Birthday ..Just 23..

This is March 25, 2009. Today I started writing these memories.

Though I write my diary, I am writing this on the blog. I may loose my diary. There is a big danger for that mortal thing to be consumed by something. These blogs I can preserve easily until unless holocaust does not happen or I loose my memory completely.

It would be nice today writing about all the 23 years I’ve lived. It would be sensible to figure out if this living made any sense till now.

I don’t remember much about my childhood. Or perhaps there is nothing much to remember. My childhood, mostly, was of a typical rural kid. Waking up before the sunrise and sleeping just after the sunset. Mummy tells me about my childhood though. Like I used to be quite alone. Never played with the kids of my age. If guest would come to visit us, I’d sit somewhere and watch them in surprise. Mingling with the older men was the thing I did quite often. Their knowledge surprised me. And I got this desire to grow up to be a cool old dude.

Paper was scarce at my home since this was of no use. So did the pen. Mummy could hardly read. Dad spends most of the time in the fields. No time for him to blacken the paper. Anyway, there was a big register in which Papa kept the accounts of the important dates, like at which date the particular cow or buffalo suppose to give birth to a calf, and at which date the bill from sugar mill came, and if someone asked for some money or things, that was also noted down too. There were some books at my home, mostly used by my father during his stunts in his schooldays. In his school, as He recalls, He’d dump his schoolbag somewhere under the bridge on the canal and go to fields to track down some wild birds like titar with his friend. Most of his friends were from lower castes (It was an terrible thing to do in those days). Today, back at my place things are far better that they are here. He used to make animals out of clay. Others say that He was quite an artist. Once he and his friends stole the mitti (clay used to make pot) from the kumhaar (potter) and made a tractor. Quite a big one. They would sit on it and pull it on the roof. It had steerings and wheels. It could be steered using steering. Everyone was surprised. Even the potter would not say anything. Once in monsoon, in night, rain! and all gone! His grown up friends still recalls that tractor was a remarkable incident in their life and regrets that they should have salvage it in the night itself from the rain. He studied till highschool. Failed in highscool miserable. Passed in only one subject (37/100, 33 was the passing marks) out of six. I lost his marksheet. He passed it in second attempt as He’d say, I am skeptical though. My grandfather was quite literate given the time He lived in. That is perhaps He let him go to the school. I used to have his handwritten application to the Bank manager in which he requested him to shut down the account. It contained Rs 33.50. There was not a big use of account though that time as it does today. Gradpa was a very big spendthrift. That pays off later. He bought some more lands and bought my father his first tractor (Rs 85,000, Eicher ). Meanwhile my father got married while he was in 11th standard. 19 year old, or perhaps 18. Mummy was 16. My nanaji was quite a rich farmer. He used to have hundreds of cows and a lot of lands. His had 2 sons. Bade mamaji did graduation and did not do a job. After the education He couldn’t do the farming. This is the foremost reason why did farmers did not like their children to be educated. Even when we were in the schools, some would come a say, ” Look! dont send them to the school too often, they become useless for khetibaari. You should teach them how to work in the fields.” And my father listened to them. Working in the field was the primary choices we were given. However, I dont know why, schooling were never terminated or depreciated. Perhaps, my mother was hell bent. And why woudn’t Dad listen to a lady who the most beautiful lady in the whole village (or perhaps in the world! mind you, check out my “Family Album” in orkut). Anyway, later after highschool, we were not asked to do works in the fields, though small small works were time consuming but not laborious like staying on the field while irrigating it if Dad had some other works. Suppling Diesel for the engine and lunch for the workers. Bringing fodder from the fields for the cattles. Studying engineering, was thing that could happen in the dreams those days. Pass the intermediate and look out for some work or go to the nearest degree college for UG and start working on the fields. Ultimately, You have to be a farmer! Fortunately, it did not happen that way. :)

I was quite smart in my childhood. I did learn alphabets and elementary math way too fast. I used to write in the air or sand. I used to suffer from unlimited imagination and so find very hard to concentrate on what someone else had to say in the class. By someone I mean teacher, other were not allowed to talk in the class. Indian society, at large is quite oppressive. I was fortunate to have a teacher like Shri Shivprakash Sharma. Every kid in the school liked him.

In primary school, In which we studied, is in my village. A new building of 2 rooms and a small office was just erected out. It looks really nice. There was a library in which 257 books (all names were put down in registers) were there. They were of all kind. By all kind means lit, science, math and blah blah. I read all of them :-). That was the place, I got all the inspiration and attitude needed to do somehing valuable. Though it was a messed up school but I had a nice teacher, Shri Shivprakash Sharma. Since then, I have seen great professors, researches, persons.. but as a teacher none matches Him. Teachers and mothers all we need to shine like a wonderful society/nation/human beings.

