Hucchuman And His Humber

Horogobindo Haldar was the funniest looking man anyone could ever come across. A strikingly protruding lower lip & jaw topped with a tiny button nose coupled with a pair of beady and squinty eyes under a large shiny dome with a few strands of flickering hair perfectly sat in place to create his hilarious look. His attire, a long white kurta atop a pair of old khaki English breeches along with laced white canvas ankle keds, played their parts in completing his comic appearance.

This cartoonish image and his mad cycling spree had earned him the nickname ‘Hucchuman’ – a speeding old buffoon on an antique bicycle. All the children and youth of his village used to pull his leg by singing the funny limerick – “Hucchuman, Hucchuman, he can do what no one can. Always paddling like a madman, here comes the loser Hucchuman.”

Hucchu would get super agitated and extremely furious whenever he heard this song. He would curse the daylights out of anyone, even humming its contagious tune. Horogobindo just hated being called Hucchuman.

Cycling was the nonagenarian’s childhood passion. Hucchu boasted of having competed in a few interstate rallies in his youth. He even claimed that once he had cycled from the metropolis port of Kolkata in the east to the hilly city of Leh in the northern Himalayan mountains, travelling through the world’s highest motorable roads into the land of mountain passes. There was, however, no photos or documents to prove these claims, and everyone said they were just a bunch of flapdoodles.

Many years back, the village youth club had organised a cycle race. Hucchu was encouraged to participate in the event by the tricky youngsters who were always pulling his leg. They sabotaged his bicycle, causing him to lose badly. That miserable day, not only did Hucchu earn the last place but also the lifelong brand of a looser, which never went away. It was a cause of great sadness in him, and he always wanted to do something to correct this image.

In 1868, Englishman Thomas Humber made himself a velocipede, a bicycle propelled by working pedals on cranks fitted to the axle of the gigantic front wheel. Following which he built a substantial business manufacturing tricycles and bicycles. He continuously improved the design and construction of these machines, and gradually his creations came to be known as “the aristocrat among bicycles”.

In 1950, Horogobindo Haldar had managed to acquire a ‘1947 Humber Gents Sports Roadster 22-inch bicycle from Sir Noble Hughes, the English professor at his college.’ The man was returning to Great Briain after India’s independence. He wanted to get rid of things too cumbersome to carry back to England. Thus, the professor decided to give away his beloved three-year-old practically brand new Humber bicycle to Horogobindo, his favourite student. From that day on, Hucchuman and his Humber became inseparable.

By profession, Horogobindo had been a postman. Though he had officially retired in 1990 at the age of sixty, he got an extension and continued delivering letters till 1995, and for the past twenty-five years, he was no longer an employee of the Department of Post. That, however, did not dither Horogobindo from visiting the post office every morning, six days a week, as he had done for more than fifty years of his working life.

Horogobindo had never wanted to quit his job. He was unmarried and did not have any children. The only family he ever knew were the employees of the post office of his little village. He could never come to terms with retirement. Every day Hucchu, would plea with the Postmaster Bongshilal Banujay to give him some work at the post office. Unfortunately, Banujay babu, a stickler with rules, always turned the old man away.

“Aye Hucchu… Aye Hucchu..,” shouted a bunch of teenage pranksters from behind the trees at the side of the village main road and ducked away from view, frantically giggling with their hands covering their faces.

“No good sons of baboons, shameless hooligans, numbskull morons, worthless buffoons, wait till I get my hands on you. I would knock the daylights out of your wicked nogs,” screamed Hucchuman jutting his fists into the air while paddling away on his trusted Humber on his way to the post office. This incident was nothing new to the villagers. It happened all the time whenever Horogobindo cycled his way through the village.

Apart from Huccchuman’s frantic curses, reacting to the attics of the young pranksters, life in the village went on quite peacefully till the end of 2019. With the advent of the year 2020, the world as humans had known changed forever. The global pandemic COVID-19 reached nearly every inhabited corner of the Earth, killing over four hundred and fifty thousand people in just less than two years.

Most of the countries in the world went under nationwide lockdowns to control the spread of the virus. In India, the lockdown began on the 25th of March in 2020. Within a few hours of it being announced the country nearly turned upside down.

