Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Lotuses bloom in muddy waters. Beauty and manners are not endemic to a specific age group or economic group or to a region. It is found everywhere. In every nook and corner of our vast nation.
Sikkim is the abode to a race of one of the most beautiful people of this planet. Beautiful not only from their outward physique but also from the spirit. The most lively and energetic people I have seen.
And, of course, as all would agree, beauty always captivates us and transforms us into a state where we want to be with the beauty, to grow with it, to feel its essence.
Well, so the other day, I was with two seniors when we planned to go to Mangan, the headquarters of our district and the nearest town to us (and it is 60 kms away). Even to purchase the bare minimum, we had to go to Mangan as nothing was available at our site except what the company mess doles out to us. So, as per the planning, we took along with us the only vehicle we had, one 1940’s Sumo Victa which remained more out of order than in order.
So, we set out joyfully on our journey. Traversing the picturesque landscapes, deep in our thoughts (well, rather, deep in my thoughts, because the other two after some lengthy discussions fell in to a deep slumber), we moved steadily ahead. Suddenly, my deep reminiscences were obstructed by a heavy bump and our vehicle came to an abrupt stop.
On inspection, it was found that the front left tyre had punctured. Though we had a spare tyre but the wheel wrench and the requisite spanners were not there. So, we were literally in the middle of nowhere with a broken car. The driver was a local, so he set out to get some help.
The whole episode happened so fast that we barely noticed the small group of three young ladies breaking stones on the roadside. Before, I go ahead, let me make some details clear before you, if you are not too aware of the Sikkimese people. Here, the people have the highest ‘dignity for labour’. Here you would find everyone doing their own work without taunting or feeling low about the fellowmates work. As long they are at work, they behve professionally. But, after work, every one is equal. Even girls of all ages engage themselves in all kinds of work. They do all sorts of work and manual labour right from carrying earth to breaking stones.
So, here was a group of three girls barely out of their teens breaking stones in jeans and equally matching and stylish tops. If you didn’t notice the hammers, you could have easily said that they were on their way to a disco. Hair stylishly bound in braids of various shapes. Earphones connected to the ears playing the latest English song probably, as is the trend.
I was really missing my enthusiastic outward friends who would have immediately struck a conversation with the ladies. But, as luck would have it, I was in company of two oldies and I too was a vehement introvert. The striking thing was that the girls were in the middle of the forest joyfully doing their work without a worry in the world (Or it seemed so), totally at ease with the world.
The time was gradually approaching 12 pm. We were waiting restlessly. Though it was midday but it was not hot and a cool breeze was blowing. Our driver had not yet arrived with the help. And we were stranded without any means of time pass. I was having a good time though, watching the girls silently working away with their hammer and stones. As noon approached, they put aside their tools and procured from a nearby hideout three small tiffin and bottles of water. After a small gesture, like thanking the almighty for the earning and the food, they started opening the tiffin and helping themselves to the food they brought. The serene atmosphere they created in the lonely forest etched a small place in my heart for a long time for sure.
After a while, our driver returned with the tools and we changed the tyre and left. After that day, whenever I pass by that route, I always look out for the beautiful trio, but with no success. Maybe life has taken them to some other road or some other way of life.
Monday, July 16, 2012
The incident of 9th July, 2012 at G. S. Road, Guwahati shook most of us. A young minor girl of seventeen was molested brutally by a mob of 20 odd men in the busy highway, with lots of bystanders which made us for the umpteenth time to think, “Where has humanity gone???”
Terror attacks, bomb blasts, serial killings are passé. This is the new trend, girls brutally molested, raped, sometimes butchered in broad view of the world. Be it Gurgaon, Delhi, Mumbai, Noida, Guwahati or even our own backyard. It has become the new terror of our society.
First, we molest and rape the girl; then we blame the girl for dressing provocatively. Shame on us menfolk really. Each and every time before, I tried to console myself that it was a one off incident and not the norm. It happened in some far off locality to some very unfortunate girl. But, now I fail to answer myself, I mean, it is happening everywhere these days and that too at an alarming rate that it makes our blood go cold. Our country is becoming more and more dangerous for women. In fact, it has become more dangerous than the war torn Afghanistan or Iraq. We not only satiate our male insanity, we even frame the girl for indecency.