When I joined the school, there was a urgent need for the clock since we did not had any. I still counts how many clock a place have when I visit it, childhood curiosity do not die! Dad wouldn’t give a damn about not having a clock. For him it was useless. Sun shines, go to fields. When temperature in unbearable, come back. When birds starts chattering again in evening, go to the fields. And of course everything ceased to exists when sun went down. Mummy marked the ground on the floor. When sunlight touches the spot it was time get the bath and to get ready… and school chale hum… Later Mummy went to her mother’s place and bought a clock for Rs 75 (She also bought a lot of Parle-G and orange flavor toffees :), more important than the watch ) . What a utter waste of money, my father would say. But he didn’t make it a big deal out of it since the money came from my mother side. Or perhaps he also liked to see the ticky tick in the home. My mother taught me how to see the time in the watch. Perhaps that was all she could teach me. She studied till 4th standard. She knew that time how to read. Now she seems to forget a lot of it. She would say, “See, I am the most educated person, I made all of my kids educated. One is Engineer, One is pharmacist (she couldn’t pronounce it properly, She’d say only B. Pharma.) and One is a M.Sc. (she wouldn’t sat Chemist. She does not know what it is anyway!). She fast a lot and very religious kind of lady. Navratra, Karvachoth, every thrusday, friday .. poornima, amavasya.. a lot of fasting. She loves watching television. With us, walt disney. Pluto is her favorites. Silly symphonies takes the second spot. Since the television was B/W (no electricity for a colored one those days, these days ok! inverter would do but TV is still not there. Dad does not like it and Doordarshan does not air Walt Disney anymore.) Saas-Bahu serials are plenty on tv, that is why none of bother to have a tv in home. She does not care anyway. She is happy with the cows and their calves. total 14. All stupid!

My gradma, unsurprisingly is total illiterate. Her views of the world are hilarious, ridiculous, naive and at the same time very emotional. She lived in total poverty. She is in her nervous nineties, or perhaps might have crossed the century marks. In her mouth, the foundation of her teeth are still secure. her teeth are sharp. All 32 are still intact, not in the proper shape though. In the morning first thing she would do is to curse the chattering birds. She would use all her imagination to figure out all the antiques gaali to curse them. She believes that these cattles, birds, dogs understands what a human say but could not speak. She would ask to turn off the radio in the night so that the RJ could sleep. She still wonders how much persons in the television does not feel the heat while she is sweating. I explained that to her though but she did not seem to be convinced. She does not know what the difference between Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs 100 note. She only knows the coins. Rs 1, 2 and 5. More than that is beyond her very imagination. Paper bills are big. In her prime time, she only seen aane. Children were as fragile as a clay toy those days. 7 of her child took away by death. Only my father and 3 daughters of her survived. Doctors were scare. Today we have a doctor in our village, not a degree holder but quite good. He can not treat cancer or heartattack, anyway nobody get those things. Only headache, stomach related diseases, fever. You can go to nearby town if situation id bad. Granny does not know what I am doing. All she cares about that I should get married to beautiful girl, more beautiful than my mother was. Life in her time deserves a new blog. I’ll write it later.

My elder brother used to study at my mausaji place. And my younger brother did not give a damn. I did not know that he is my eleder brither whenever he’d come back. Since I was smart as I told u.. I could figure out that is the missing sibling of our poor little family. He did not like it there, and I did not like him when he permanently came back. He was a damn bully. My yonger brother used to be constantly sick so He wouldnt dare to touch him. Anything could have proved fatal to him. So I was a only target he could have. A fat little boy at his mercy.

He used to tell us wonderfull facts. Like “Apun is the strongest man in the whole world, whoever names is Apun would grow up to as strong as him” Then he declared himself Apun. My younger brother was so impressed that he made a pact with him. Now i got two kids to handle.. One was my bully brother and other was chidchida brother. Somehow they discovered a formula to make potions which has the potential to convert them into the allmighty beasts. After much deliberation, they allowed me to taste it, afterall I was their brother and ofcourse Mummy was there so they didnt make it a big deal. Anyway a sip wouldn’t make me that strong. So they did not see a threat in that. The taste was strange and I did not feel anything. But somehow, After drinking that they become stronger. I knew they did. They proved it on me.

After this, they wouldn’t do that for I’d start crying. They day was won easily by tears. Anyway we were learning at schools and were gud at learnign things. So my elder brother came up with a new fact. he had a some kind of wood which had some unusual shape. He’d say, ” See, if I put it underground. Then after seven layers of cowdung over it in seven years, it’d finally become a sparrow. Then I’d flow away and shit into this hole. The shit will be golden.” That was an impressive story. So we did that. None of us did check the shit after 7 year anyway. So the truthfulness of the fact can not be refuted.

… to be continued….


Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

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