“Axing on a leaning tree”

Repreentative Image | Image Credit: Britannica

Rabin Prasad Kalita

A long narrow bumpy road was laid like a braid in between the village and the lagoon that cared the livings for many from the date unknown. The lake was graced by many endangered fishes, verities of aquatic plants, and vegetations. The other side of the uneven path was covered with a thick jungle where typically the poor fishermen were residing. It was a paradise on the earth for many colourful local as well as migratory birds’ flown with ecstasy all over. The lake was considered to be the lifeline for the villagers to earn their livelihood.

Being the village was adjacent to the city, gradually the wind of urbanization started swaying them. Within short notice, seeing the expediency of useful connectivity, that small non-motor friendly road was converted into a beautiful four-way lane.

By watching, the value of the land owned by them was ascending swiftly which fetched a little worth earlier. Job doers of the city were kept on hunting for affordable land out there to build their dream dwellings. Those who had enough land to sell; they sold out to the outsiders and looked for other earning openings in addition to fishing.

Before ones’ eyes, the village side of the highway got mushroomed with modern structures along with connected by-lanes as per the necessity of the time. In a split of days, a substantial number of inhabitants of that area slowly left fishing as their prime source of income and entered into some new avenues to earn their bread. By then, the age-old village almost lost its serenity and had been face-lifted with up to date amenities.

Those who could foresee their future to grow, they became well to do from hand to mouth. Some of them who sought better living by simply spending the money received out of selling off their extra land, they remained poor promptly after all cash got pooped out. These people had no prospect or plan, nor did they have minimum education to think in another way to invest their effortless capital for improving living standards.

Ganesh was one among them who survived with his wife, two daughters, and a son. The pitiable man had no other alternative except to sell a portion of his ancestral land to modify his thatched hut into a small tin-roofed house. It stood abreast of a posh area by now and was demarcated by a fence made out of bamboo sticks.

A paddle rickshaw was his key source of income to feed his other four members of the family. His wife Siddhi too started adding a bit with her meagre earnings, working in a defense officer’s service quarter as a cleaner. Probably this addition, made him spend the lion part of his takings in-country liquors and kept himself boozed all day.

Seeing the wobbly condition of the family, his unwaged son began to sell illicit liquor dishonestly at home. Some common people, like rickshaw puller, handcart puller, and daily wage labourers’ were his permanent customers. During his stealthy selling, he had been caught red-handed by the local administrators for several times. And after a few days of stay in the police custody, he would come out of the cell and starts his business again to alleviate their hunger. This deprived family had no other assets to protect themselves from the collapse of their unstable pecuniary state of affairs. Poverty had forced the lad to earn in this unscrupulous way to live their lives.

Another distress was chasing Ganesh and his wife all the time. They were worried to find out the right grooms for their grown-up daughters to get them married. With their measly earnings, even it was too tough to pull on the family with minimum basic needs. Without borrowing, it was not possible to think about the marriage of two. Ganesh was already sunk in a significant amount of debts while raising his children.

By the time, seeing the awful financial condition of the family, both Arati and Rajni eloped with a scrap dealer and a cable operator respectively. Despite not wanting, both were forced to take this step, knowing that the social marriage was not possible without scrounging from someone. Hence, they decided to run away with their loved ones and saved their parents from additional liabilities.

Knowing the bright prospect of the area, some wealthy people were keeping a constant watch on Ganesh’s left-over high valued property for owning anyhow. Each one of them was trying to strike one’s axe on that leaning tree. They were in incessant touch with many different rewarding offers to have a deal with Ganesh successively. They were certain that a poor has no big aim to click on, except to mitigate his starvation.

Grocery dealer Piramal was one amongst them, who had already pushed slyly a sizeable amount of cash and credit to Ganesh foreseeing great incentive from the plot in future. Bit by bit, the loan had become so hefty that it was almost impossible to repay by then. In that race, Piramal had gone a little ahead of the rest for a big catch. Before Ganesh could think of any other way to get rid of, he had been trapped for a must transaction miserably into the laid net of Piramal.

As per the negotiation, Piramal was to acquitted with the entire borrowed amount of Ganesh, and to provide a dwelling fitted with all services on a piece of land of same dimension, just outside the city.

To get himself liberated from the liability, Ganesh had left with no option except to agree to a deal with Piramal quietly. Accordingly, Ganesh shifted to his new address with his family leaving his birthplace with saturated eyes.

Thus, he could weed out himself from the huge payable and started living his life with little ease. Conversely, to expand his business, Piramal erected a big hotel on his newly acquired property. Being the place a productive one that too in a clapping distance away from the busy airport, he professed that in future this industry would earn him much.

In search of customers as before, Ganesh comes out of his home, paddling his bicycle rickshaw to the airport during the rush hour through his old colony, where he lived once. Though he earned sufficiently than before, yet, he remained downcast after losing the portion of his inherited property. Especially, when he sees the large hotel of Piramal that erected on the land he owned once. He would exhale a long yawn, and fancied; wise, the hotel would have been his!

One day, while Ganesh was on his way to the airport, suddenly there was a heavy shower just in front of the hotel. Being helpless, hurriedly he turned his rickshaw towards the car shade of the hotel to save him off from soaking badly in the downpour. Immediately after reaching the shade, the security man deployed at the gate screamed at him and pulled him out of the gate along with the rickshaw.

Deposed Ganesh felt disdained and straightway rode the rickshaw with all anger and grief towards his home instead of the airport drenching in the rain. He forgot that the things he possessed till yesterday, today it did not belong to him. He even forgot that he lost his all privileges to stand on that ground no sooner the onus was transferred to another. By the time he reached home, the pain that glued in his heart drifted through his cheeks as two cascades of tears.

The writer is an Ex-Air Warrior and can be reached at [email protected]

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