Appasaheb Malagaudanavar

Abstract Others


Appasaheb Malagaudanavar

Abstract Others



10 mins

“Annadata sukhi bhava” - Be happy, O giver of food!

My biological mother once said to me that I will never be left hungry at any time. She said I was born with what we call it as “Annabhagya,” meaning a person who has the fortune of food. I had asked her, “How so?” She said I was born just after the “Godhooli” time when in most of the houses in villages, in those days, the evening food was ready. The word Godhooli means dust from the hoofs of cows returning home. Godhooli time is considered to be a very auspicious time. It’s the time when the sun is just about to set, the bright day would be turning into that crimson dusk, and slowly the darkness would engulf later. This is when the farmers will collect their herd stock and return home. The road leading to the village from different corners will be abuzz with the sound of the chiming bells tied to the necks of cows, ox, bull, or buffaloes returning home. The sound of the people calling out for one another, the sound of the cows calling for their calves will be all lingering in the air. Occasional barking by the dogs that keep the herd in place. Everybody will be keen to get back home before it gets too dark.

Along with others, this was the time when father would come home from the fields. They would normally travel in a bullock cart as the fields were about four kilometers away from the village. Once they reach, he would release the Oxen, take out all the farm material and place them. Feed the Ox and the herd water from the water trough, and then tie the Ox/bulls in the cowshed, put the fodder in the manger and then say a few good words to them (animal folk, especially the Ox) fondly and then enter the house. He would then clean himself and straight go for dinner.

Once I asked him, do they understand what he says to them. He told me, they do, only thing is they cannot tell you that. He demonstrated that to me one day. After coming from the field he quietly entered the home without talking to them. They all started mooing. Only when he went back and talked to them they all kept quiet. Animals also need caring and they do have feelings.

My mother had told me that any time irrespective of the time of the day or night if I feel hungry I would get food. I said biological mother because I am lucky to have had a loving biological mother and two foster mothers. One of the foster mothers loved me and cared for me more than her own children. I save those details for another day.

True to her statement, when I look back now in my life, I did get food whenever I felt hungry and was away from home. I will narrate an instance that occurred during my travels which substantiated my mother’s statement.

It was in the early nineties. I was part of a team which was tasked to a technical investigation of certain operational problems with the product we have been manufacturing and supplying to Indian Defense forces. The team comprised of members from my company, Defense forces, and Central Government agencies. We were a team of about seven people. The investigation demanded that we visit different customer bases. The whole team was in Hyderabad. As a team, we were airlifted in a service aircraft. After gathering the information and some deliberations on the subject, one morning a decision was taken that we will be airlifted to Kanpur Back for final conclusion on the subject the next day. So the team started moderating and writing the reports etc., An hour passed, out of nowhere we were told we are being airlifted that day itself in an hour and were asked to collect the luggage and be available on the tarmac. One of the team members (Mr. Rajesh Singh) was actually very happy. He had learned the previous day that his father was not keeping well. He was desperate to go back.

All of us somehow managed to reach the tarmac. Fortunately, we were light on luggage. We had to wait there for more than three hours. We missed our lunch. A very senior Officer was to be airlifted and we all had to wait. In fact, the travel plan itself was changed to suit his needs. Anyways the aircraft took off around four o'clock. It took four hours to reach Palam Air Force station. The turboprop transport used by Air Force takes much more time than the commercial jets. We were given two biscuits and a cup of tea while on board.

Once we reached there, we were told we are on our own to reach Kanpur. The defense personnel said they will meet in Kanpur two days later and quickly vanished from the scene. That left the three of us, Myself and two Central Government officers one of them was Mr. Rajesh Singh. We felt cheated but couldn’t show our dissatisfaction, as there was nobody to accept it. It was around 8:00 pm. I told them that we can all go to our company Guest house in Delhi and plan our trip to Kanpur Next day. But Mr. Rajesh Singh was in no mood as his father was ill. He wanted to reach Kanpur at the earliest. I could have let them go. I was not obligated to join them. But, after working together for a few years I had become friends with Mr. Rajesh. He was in a complimentary role in Central Government Office co-located in our Factory. So we decided to travel by the most common mode of transport i.e., Indian Railways.

We came out of the Palam Airport and had to walk for almost a kilometer before we could find an auto rickshaw. Those days there were no mobiles, Uber, Ola and also at the Palm Airport exit not a soul to be seen other than the security forces. It took us an hour to reach the station. We discussed and decided to have some food at the railway station although we were feeling starved.

