AMONG THE CHILDREN

Last week I visited nine or ten school children. The school was in the middle of a Adivasi village. The children sat on the dry grass and dust, and the headmaster on a red plastic chair. I spent a hour with them. The children all were wonderful, and the teacher was so kind. And I loved the place. The school was surrounded three sides by vast farm lands, and only by one side a path went to the interiors of the village. It was late noon, and the weary winter days were in adieu mood. The trees began to shed leaves, but new leaves still not replaced them. And the whimsical wind with fallen leaves and dust whirled and spiralled around us. We were all dusted. And the birds from a nearby bush continued cooing. And cocks crowed loud, and cows mooed long. The sky was crystal and all blue.

Advertisements
20180216_1444071682331666.jpg
me at the back of the students, clicked by the headmaster.

Last week I visited nine or ten school children. The school was in the middle of a Adivasi village. The children sat on the dry grass and dust, and the headmaster on a red plastic chair. I spent a hour with them. The children all were wonderful, and the teacher was so kind. And I loved the place. The school was surrounded three sides by vast farm lands, and only by one side a path went to the interiors of the village. It was late noon, and the weary winter days were in adieu mood. The trees began to shed leaves, but new leaves still not replaced them. And the whimsical wind with fallen leaves and dust whirled and spiralled around us. We were all dusted. And the birds from a nearby bush continued cooing. And cocks crowed loud, and cows mooed long. The sky was crystal and all blue.

The joy thing.

The children were all happy. The teacher too. They sang patriotic songs, and I loved them so much. The children were so lovely and so plain. They brought khatas and I checked their writings, all good. And the master claimed that he taught them parade, gymnastics, singing, dancing too besides the syllabus. And he got his reward–children loved him so much.

The sorrow things.

1. How painful it was to serve a school of merely 30 students, and all were not regular. The children had to help their parents in haat days.

2. Why so poor numbers? I asked, and head teacher said, “The birth rate declined, and mushrooming of English medim nurseries, and parents, poor they were, but still prefered them.”

20180216_1443131653864851.jpg
primary students of a school near Hurkur Haat, Alipurduar, singing and reciting squatting on dry grass.

3. The govt distributed Rs.4.13 on each student for midday meal per day. How could I mange a meal with that? Moreover the price of cooking gas had doubled. So we cooked with lakris. We could not provide them fish, meat or egg. The master continued. And we occasionally brought a box of eggs with our own for them.

4. The master was chewing betel leaf, and his lips were reddish. He offered me gundi, and I distributed chocolates among them. The children were so happy, and full of joy. They began to call me , “oh saar, oh saar” , words of love and proximity and warmth.

The inequal thing

I was hurt, and saddened. The scene in every vernacular school more or less was the same. Eductionists, social reformers, activists, netas, knew it all. And they were silent, as they had alternative– big private schools were for them, and they sent sons and daughters America–a land of orgies and guns, shootings and killings and racist rhetorics. For them no value education based on ancient Vedas and the Quran, it was solely meant for the ill fed, ill clad, poverty stricken poor unsaid children of unsung remote villages.

copyright@abusid

THE LURE OF “HO-OOLE”

Now when he said to Shama: “Hole! That’s what your family has got me in.This hole!”… Now he keeps his address as secret as an animal keeps its hole. And his hole was not a haven. His indigestion returned, virulently; and he saw his children increasingly riddled with nervous afflictions. Savi suffered from a skin rash, and Anand suddenly developed asthma, which led him in bed for three days at a time, choking, his chest scorched and peeled by the futile applications of a medical wadding.

A House for Mr Biswas

Now when he said to Shama: “Hole! That’s what your family has got me in.This hole!”… Now he keeps his address as secret as an animal keeps its hole. And his hole was not a haven. His indigestion returned, virulently; and he saw his children increasingly riddled with nervous afflictions. Savi suffered from a skin rash, and Anand suddenly developed asthma, which led him in bed for three days at a time, choking, his chest scorched and peeled by the futile applications of a medical wadding.