Now, coming back to the unfortunate incident of the night of 9th July, the innocent girl while returning back from the birthday party was mishandled and molested by a gang of 20 odd drunk and delirious ‘inhumans’. After this brutality, I feel ashamed to be called a person from Assam. I was, I mean, literally away from the social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook) for the past few days just to be away from the jibes and abuses hurled at Assamese people. I hated how a society becomes a target because of a bunch of 20 odd insane men. I mean, didn’t the men have sisters, mothers, wives at home. How did they bring themselves to do this?
Further, I have serious doubts over the integrity of the reporters of News Live. Indeed, he was a real asshole. He didn’t do anything but kept on filming the whole episode and later when some senior citizens intervened and brought an end to the menace, the reporter ventured boldly and stated interviewing the girl. I am very much inclined to think about his mother and sister at this point. I mean, I fell like beating the reporter with my bare slippers. He was in my opinion, even worse than the molesters. He played with the privacy of the girl. I am still not venturing out to say as the new conspiracy theory suggests that it was a setup by the News Live team.
I never intended to write this piece in the first place. I mean, many have already written volumes on this present topic. But, what I found lacking in most articles is that, no one is blaming themselves. I mean, shouldn’t we take the blame on ourselves. I mean those 20 odd guys were a part of our society, they were our friends, and our brothers, our sons, and they could have been anybody. Why those only 20?? It could have been anybody. Just take a peek into yourself and answer honestly, “Did you ever tease a girl in your whole life?? Did you ever discuss girls as ‘things’ with your friends???” I mean to say, we all are to blame in a way. We all live in a high level hypo critic society. If our mentality doesn’t change, if we cannot accept girls as our equals, if we cannot respect them, these incidents will never stop.
I would even venture out to say, Even if we are born out of males, Even if we don’t have mothers, sisters or say we don’t have any interaction with any females, Still why would we do such a thing. I mean, just destroying another’s property is not done. If our house is made of glass, we should not stone our neighbour’s house, the saying goes. But, even if our house is made of stone, why should we stone our neighbour’s house. Is this sanity?? Does this in any way make you superior to others?? Is this the way to behave in a civilized society?? SHAME ON US….!!!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
31st May, 2011:
At least 37 people were feared killed and six injured in Assam when a bus carrying a marriage party plunged into a gorge after hitting a wooden bridge late on May 31, officials said.
The accident took place around 11 p.m. on May 31 near village Charabari in Kamrup district, about 30 km from Assam's main city of Guwahati.
The dead included the groom and relatives.
The bus was on its way from Guwahati to Tihu in Nalbari district.
"The marriage rituals were to take place early Tuesday, with the bus on its way with the groom to the bride's house in Tihu when the accident took place," police official A. Das said.
According to witnesses, the driver probably failed to notice the wooden bridge without any railings or signposts and then straightway plunged into a deep gorge.
"Six people were rescued by locals and admitted to local hospitals, while 25 bodies were recovered so far with rescue workers trying to fish out more bodies," the police official said.
There were 43 passengers on board the bus.
Source: Times News Network
Two of the deceased were from a single family in CoochBehar of West Bengal. The mother and child duo were attending the marriage. The mother was visiting the house of her brother after almost ten years. The child was just a year old. In that gory incident, both of them lost their lives.
The mother is now survived by her three sons and her husband. And, one of the sons was talking to me today. After learning that I hail from Assam, he depicted the accident that fell on his family.
I had a long chat with him. Their family is not that well to do but they are better off than most of their neighbours. The boy, Anant is working here as a partner to a local contractor. Barely twenty, he is now busy learning the tricks of the trade forgetting that incident. Both his elder brothers are now working in the Indian Army and are now posted in Kashmir. Their father is an old man now, retired and living his life farming in the village.
That single event of 31st May changed their lives forever. Theirs was a happy family. Both the brothers were to be married soon. Eligible girls were already chosen and their wedding was to take place in a month’s time. Then, this tragedy occurred. Losing their mother and their brother at the same time was a huge blow. Though Anant and his family don’t blame the family of their maternal uncle. But, somewhere deep down, they are not able to forget the pain.
