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The Labour Day


Saail Ehsan

“You are the only Lord of the universe, Yet labourer is passing a bitter time here.”

With the verse quoted by the stage secretary the whole auditorium resounded time and again. A group of young and energetic boys started raising slogans. They were purposefully appointed there for the same. The hall was echoing sound of clapping.

“Live long the labourer of today.”

“We would snatch our rights” they were crying in
their full voice.

That group kept on emotionalising the people with their rallying cry.

The quotation worked marvellous to enthral the audience, as if someone had put fire to an oil tanker and it had burst away. When the hall became silent and the sloganeers stopped their task the stage secretary recommenced his speech.

“Dear ladies and gentlemen as you know that today this meeting is being held to celebrate solidarity of the workers unity. It is to tell the labourer that he is not forlorn for getting his rights. We are also with him for his support. Our labour brother should not think that he has to fight his war single-handedly. This war is of truth and falsehood; this war is of tyrant and tyrannised; this war is of feudal and the farmer; this war is of mill owners and workers”

Perhaps the stage secretary had become very much emotional while addressing to the audience. He might have forgotten about the purpose of that gathering. In the speech, which he had to deliver, there were no full stops and comas. He was practising his marvellous oratory. His rhetoric had worked on the audience and once again an emotional spirit woke up in them and the hall was swinging with the sound of clapping and a never-ending series of slogans.

Perhaps the young who were sitting in the corner were very much sympathetic with the labourer, or it might be that they had been very compassionate for the stage secretary, that they were appreciating his oratory by clapping and raising slogans. Because whenever there were clapping or slogans all that started from the same corner where those boys were sitting. And then all this spread in the whole hall, exactly in the same way when a stone is thrown into the silent water, the waves over its surface spread everywhere. When all this noise stopped, the stage secretary balanced his uneven breathing. He should have been thankful to those boys who always provided him an opportunity of having a short break.

“Respectable dear ladies and gentlemen,” he recommenced the speech after that short break, “I would not keep you waiting, for a long period from the Chief Guest. Just I’d take few moments in saying this that the labourer of today is not a labourer: he is our brother, he is from us. It is our duty to provide him his rights. Gone is the time when a labourer was exploited and was kept deprived of his rights. Today everyone of us has to make a resolution that we would prove a strong wall against the exploiting force, and would keep on supporting the labourer to the end.”

“The 1st May” then he added, “reminds us the event of 1886, when in Chicago the labourers, sacrificing their lives raised voice against cruelty. That plant, which our labourer brothers had nourished with their blood,  has become now fully-grown ups tree.

“The blood which you tried to conceal in the slaughterhouse, It has appeared in the corners and bazaars. What to talk of cruelty, What is the value of, brutality,  Tyranny is unjustness,, It diminishes, when it increases.”

Once again there were slogans and clapping and in silent gathering a storm of noise. in that turmoil of clapping nothing could be heard. “Dear audience, give a big hand” he enthralled the audience, “ here comes the Chief guest: the most respectable Miaan Kamal Din, Chief Executive, Rohi Textile Mills  The dying clapping once again became fast and the auditorium was resounding with the nois slogans. 

“Long live the labourer”

“Long live the labourer”

The chief guest also tried his best to impress his audience with his magical and enchanting speech.
Perhaps he was of the views, when a castle is to be built in the air then why not a big castle. When he was to express something orally, why shouldn’t he make big claims? He came with so many welcoming clapping and went with endless chattering. Everyone was talking about the successful meeting. People were praising the arrangements made for this by the organisers. How beautifully the stage was decorated: the latest sound system was hired and the precious carpet was spread over the whole stage. A handsome amount was spent on the arrangements. There was no reason for the failure of the meeting. The elite of the city was invited to participate in the meeting. No third-class person was allowed to pop into the meeting. And it was strictly observed by the guards to stop them coming in.

When all that came to an end everybody was gone and there was no one on the stage except the stage secretary and the chief guest. Ramoo, a labourer was waiting for that moment. He wanted to talk to the stage secretary something important, as his wife was at the verge of death. When he came out of the house his wife had stopped him to go out because she wished he had been there with her. She told him that she was quit well, it was coughing which disturbed her and made her restless. She was gasping for breath. Then she could have only a moment of breathing in coughing. He had promised her that very soon he would be back with medicine for her. He had been working the previous whole night with other labourers to decorate the stage, thinking that he might be able to earn some money. He needed money to purchase some medicine for his wife. He had been waiting outside the auditorium for stage secretary, as the guards did not let him go inside. Outside he was praying for the early end of the meeting. He was very much upset, as it was getting dark and the meeting was lingering. He thanked God when the meeting ended. He was, then waiting for the people move from the hall. When that waiting also came to an end, he quickly proceeded towards the stage secretary. He was going to step on the stage when a thundering voice terrified

“Ok, ok! Be down stair. You needn’t come up stair and make the stage dirty with your shoes. I don’t know where you are coming from. You idiot nonsense” Ramoo didn’t feel anything. Perhaps this was a usual thing for him to be upbraided and abused by others. Or it might be that he was mentally pre-occupied by the misery of his wife, and he had become totally deaf in her trouble that no harsh words were affecting him. Perhaps the cries of his wife were louder than those harsh words of the stage secretary.  Such a bitterness in the tone! It was the same stage secretary that people were clapping for his sweet and magical oratory. The same man_____ so sweet in language and then ______so bitter in tone. What was that contrast. Ramoo could understand nothing. He came near Ramoo and said angrily,

“ Tell me what was the matter that you’ve come for? Don’t you see that the chief was telling something important to me? But the idiots like you don’t have their proper senses, you don’t have manners” and then he pressed his fist as if he was going to hit him but he stopped himself and controlled his anger.

And then said, “Isn’t it that you have come for the wages for the work you did at night?”

“Yes, yes” Ramoo said bamboozling.

“My wife, sir-------” But before he completed what he wanted to say the stage secretary interrupted, “ I haven’t said that you would get your wages so soon. This is a governmental
affair, it will take a few week to prepare your wages. Now go to home and be satisfied.”

“But my wife is dying and--------”

“O my simple brother” he said satirically,

“ your wife is not our headache, she is not our concern. Now get lost, and be off with your dirty face. Don’t think to argue with me, otherwise----------” And willingly leaving the sentence incomplete went towards the guest with a smiling face. The chief guest was also very pleased at the success of the meeting. He thanked him for his efforts. He appreciated his way of addressing to the people and his unique talent of oratory.

Ramoo was still standing there totally lost in some unknown thoughts. The poisonous harsh words of “Get lost” by the stage secretary were still resounding in his ear. The moaning cries of his wife were buried very deep under those heart-breaking words of stage secretary. He might have remained there lost in thoughts, if his son had not come crying there to tell him,

“ Papa, mother has died”

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