Restriction of interstate movement and a complete shutdown of the public transport system led to the chaotic exodus of the working class from their job locations to their homes in different cities and villages. Apart from the virus taking innumerable lives, unemployment and loss of livelihood severely crippled the country and its masses.

Like the rest of the nation, Horogobindo’s village was also adversely affected. As many villagers lost their means to earn a living and suddenly had nothing to do, lady luck seemed to shine her light on Hucchuman for good.

Now all the three postmen of the village post office, who were from different places, fleed back to their homes at the start of the lockdown. Postmaster Bongshilal Banujay was in a big soup. He had to deliver the post, and there was no one to do so, or perhaps there was someone whom he had been saying no for the past twenty-five years.

“Hucchu… Oh shucks, sorry sorry, I mean Horogobindo babu, are you ready to serve the department of post once again,” exclaimed the anxious postmaster addressing the ninety-year-old. “Wait, do not reply. I know your answer is yes. After all, for the past twenty-five years, you have been pleading with me to give you a postal assignment,” twaddled Banujay babu before the old man could respond to the question.

“You are Hucchuman… Oh shucks, sorry sorry, I mean Superman, your speeding cycle will save the village. I cannot make it official. You know I cannot employ a ninety-year-old, but I will pay. There are so many deliveries to make, and it will only keep on piling by the day. No one else can do the job. No one knows every street, address, and name of all the residents of this village apart from you. I say you start from today.” Saying these words, Postmaster Bongshilal Banujay fell on his knees, pleading with the old man to accept the assignment.

Next day morning Horogobindo stood in front of the blotchy antique wardrobe mirror in his dingy little rented room of a home in a godown’s basement and smiled as he placed his old postal skullcap on his head once again. He ditched the white kurta to wear his official old Khaki bush shirt. It did not fit like before and hung loosely over his shoulders. He did not mind – it was all he had wanted.

Decked up and rejuvenated with newfound purpose and a chance to redeem a glorious name, Hucchuman paddled away to deliver the post in his village amidst an unprecedented global viral carnage.

Then for the next two and a half months, Hucchu dedicated himself to delivering the post as he had never done before. From morning to evening, the oldtimer delivered letters, parcels, answer sheets, mangoes, medicines, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) & COVID testing kits, money orders, and pensions to the old folks who could not leave their residence.

During this time, Hucchuman and his Humber became a sign of strength and belief in the village. Whenever people saw him, they knew he was not only delivering something important to someone but also delivering hope amidst all the sorrow, sickness, and death.

Though Horogobindo was pretty fit, cycling beyond his usual routine, that too with the postal load was causing his health to gradually deteriorate. Wearing a mask all the time was further posing breathing difficulties. The old man, however, overlooked all his increasing physical complexities and continued with his noble duties.

To the surprise of everyone, he even accepted and encouraged everybody to call him ‘Hucchuman.’ Suddenly, he had found much meaning in the name and realised it was a name everyone knew and said all the time. He just needed to give it meaning, and now with his heroic postal service, Hucchuman was no longer a loser but a hero in a noble service.

By the mid of May 2020, many in Hucchuman’s village had already lost their lives. Doctor Onimesh Ghosh, the only village physician, did his best to save as many lives as possible with his limited resources. His tiny two-storey home and clinic, was now where the most critical COVID patients in the village came to take their last breath.

“I need to put her on a ventilator within the next twenty-four hours, or else she will surely die,” sighed doctor Ghosh to Hucchuman, pointing at a middle-aged lady lying on a white cot. Hucchu looked around the room. There were many other patients there. He had come to deliver a batch of medicines, which had finally arrived to bring some comfort to the suffering.

“I have this ventilator but can’t make it work without replacing an essential component that is busted. Unfortunately, the spare part is lying in a warehouse in Kolkata with no one to deliver,” said Doctor Ghosh with much despair in his eyes.

“Give me the details. I will get the part for you,” spontaneously spoke up Hucchu. “It’s more than a hundred kilometres to Kolkata, how will you make the journey,” enquired the surprised doctor with a glimmer of hope in his eyes. “Do not worry doctor babu, Hucchuman and his Humber will not fail,” replied the old hero with a smile across his comic face.

