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The Earthen Pots

The Earthen Pots

12 mins 149 12 mins 149

"Hey Saheb, if you buy all these items in a Mall you will not get for less than Rs 1000. We are still charging very little. Rs 90 for earthen pitcher and Rs 70 for an earthen flower pot. After all you have to see the labour involved, Saheb.”


"Look brother, I have already told that I will not pay a single rupee more than Rs. 100. If you want to give let us know but don’t waste our time. If you don’t find our price reasonable......... " Saying this, he began raising the window glass of his vehicle and was preparing to move ahead.


Seeing the customer slipping, Ghurahu stood up and raising the pitcher and the flower pot towards the window said, “It does not matter, Saheb, why do you feel bad? You take it for Rs 100. You are the first customer from the morning. Please take them.” By saying this, he gave both the items through the window and in return got two currency notes of Rs 50. Against his demand of Rs 160 when he got Rs 100 it gave him immense satisfaction making him forget the two blank days when there was no sale. Waving the currency notes and showing his sense of victory he moved towards his wife Parbati. Even Parbati could not contain her pleasure. Coming near to her and placing his hands gently on her shoulder he asked, ”Are you happy now?” Ghurahu, his wife Parbati and her three children - Suraj, Munni and Gudiya, whose ages were between 6-8 years lived under the shade of the Metro bridge, which became their showroom and the same shade became the Bedroom at night. The whole family extended their helping hands to him but how did they manage they only knew. Only a few minutes had passed after getting the money when Raju told in a loud voice “No lending today Ghurahu Bhai, you already have the money.”


"Hey you will get Raju Bhai, where are we running away! The whole summer we are here, you too are going to be here with your sugar cane crushing machine”.


Parbati quickly called Munni who was playing some game of counting stones with Gudiya . "Listen, take this Rs 50 quickly and get 1 kilo of rice, Chillies for Rs.5 and onion for Rs.10 rupees from the other side of the street. Get a balance of Rs 14”. It was not an easy task to leave stones, trusting her brother and sister, but there was no alternative. So Munni ran across the road. "Save Rs.50." Ghurahu told Parbati and sat again in front of the pile of earthen pots. The sale of Rs 100 today gave him enough energy to sit till the evening.


There were many shops around the 'Open showroom' of Ghurahu. Near the Metro Gate, shops for golgappa, chaats, pakodas, earphones, and many more were there but only two shops were familiar to Ghurahu. One was "Raju’s sugar cane juice shop" and the other was “Pandit Ji’s gram shop”. Raju used to sell sugarcane juice in the summer season and tea in winter. Panditji earned his living only with the help of gram. Both of them used to give some food from their shops to Ghurahu’s children affectionately. Ghurahu had also good relationship with them in lending and borrowing.


Just yesterday evening Pandit Ji had consoled Ghurahu by telling - "Look! Your name is Ramashish and there is God in your name. This world is useless without God. So do not be depressed. Work hard, everything will be fine. "Ghurahu knew what his name meant, but he felt the real pride only now. He thanked his parents by bowing down before them mentally. His pride doubled thinking of his wife name as Parbati. He started realizing that when he was a part of God, like others where was the need for sadness. He spent the next few hours with the help of the feeling of pride of these symbolic names, but when he could find that not a single pot was sold for 2 days, he understood the reality of the clay God. 


At about 9 O’ clock night, more than half of the shops were closed. Ghurahu was also collecting his wares to close his shop. Parbati was cooking meals in oven. The children were playing with each other sitting on the couch. Suddenly a blue car stopped right in front of him. From the car, two boys aged 20-22 years came out and inspected the place. One of them said, "Brother! Is this your family?” Ghurahu, who was still now collecting his wares carefree suddenly got up in astonishment and said, "Yes Sir, this is my family, tell me if there is anything”


"Oh no!, in fact my name is Aniket and this is my friend Rajeev. We are both doing PhD from Triple M College. We have to complete our thesis. The subject of our thesis is "Poverty On Road". "Which means to do research on the poor people who live on the road? So, we want to spend some time with you .......... We have already met many people. We could learn a lot about them. You are the last, as we could spot you while returning and thought that we may get more information. "


