The other Indian?

My college closed up for the summer and I get to my ancestral home. Borio is a small village in the Sahibganj district (earlier in Santhal Pargana district) of Jharkhand.

I stand at the door and watch the buffaloes being taken for grazing in the fields. When I was small I ran and tried climbing on one of them. Unsuccessful almost each time, I often fell on the ground and hurt myself. The country animal was too huge for my small size.

Now, I am confident I can climb it and would not fall. But I cannot try the sport. What will people think? The herd comes to an end with the grazier sitting comfortably on the last black beast and playing on his flute. I envied him as a child.

Does he represent “the other India” that the media far away in the capital often complacently refers to? Or that Rahul Gandhi is trying to discover in his travels to the villages - the India that is dispossessed and forgotten? The question perturbs me. And I resolve to find an answer.

I follow this cattle-grazer. I know he speaks a different language (Santhali) and is a “Santhal” – a tribe that the villagers still look down upon. But also one which had played an active role in India’s freedom struggle. He is little aware of his clan’s achievements and has now yielded to the criticism of his “dikku” adversary. (“Dikku” is the Santhali term for the non-Santhals)

The buffaloes graze in the open fields. Some descend into the dirty swamp of rainwater and lie there, motionless. Their black body dyed into a brown complexion. As the sun ascends the sky, the grazier keeps playing his flute as if entertaining his herd of animals.

Its noon. My newfound companion sits under a banyan tree to have his lunch. Rice and onion. That’s the menu on his leaf plate. It raises my appetite too. I return to my house and find my grandmother waiting for me on the dining table.

The menu here is a more extensive one. Rice, dal(pulses), brinjal bhaja, salad and my favourite variety of fish, katla.

As I take my lunch, I cannot but give a thought to my estranged friend.

2 comments:

Sukumar Hembram said...

Reality bites ...

Dhananjay kumar said...

A very true and right picture. i am from Bihar and have a somewhat similar experience