The Unanswered Question
The Unanswered Question
He was a bit hesitant to enter but slowly crept in against the watchful eyes of security guards. He kept on pondering whether he should enter or not but ultimately gave up against his wishes. This is what he was looking for, the happiness, the ultimate truth of life since at a remote place at Belpahari, in Midnapore district, darkness has plunged in.
It was 7 pm. He was astonished at the beaming of light with so much energy but there it was darkness. It is not the natural darkness but a serenity sensed through poverty, illiteracy, lack of infrastructure and filled with deprived people where starvation prevails and deaths due to starvation, malnutrition and consecutive diseases are rampant. He was thinking about these conditions. His fellow men there have been languishing for thousand of years in darkness. The children malnourished, women half-clad, old-aged persons like living corpses. Generation after generation, the people have been living in the same state with no better conditions bequeathed to their posterity. The most important resource, namely, human resource has remained completely undeveloped. In such material conditions, it is no wonder that the lamp of education has not been lit here which has further kept the region in such abysmal conditions.
He was delighted by a basic thought that he would be around with so-called high class society where the concept of starvation does not exist, where there would be companion, where sun rises with a ray of hope and sets after the dreams are met but at Belpahari sun does not convey the same message. There morning starts at 4 am where people has to go deep into jungle in search of Junglee Aloo which serves as their staple food along with the eggs of the ant. Once brought, immediately they start having those, sharing with other members. They do not have any idea about breakfast, lunch or dinner but only knows to survive through Junglee Aloos along with juice made of mahua.
He was amazed and elated since in this hurly burly of life, with so many sky crappers, he seemed to be lost. He could visualize the difference and was complacent with his achievement. The achievement of getting through a residential complex.
It was a huge building complex. He could not restrain his eyes. Well built houses with roof top garden, club, gym, sophisticated cars drew his attention. He was overwhelmed. This is what he was searching for so long. He will not have to struggle for a place to sleep, not to repair the shelter made of mud and bushes, the one he is accustomed at Belpahari.
He was looking here and there, amazed by the ambience with an emotional attitude and protruding eyes when he was bewildered at the sight of a big hall comprising a group of men and women. People were enjoying, celebrating a festival with colourful dresses but his eyes got stuck to the plates, lying at the hands of the people. Various kinds of food which he had never seen before. There were containers and people were having their food. They were busy in their confabulation while his mind has gone to the remote place thinking about Phoolmani, his five years old sister.
Phoolmani is now sleeping at her grandmother’s lap with her mind to some utopian land, where starvation does not exist, feeling for others exits, value exist, integrity and love exist ie labour of love. This was third day Phoolmani did not eat anything. She is speaking but with a faint voice, thinking by day end she would get some food.
Since two days, he ran from pillar to post, in search of food- to feed his beloved sister, but the efforts proved futile although he was bent upon to arrange some food for Phoolmain on that day. He boarded the bus, which was going to the nearest town, knowing fully well, he would be thrown out for not purchasing the ticket.
It happened. Despite his persuasion, he found himself lying at the corner of the road, beside a huge residential complex, with blood oozing out from the nose and clothes torn apart.
He was alarmed by a bang. He could hear a voice. There was an announcement and he found people running. He stood beside a wall, gazing and anticipating the next course of action. He overheard ‘DJ has started , let’s run’. All young children, their parents gathered at a small place. People started dancing. The entire body is filled with joy. Phoolmani wanted this. She would be extremely happy while listening to the events. Her mind would flow in search of friends, a starvation free place, a place of love and peace.
To his utter joy he located a small posse. His joy knew no bounds. At last he found companion. A class of literate people with whom he can share the agonies, pains that he has seen at Belpahari and who would pour in ideas for development but hesitation and complexities cropped up. Slowly he moved and approached one of the person, he met first with a low tone voice. Can I get some food? I am hungry. Pat came the reply:
Who are You? Why are you here? Guard, How could this person enter this premise? He found himself shivering under the arms of the security guard.
Is this the abode of peace he was longing for and visualized for so many years? Simplicity exist at Belpahari where he can speak, he can mix, he can sleep but literacy does not exist while starvation exist.
He was thrown out of the gate. He stood beside the gate with a panic stricken fae and with a heavy heart he looked up at the sky. Moon was glowing. He could see Phoolmani’s facesmiling and murmuring. He was enthusiastic, cheerful, energetic. It was a rejuvenation. So what if he is unable to arrange food. So what if the place is denied. Love will remain, Phoolmani’s smiling face will remain. Hospitality, Love and peace at Belpahari would persist. He started running.
Phholmani was not there. She has left for the utopian land.
Phoolmani left but the question remains ……Can We?