A House for Mr Biswas

I live in a district town. My forefathers were all peasants and died in remote villages. I’m a farmer’ son. Read some books and have become a lecturer and for a life of a “Wow” came to a moffusil town. The wow bursts.

Read hows…

1.

Soon my legs touched the street I saw rows of tuk tuk drivers on both sides of the street. The drivers, pale dry faces, smoked biris and eagerly waiting for babus of the holes. The babus dressed in fine clothes hired them for a paltry sum of Rs. 10. The rickshaws all vanished from the scene, and the pullers by overnight became jobless. The elders died or stayed in shanties. The younger pullers either made way to Bangalore or Kerala, or mortgaged wife’s meagre gold and bought the tuk tuk. Among them muscle and party powers ruled strong. Urban drivers enjoyed both while the drivers from outskirts of hole were often bullied and abused as ‘geyo voot ‘ and other offensives. Skirmishes and hot altercations regularly ruled their lives. The city babus are all dumb spectators.

2.

a regular scene at K N Road, Berhampore, Murshidabad, west bengal

There was no footpath, all encroached by hawkers, and clothes, utensils plastic and stainless, slippers and fake shoes, lottery tables, tea stalls, chop and chowmin shops, panipuri stalls, home furnishings, toiletries, cheap articles of daily living were in full display. And the hawkers either sat on stool or jute rags hollered, smoked, sang Hindi fads, spat. Footpath gone. Now the main path, all jammed with tuk tuk, vans, buses, cars, cycles, bikes, cows and buffaloes. It seemed Dante’s Hell was far better than this ‘hole ‘ existence. People quarreled, argued, fought, for a passage through hole.

3.

a soil/ rags picker of Berhampore town

And in this hole lanes crowded the cosmetic hurs in scooties, and shanties’ poor side by side. Ladies shut in expensive cars passed by the stinking gutters of filth and squalor, heaps of garbage covered with flies big. They buzzed and buzzed. Amid this odours rising jobless star youths in Enfields stumped and stormed.

4.

I saw traffic police taking a bribe of even Rs.10 from hay vans and trucks at broad daylight. I thought what wonderful service they provided to society. Potbellied police need to punished for their self service. They had no moral, no integrity, lest honour. They sold them @Rs 10. How could we expect help from them. Their moral was too low. But police is an example. Such rot grasped the entire society. Men don’t think twice to do the most heinous crime…selling the self for nothing. I saw great post holders behaving like cockerels. Why did such men live? Only for serving the rotten putrid ugly soiled self .Why did not they commit suicide? Why did they live a cheap life of rats and cats and jackals? Why not of lions and tigers. The answer. Because we, the self servers saw no light from womb to tomb, and were happy to live a life in hole, darkened forever.

5.

mushrooming of holes day and night of the town

My pigeon hole is circled by many other pigeon holes. I often saw a lanky boy, aged nine or ten hurrying and scurrying in one of the the holes alone. Parents were all busy. The boy often peeped out of the window wistfully, saw the tree tops tossing their heads, birds fleeted from one twig to other, and perched on a clothes line on some rooftops. Sometimes he came all alone on the roof and tried to play badminton and cricket, but no playmates were there. He found no joy, and he was dull. Now the mother called him for tuitions. Teachers came and went whole weeks and months and years. The boy was puzzled. Every guardians of holes worked hard to make his child “first” in anything and everything. The boy was tired and pale, enslaved by the parents’ great expectations. They were in hole, and doing everything possible for buying another hole for their little darling, and killed his childhood mute and silent.

6.

