Flow of Ganges

a short story by Professor Paramjit Sharma sharmapjit@rediffmail.com Dedicated to Late Prime Minister Shri Rajeev Gandhi

(The story is a work of fiction. Any similarity with a particular character may be purely coincidental)


Flow of Ganges
Rachna was about to leave for office when she noticed two policemen climbing up the stairs towards her flat. They informed her not to leave the place without their prior permission till post mortem report of Mrs. Charulata was available. Police suspected her as she was last seen accompanying Charulata before she disappeared and ultimately found drowned in river Bhagirathi. Despite Rachna repeatedly informing them about her innocence that she accompanied Charulata only up to the forest rest house they did not believe her story and continued to probe into the story. She missed Vipan who had been giving her encouraging support. He was away to Delhi for the last two days to negotiate certain purchases for the project. She failed to understand what ails the project which was located at Deoprayag with three site offices at Uttarkashi, Tehri and Bhairon Ghati. About fifty people were associated with the project headed by Dr. Tarun Ghosh. Charulata was the Associate Director and Vipin Malhotra was the project officer. These three were the key officials with their supporting staff. The project was initiated half a decade back when Dr. Tarun Ghosh got published some research papers on cleaning Ganges and regulating the flow of Gangotri to avoid floods in the plains. His paper attracted the eyes of the then Prime Minister who was keen lover of nature. He personally took interest and called Dr. Ghosh to present his findings. After getting satisfied with Dr. Ghosh's work he placed huge funds at his disposal and asked him to execute his work. Dr. Ghosh selected his own associates and decided to concentrate on river Bhagirathi in the first phase and to take up work on Alaknanda and Madakini rivers in the second phase. Since all these rivers meet at Deoprayag, it was selected as projected head quarter. Rachna was sent on deputation to the project when the need of some computer and secretarial assistance was felt. Officially she was attached to Charulata. Everything was going superfine when a bombshell exploded.


Dr. Tarun Ghosh was suspended for misappropriating and negligent disposal of project funds. His secretary remained with him for some time before Dr. Ghosh coolly walked out of the office. None of the staff member even went to see him off. It was also in the air that Charulata complained to the superiors against him for his alleged sexual overtones towards her. Rachna heard Charulata commenting that she did not understand how dirty people like Dr Ghosh could be assigned the job of cleaning pious Ganges. Dr. Ghosh was a very tough master. Rachna was very scared of going to him as he would never compromise with causal work. She had many a time seen reports returning back to Charulata with lot of additions in red marks. Once, Rachna requested Dr. Ghosh to continue his research in other areas too. Mr. Ghosh replied immediately that she would get tired in typing and retyping his work as he is in the habit of changing his thoughts while reading the earlier written materials of even himself. Dr. Ghosh appreciated her reply when she promised to bring his work on Power Point so as to facilitate presentation before others. Working in the project became quite tense ever since Charulata's body was found flowing in the Bhagirathi. She was initially declared missing and after one month her body was fished out at Maneri dam some fifty kilometers down to Gangotri. It was a pathetic scene for all of them to see the miserable condition of the body which was once a beautiful lady. Nobody had any clue except suspecting Dr.Ghosh for getting vendetta and Rachna who was last seen with Charulata on that fateful evening. The post mortem reported death due to drowning and after two-three months, the investigations slowed down like the flow of Ganges which also slows down due to snow fall on the mountains. Vipan was made officiating Director of the project. Rachna too got promoted and designated as project officer, but her nature of her work remaining the same. Rachna found in Vipan a good friend and occasionally goes with him for outings. While out too, she would often look at the quietly flowing Ganges and think of the death of Charulata.