When we reached the station, we just felt miserable looking at the crowd. It struck to us, Diwali was around the corner. The station was full of people. We could not see the ground. I once again asked Mr. Rajesh to consider for next day, but he was adamant. One he was very upset with what had happened on top of it his father was serious.

While on the auto rickshaw, I had taken out the Train Time table to find what trains we can think of. The best bet was Purushottam Express, which leaves around 10:30 pm. (Shram Shakti, a non-stop night train between Delhi and Kanpur was still not introduced). It had no stop before Kanpur, so we expected fewer numbers of people without reservation on board.

First we had to take ticket. Somehow we crawled into the ticketing area. When we saw the long queue, I was sure the train will depart much before we reached the ticket counter. Then it struck me that there is a rule that allows passengers to travel on a platform ticket, which allows them to board the train even if they do not have a valid ticket. Once on board, the passenger can purchase a ticket from the TTE (Traveling Ticket Examiner) for their journey from their boarding station to their destination. It is important to note that the fare will be determined based on the class of travel.

Fortunately, there was a very small queue at the platform ticket counter. I took three tickets. In the meanwhile, my friend had found out the departure platform. It was about 10:10. I was still worried whether we will make it to the train, crossing the sea of people. We started moving, pushing others, being pushed by others, rubbing shoulder to shoulder. People were all animated, shouting, bad mouthing. It was unbearable, but somehow we could reach the platform. We were lucky that weather was pleasant. The platform was also full of people.

After reaching the platform, all of us felt drained and felt terribly hungry. I wanted us to have something to eat. My friend said, no way we are going to get anything, all food stalls were empty. There was nothing available. Not even tea. The water taps were running dry. No water bottle available in the stalls. Maybe other platforms had it but we could not move. The train was already positioned and people had already filled it up. Irony was the train did not have pantry car. So no food will be available on board.

We somehow reached the second AC coach. It was already full. It was almost time for the train to depart. I spotted the TTE. Took ID cards from my friends and went to him and showed him our Identity cards explained him who we are and our situation and also about my friend’s fathers position. I requested him to allow us to board and we will just manage to sit in the path way and travel without bothering anybody. I had mentioned how we were ditched by the Defense personnel (for whatever good reasons)I also mentioned him that my friend had no food since breakfast and was feeling miserable. He looked at me, probably he was convinced looking at my tired dry face. He took my Platform ticket and wrote the Seat Number, he told it's side lower berth, the three of you should accommodate and he will issue the ticket later on. He said the train would be late by about ten fifteen minutes.

I thanked him and said I will be grateful for his act forever. I signaled my friends and we got into the coach. The berth was next to the entry only so it was easy for us to reach. There were many standing in the pathway. Fortunately for us nobody was sitting on the berth, otherwise it would have been very difficult to convince as we had only platform ticket and in this part of the world those days’ people were very rude, even TTE would be taken for a task. We dumped our baggage beneath the berth and sat. I went out freshened myself and washed my face, the Toilets were clean and water was available. We took turns for the same.

After about five minutes, a guy, who looked like railway caterer, came with three food plates (those typical steel plates which are used to serve food in trains) and called out our berth name and said TTE had sent the food for us. Our faces lit up. We thanked him and devoured the dishes. Probably, we were so hungry that every bit of the food tasted delicious. It’s often said it’s the hunger that brings the best of the food. My friends thanked me.

Just at the moment I remembered my mother’s words and told Mr. Rajesh and another friend about it. They were happy and said must be true. Few moments later the caterer came and took the plates, I wanted to pay him but he would not accept, saying its courtesy TTE. After about fifteen minutes there was shrill horn of the train and train started moving. The train gained pace. My friends started sleeping in a sitting position itself. Maybe because we were tired and had good food.

Sometime later TTE came, issued us the ticket. I thanked him with the whole of my heart for the kind gesture of both giving us the berth as well as the food. I asked him how did he manage the food, he said TTE are served food from the main canteen on request and seeing our plight using the walkie-talkie of the railway Guard, he had requested it to be supplied. (Those were days when we did not have IRCTC on line catering or mobiles). I wanted to pay for the food, but he won’t accept. His empathy was unbelievable. My words won’t be able to express the kindness he showed. Yes, there are people around us who are empathetic and do help. I gave my address to him and said if he happens to be in Kanpur and has time, we will be happy to receive him. But life is like that. I never crossed the Good man again. Now I wonder was it the kindness of that person or my Annabhagya that gave me food that day. It’s definitely the kindness of that person. I have to accept that, that in itself is Annabhagya.

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