The drought was continued this year also. There was not a single drop of water to see for 4 years. Not only the crops but the live stocks and the people also were dying due to the thirst. But the authorities were not paying any heed towards this critical situation. Many NGOs tried their best to improve the situation and to overcome the crisis but in vain. Moreover, the officials were not ready to declare the region as "Drought Prone Zone". It was the question to research...why?
As usual, my emotional mind was not allowing me to sit at home. It was continuously forcing me towards those who were dying for nothing. I decided to go and do something...not much but a little.
With my two friends, Hem and Raj, we set out to a village that was suffering a lot. The dried skeletons of cattle, the cracks in the land gave me the signals of the region where I was going. For a while, I stopped the car and got off. The scene made me dumb. Hem touched me and reminded me to go. There was no sign of water for distances. How terrible it was...!!
When I reached one of the villages, I saw the people..looking like live skeletons..covered with the dry skins...Overwhelmed me... They had nothing to offer. I was thirsty but I did not dare to drink water from the bottle which we had with us. Meanwhile, all the villagers...25...gathered to see us. We saw a lot of hopes and expectations on their dried faces and in their dried eyes...
"Sir...will you please give me some water and some food to eat.. I am very hungry..." a child of 8 years was pleading me. One of the villagers took the boy away and requested to forgive him. He informed," For 4 years, there is no rain. All the crops are burnt due to the hot sun. Wells are dried..rivers are dried. There is not a single drop of water in the dam... Not a single person in the authorities is attending us. Many came and went giving promises...dried promises. Now, here we have left only 25 villagers. Some died due to hunger, some committed suicide and many left the villages and are struggling in the nearby towns to live. What is our fault... We are farmers...is this our fault..??" He was crying but the tears were dried... I had no words.
Hem and Raj brought some boxes from the car. There were 4 kids. I told them to take the food and water. The kids were so eager to see the food. I heard one of them said, "...We will have food now...." It made my feelings to roll over my cheeks. It was hard to hide it.
We talked with the villagers. They were not interested to have any promises because they told that their treasure was full of many promises from the authorities and the leaders.
We had decided to stay there for some days. The villagers were agreed. they were surprised. I wanted to know about their children. So I asked everyone and they told the true stories about their being. Finally, 73 years old Balaji with his 60 years old wife Goda, told their story which made me think. It made me get angry at the authorities and the leaders. Balaji was telling.....
" I had three children...Bhim, Gopal, and Raghu. Bhim is the eldest while Gopal and Raghu were the younger. Bhim, from the beginning, was not interested in the studies and used to leave from the school. he did not learn anything. But he is kind and generous. He is helping me on the farm until now. But being clever, Gopal and Raghu were very aggressive. They were hard to control and always bullying others. There were no complaints about their studies but their thoughts were very revolutionary. They were always inducing others to do according to them. They were not interested in farming also. Bhim married at the time but Gopal and Raghu were not ready to. The wanted to be wild. My pressure didn't work.
Days were passing. We were the richest family in this region. We had a hold on everything. But once-prosperous days began disappearing due to the continuous lowering of the rainfalls. Meanwhile, most of the workers left me and settled elsewhere. I was also helpless. I allowed them to go as their wish for I was unable to feed them properly. I was helping the people in their needs by means of food, clothes and many times money. But, a time came when it was become necessary to take loans from a landlord Jaswant. He was ill-named in society. But, it was not the time to think about what was good and what was bad. It was the need of time. It was essential to feed the family and the cattle and the farm. There was no other option before me.
First-year, I paid the installments regularly. But later I found it difficult to manage it. It was becoming hard to make both ends meet. So, the burden of the loan extended day by day. The landlord was insulting me again and again and finally took charge of the whole of the farm to recover his debts. Moreover, he with some leaders and officers grabbed the funds sanctioned under the schemes sent to the villagers. All were angry at Jaswant but no one had the courage to utter a word against him. He started deceiving the people and grabbed their lands for no value. He was treating the villagers as his slaves. Within only 3 years, he became the lord of the region. Gopal and Raghu were not tolerating this. They often took axes to kill him. But, I warned them not to do such kind of sin. Jaswant had beaten them two times but I told them not to raise their hands. Both were quiet since that day. They were becoming silent and did not go out of the house. I was feeling, their silence was dreadful.
Last year, one day, Gopal and Raghu left the house unknowingly. We had no idea where they had gone. We searched for them everywhere, but in vain. 4 months ago, Raghu came at midnight suddenly, in a Jeep with 4 other young boys. It was the happiest moment for us. I couldn't see Gopal so I asked, "Where have you been..? Where is Gopal..? How is he..?" Raghu kept silence for a while and broke out," He is at front. We are fine. I have killed Jaswant and the other 4 officers. Now, I have to go. I cannot stay longer. Now, the village is free from its threats. I will come back with Gopal soon." He came and disappeared just like a breeze.
We were investigated many times. I informed them again and again what I had known. But still, they are not believing. They imprisoned me for 3 days. But it was in vain. The authorities appointed a committee through which all the villagers got their ownership on their lands.
Now, I am at the last step of my journey. I don't know when it will be over. But what is the future of these people..? What is about the next generation..? The young are moving towards the wrong paths..but how can we say it as a wrong..? Nobody is listening to us. Nobody is concerned. What should we do..? How should we live..?"