Short Story

The Wheel

My dear Jayu

Translation: Harish Mahuvakar

Nobody of the village knew him as Gilo; always said the Wheel. It is a three wheeler carrier. Just you say the Wheel and they would think of Gilo. And yes, Gilo too never took the Wheel as the wheel but something beyond it. He didn’t know on which good day he held its handle, and rode it. Then it ran across the villages Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….and Bhavnagar. And now who takes the village of Bhadi as a separate one? Up to its Lower Bridge the city of Bhavnagar has been stretched up. The urban houses have enveloped it. As you reach to this Lower Bridge you are at the Toll Tax Point. And Toll Tax Point means it is Bhavnagar.

Gilo would place his hands over the Wheel and and you feel you are transported to Bhavnagar in a blink. And you leave behind the villages of Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….(and now why should we consider Bhadi in this run up?) Gilo himself too never paid attention to these villages on the way. For him he would start the Wheel and you are at the Toll Tax Point Bhavnagar. It halted only there as the Stick Holders in Khaki –traffic police, didn’t allow such vehicles. The rule’s a rule. Whoever he may be, even one may be the Emperor’s son, he has to halt at this Toll Tax Point. For Gilo it was that once he took the Wheel, there was no stopping: Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….(and now why should we consider Bhadi in this run up?) and it would be the Toll Tax Point. The Wheel was no more a wheel but a beast, a living being. As a trained horse stops at its marked place, the Wheel always stopped only at the Toll Tax Point after it left the Lower Bridge. May Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi fall on mid-way but the beast has no halt anywhere even though anybody asks for lift to Bhavnagar. Others may pick up them but not Gilo. For him he started the Wheel and… Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….(and now why should we consider Bhadi in this run up?). You cross the Lower Bridge and it halted at the Toll Tax Point as if something is nailed to the ground. The Wheel is not a wheel but a creature, a living identity. It was the reason Gilo didn’t take it as a wheel. He talked to him like a beloved one. He washed him, cleaned him like a mother to his baby. After proper cleansing, follows its makeup. A splendid look it would hold. Many followed Gilo and ran the three-wheelers but none matched to Gilo’s. If you name any three-wheeler then you only imagine Gilo’s wheel. He didn’t know on which good day he held its handle, and the three wheeler was no more a carrier. It turned into a busy road -continuously running one. A flying horse. A terrible creature chasing something.  And then the villages Jambala….   Khopala…. Tagdi….and Bhadi….(and now why should we consider Bhadi in this run up?)

He didn’t know on which good day he thought of buying the three- wheeler. He thought: if I continued to work with my cousin Kana’s carrier there would be no going beyond the little trifling that can purchase only living. How it would be if I purchase one myself?  The work I know. Kano‘s carrier picks up vegetable load at midnight, halts at many midway villages and reaches to Bhavnagar market yard at four in the morning. On return he transports passengers on the way for little money. With only a ferry he runs. With it he not only runs his home very well but has also bought a neighbouring old house, and built a new concrete pakka house replacing it. Because of it one of his house walls also got stronger as it was the common one. His Oldie gazed it day and night and gave pang to him. We know, brothers are to be like this. Jealous of each other. He would tell to himself: But my brother’s son Kano has started doing well and mine…

He didn’t know on which good day he thought of buying the three- wheeler. And he let out his mind to his Oldie. The Oldie brought out something wrapped out in a cloth piece that was hidden at the bottom of the old wooden treasury box. The thing contained three golden articles – earrings and a nose-ring, which were removed from her when the Oldie’s woman passed away. ‘This is all what I possess’, said he and looked at Gilo. Gilo was excited the way he was motivated. Without wasting any more time, he rushed to Bhavnagar. Made a down payment, and fixed the instalments and there the Wheel was in his hands. The Wheel, the Beast, a living one for himself. He knew his work. If nothing, at least there would be a ferry early morning taking vegetables to market yard. Kano leaves at midnight and many late comers are left behind. Such farmers can reach to Bhavnagar only when they get something by chance. Kano stops often on the way and reaches very late. But Gilo’s carrier started once, and then….  the villages Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….(and now why should we …..?) and Bhavnagar. No more it started then it reached to the Toll Tax Point, and Toll Tax Point means it is market yard, Bhavnagar.  The vegetable vendors began to love this, and as they love this, the passengers also began to love this as they reached Bhavnagar at the rates of the Government run State Transport buses. But there is more to Gilo’s Wheel, as the bus continued to pick up the passengers on the midway villages, often the driver would love to have tea and stopped for a while, but there’s nothing like this to Gilo’s carrier. No sooner it starts and then….  the villages Jambala…. Khopala…. Tagdi…. and… Bhadi….and the Toll Tax Point.