True to his words, that day Hucchu paddled more than two hundred kilometres on his trusted Humber and got the component in time for Doctor Ghosh to get the ventilator going and save the women’s life.

The next day morning Hucchuman was found, eternally resting on his bed in his dingy little rented room of a home in the godown basement, by the owner of the place. It seemed the journey to Kolkata was too much for the old lungs to bear, and Hucchuman peacefully breathed his last on his own cot with his trusted Humber on its main stand beside his bed.

Doctor Ghosh was able to save many more lives with the ventilator in the coming days. All the other deliveries that Hucchu made through the initial days of the COVID lockdown, during the last two and a half months of his life, positively impacted the lives of so many in his village.

Since March 2020, when millions of Indians were stranded inside their own homes, more than four hundred thousand workers of the India post dedicated their services to deliver letters, cash, medical supplies, and essential goods to the masses. Among all of their stories, perhaps the humble tale of Hucchuman and his Humber stands out as the tallest.

Today if you happen to visit Horogobindo Haldar’s little village in the southern fringes of Kolkata city, do visit the local post office. For there, you will see a 1947 Humber Gents Sports Roadster 22-inch placed on a cordoned concrete pedestal at the centre of the crossing and the following limerick inscribed on the stone below it – “Hucchuman, Hucchuman, he did what no one can. Paddling like a hero, he saved so many lives. We shall always remember the cycling legend Hucchuman.”

Hucchuman And His Humber


Copyright © 2021 TRISHIKH DASGUPTA

This work of fiction, written by Trishikh Dasgupta is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, send an email to the author at trishikh@gmail.com or get in touch with Trishikh on the CONTACT page of this website.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trishikh

Trishikh Dasgupta

Adventurer, philosopher, writer, painter, photographer, craftsman, innovator, or just a momentary speck in the universe flickering to leave behind a footprint on the sands of time..READ MORE

76 Comments Add yours

  1. A moving and deeply meaningful story. Well penned. Great job. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      I am really indebted to you for this lovely comment. Thank you so much.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Goff James says:

    Thanks for another wonderfully compelling tale. A beautifully modern day meaningful parable.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Wow Goff, thanks for this lovely comment. So happy that you liked my story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Goff James says:

        Pleasure. Great read. Best Regards.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Trishikh says:

        Thank you, best wishes to you too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting read. 👏👏 Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. Glad that you find the saga interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely tribute to the postal workers of India during the (continuing) pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Rebecca. So happy that you liked the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So well written that I read every word and it brought tears to my eyes. You never know where heroes come from. The whole town learned that when you give your best effort, even it is is only the love of riding a bicycle, you might be remembered as a hero.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You have thought so deeply about it. You are right I did not think about this angle while writing the story. Thank you so much for bringing this analysis forward. You are right one can be a hero with the gifts God has already given us. We perhaps do not need supposedly better things. Really treasure your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Panda says:

    Wow, really beautiful story. A lot of negative stories came out of this COVID crazy, it was refreshing to read a positive one. Well written!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely review of this story of mine. I always look forward to your words of appreciation. They encourage me a lot. Yes, my last story on COVID-19 was a bit grim, so this one had be on the opposite end of the spectrum.

      Like

  7. nedhamson says:

    Reblogged this on Ned Hamson’s Second Line View of the News and commented:
    Wonderful story – thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Always treasure your ever kind gesture Ned – your relentless support to promote my stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A beautiful and compelling story!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you for your kind words of appreciation. Am so happy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are welcome. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Trishikh says:

        A great weekend to you too.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. A wonderful and heroic tale!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Patrick. It gives me great joy to see you like my story.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. lesleyscoble says:

    No one should be forced to retire if they don’t want to. Your beautiful tale tells how valuable older people are. ❤️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes you are absolutely right. I also believe that with age human talents grow and we are able to master our craft. It’s a misconception that with old age a person becomes weak. I think with age a person becomes stronger, if he or she has properly trained for it and prepared. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Really appreciate it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. lesleyscoble says:

