Memoirs

With amorous intent

Raj Chatterjee

“Trust in God”, says an old Arab proverb, “but tie up your camel”. It was some such thinking, no doubt, that led the 13th century Crusaders to invent the chastity belt. I am always reminded of it when we receive a card from two of our dearest friends, an old colleague and his wife, who live in Dorset, England.
My memory goes back to the second year of World War II when as a bachelor and very junior assistant, I was ordered to proceed from Cawnpore (a spelling still dear to me) to a place called Dalsingserai in the wilds of north Bihar.
At the time of which I write D’serai was what was known as a “flag station” on the Oudh-Tirhut Railway, also known as the “Old Twerps’ Rly”. This meant that unless previously arranged with the railway authorities, no mail or express train stopped there.
My company owned some plantations in the region with a “leaf” (tobacco) depot at D’Serai attached to which was a large and comfortable bungalow, once owned by His Highness of Darbhanga, with its own generator, tennis court and swimming pool. The “outposts of the Empire” men certainly knew how to make themselves comfortable!
Anyway, the Bihar earthquake a few years earlier having demolished our sales branch in Patna we had been given temporary accommodation in this oasis and the reason for my transfer was that the British manager, without an assistant owing to the exigencies of the war, was required to do a month’s training with the Auxillary Force of India. I was there to hold the fort in his absence.
I had been told by my boss at Cawnpore that the man I was going to replace had recently got married to an “absolute stunner”, Being young and normal in every respect, I looked forward with mounting excitement to being left alone in the company’s bungalow while her husband went soldiering.
Early one morning in October I alighted from the Samastipur Express at D’Serai and walked across the railway lines to the manager’s bungalow. I was greeted by an Englishman in his mid-30’s, slightly thin on top, but good-looking and well-built. He greeted me cordially though he had never shared a house with an Indian before. His wife didn’t appear till lunchtime She was a “stunner” alright and bore a strong resemblance to one of my favourite film stars, Myrna Loy.
The three of us got on extremely well, playing tennis in the afternoon and scrabble at night. The only discordant note in the set-up was a large tabby cat called Sheba, much loved by my hostess and greatly feared and disliked by me.
On the night before my host’s departure for his camp we were sitting on the verandah sipping our drinks when the husband said to me, “I say, I do hope you won’t mind looking after her while I’m away”.
“Good heavens, no!” I said trying hard to keep the eagerness out of my voice. “After all, she’s your wife”.
“Wife?” ejaculated the man, sounding greatly puzzled. “Margaret is going to stay with some friends in Muzaffarpur. I’m talking about Sheba.” My heart sank in my boots, not to speak of the embarrassment.

15 comments:

pankaj said...

it is a good place where every people live in Love with each other

pankaj said...

Ajnaul Dih is a great Village

Anonymous said...

well the extract is demarking the cigarette factory near the railway station… which book is it?

Anonymous said...

Good to connect with the people from my own place.

Anonymous said...

Kool....i never imagineda a blog for DS

Anonymous said...

I wud like to kno the achievements of gals from our place...Is there anything to showoff ?

rakesh said...

It is very pleasant surprise to see a blog page for my home town dalsingsarai. is the story belongs to the cigarette factory? this location is hardly 200-300 mtrs away from my house. i stay far away from dalsing sarai; at visakhapatnam in andhra pradesh- working in a govt. org. it is also suggested to put few pictures of important places of our town on this site. Mr Rajan prakash is worthy of congrats from bottom of my heart for maintaining such a blog site for my home town.

nishant said...

indeed it is a commendable step by the owner of the page, to bring into light a portal that is exclusively for the natives of the place i.e. Dalsinghsarai. I have appreciations for the effort and would render a volunteering aid to the development of the blog and the town.

wahab jilani said...

i will try to arrange photographes of different location of DSS( railway code of our home town)

Anonymous said...

i loved very much D sarai railway station and local bazar. it is also hometown of my wife so plz send me some picture of D Sarai

Sanjay prasad said...

It is very pleasant surprise to see a blog page for my home town dalsingsarai. I really enjoyed Chatpooja and holi at there in Feb-2010. plz send me some pictures of D Sarai railway station and local bazar. it is also hometown of my wife.

nitish said...

i was really fascinated by seeing a blog on my hometown.really a very good step.thanks for the ceator of page.

Anonymous said...

I like this memoir about the tobacco redrying factory in Dalsinghsarai. Does anybody have more memories about this factory? When did it close and why????

mkkarn said...

Hi, I m mukesh fm vill bulakipur. I just wanted to congratulate Mr Rajan prakash for giving wonderful information through this site. I am so happy to see dalsinghsarai on blog.

GYAN said...

My father was an employee of the company. I was born in Dalsingsarai 1939, had my school education in CHE School. The place was a great one to live those days. Our teachers were great human beings. They inspired me to love literature of three languages, Hindi Bengali and English. The school had a large collection of books in the library. Indeed the collection of English classics published by Blackie & Sons London were a treasure house and left an abiding love for the literature in me. The small market was a daily visit. The cinema hall, Kumar Talkies was al a daily visit to hear the Bollywood movies songs after the school hours. The owner of the hall would allow us to see the films without having to pay for the tickets. I greatly remember the festival of Saraswati Puja which we celebrated with great enthusiasm every year. This was the day I fell in love with the girl who visits me even today in my dreams.