Despite a lot of effort, Ghurahu could understand this much that these people would be with him for some time, note down something and go away. He looked towards Parbati. She was also looking at him with questionable eyes, as if she was asking - "Hope the situation may not turn serious.” But Ghurahu’s eyes removed her fears, as if he had answered - "Oh no, they are boys aged 20-22 years old. Seem to be students. Trust your husband. Nothing will go wrong. "


Ghurahu shook his head and gestured them to sit on the cot and then went on to collect the remaining earthenware. There was a curiosity in the eyes of the children. Aniket removed this curiosity with affection by ruffling the hairs of Munni and giving a call to the sugar cane juice vendor, "Hey sugarcane Bhai, just bring 7-8 glasses of sugarcane juice." Raju appeared in minutes and started giving juice to everyone. While giving juice Raju saw the pride in Ghurahu’s eyes, as if he is saying, "We also have our identity with people who have a car."


It was 10 o’clock night. Aniket had learned much about the life of Ghurahu. He could also make an estimate of the constant struggle for survival which they had to face. Ghurahu had become quite comfortable by now. The person sitting behind the glass pane of the vehicle was sitting in front of him now. After a lot of conversation, Ghurahu said, "Sir, it is clear that the information gathered from us will be made use of in your studies. But you have not yet written down anything. "


Uncle Ji, don’t bother. We are not from news channel to keep writing everything. You just keep talking like this in a relaxed way. That's just enough. Now I am thinking that we should spend our night here. What do you say Rajeev? Rajeev, who had been in the role of assistant student till now, suddenly wandered, "What's the matter Dude! We are tired roaming the whole day. But now you say something funny. Fine, I do not want to do the PhD. Please spare me. Seeing Rajeev's changing mood, Aniket managed to appease and bring him round.”I don’t know where to sleep? I shall sleep inside the vehicle itself.” Rajeev said.


"Sir, there is no problem for sleeping." - Ghurahu said, hitting the cot. "We have two cots; both of you may sleep in one, Parvati and the children will sleep in another. I shall be between the cots.”


"But you sleep on the floor .........


This time, Ghurahu said interrupting Aniket , "Hey how does it matter?" We sleep on the floor at times. Do not get stressed. Sleep comfortably. We will get you the food. You will get taste if you eat on the floor.


"Oh no! Don’t take the trouble. We have taken our food. You people may have your food.” Aniket said.


It was about 11 O’clock at night. Aniket and Rajeev were lying on a cot, and Ghurahu was lying on another cot. Even after repeated request Parbati slept with the children on the floor. Rajeev was sleeping - tossing and turning his body. Aniket and Ghurahu were talking facing each other. "So uncle ji, your name is Ramashish, but how you got the name Ghurahu?”


"What to tell Saheb Ji? Before my birth my mother had five children and all reached the abode of God. Then I was born and my parents named me Ghurahu. There is a belief in our village that if the children die then a bad name given to the child will save his life”. "Oh! How strange is this?”Aniket asked smiling."Now whatever has happened will remain. What can we do? Then my mother changed my name to Ramashis." Ghurahu said. Aniket - "Well what do the rest of your family do? I mean, your mother and father. What about your studies?”


Ghurahu - "Only this earth has filled the stomach of our ancestors. My father was a potter in the village. Mother also gave him her helping hand. In our village, for all marriages and festivals by selling our lamps we managed our house. We got grains during festivals and also old dresses. Then mother died and after a few days father also died. I could not pursue my studies. So we could inherit only this skill of pottery from our family. Six years back I came with Parbati and Munni to Delhi because I got married to Parbati from childhood.


Aniket- “Why did you decide for Delhi suddenly?”


Ghurahu – What to tell?. It was not possible to earn enough to manage our livelihood in our village. Who wanted the earthen lamps now for marriages, festivals like Diwali and Holi. After a lot of expectations when we came here we could know that our ancestral skill of pottery was not even worth a farthing. We tried to carry bricks but we could not succeed because we had not done it before. Whatever money we had saved were spent on the rent for the house. When we could not pay the rent the owner threw us on to the street. We made hue and cry. We spent one or two days under this Metro bridge. We were disturbed and roamed here and there when we found a man selling earthen potteries at the corner of the street. Then we thought that even we could do that job. And we do this job since then. Sometimes we get enough to fill our stomach and sometime they remain vacant.

