by Anandita Tewari
Monsoon in India is a battle for winning the utter utilisation of it. When each drop is a word in a letter to soil written with love, calm and consideration, nature also shows its fury in other parts of the country where disgust and anger saturate the bucket of necessities. Nonetheless, a significant number of people and economies of subsistence wait for its arrival, gracefully.
In the midst of holiness and luxuries of western culture, its humongous sway, its subtle advent and our dependence on it, a village was located in the shadows of the urban development. Not to forget its backwardness and inability to touch the warm cheeks of scientific civilisation that was just ten miles away. A significant section of the village was under the dominance of upper caste, while the lower caste and the tribes had a peripheral residence. Just like any other caste- based village in India, the village was also divided by the futilities of a man-made distinction. A corner of the village, in the upper-caste zone, was embellished by a temple. Every now and then, its walls were decorated by diyas and some lush, green plants to celebrate their festivals. The brick was painted red at the bottom and then a yellow and pink layer was above. The grandeur could make one ignore the dilapidated conditions of the other parts of the village. The swirling wind made the bells, tucked on the gates by ropes of jute, clang, announcing the arrival of the rain. Indian mythology regard Rain as one of the holy deities. So, the sound of the bell was regarded with reverence.
In one of the households in the upper-caste zone, a family lived. There were three brothers. Two were married and one was ageing according to the definitions attributed to an aged person among the villagers. The father had expired ten years ago and mother was too old to walk, so spent most of her time remembering the past years of prosperity while lying on the bed that she had brought as a dowry after her marriage. She remembered, vividly, the gold jewellery and the utmost perfection of arrangements as she was going to get married to a rich zamindar. Her two sons- Kamal, Ramesh were farmers and Karan, the third son, was studying at a nearby state university. He was doing his masters in Agricultural sciences to aid his two brothers. The family had lost its two businesses of coal and jaggery. The large lands, they had owned till Ramesh was born, had been reduced to just a few acres. However, the prospects of a successful
future lingered in the hearts of the three brothers.
After a day of heavy showers, Kamal and Ramesh went to fields to test its fruits. The field was wet and the sun had not reached its glory yet. “It looks good. Isn’t it?” said Ramesh with a bright smile on his face. “Of course, it does. Our harvest will be good this year,” said Kamal, validating the optimism he saw on the face of Ramesh and his own heart. On their way back to the home, they saw the dwellings of the lower castes in their village. They avoided to look at the people of the dwellings, as the purity of their birth would be sacrificed. They walked straight to the local bank to send money to their brother who was in the university hostel. While returning, they met an old man who was sitting under a banyan tree, glancing at the newspapers as reading was not one of his capabilities.
He shouted, “Kamal and Ramesh, you brothers are working together? Didn’t you have a legal fight last year?” Kamal saw the old man and said with a fleeting smile, “We live in a free country, Chacha ji. We sought out our disputes using wisdom and forgiveness. We take pride in our rationality and therefore, we withdrew our complaints in the favour of reconciliation. I don’t think I need to teach you words of wisdom. You are an old and experienced man.”
The old man gazed with bewilderment. The two brothers left the place. They didn’t speak a word after that, till they reached home and found that their mother wanted to meet them to discuss the prices of the land and harvest. The memory of the dispute was still fresh in their memory.
It was only last year, when Kamal and Ramesh were experiencing losses in their harvest. Poverty makes kinship erect on fragile grounds. It is not the distribution but the scarcity that sharpens the swords of adversities and runs into blood of other’s lives for one’s own survival and prosperity. Kamal and Ramesh had experienced some regular familial arguments and the interventions of institutions of democracy that are based on ideas of consensus and unity. However, one can afford to walk but not run into a hurried collapse of the foundations of one’s family. The ability to commence but not conclude the ramifications of it, is the reason for Kamal and Ramesh standing together on the side of their mother’s bed, reciting tales of their affluence and abhorrent British supremacy. The only part of history that was, deliberately, forgotten was the recent one. ***