 After shopping people came to the Bus Depot, and if the bus is running late they will have to kill time and be bored. Better you walk a little and reach to the Toll Tax Point. There’s the guarantee to catch a three- wheeler. Just be in and you will be at your door. And this is how Gilo became free from the trouble of not getting passengers. The village knew the heart of Gilo. Whether it is bitter cold or hot day, once you are at the Toll Tax Point within twenty minutes you see your village. To or fro journey duration is same: twenty minutes. Bus often delayed one hour or more than that and if the driver belonged to this side he would leave the bus, go home and return at ease. What can be done to such a situation? Only God can be saviour. But no such a situation takes place in the case of Gilo. He would soon fly the Wheel though the passengers are few. And then villages Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….(and now why should we …..?)

The folks now know Gilo closely but Gilo knows only the Wheel and the Wheel knows well the road. And now it happens that whether Gilo holds the handle or not the Wheel would go like a rocket. The one who sees it from the distance would also recognise Gilo’s three- wheeler. Levelled pace that matched with the machine sounds. Just it starts and Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and…

Within no time the Oldie began to see the outer world. After his woman’s death he remained locked in the home. Full life he did nothing except resting. Landed his hand to seasonal work on the farm that fetched the whole year’s bread. Except this he did only smoking pipe. Sometimes kept a few goats and lead them to the farms. He never had any fortune of having cash money. In such a situation Gilo now began to pour out his pocket at the end of the day, and the Oldie began to see the outer world. After his mother’s death Gilo joined Kano’s carrier and started hard labour to earn. Even took meals there. The Oldie would be left behind alone. If he wished to have something he himself prepared a loaf otherwise at the God’s mercy. And thus he remained in the home doing nothing except smoking pipe. He hunched while walking. The Oldie’s one house was almost in pieces. It breathed air only and possessed no belonging. The goat moved in the courtyard and bleated. Save to this there was nothing only the house breathed air. Say it’s a cemetery with deadly silence. Gilo in such a situation began to pour out his pockets in the evening and the Oldie too began to see the outer world. Walked upright and straight now. This is how Gilo’s wheel…. villages ….Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….and Bhavnagar.

This is how the Oldie saw good days and began to see the outer world. On one side the instalments of the wheeler were paid and on the other side the Oldie will have fancy for newer things. And so it began with the house. It was renovated and was made it pakka. When its walls, windows, and gates were painted, it matched with Kano’s house.  The house colour came over the Oldie and he glowed. He began to talk to others now. Kano possesses a certain type of belongings so we also must have. Kano has this thing and so should have we. Kano leads that sort of life so why shouldn’t we…  and the things flowed in the house one after another. Hardly they realised they passed a couple of years and everybody began to give respect in the community and in the village. Hardly had he tailored a pair of trousers together but now with new clothes he went to any errand job. And when he just let out his Gilo’s engagement talk, a score of offers poured in. The Oldie himself selected a nymph-like bride and fixed the relation.

 This and all is the luxury depended on the three- wheeler. This is how Gilo’s spirit was revived. Day and night nothing came before him except the Wheel .

Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….and Bhavnagar.
Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi…. ( And now who takes the village of Bhadi as….)

Following Gilo’s example, the village had now many three-wheelers but none matched with Gilo’s. The others after a few rounds to Bhavnagar tired and rested but Gilo was tireless. Continuously he ran the Wheel…. Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi…. ( And now…)

 I never found Gilo doing any other thing. Day or night he worked and worked. When the last bus in the evening from Bhavnagar left and if anybody’s trapped in the market shopping, he has hope of getting Giol’s carrier. The road too slept when the Wheel stopped at the last round. Though the road slept like a man pulling his body on a side but Gilo wouldn’t. If anybody has hospital emergency at midnight, Gilo would be there. Never refused to such a thing. Many believed after marriage he would be little laxity but everything went against them. Gilo’s wife found to be more than him. She thought herself a queen. She wished honour and pomp. When Gilo married it was the first time that the street saw crackers. The old women were quite amazed at the show.  Gilo’s woman was again the first one to fetch water in stainless steel pots. Everybody watched her carrying them. She knew all this and realised her place and importance. So when it came that anybody at midnight called him to go to Bhavnagar Gilo would be out of the bed the very next moment and the woman too never grieved as she knew everything is because of this three- wheeler. If it runs their fortune also runs. They have become somewhat prosperous because of it only. Whatever is demanded the next day it is found in the home because of it.  Nothing is missing now. Thus the Wheel….jambala… Khopal……Tagdi…and…

Now a pair of steel chairs graced the decorated home passage. The Oldie would now occupy one and enjoy his pipe. This is how the Wheel ran and…. Now there was a tape recorder and he listened to Morariapu kathas, the Ramayana stories. If liked there would be Kag, the great narrative poet. The cracking sounds reached up to Kano’s house and he heartened himself. The house once like a graveyard turned into a throbbing place now. The oldie had a new life. He witnessed goat bleating once but now there is hustle and bustle day and night. When the tape recorder played, he found almost the whole village flocked at his door.

