Fursungicha FASTER PHENE
Author : Bha. Ra. Bhagwat
Translation : Baal Urdhwaresha, Shanta Puranik
BANYA THE BOUNDER
In English a ‘bounder’ means a ‘jumper’. in Hindi it means a storm and in Marathi the bounder is Faster phene -all rolled in one. This is the birth story of Banya alias Faster Phene, the first in this collection. I hope you will agree with me about the title of this story.
We will have to travel in the past - some ten years and a few miles to his birthplace Phursungi and then everything will be clear to us.
Come along with me, my dear young friends. Let us start - one, two, start...
The Miraj-Pune train is smaller in size and runs over narrow rails, in fact it used to a few years before. Today it is bigger in size and faster in speed.
Mind it’s first station is Ghorpadi, the next Saswad and then only comes Phursungi. The Phursungi station is a cute little one; it is peaceful too. If you look at the platform, you will see some big trees spreading their shades and the whistling tap with little water in store. Now we will have to cross the iron fence beyond which there is a very big Gulmohar tree with pleasant and cool shade. Its beautiful colour makes us happy. If there is a bunch of yellow buds along with red flowers, lying under the tree, it seems so attractive that the young girls will not be able to resist the strong temptation - to deck their hair with it and if you find a big flat bean, you boys would surely like to wear it around your waist as a sword. When you surrender your ticket to the Ticket collector, you will see the stationmaster’s brick house before you - to your left. By the side of it you will see small quarters for the Railway employees.
The Stationmaster is a thorough gentleman. If you are thirsty and ask for water, he will offer a whole jar of cool water to you, considering your age, he will surely give you a piece of jaggery with it, for Phursungi is a sugar-cane growing area and there is ample production of jaggery.
Where will you go? To Loni? He will ask you ‘Loni?’ you will be surprised to hear for ‘Loni’ in Marathi is ‘butter’. So you look at the signboard on the platform but it is hidden behind the fence. You try to remember the name of your destination. You are sure it is Pursungi and not ‘Loni’.
The Stationmaster is aware of your confusion. He will smile and say, ‘I am sure you don’t know that this place is on way to Loni. I saw your gang and thought that you are going to Keshavkaka’s farm. As soon as the summer - vacation begins, children from Bombay, Pune, and Nashik and nearby places throng there. Most of them are his nephews and near relatives. Keshavkaka is not making jaggery this year -
You will be bored and whisper softy - but you better stop your boring chatter. You will look at your watch to show your disquiet and think that ‘better to have gone by the direct bus to Phursungi’. You boys are modern and are conscious of the importance of time. You will dislike the chattering of the old man wasting your time. You are aware that you have to return by the afternoon train. But you, being sophisticated, will speak to him politely and say, ‘we want to go to Phursungi. Faster Phene belongs to that place. We have come to see his birthplace.’
‘Did you say Phene?’ The Stationmaster will seem to think. ‘Yes, Yes I know. You mean the Phene who came from Goa and settled here. Are you speaking about his son-the brat? That naughty and impatient offspring of Phene? But when did he became a teacher (master?)