Those were the days of our second posting to Meerut. We were allotted a huge big house with four servant quarters and a cook house .But we did not have a proper servant. After some time one of our friends provided us with a whole time servant which was indeed a gift from God. The servant was a Pahadi straight from Almora, a fair good looking, illiterate and innocent teenager. He didn’t know a thing. Very painstakingly I taught him cooking, sweeping and swabbing, washing, gardening and even serving water, tea, and snacks to the guests. We got him white pants and shirts with bund gala, a Nehru cap stitched. All our friends used to like him a lot and they knick named him Water god as his name was Paniram.
We also had a sevadar who had made friends with Paniram, though amused by his simple rustic ways. One evening our sevadar requested me for our permission to take Paniram along with him to see a movie the following day. Next day happened to be a Sunday and the theatre where the movie was running was close to our house, to top it, it was a matinee show for which our sevadar wanted to take Paniram. Due to all these reasons I agreed readily, and both of them set out on their outing happily dressed in their finest clothes.
I was surprised to see Paniram coming back in less than two hours. When asked whether he liked the movie or not, he replied in a cheerful manner that he enjoyed the movie He even started describing how they both went in to the theatre, how the lights went off and how the figures appeared on screen accompanied by sounds ,how the characters started singing and dancing on the screen. Then I asked him why he came back alone when I sent him along with bhayya? He told me that after some time the lights in the theatre were lighted up and everybody including bhayya came out of the theatre. Since he couldn’t find bhayya any where, for quiet some time though he searched for him, he assumed that bhayya might have gone home and as he knew the way he came back home. Hearing to his version I sensed that there is some vital link is missing in Paniram’s maiden adventure of movie watching.
After another hour our sevadar came home looking a little worried, rather scared and enquired whether Paniram reached home. Though I told that Paniram had come home two hours back I asked him little sternly how come he came back alone leaving poor Paniram behind high and dry? He could have easily got lost in the crowd and it would have been very difficult to find him out. Sevadar said “Memsahib, I never expected him to be so dumb, he had left the theatre without trying to find me out, I was so worried, and thank God he is back home and safe.” Heaving a sigh of relief he went back to his barracks. The mystery was solved for me. Our simple Paniram neither followed the movie nor understood the concept of inter mission. He simply came out of the theater when the lights were on along with others assuming that it is time to leave came back home.
But he became so smart after staying with us for three months; he was in a position to tell me how much Rajma and Pulav to be prepared for how many people, when we had to call people for parties. When we were posted out of Meerut we had to part with our Jeeves. With a heavy heart we handed him over to one of our friends who came on posting to Meerut as we were leaving and they accepted him very gladly. We never met Paniram again.