Add to this is the arrival of the TV. When Jagabhai Soni, the Goldsmith brought it first, the whole village again flocked to see it. Then the TV was found at a couple of Baniya and a half a dozen Kanbi Farmer houses. He was heedless to such a luxury. But once a big box was lifted down from Kano’s carrier and the Oldie gazed and gazed it. He also noticed some women carrying their children went to Kano’s house in the evening for the TV shows. He switched off his tape recorder, became silent and smoked his pipe.

It’s impossible for Gilo not to find his Oldie sitting speechless for a couple of days. The next day the mind is revealed and the thing is in the home. But this time it was little beyond capacity. But Gilo is one who never gives away. An intrepid one. In any case comes out with the flying colours. And on the third day it happened that he managed some cash money and others on instalments and pushed his Wheel at his threshold with the TV. On finding a big box, someone asked about it he said, ’It’s a colour TV’. We must have honour, and should stand taller than Kano. While explaining to the Oldie he added, ‘Only Jagabhai is one having it and we are the other. The rest have black and white. They have only one channel. But this one has many. You just have to press the button and can scan many channels. Plus we have Bhavnagari local news in the evening. The Oldie and the other listeners were amazed to this.

Real exciting thing took place when with his wide open eyes, he really watched the local news that began at 09.00. A young boy was reading the news of the day and also showed video footages. Everything looked as if it happened before your eyes. The Oldie had no interest in meeting, processions, and other such things but he liked to see Bhavnagar. At noon Dharamshi’s wife was scalded. She was soon taken to Bhvanagar Civil Hospital. He saw her now before his eyes. The camera focused Dhama’s wife, doctors treating her, and then at the outer side Dhamo sitting almost coiled, his father, a constable and Khodubha, the Sarpanch- the Head of the Village. Everyone was seen. He was amazed the way the world moved. He couldn’t believe that so small a person like Dhama’s wife would reach to every home watching TV.

 After this, he became habitual of news. Anything that happened around in the District you see on TV at night. Once he saw Khodubha in the District Panchayat meeting. He thought how good it would be if he were on the TV. It would be a great thing. His brother, Kano’s father wouldn’t believe it all!

After some days it happened to Gilo, but not to himself. On that day Khodubha after getting ready in the morning, stood there at the precincts of the village, to go to Bhavnagar. He was in a hurry as the Chief Minister was to come. The CM was to be welcomed at the Toll Tax Point. All the village Heads were invited. And now the arrival time was closing by. Khodubha waited for the Government jeep that of the T.D.O. His heart throbbed heavily. And there came the Wheel. Khodubha asked him if he crossed the Toll Tax Point and people over there. Gilo said, ‘Like a bee hive people are there. Somebody said a minister was on way to be there.’ Khodubha lost his soul now. On any normal day he avoided the three-wheeler and never sat but right now he had no time to think anything and he jumped in to Gilo’s wheel. He ordered, ‘Go quickly otherwise only I would be missing.’

And then the Wheel moved… Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….and comes Toll Tax Point. But it was impossible to reach the place. There was the sea of people. Giolo slowed down the Wheel and asked him, ‘You get off here. The Stick Holders won’t allow us to go to the right point.’ But Khodubha had lost his mind. He angrily said, ‘Hell to the Stick Holders. Let me see whose bloody stops me. You carry on… Take it up right to the Toll Tax Point. I’m there to meet any consequences.’ And the Wheel went. He went across the crowded people and stopped it right before the President of the District Panchayat. The cameras were on at that time. Gilo forgot everything and stared at the cameras. He knew he would be there in the evening news.

He informed the Oldie about it during the lunch. The Woman in the kitchen heard it too. The Oldie was delighted. Such a thing never took place in the family history. For the first time he asked him, ‘Be at home in the evening. Don’t go today.’ Such a thing never took place. From early morning to late night there was the Wheel attached with him like a Beast. And he always rode it…

Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….and …Bhavnagar
Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….and…(why should we…)

He let the Wheel be at the outskirts of the village and came to home. After washing he stretched on the charpai lying on the front court. He felt after a long duration his soul was at peace. He watched the house from there. There it was full of everything. Here was the Wheel and so there was the Oldie demanding new things and they were brought. Nothing missing. The Woman also stood taller than Gilo. Always believed latest should be the belongings. So there were stainless steel pots, a raw of Gods and Goddesses, steel chairs, tape recorder, and the TV placed on the stand of double layer of bricks. The last thing pinched him. Right now there’s the burden of instalments but if things are right stainless steel stand would be better, he thought. There would be the ceremony of welcoming the baby. The Woman was carrying. And there would be lots of guests. We must maintain our honour.

