Story of Two Brothers From A Remote Village
by Vaman Acharya
(Bengaluru, India )
It was Sunday, 25th May 2008.The time was 9 a m. I was relaxing on my favorite chair and watching the cricket play of the children. After retirement, I was spending my time in useful manner.
My wife Anuradha called me for breakfast. I told her to wait for some time.The cricket was about to finish. I wanted to know which team would be declared as won. Her intention was to divert my attention from the cricket.
Anuradha gave me a photo of 20 years old. I was impressed to see the old photograph. The occasion was opening of a provision store of two brothers from a remote village. In the photograph, there were two lines. In the front, myself and Somanna,father of the boys seated on the chair. Behind us, the two brothers were standing. One brother was smiling and another was serious. I tried to recollect the memories.
“Vasu, I know your nature. Whenever you see anything old, you try to remember and enjoy. Come inside quickly to have sumptuous breakfast. I am waiting for you. If you delay, it will get cold. You know, I do not take breakfast without you. I have something to tell you about today's menu. You may again start recollecting memories after the breakfast,” said my wife.
She went to the kitchen to complete the unfinished work. I obeyed Anuradha’s instruction. About 20 years back, when I was working as a Branch Manager of a bank at Swami Nagar, there was a small provision store called “Shiva Shankar Store”. Two young brothers Bheem and Shyam of the remote village called Chandapur were managing the business. Bhim was strong and sturdy, whereas Shyam was handicapped. He never felt that he was useless. But he used to take longer time to complete the work. Bheem asked, "Shyam, you are too slow."
His quick reply was "Brother, do you know slow and steady wins the race."
Though he was illiterate, his knowledge was wonderful. Somanna selected Swami Nagar a big village for his sons. While choosing this village he had in mind so many factors like state highway, Karuna river bank and pilgrimage centre. Somanna was worried when his sons attained the age of 20 and 18 respectively. His sons were illiterates and vagabonds.
Finally, Somanna decided to send Bheem and Shyam to Swaminagar. He wanted to engage both of his sons. Initially, the brothers hesitated to leave the village. Ultimately, their mother was successful in convincing them. The sons put forward two conditions. Bheem's condition was parents should visit Swaminagar at least once in a week. Shyam's condition was that the shop should be closed once in a week and the brothers wwould spend time with parents in Chandapur. Their parents accepted the conditions wholeheartedly.
Both the brothers were brave since their childhood. When Bheem was 10 year old and Shyam was 8 year, they acted bravely to save the little girl of 9 years. The girl went to nearby tank to clean the clothes. While doing this, she slipped into the water. The depth of the water level was about 8 feet. Bheem and Shyam were passing the way, observed the mishap. Immediately, they rushed to the spot and took out the girl. She was saved.
The distance between Chandapur and Swaminagar was just 7 kilometers. Chandapur was a remote village disconnected from the rest of the places due to the absence of road. There was a negligible movement of people from Chandapur to other places. To reach Swaminagar from Chandapur by walk it takes more than two hours. The means of transport was bullock cart or by walk. Both means of transport was most troublesome. Accidents were common. Due to imbalance of the cart, one of the wheels breaks and accident happens. In such a situation both bullocks and driver get injuries. About 4 kilometers the road was zigzag and horrible. People suffer a lot while walking on the mud road with a lot of sharp edged stone pieces and thorns. If the thorns or sharp edged stone piece stuck, the person would get a lot of pain and injury. Most of them do not bother to consult a doctor after getting injured. Human being has ability to self reflect, whereas animals lack this quality of expression. I feel sorry for the discrimination between man and the animal. During rainy season, it was still horrible.
The remaining 3 kilometers, people were crossing River Karuna. The river was completely dry during summer and would overflow in the rainy season. There was no bridge over the river. Swimming was a dangerous
adventure. Boat was impossible in the river. There was another danger of releasing water from the dam gates, which was just five kilometers away.
Bheem and Shyam had perfect understanding between them. One of them used to bring tiffin box containing roti, groundnut powder, curd and sweet oil from Chandapur. Such trip was undertaken by them turn by turn. The materials required for the shop was bought from nearby Sindhugiri town. In case, both brothers were held up, Somanna would bring the tiffin box. In rainy season, to avoid the river, there was another round about route of 15 kilometers to reach Swaminagar resulting a delay of more than three hours. In those days, there was no fast and convenient communication system like mobile or smart phone.
I was passing through their shop daily. I was keenly observing the hard working brothers. I wanted to help these guys. One day, I stopped at their shop.
"Bheem, I am observing you and your brother Shyam for the last so many days. Both of you are hard working. I would like to help you to expand your business."
"Sir, thank you for your kind gesture. I am sorry, I am unable to avail the loan due to poverty," said Bheem
Shyam intervened and said, "Sir, please wait for two days. Our father Somanna is coming home day after tomorrow. We will discuss with our father and take a decision."
"Inform me as soon as the arrival of Somanna." I said.
"Yes Sir," both said at a time.
After two days, Bheem visited the bank along with his father.
"Sir, he is my father Somanna," said Bheem.
The old man also said namaskar with folded hands.
It was 10 a m. Still there was 30 minutes to commence the bank business. I told them to occupy the chairs. Somanna hesitated to sit on the chair. I got up from my chair and made him sit. I was happy to see the simplicity and way of behaviour of Somanna and his son.
"Somannaji, I am really impressed to see your sons' hard work. Your business is too small. To earn more income, you have to expand the business. Our bank is to serve people like you. Let us prepare a plan to go ahead. Once the assessment of working capital is over, the quantum of loan will be decided."
"Sir, I am a small farmer owning 6 acres of dry land. I depend on rain. I am unable to provide surety. I have some doubts. If I take a loan from your bank, unfortunately if our business incurs loss, I would be unable to pay installments of the loan. At present, whatever our sons are doing, let them continue. Another drawback is my sons are illiterate and unable to understand the banking procedure,” said Somanna.
"Somannaji, always think positively. Your sons may be illiterates. I have full confidence in them. They will work hard and earn profits," I said.
I asked them to meet me after a fortnight. In the meantime, I discussed with the higher authorities and got green signal in the first meeting itself. It took me one month to complete all the formalities. The loan limit was Rupees five thousand. In those days, it was a big amount.
The loan was released. On one auspicious day,the new shop was opened with the same name. After the puja and distribution of prasadam, a simple function was arranged. Opening ceremony of the shop was simple. A grand old man of the village was asked to cut the ribbon. I was asked to speak in brief on the occasion. Observing my emotional speech in Kannada, both the brothers came and prostrated me. I was not expecting such a situation.
Somanna was observing the happy moment. His eyes became wet. He was unable to control his emotions. One of the guests, who was a school teacher, expressed his desire to help the brothers to become literates. Both the brothers worked hard and gained knowledge of reading and writing. They appeared for SSLC and passed in the first attempt. Another guest, who was an unemployed local youth, offered his services like getting orders and delivering the goods at the door steps of the customer. Both Bheem and Shyam were happy to accept him as their team member. The business was increased due to their hardwork. I left the place after one year due to my transfer to another place.
I came out of the memories, when Anuradha called me from the kitchen. The coffee given to me some time back was getting cold. ***