Actually, they were forbidding their mother from going to the wedding as their maternal uncle had severed ties with them ten years ago. But, their mother could not resist the temptation of meeting her brother and his family after so many years.
Life is too much unpredictable. You cannot predict what would happen in the next moment. At the present moment, I am writing this sitting on a wall on the bank of a river under the shade of a huge boulder. It is just impossible to ascertain what would happen next. The wall could break under the tremendous pressure of the river, the boulder could topple on me and crush me to death or even a stone from the blasts taking place nearby can come and pierce my brain. Life is too unpredictable.
Just thank God for the wonderful life that you are enjoying at the moment. Many people are much more grieved than we can possibly be in our whole lifetime.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
My name is Hiren. I am a day labourer and work for my contractor Mr. Raju. My duty for the day is assigned to me just as I reach the site at 8 in the morning. My special areas of expertise are breaking stones, making walls, carrying mud, grouting, etc. basically anywhere where physical labour is required.
Well, let me introduce my background in a proper manner first. My name is Hiren Datta. I hail from a village Pachgachia in the district of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. I am fifteen years old (actually I am thirteen but my contractor has told me to say that I am fifteen if anyone asks.). I have three elder sisters and two younger brothers. My father works in a brick industry and my mother and sisters work in a beedi factory near to my home (You may not know, so I am saying, beedi is a local cigarette made from by wrapping tobacco in dry leaves). I never attended any school. Well maybe you are thinking that though I have not attended any school, how I am writing this in English. Well, I am friends with the son of Mr. Raju who attends a good English school nearby. He is going to appear for Madhyamik exams this year (Madhyamik is an exam which you appear after you have studied a lot, for about ten to twelve years from your birth.). And he has agreed to write this for me. I am just dictating in Bengali and he is translating it to English. (Just saying, I doubt his ability of writing. He keeps on asking me for details on this and that and keeps on looking into a big book frequently.)
Anyways, coming back to my story, I work from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening. I am paid Rs. 150 daily with free food and bed. (Psst.: We are given alcohol free once a week.). So, I live with fifteen other persons who work with me for our contractor, Mr. Raju. Others are mainly older people. There are only three boys of my age in our camp.
Coming back to our work, we are made to work on a stone wall for the past few weeks. Our work is supervised by a young sir of about twenty three of twenty four. He comes daily to our site with some books, registers, tapes and what not. He daily comes, sits with us and notes down something in his book. He does nothing much, he just sits idle and looks at our work and tells our contractor Mr. Raju to do this, to correct that, to check the quality and quantity of sand, cement and water. Mr. Raju says that he is an engineer who works for the company. I just wonder how such a young man can direct our contractor. I mean, till now I was thinking that our contractor was a very big man.
I have serious complaints against God or whoever He is. I mean, see, boys of our age work so hard to earn Rs. 150 daily, whereas that engineer does nothing and earns Rs. 1000 daily (as Raju sir tells). He talks on the phone, writes something on his book and fiddles with his mobile the whole day. It is not fair. We do all the work and others eat the rewards. The world is cruel, I tell you.
Therefore, I urge my young friend, the writer of my narration, to study well. The world will reward you only if you study hard and shine. Ten more years of study and lifelong enjoyment. And, if you don’t study, you will remain a slave lifelong to others.
After going home this time, I am going to get my younger brother admitted into a good school in our neighbourhood. I will make him study hard and become an engineer one day.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Teri bindiya re ai hai
Teri bindiya re ai hai
Teri bindiya re ai hai
Sajan bindiya le legi teri nindiya
Re ai hai teri bindiya re
Re ai hai teri bindiya re
The small pencil dot bindi, exactly between her eyebrows. It seemed like someone had used a scale and protractor to draw the bindi at that exact location. Like the pole star in the horizon, the black bindi on the fair forehead was just capturing the entire gaze. Though the bindi was so small that anyone could miss it. But, it was not that. It just captured your gaze and made you to gaze it at more.
It was not that the we were not provided food and shelter by the authority. But, as it was that we loved some occasional break from our routine and visit some local shops for tea and snacks.
