Rabin Prasad Kalita
“God gives us difficulties to bring out the best in us.” –Marvin J. Ashton–
The next meal was his great fetch for which he had to juggle hard. Still, he didn’t prefer to be pre-occupied under someone since he had already seen the painful condition of the forced labours.
As the days went by, Dinesh was picked up by a landlord of the same locality to work in his paddy field by paying bare minimum wage. His carry home cash was not enough to accomplish his necessities. Somehow he was subsisted with his two other members at home. The indigence condition of his home forced him to earn before he attained his adulthood. Looked much older than the lads of his age was.
Dominance over the poor by their rich masters also can’t be ruled out in typical villages in the eastern part of India. His master was also no different. He had no empathy that devoiced Dinesh from working with self-respect though he was extremely submissive while delivering his duty.
It’s pointless to articulate that the planet poor had to withstand unutterable oppression over them by the planet richer. Yet, he was doing his cultivation work scrupulously. If he doesn’t, then where would he go!
In the meantime Dinesh got married to Dewajani, a poor cobbler’s daughter soon he attained manhood. While on the contrary, he became mature enough already whilst combating his penury. By then, his mother left for her heavenly ride and his lone brother too started working to earn his living.
Dinesh saw his neighbours often came home from Bangalore with lots of money. Formerly, they were also alike he, who worked for the well-off landowners in the village. For a few days, they would roam around happily wearing shipshape attires, and then they would leave for Bangalore again.
Hoping to have a quality life out there, he too thought to leave the village and work together with them. He found no reason why he can’t leave the village and search for a better option instead of working like a donkey in the field with a teensy carry home.
Subsequently, Dewajani was convinced to accompany him to an unknown place to try their luck. A hungry man always strives for a piece of bread. He doesn’t feel disdain, fear, and hesitation to fill his stomach.
One fine morning, foreseeing the grace of God, they left for Bangalore as guided by his friends. Reaching the city, they had to take asylum at one of his friend’s informal makeshift for some time until he manages to have his own.
In the absence of appropriate resources, poor people leave their village and go to various cities in search of two meals a day to stay alive. They live for today and have no plan for tomorrow. Ambition beyond this is a distant word to be conceived by them. They dotted in different parts of the country’s upcoming and developed cities engaging themselves in hundreds of dissimilar jobs.
Dinesh got an opportunity to work as casual labour in a newly established construction firm on a daily wage basis. After a few days, luckily Dewajani was also engaged as domestic help for household works. Thus both were happy spending time together along with other friends who hailed from the same region. Hence, they faced no difficulty being staying in such a remote place. Felt life was much easier than they had earlier.
Gradually they started saving a substantial part of their take-home amount. Out of which a portion was predominantly kept to spend for other auxiliary needs. When he heard the happy news that Dewajani is going to be a mother soon; he became more cognizant of savings. The days were spent cheerfully and were struggling to secure their future somehow.
Heard someone say, the happiness of the poor doesn’t last long. The moment the one ends, the other comes. Only the destitute one is the bearer of all pain and suffering. Both of them could somehow make their backbone straight after a long fight back for their survival. The hope that warmth in his heart got crushed with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus associated with the nationwide lockdown.
A rapid unfolding of lockdown had made their life awful. Whatever savings they had, got almost dried up as their earning clogged all at once. Their owners have refused to let them come for work in fear of virus infection.
Gruesome heat during this pick summer had made their life more miserable as if it was demons over the ghost. Hence, they preferred working outside during prickly heat where cooling facilities were available at least during the day to escape from burning heat. Lack of electricity in the makeshift, it was torturous for them to withstand.
It was more agonizing for Dewajani as being she was in her advanced stage of pregnancy. They had no idea left how to get rid of the distressing trouble and were thinking incessantly for a way out. The duos trapped badly and were in enormous stress out of panic.
This migrant workforce began to feel the city is most inhospitable and alienating for whom they were working for all the years. Over and above, dismissal of these destitute from the job whatsoever they did during the lockdown crisis, had made them feel unwanted.
Workers left their rented rooms as was pressurized by their house owners. Who listens and cares to a deprived one during the crisis of this nature except to look upon them with hostility? Being devoid of solutions, thousands of them were out on the road wailing for their home return but left with almost no penny. Besides, there was not even a single vehicle except good truck, police vehicles, and medical vans seen plying on the road during the lockdown.
Some of them cramped inside the goods truck or perched atop the truck defraying huge charges each to reach their destinations. Many dared to flee home by bicycle, hand rickshaw, or even in the barefoot from all over the places heading thousands of miles to their natives.
Seeing his friends leaving the city for home one by one, Dinesh too sought to move but his fretfulness about Dewajani pushed him back again and again. A choice between life and death was not so easy. Finally, he decided to go back home on his wife’s consent considering an unsafe life if they stay back there.
He bought a second-hand wheelbarrow cart to carry a little bit of essential household stuff. In all likelihood, he started pushing the cart to a vague and painful journey laden with whatever he could bring and also his wife who somehow sat over the stack. A discarded bed sheet was tied up across four sticks fastened to the cart for shielding her from the sunburn.
A journey on foot and the road ahead was lying like an unending ribbon. They ate whatever food they were offered on the way by some NGOs or individuals, otherwise, they kept on walking being hungry and thirsty. Walking with the skinned out slippers made his feet worst with the number of blisters. Sometimes he stopped and stood in a long queue between starving foot-travellers nudging one another to get one’s share of snacks.
There was a furore over all the way. Many of them had lost their lives, even before reaching their homes and some collapsed while walking with no food and water. A wretched and grief-stricken atmosphere was buzzing amongst them.
Over and again, Dewajani descended out of the cart and walked along seeing her husband’s illimitable pain while pushing the cart forward. In the meantime, Dewajani was gradually developing her labour pain by the time they completed around two hundred miles of gruelling foot march.
“Save me Dinesh, I’m dying out of pain. It’s severe, please, please do something”, being helpless Dewajani cried out prying.
Don’t lose your heart, Debo, Everything will be fine, trust God! Dinesh assured her, however, he was a little perturbed.
Helplessly thought about what he should do and how to handle the situation. He never dreamt of this adversity that would arise this way! So he desperately approached a couple of ladies and prayed for their support, who were also the same voyagers walked behind them.
They stayed back for a moment to assist his wife in that difficult circumstance. With the help of those divine lending hands, Dinesh was blessed with a baby delivered under the same cart shade. It was like, “yesterday was history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a God’s gift”.
Soon the gossip flew on air, the local authority along with some media people arrived on the spot to stir it as breaking news. But, that broadcast gave them a sigh of relief. It was like wherever human thought ends, the glory of God begins.
The mother of the newly born baby was helped with an adequate amount of cash by the local administration being pity on her. In addition to that, they were allowed to stay in a provisional shelter until the authority could arrange to accommodate them in a government-chartered bus. At length, they made their way home happily. No one can do any harm to him when he is in God’s shade! God has a purpose for one’s pain, a reason for one’s struggle, and a reward for one’s faithfulness.
The writer is an Ex-Air Warrior (India) and can be reached at [email protected]