        You’re most welcome Trishikh

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I love your stories. We are never sure where they might lead, but we learn lots along the way and by the end everything has a connection.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Trishikh says:

        What a beautiful compliment to my writing efforts. Words such as these makes writing these stories worthwhile. Thank you so much.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Much appreciate your appreciation.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ola G says:

    Such a sweet story, Trishikh! Thank you for it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Your comment gives me great encouragement Ola. Thank you so much.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I was desolated when I found I had read all of your stories. Thank you for posting a new one! A very good one, too!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      No worries Dawn, I try to write and publish one story every weekend. I try my best to do it, amidst all the hectic work and family life, however, I could not keep it up in the last month. Hopefully will be able to keep my writing engine running this month. Will start writing the next story tomorrow morning and hopefully will have it ready by the weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Arpita Banerjee says:

    As always a beautiful story!! You make our weekends so very special!! ✨✨

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Your words gives me much happiness Arpita. It makes all my writing efforts worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. King kong says:

        My pleasure, God bless you,,,

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Trishikh says:

        May the blessings of the Almighty be with you too. Best regards.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. This story aptly encompasses this Covid-19 period. Well done, Trishikh!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for appreciating. I have tried my best to depict the COVID-19 situation and how it affected the masses in the little space available for a short story.

      Like

  15. You succeeded to capture one of those unnoticed daily occurrences out of the myriads of events, lifted it out of the ordinary and turned a simple man’s life into a tale of heroism. It shows to us, humanity is most likely to be experienced in the day-to-day existence of the common women and men.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      What a beautiful analysis of my little story. I am really grateful to you for that. You are right – the uncommon can many a times be found in the common and the ordinary in the extraordinary.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. This brought tears to my eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      I am honoured that you were so moved by my story.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hucchuman, someone who guide us to maintain our efforts sky high even when the time isn’t in our favor.
    Such a beautiful & profound tale, Trishikh.
    Have a good day ahead.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Tanishq for you lovely comment. Yes you are right, Hucchu did give his villagers hope. That’s what a hero does.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. KK says:

    A very inspiring story, Trishikh. I loved the character of Hucchuman and his selfless service. You only can write such a moving and touching story. Great work 👌👌💐

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You honor me greatly KK. Knew that you would like the story. We all look for heroes in our stories and real life, they inspire us to be better humans.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. KK says:

        Always a sweet pleasure 😊

        Liked by 3 people

  19. Priti says:

    There are very few people in our society who work like Hucchu ,we really don’t know about them. Very sad at the end. Loved to read your story.❣️💐🍫🌹🌷

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Priti says:

    There are very few people in our society who work like Hucchu. We really don’t know about them. Very sad at the end . Loved to read your story.🌹🍫💐☺️👏

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Priti for liking my story. Yes, you are right there are very few selfless people around, who think about others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Priti says:

        😊🌹💐🌷❣️❤️🤗💞My pleasure.

        Liked by 2 people

  21. Subhraroy says:

    I hate all those hooligans who had pulled the legs of Haragobinda without reason.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Well, bullies will always exist, however, like Hucchu, we should be able to think something positive out of the bullying and change it for our good. Like from hating it, Horogobindo felt proud being referred to as Hucchuman.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Subhraroy says:

    A greatest tribute for Harogobinda Haldar who has become a hero from zero and acquired a proper respect what he deserved since long before.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      They are luck who get a chance earn their respect right at the end of their life. Many do not get such a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Excellent post Trishikh Ji and truly inspirational.Have a great weekend.💐💐💐🙏🙏

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Prakaash. Much appreciate your appreciation. Glad that you find my story inspirational.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Ananda says:

    Heartwarming character. Lovely gentle story

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Ananda. So happy that you find my characterization appealing.

      Like

  25. Rolfe DH says:

    This is truly one of my favorite stories! Thank you for your storytelling and literary gifts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Your comment fills me with joy Rolfe. Appreciation such as yours makes writing them worthwhile. Will continue to bring many more such tales by the grace of God.

      Like

  26. Anamika Dasgupta says:

    Interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much.

      Like

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