So, we frequented the local shops. Though nothing much was available at the shops expect tea, Maggi, some varieties of biscuits (mainly Tiger, Glucose, Marie gold) and of course beer (Disclaimer: None of us drink beer.). So, we frequented this particular tea stall. Though my friends have been there twice or thrice before, but unfortunately I missed out on all the occasions owing to one reason or the other.
But today, after work we decided to pay the shop a visit and I had no particular other work to keep me from going there. So, we all reached the shop. We ordered Maggi and omelette for all. The man at the stall called out to someone named Bimla from his house upstairs. Well, frankly, I expected a middle aged lady in sari to come down.
But, I was presently surprised to see a young lass of about twenty five in jeans and top entering the stall in an answer to that call. She was absentmindedly arranging her hair into a bun over her head.
Pretty faces are in abundance in Sikkim. And beauty flourishes everywhere. And cute attractive faces rarely fail to make an impression. But, sometimes not too pretty person may capture your imagination sometime because of many reasons whatsoever. And sometimes, some faces capture the attention of some persons only. In fact, my friends have never commented on this lady before though they have been here twice or thrice before. They were however very much appreciative of the lady next door who had according to them adequate assets at all the appropriate places.
The lady my eyes attracted was not less endowed in any way though. But those things didn’t attract my attention. My attention was totally captured by the bindi between her eyebrows, the pencil spot mark in her fair forehead which to me beamed like a halogen lamp.
I love sophistication in a lady. But sophistication at the cost of grace makes a lady unworthy of any attraction. In that case, SIMPLICITY as usual is the best.
But, that black BINDI will not let me in peace for some time.
Monday, July 25, 2011
LAST BENCH FRIENDS
It’s a hard life, really…!!! And in coming to this stage of life we have passed numerous hurdles, shortcomings and failures. We always had the unassailable support of our friends, family and near and close ones. It was a journey of pain, joy, heartbreaks, heartaches, rewards, accomplishments, competition and what not.
But, after every target achieved, every goal reached we always cherish a moment of jubilation unknown of before. We thank our stars, our friends who were near us in this part of the voyage and eventually God, if we believe in Him.
But, is this the end. No, never, it was just another wayside stop in our journey to attain a higher self. It was just another small battle in this war of survival and the war called Life. So, hence the people who helped us in achieving this height indeed have some mighty influence on us, even though it might be of a very small and negligible nature.
So, friends are essential and it is in fact a boon to have friends whom you can turn to during your needs and bad times. But, is this the case so.
Guess, not…!!! We always tend to forget friends. It is never a one way process though. But still circumstances always compel us to drift away from those people who shared with us their tiny morsel of food when we had none. There were many who tended us when we were down with illness and despair, supporting us when we failed in some endeavors, scolding us when we faltered. In the real scenario, if we discount the time we sleep, we spend about 60-70% of our time with our friends: our friends at school, at the playground, at the tuitions, at our addas. It is these friends who decide what we wear, what we eat, what we read and eventually what we do in future. And it would indeed be a great sin if we just forget those less fortunate of our friends who could not make it to the large stage. (No work is smaller or bigger is a case though. (We will come to that later on.))
I was a late entrant to our school, Blue Flowers English Medium High School (at that time). I was admitted there when I was at Class VIII. I had no friends. Everyone was busy with their own lives. Indeed I too would have done the same if some new bloke just propped in from nowhere on a particular day at my class. And thanks to my very very unsociable nature (You can get ample examples of this. And if you know me personally, you would need no evidence), I made very few friends anywhere I went. So, it happened that, I was very lonely, very desolate.
So, out of pure lack of seats in all the other benches, I found myself heading towards those last benches. Those benches were also overcrowded but I found some willing faces who in spite of mocking at my sorry state offered to share their seats with me. I clearly visualize the faces of Raj Ghosh, Biprajit Sen, Shoumik Chakraborty and Partha, making fun of me but clearly willing to share their seats. In a matter of few days, I became a close friend and shared their boyish gossips and scolding’s from teachers. Last bench, was and always is, known for its notoriety to all the teachers in all the schools specially. (In colleges, the brighter students seem to occupy the back benches normally. Don’t know why, but am inferring from personal experience.) So, whoever does anything, the last benchers had to bear the brunt.
