Friday, October 15, 2004
Raju’s crop was at least twice more than the second highest producer in the village. All this without putting any extra input or effort. Only difference is he used different methods. Everyone in the village praised him for the output, but he put down all the accolades by being overtly modest, and attributed all his success to Lady Luck.
All the villagers congratulated him and wished that the divine lady show some consideration on them.
Pawan his neighbor though was not very intelligent, was smart. He was not convinced by the theory of luck. He started following the practices of Raju. Raju was very happy to share his methods with Pawan. This season, both of them had a very good produce. However, Pawan did not downplay his success, he informed the villagers of the new practices he used in farming and how these methods helped in increasing the produce. He attributed his success to Raju. However, Raju once again downplayed his role and praised Pawan for his efforts. He was happy that people came to know of his methods and will prosper.
From that day onwards people started pouring in to Pawan’s house for suggestions on the new methods of farming. Whatever doubts they had, they would approach Pawan. He in turn would approach Raju, who would solve the problems. This went on for a time and slowly Pawan got a hang of the methods to be used and the concept behind the success of this system over the old one. Also his stature in the village has grown, not only people from the neighboring villages but also people from all over the state started consulting Pawan. Slowly his visits to Raju also decreased.
Raju though happy initially, was troubled by the popularity and fame Pawan was achieving. He began to feel cheated, since all the fame and attention due him was going to Pawan, someone whom he had let know of the practices. Though he was improving on his farm produce over the years, he was not getting any recognition. Whereas, Pawan went on to become advisor to the king on the agricultural practices. This very much irked Raju, as he got no credit in all this.
Raju went to the king's court and put his case before the king. He narrated all that happened and pleaded the king for justice. The day of justice was fixed and the king ordered both the parties Raju and Pawan to be present for the judgment. Once again the king hears the version from both the parties. He is perplexed on whom to do the justice, should Pawan be punished for popularizing the new practices which helped millions of people, or should he favour Raju who developed the methods. He was in confusion.
Now I leave it for you to come up think what must have happened, what would be a fitting end to this dilemma.
Many a times, I have gone deep into my mind trying to analyze what incidents were responsible for what I am. Had I not made a particular choice, my life would have been on a very different course. Every moment of life I made a decision, which has resulted in me being what I am now.
Now how and why do we make a decision? That depends on the history of the decisions, and how we perceive it would affect our future. Sometimes a series of seemingly disconnected events shape the way you think and in a way your destiny.
This afternoon, I was thinking of the events that might have had some part to play in the making of me. Slowly I drop down asleep.
“Ramu, its time for the bus, wake up, you have been sleeping for 4hrs”, said my mom. I had a look at the clock and packed myself out of the bed to gear up for trip to my native place. It’s a small village on the banks of Godavari. Nature is at its best in this village; with its serpentine banks, the coconut palms standing tall with pristine pride of the natural beauty, and of course the innocent people. I have never loved a place more.
I wanted to take a break, just after my class 10th exams, before entering this big bad world, full of enthusiasm and confidence that I can make a difference. It was an arduous overnight journey for many people, but not for me, to whom this has been a part of life. I got to the bus stand just in time, only to find that the bus has been delayed by an hour. Having nothing to do, I started to look around the place and observe the people around. There was this beautiful girl with black curly hair, in a simple yellow frock, a smile on the face, eyes playing as the evening sun. I took an immediate fancy for her, and wished she were to travel in the same bus as mine. Alas, only on boarding the bus did I find out that she had come to see off her relative, hard luck they say.
In the mean while a young man in his early twenties walks up to me and introduces him self as Mahesh, we chat on things in general as two co passengers chat. Slowly, Mahesh lets me know of his intentions. He is from a near by village. He has done his masters and has come for an interview in Vizag. On his way back he lost his money and all the contacts he knew in this place. Now he had no way to go back home, he wanted me to help him monetarily, so that he can go home. “The Umbrella Man” a short story by Roald Dahl, I doubt the veracity of this persons cause and let him go off taking advantage of my age as the handicap to help him, knowing very well that I could have helped him if I wished.
The journey was mostly uneventful, except for the brief cameo by the girl at the bus stand when she got into the bus to fix the luggage of the relative, a thin old fellow, who looked disgusting. I slept through the rest of my journey and woke up just in time to get down at Jaganapet junction. This place is 1hr from my village by a Tonga. Though these days there are innumerable auto rickshaws swarming the place, those days it was the only mode of transport. The air in the village is sufficient to infuse life into my otherwise tired body. I got down at the entrance arch to the village and made my way to the house through all the fields, wallowing in the mud and having a go at the mangoes in the mangroves, a chat with all the people on the way; before, dropping down in the arms of my grand ma. It was a feeling which is difficult to explain in words.
I was in my village for over a fortnight, I had the time of a lifetime, with all my childhood friends, most of whom I have never seen again. Infact it was the last time I ever stayed there for more than two days. I somehow had a gist of this at that time and thus lived as if those were the last days in my life. All through this one thing that was there on my mind, was Mahesh. However, hard I tried I could not push him out of my thoughts. His convincing voice, the vulnerability in his tone, his story of impoverishment and my coldness to his situation kept haunting me.
No better example can be found of how time flies by. Hey, may be I am wrong in this, when my girl friend is around the time flies by even faster. Any way it was time for me to go back to Vizag, reluctantly I bid good bye to the place and people who are my life, knowing very well that this was the last time I will ever spend my time with them.
The way back was without any event, and I landed at the crossroads, on an early Sunday, morning. My dad was there to pick me (or should I say the luggage), and I reached home. On reaching home I found that my cousin was coming that day. I was thrilled to the core on hearing this. We are best of pals; she has always supported my cause in all my mischief and is my mentor. Sitting by the gate, I was engaged in the local news, when I hear a beggar asking for alms. Being an inconsiderate fellow as I am, I ask him to go away and swear him in English. “If you don’t want to give don’t; but don’t swear unnecessarily”, were the words he said before turning back. He was in rags, tattered clothes, unkempt hair, years old beard, I doubt if he had a wash in weeks. I called him and inquired of his past. He was a post graduate in English and found it difficult to find a job matching his qualifications. He lost his family in the mean while, frustrated with all this he took to begging. “Ramu, call for you”, that was my mom, hearing that I ran inside leaving the beggar, without a name standing outside the gate.
While I was on the phone, my dad sent him away, and I came back only to see the dust in the air. Somehow I thought of Mahesh.
Meanwhile my cousin came, I have a good time with her, we discuss all the possibilities of where I will do my +2 and the various strategies on tackling the JEE. As is our habit we chat on everything under the sun and of course beyond it. She left in the evening, me back at the gate bidding her good bye. My thoughts go back to that nameless beggar from the morning. Suddenly, I think of Mahesh. I think of all the down trodden, I have come across, how many of them are educated and yet fail a decent living. I think of all those Mahesh’s who turn into nameless beggars. I will make a difference, I resolve.
The alarm rings, I wake up to find myself in a chair, and the lights just coming up. Below, outside the window, I see someone in ragged clothes, I see him in tatters, I see he’ s not had a bath for days, I see him as I saw him half a decade back, did I make any difference? Can I make a difference? Will I make a difference? Only time will tell.