ASPERSIONS between the lines
Book: ASPERSIONS between the lines
Writer: Rathin Das*
Publisher: 24by7 Publishing, Kolkata
Available at Amazon
Though fiction, ASPERSIONS between the lines deals with minor misconceptions, innocuous mistakes, honest misunderstandings and intentional mischiefs of journalists during their journey through the myriad of complexities in Indian society. Following is an excerpt from the chapter from the book titled – From Julie Irwin in India.
From Julie Irwin in India
Unconvinced, the boss said, “I don’t care to know which Balmiki Nagar or where exactly in Ahmedabad. But I just read a report in an American newspaper that the Dalits of Balmiki Nagar have invoked legendary Bhim for inspiration”.
“Inspiration! Inspiration to do what?”, inquired Mushtaq mentally preparing himself for a trip to Balmiki Nagar the moment he is able to locate it.
“Maybe to defend themselves against the rioting goons”, News Editor Ranganathan replied with his voice hinting a sign of cooling down.
“Oh, I see”, Mushtaq heaved a sigh of relief and offered to do a follow-up report as early as possible. “But can you tell me in which American newspaper it has appeared?”, he asked. “It will help me locate the Dalit colony”, Mushtaq said.
“I can’t tell you right now. The computer went off due to a power cut. Actually, we are all sitting in dark. You call up my secretary later on when power is restored. She will tell you the name of the website where I saw that report. She only saw it first”, the News Editor advised his Gujarat correspondent and disconnected the call.
Ranganathan instructed his secretary accordingly and left the office to attend the birthday party of the Chief Minister’s grandson. A 55-year-old bachelor, Ranganathan knew well that he would be out of place at the birthday party of a one-year-old. But, still, he decided to go so that he can utilize the opportunity to remind the Chief Minister about his newspaper group’s pending demand for a few hundred acres of land connected to or at least close to a railway line.
He also remembered that the last time he had talked about the land requirement, the Chief Minister had exclaimed “why a newspaper group should need so much of land near a railway track?”
“To set up a cement plant”, he had replied meekly. The Chief Minister had responded by asking “where did you get so much funds to start a cement plant?”
“Our accumulated savings over the years and some bank loans”, Ranganathan recalled having replied. “But if I remember correctly”, the Chief Minister had countered “all the newspaper groups had said that they would go bankrupt if they were to implement the new pay scales recommended by the wage board”.
It was becoming embarrassing for Ranganathan to answer these queries. Fortunately for him, the Special Assistant had walked in just then and whispered a few words into the ears of the Chief Minister who excused himself and instantly moved to the anteroom.
Despite the memory of that last meeting haunting him, Ranganathan went off to the birthday party with the hope of pushing forward a little more the company’s demand for land to set up a cement plant.
About the Author: Rathin Das has been a journalist for over four decades, working for publications such as Data India, Vidura, Patriot, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and The Statesman. He has also written for the BBC, CatchNews.com, NewsLaundry.com, SatyaNews.com, People’s Democracy, globalbihari.com and Janasakhti (Malayalam).