Investigations in the case virtually stopped but people continued to gossip that Rachna might have engineered the murder to get close to Vipan, who everyone knew was very friendly with Charulata. Though Vipan cared about her but fearing these stories she kept a distance from him. When Vipan used to be away from the head quarter in connection with his meetings with the suppliers, she would often disappear into the forests with a hope of getting some clues to solve the mystery of the murder. She was quite confident of Charulata not committing suicide. When her body was fished out of water she was wearing jeans and Rachna was sure that the evening she accompanied Charulata to the guesthouse she was definitely wearing a green salwar kameez. Her men like purse was also intact in her pocket and even Dictaphone tucked to the jeans. The ear phone was missing and surprisingly there was no cassette inside the Dictaphone. Charulata quite often used to carry with her the Dictaphone. One evening Rachna met a small boy who grazed his sheep around a place from where Charulata stated to have been disappeared. He gave her very important information of noticing a male and a female going up on the ropeway. Due to darkness and distance, he could not properly recognize them. He also told Rachna that sometimes back he found some small toy type of thing and carried to his hut. His description gave her a clue that it could be the missing cassette which might have either fallen there or thrown at the time of the incident. Since Vipan was away to Delhi she decided to explore it further. When Vipan returned from Delhi, she shared with him what she had learnt from the small Sheppard. They decided that it could be worth while to go up by the ropeway to find out the cassette from the boy which may give them some vital clues. Next day, they reached the spot from where ropeway started. Rachna sat in the trolley with Vipan and later came down as she got scared to go up after seeing the speed of the flowing water underneath. She got scared to go up alone and described the location of the hut as narrated by the boy. She promised to operate the ropeway.


When the trolley reached in the middle…… it stopped with a jerk. Vipan spoke to Rachna on the intercom to know the reasons of its sudden stoppage. Rachna asked him to wait as she was trying to find out the fault. Vipan became desperate in the trolley and continued to shout at Rachna as he was hanging in the middle. After some time Rachna stopped answering on the intercom and went to call the police from the nearest police post. One SHO walked to the sight with two policemen and asked Rachna to let him know about the person who had plotted the murder of Charulata. She pointed out towards the trolley and played the cassette in front of the SHO which had recording of heated discussions between Vipan and Charulata for sharing the money earned through different purchases made for the project. It had also reference of how they engineered the removal of Dr. Ghosh. Rachna also played the Cassette on intercom to Vipan and asked him to confess the murder or keep hanging out there. Vipan, once realizing that he got trapped, confessed on phone in presence of the SHO for committing the murder of Charulata. Rachna handed over the Cassette to the SHO, got the receipt and requested him to arrest Vipan. She herself walked down to the jeep and asked the driver to drive back to her house. She could not sleep that night comfortably for having solved the murder mystery of Charulata. She also hopped that Dr. Ghosh would be then reinstated. She was welcomed in the office, next day with great enthusiasm. Everyone spoke highly about her heroism and silently working for the reinstatement of Dr. Ghosh. She herself wanted to visit Dr. Ghosh but she was informed that he was not in the town. She disclosed to her colleague, how a small boy gave her a clue through a cassette, which Charulata recorded to blackmail Vipan in case he at some stage decided to part away with her. Rachna found lot of these evidences in the cassette and files which she examined since Dr. Ghosh’s suspension. She was to even act as loving friend of Vipan to know about his behavior and interests.


Infect Charulata & Vipan were well aware of the allotment of huge funds to the project. Dr. Ghosh was not allowing them to swallow the funds. They decided to get rid of him by falsely implicating him in corruption and other cases. After Dr. Ghosh's suspension both of them continued to charge commission on purchases till one day Vipan decided to eliminate Charulata. In the evening Rachna got a call from Delhi about her transfer to Uttarkashi as she had tried to falsely implicate Vipan in the murder case. She was told to join the new place of posting immediately. The Chief Officer disconnected the phone when Rachna wanted to explain to him the realities. Vipan had once again escaped the law. But how long, he would escape from the justice of nature. The SHO changed the cassette and Vipan bribed him handsomely and on the contrary lodged a FIR against Rachna for attempting to murder him. The head office was also wrongly informed and she was sure that the decision makers must have been promised huge amount for the favour. Rachna by then was clear about the trap she had got herself fallen into. She felt very lonely and did not know what to do. Rachna got quite tired after packing her personal things which included her personal computer. She sat on a chair to take some rest and started thinking about her future and people around. Nobody came to say her hello and none even dared to call her over a cup of tea whereas only a day before they were praising her heroism. Everything outside looked so explosive and it was beginning to get dark. She could see lights at Dr.Ghosh's house, whom she wanted to say goodbye before leaving. She was lost in the cobweb thoughts when she heard a knock at the door. She was surprised to see the servant of Dr. Ghosh standing at the door. 'Please come’: Rachna politely asked him. 'Madam, Sahib has given this slip for you' he gave a small slip to Rachna but continued to stand there. Rachna unfolded the slip and started reading it curiously. Dear Rachna,