Aniket's heart melted with pity. The city's indiscriminate glow that penetrated into the village to grab the families like that of Ghurahu, the very same city, after inviting them, was unable to feed them. Aniket, while bringing the feeling of consolation through his voice said, "Let's face the hardship now. Once the children get educated and grow up, then the life will shape up for better Uncle Ji. "Gharuah (laughs) - "Hey, how will the life improve, Saheb Ji! Looks like you also got cheated seeing those colorful books. They were given by some good people like you. They told us to educate the children. Now tell me can anyone study by merely having the books? In that book there is a picture of a man making earthen potteries. Children rejoice seeing that picture.


Aniket could not ask any further. It is difficult to say how long the vicious cycle of poverty will keep trapping a family for many generations."One thing should I say Sir, when we came here first we thought that we will work hard and one day, we will buy a beautiful car like this. We will not hire a house on rent. What is the use? We shall stay inside the car itself. Sleep in it daily. Saving on house rent we shall buy petrol for the car. But now it is certain that the dream will not be fulfilled in this birth. Let it be in the next birth Jindabad. "


After hearing the innocent dreams of Ghurahu, Aniket got up smiling. Suddenly, he said, "Let's go, Uncle Ji, I can do one thing." You gave me a bed and so it is also my responsibility that even for one night only, I should provide you with sleep of your dreams. Come on, come on ...” "Hey SahebJi, let it be there. I did not mean that, leave it.” Aniket interrupted Ghurahu and holding his hand said, "No more questions and answers, people will wake up. I swear by your soil. Let’s go.


"Hey Sahab, you are worrying unnecessarily. Sleep comfortably. It is too late at night. The vehicles come here early morning. After getting up in the morning you will have to shift your car”. Ghurahu said but Aniket was adamant.."I'll do it Uncle Ji. You just sleep in the car." said Aniket. Saying this, he took the car key from the pocket and opened the car door. Saying no and refusing to Aniket’s request the dream world of Ghurahu was kept opened.


Aniket had slept on the cot, and Ghurahu inside the car. It looked as if the lives were compromised. For one hour, Ghurahu examined everything around him. He felt the velvety comfort of  the seat, bouncing himself up. Suddenly, he felt like calling his wife Parbati as she too was entitled. But then he thought that Saheb Ji should not feel bad. Moreover Parbati had no interest in such things. Ghurahu was happy that even for one day, God had fulfilled his dream. Sleep had disappeared from the eyes today. Whether the dream is small or big, the fulfillment of it in itself keeps the sleep away for sometime.


It was almost five O'clock in the morning. Suddenly there was a loud sound. It looked as if something got burst. Aniket got panicked and sat down. The rest also got up. Some people started running around here and there. In front, Aniket's car was in a damaged condition. There was a truck which hit the car from its back.The driver had been caught by the people. He was also being beaten. There was another stationery truck in front of the battered car, which was loaded with iron rods. The collision of the truck from the rear forced the rails to bump into Aniket's car. Aniket’s heart was shaken seeing this calamity.


He came running near the car. When he remembered the scene of the night to make Ghurahu sleep on the back seat, he breathed with the sense of relief. The ray of hope awoke. But by the time he approached the vehicle the hope had vanished in thin air. The scene in front was heart-rending. Ghurahu had kept his hand on the steering wheel. Seeing the condition of Ghurahu, Aniket shrieked. People were standing around. Parbati was stunned and stood like a statue. Children were not aware of anything much till now. Some people were trying to contact the police through phone. Some people were clicking photos. Except Aniket all were upset to know how Ghurahu got into the car. Aniket was not getting any clue as to who should be held guilty for this tragic end. Seeing the earthen pots kept below the Metro bridge his eyes stood still. It looked as though the earthen pots were waiting carefree to know the price their master had paid to fulfill his one night’s dream.


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