I was of quiet nature from my childhood days. And the lack of old friends at Blue Flowers made me quieter still. So, teachers always tended to like me for this quiet nature. (But, believe me, it’s is never a boon to be the teacher’s pet or whatever and even a lesser boon to be so quiet. People tend to misunderstand you a lot.) And to top it all, I had a habit of reading books just for pleasure even in those days, even if the books were my textual ones. And due to lack of normal books, (We had just relocated and I didn’t have much unread books in stock then. And further, the texts had a good collection of stories and histories back then.) I read a few of the text books then. So, as luck would have it, I just, most of the times knew the answers to the oral questions hurled at us. I never read the notes much, so fared badly in the written part, though. So, with this, our symbiotic relationship started. I used to mumble them answers to the questions the teachers asked. (We had a particular teacher, Deepali Miss. She used to ask us a lot of such questions on Geography and her punishments varied from mild to very heavy ones.) So, eventually in return for the seat, they used to get answers and sometimes good marks in tests too.
We always used to have a merry time: listening less to teachers (there were many whom we could just ignore), drawing faces, creating ruckus, making fun of teachers (specially our Bengali ma’am), eating buns from the nearby bakery and many such activities. We were ably supported by our other last bench friends, Zabbir Ahmed, Sanjay Choudhury, Samrat Laskar, Moazzam Akram among others.
But, after that one year I was promoted to the third bench by my teachers (Third bench, because of my height. I was fairly tall back then too. I had to occupy the corner seat near the wall to prevent others getting obstructed.) I had new friends and new mates. But those friends of my previous year always stayed close to my heart.
Though, it has been seven years I left school and eight years I left sitting with them. But those memories still lingers somewhere and in my dejected mood never fails to bring a smile to my lips. I hardly have any contact with them now. And it seems, I was just another friend who took their help when needed and forsook them on viewing better pastures.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
When I was a young kid, I would say, barely about five to six years old, I used to think “I am the most unlucky boy of my age. I am not allowed to play when I want, father scolds me on every small pretext and I have to do all my homework on time. Gosh…!!! It’s a hard life. Even I am not allowed to watch Shaktimaan on time.”
But, it was a long time ago. Everybody, in his childhood has had that feeling, I suppose. It is not unnatural. But, as we grow up, we start to see the miseries and misfortunes surrounding us and we tend to feel safe in our own shell. We tend to feel that we are in a bad position, no doubt (no man in this world is happy in his own position), but there are many others who are in a far worser position than us.
Suddenly, the whole world seems different and we have a feeling for our fellow beings. In every walk of life, in every sphere, you will surely find someone who is of the same social standing as you but far more unfortunate. In happens all the time. Some might have had only one parent to see through their childhood, some would not have had any, some might have been born and brought up in poverty, I mean the middle class poverty, where everyone thinks you have everything but in actuality, you don’t have anything, just hand to mouth sort. But, truly speaking, the miseries of some just don’t get absorbed sometime. You tend to think, “It doesn’t happen ever. It’s just an imagination.” But, there right before your own eyes you would have a walking mortal man deep into that misfortune.
Truly, misfortunes don’t tell and come and they always tend to target the wrong house. And the interesting part, ‘Misfortunes never come alone.’ God has a way with his created world, he just like to rule it in His own pace and tempo. He gives all the misfortunes to some and none to another (Though, I believe, there is no one in this world who has never had a misfortune in his life.). It is thus very hard to gauge what He wants from us and what He intends to teach us.
Ok, He is supreme. Let’s not talk about Him. We have no power in that case.
But, an often quoted theory, which I find overtly interesting goes like this: Everyone and everything in this world will have exactly the same amount of pain and pleasure as another. i.e. If you rejoice more today, you will surely weep more tomorrow. And, if life has till now given you only pain and suffering, then, be rest assured, your portion of sunshine is surely hidden somewhere, which you will surely find someday though it may take some time.
So, let’s just be happy with our present state, because we never know what future has in store for us.