For Sometime, I was thinking of having a cup of tea with you. Somehow it could not materialize. Can I have the privilege now? It is getting dark and you may accompany Ramu, who would also drop you back. With Regards, GHOSH. Rachna felt very happy to receive the message. In excitement she even forgot to change her dress and moved out with Ramu after locking the door. Dr. Ghosh welcomed her pleasantly and escorted her to the balcony from where one can hear the splashes of Ganges and even touch its water. They both sat there for sometime without exchanging a word. It was very shocking to know about your transfer? Dr. Ghosh spoke to break the silence between them. ‘Well! Sir, it was all in the game. Never mind Sir; perhaps my luck has gone out of stem' Rachna tried to be modest in her words. Dr. Ghosh gave her a smile but did not say anything further. Rachna was sure that he must have been told by those nasty people the concocted stories about her. She was about to speak when she noticed Ramu brining tea and hot pakoras. 'It was so nice of you Sir; you thought of sharing some of your moments with me and also gave me an opportunity to have my favorite pakoras' Both of them laughed to hear these words from Rachna. They continued to sip tea and there was not much talk between them. After finishing tea, Dr. Ghosh got to his feet and stood for some time close to the parapet and started playing with the water of Ganges with his hand and said 'Rachna do you remember once you asked me to write some meaningful papers and if ever I write anything worth, you promised to get me that work on Power Point so as to facilitate their presentation' Dr. Ghosh still continued to talk without looking at Rachna. 'Yes Sir, Yes sir, I remember sir, she became quite excited to hear those words from Dr. Ghosh. 'Wait a minute, I shall just join you' Dr. Ghosh went inside and brought a big and nicely bound book type of register which was covered with a white paper and handed over' to Rachna.


She sat on the chair and opened it with amazement. The first page was blank and on the second something was written in capital letters.

She turned to the next page and got further amazed to read:

She could not believe her eyes for what she had just read. She looked at Dr. Ghosh who was still playing with the water. She did not read anything further and virtually ran towards Dr. Ghosh and stood close to him. Dr. Ghosh feeling her presence turned towards her and said: 'Rachna, this work was done during my suspension, which of course had been still continuing, at the request of one NGO in America initiated by some Indians settled there. They are ready to sponsor this programme. I had Preliminary discussions with them” Dr. Ghosh continued to speak mildly. 'You see Rachna, once a great visionary, who wished to take this country to prosperity in the twenty first century, brought me here. After his demise, people played games to remove me from the scene'. Rachna could notice sadness on his face when he spoke. He continued to speak. 'This time, I do not have to take risk working with people who have forced me to face this humiliation. I never imagined in my life that people could go so low for money, Dr. Ghosh became emotional and Rachna could notice different feelings on his face. 'I, therefore request you to join me in this project by staying back here’. We will get inspirations of that Greatman who brought me here. We will definitely fulfill his dreams. Throw your resignation on their face; Dr. Ghosh kept on repeating his words by looking at the clouds which had by them started engulfing his house. Rachna did not say anything. She simply kept her hand on the hand of Dr. Ghosh which was cool like ice. There was a smile on each other face and their eyes got moist as if morning dew was falling on the grass. 8

The Ganges below was flowing at great speed and creating a thunder like sound. Nothing could be heard except the splashes of water. But both of them were managing to communicate their feelings without speaking at all.


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