Bhayam (Fear

Tripuraneni Gopichand

About the Author
Tripuraneni Gopichand (1910-1962), of Tenali, Andhra Pradesh, India, is a Telugu short story writer, novelist, editor, essayist, playwright and film director. His writings exhibit an exceptional interplay of values, ideas and ‘isms’—materialism, rationalism, existentialism, realism and humanism. He is well-known among Telugu literati for his psychological novel—Asamardhuni Jeevayatra (The Incompetent’s Life Journey). He was posthumously presented the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Panditha Parameshwara Sastry Veelunama (Will of Panditha Parameshwara Sastry), in 1963. Radical humanist, profound thinker, philosopher, social reformer and an inveterate votary of truth, Gopichand was a versatile genius, which reflects well in his scintillating stories that are told in crisp language. His stories pose many questions that challenge the wit of readers. His birth centenary celebrations are set to commence from September 2009.

Translator GRK Murty

Gopi gets down from the train. His mother passed away recently. What his mother said from her deathbed: “You have brothers babu1! What kind of alliance you will be able to get to marry of your sister?” is still ringing in his mind. On that night—the night his mother died—when everyone was weeping, his first brother asked him, “Why are they weeping?” “They have become mad. They are like that,” said Gopi. Gopi’s younger brother asked his youngest brother, “Where is amma2?” He had shown his finger towards the sky. In that sign, Gopi saw vedantam3—an expression that denotes more of the philosophical and the incomprehensible. Amma has not died. It’s we who died. This whole world died. From this dead world, amma has survived. That night, the whole world had appeared to Gopi like a desert, vacuum, graveyard, and most terrifying. Remembering all this, Gopi fears that any of their acquaintances or friends coming across might enquire, “How is your mother?”


1 2

Babu—Affectionate way of calling a son by mother. Amma—Mother. 3 Vedantam—The end of the Vedas—the doctrine of monism. In informal talks people use the word vedantam to refer to anything that is not clear.


“Porter?” calls Gopi. “Babu4.” “Take the box, and come.” “Where to babu?” Gopi tells him the name of the area. “One anna5 babu.” “Will give you two annas, come with me.” Keeping the box on the head of the porter, Gopi starts walking absentmindedly. Behind Gopi, the porter walks step by step. Rain is making an effort to drizzle. In the darkness that vanquished sun, stars are shining. Gopi strikes a conversation with the porter boy. “How much do you make in a day?” “May get arthano6 anna sir.”

“What will you do with it?”

4 5

Babu—The way of addressing a high strata person by a laborer. Anna—One-sixteenth of a rupee. 6 Arthano—Half of an anna.


“Buy eatables and eat.” “Won’t give at home?” “I have no amma, babu (Mother, Father) sir. Otherwise, I might have given.” “How then are you getting food for your belly?” “A porter lives here. I attend to their domestic chores. They give me food. When the train comes, like now, I work as a porter. If I get an anna or two, I buy something and eat. In the night, I sleep in the station…” “What a merry life you have,” wonders Gopi. But since then, whenever he sees that boy, fear overawes Gopi. *****

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