Somebody called him, while he was in such a mood. Immediately he responded to it. The Oldie opened the gate. The one who came informed, ‘The Sarpanch’s calling to go to Bhavnagar. Right now. His buffalo is having in deep labour troubles. The calf inside changed the position. It’s emergency case. Need to take it to the hospital. Please go quickly.’

Whatever the reason may be, the Oldie didn’t like this call. He asked, ‘Could a buffalo be occupied in a three-wheeler?’ The messenger said, ’Won’t be trouble at all. Two men will hold her. Since morning she mowed so she has turned weak. Moreover who says Bhavnagar’s far away? It’s at stone’s throw now. In a flash we will go and return. The Hospital’s located near the Toll Tax Point.  Let’s move quickly.’

Whatever the reason may be, Gilo liked this call. He had another mind. He thought, if the buffalo’s returned safe and sound, the Sarpanch definitely will please us. And on return, there he could have the TV stand. Gilo also wished to see himself in the evening news. He would also stand tall before his wife. He would win her more. ‘Like a thunder I’ll return’, said he and stepped out of the gate. For him Bhavnagar means…

Jambala….Khopala….Tagdi….and Bhadi….and…(Why should we…)

As Gilo went out, the Oldie too stepped outside. Hardly had he talked to Kano’s father- his own brother. Brothers are like this. Jealous of each other. They compare each other and are pleased with their respective position. But Kano’s father was sitting on the outer small platform at the gate. He couldn’t control his emotions. He said, ’ You will find Gilo tonight in the local news.’

‘Oh! Is it so?’ said Kano’s father. ’We must watch the news. What’s the time?’
‘Nine.’  His face shone bright when he responded.
‘Splendid. We mustn’t ruin the chance. You know our TV has only a channel that doesn’t bring the local news.’
This was more than enough for the Oldie when Kano’s father spoke like this. The happiness washed his face. He knew brothers are all jealous.

No sooner it was eight, than the Oldie fixed himself before the TV. He eagerly awaited arrival of both of them: Gilo, and Kano’s father. And soon Kano’s father occupied the next chair. But there was no rumbling of Gilo’s wheel heard. He had no heart in his hands. He felt uneasy. If the parents are not worried in such a situation than they are no parents at all. ‘No, no. It’s not late. The buffalo had the trouble, so it’s to be late’, he explained his soul. But again the ill thoughts come in, and again he consoled the self. He had only one delight that Kano’s father watched now and then the rich belonging of the house.

And at sharp nine the news began.
‘Namaskar , welcome to the local news show. First of all headlines of the day………   The CM arrives and receives grand welcome………. The CM solved score of problems on the spot……..The CM……… The CM……….’
The Oldie had no heart in them.
‘The city witnessed three cases of accidental deaths.
‘Now the news in detail.’

The first news brought the pictures of Toll Tax Point. Really there was the sea of the people. The crowd ready to welcome the CM was shown. The camera moved on the big leaders present there. At this juncture Gilo’s wheel stood right before the President of the District Panchayat. Khodubha got off the Wheel. He shook hands with the President. All this time Gilo and his Wheel remained on the screen. As if Gilo knew the cameraman’s tricks he watched over there and continued to smile all the way.

The Oldie was so much overjoyed that he almost pushed down Kano’s father. Only a minute’s scene filled him completely. He closed his eyes in the great satisfaction. Now he had no interest in the other items. He mind heard only the Wheel rumbling. He wished his son back in the house.
Then came the news…
‘And to conclude….the City witnessed three cases of accidental deaths. In a horrible mishap at the Lower Bridge a three-wheeled was killed. According to the information received, this evening a three-wheeler coming to Bhavnagar carrying a buffalo turned down at the Lower Bridge and the driver died on the spot. The passengers in it were saved as they were flung away. They have been admitted to the hospital. Surprising thing is it that the buffalo fell heavily, delivered the calf there. An eye –witness says that had the driver freed the handle of his carrier he might have been saved. But people say it was his soul. He was known as the Wheel….’

The Oldie’ eyes couldn’t believe it. His was frozen.

Harish Mahuvakar
Ame’, 3/A, 1929, Near Nandalay Haveli, Sardarnagar, Bhavnagar – 364002, Gujarat, India.
Cell : +91 9426 22 35 22,  email: