of life and destiny; the works”- Perhaps ideal material for a Bollywood pot boiler!

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