The air is full of dust and smoke. Vehicles pass and belch out smoke, and the men on the street are covered with soot. The hole people most gratiously inhale it and become paradisically happy. The waterbodies being filled and highrisers rise to the sky. The bellies of the cheaters and the officials bulge out. They buy expensive cars and jam the lanes, and sound deafening horns nonstop. People on the lanes look at glossy cars and mutter and abuse. More vehicles sold, more India shines. And the ease of doing business becomes really successful. The traffic is so much heavy that a man cannot pass from one side to the opposite. The street is a nightmare. The children and the elders can never imagine to use it without the assistance of the well and the sturdy. It’s not the life line. It’s a death line. People hurry and scurry, and jostle and tussle and bustle. Like robots they withstand the vagaries of being holed.

7.

patients from villages before a reputed pathology centre, Laldighi Nursing Home
anxiety-stricken poor patients squat on the pavement with lost looks

Visit a doctor, and see the crowd of young polished MRs. The hole of the doctor is all nuisance . A patient can wait for hours, but MRs cannot. The nexus is too apparent. Nobody has the ability to protest. While the suited booted mrs move in and out of the hole, critical patients sit and sigh. Moreover, the highhandedness and rudeness of petty managerial dalals is simply intolerable. The disease is cured without medication. The chemo of such extraneous torturers (MRs and dalals) cures the patient. For a mere bellyache, headache, or a simple viral fever, the patient has to go at least 4 or more unnecessary tests besides buying a bag of many colourful tablets, syrups. People mutter that doctors have been butchers. The networking among the doctors, mrs, pathology and diagnostic centres, medicine stores is strong. And none dare to protest against such unethical practices, going on at tendem from ages. The hole is too lucrative to be resisted.

8.

The hole’s health deteriorated because of sound pollution. From the deafening horns of the everyday vehicles to the festive and political pandemonium by all sorts of social workers created malignant tumours to the body of the hell. Every now and then a rally with blaring mikes assisted by self serving social workers passed through the hole. The traffic stopped for hours. Police were dumb spectators. And good law abiding citizens of the holes clamoured and abused. Abusers all I knew, but the abused I didn’t. The school children during such circuses played among the boxes. Ambulances horned unending and tried hard to squeeze past the line of noble social workers. Of late, a new nuisance in the name of bike rally added a new gloss to the putrid contours of the hole-existence.

9.

An elderly couple, my neighbours, lived in a hole. Their sons and daughter were all established, lived in Bangalore and Delhi, working in multinationals. They earned huge money. The coupled lived all alone, and they loved it. They liked neither children nor neighbours. The man and woman all day lived in the hole. Only for an hour in afternoon they shut the hole ,and walked in the dust and smoke. Then they returned immediately to their hole and shut it. The night was cool, and they admired it both. Such degeneration of human beings was not exceptional. This beautiful life of hole neither deadened the soul and body, nor enlivened them. They gathered food somehow not like the primitive hunters. They were modern crums gatherers. And they loved hole perfect. No grudge, no blame game, no pain, no happiness, no desire, no more demands on earth. Only the remaining days to be penned in a hole. And breath a life’s perennial bliss in a cage, modern and sophisticated.

10.

The lure of hole is too irresistible. Like me many others from the four corners of the hole came here in search of a “higher” life. All left their ancestral lands and homes, friends and relatives and neighbours.

a lovely cauliflower field in a village

They left tipsy villages, checkererd with ponds, grazing fields, broad paths, wide skies , dark nights, shiny days. Bereft of all ties, the former villagers, now city dwellers, all lived in their holes peace and quiet. In old days known, half known and even unknown relatives stayed in their homes days and months. Now the closest friends and relatives are hesitatingly welcomed for a cup of tea in the hole. Our children had ten tutors, and the lone child of each hole was inhumanly pressurised by educated parents. Their faces dried all. They had a peculiarly vacant look. The life of hole with its putrid drains, polluted air, footpaths encroached, dadagiri of the jobless youths, traffic jams, cheating traders, stale fish and frozen meat, mall consumers, dishonest doctors,lawyers,police, sponsored arrays of festivities religious and secular, processions of parties, known and unknown organisations and ngos, is really pleasant and smooth and beautiful!

“A High Life ” indeed!!!

@abusid