Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Where are you my Dad ?

Text Link AdsIt was a dark night. Drizzling. Repeated lightenings with thunders made the atmosphere thick and frightening. Examinations near, mother took the initiative to see that some temporary sort of arrangement is made both for me and my immediate elder brother Krishna Kant to have night halts at Bednapur where both of us were the students of class V as school at Rampurwa was only upto 4th standard –Chaharrum as it was called. This was for the purpose of extra classes late in the evening after routine school hours. Bednapur was the headquarter of Rehuwa State who were good enough to provide us a small room adjacent to their staff quarters. Besides we two brothers, the room was shared by 2-3 more boys from my village. For father whom we called ‘Dada’ like he was addressed by his contemporary juniors, it was a routine to go to Bahraich (District Headquarter) quite often for court cases and other work including political as he was a Congress party leader. The other reason for his frequent visit to Bahraich was to attend to the cases pertaining to Kapurthala State whose revenue collection work was looked after by our family as their Agents for the purpose. There was huge work tobe attended to as a followup measure even after the States were abolished. He was a poet par excellence and wrote both in Urdu, Hindi and even in English casually. Feudal system till then dominating our family culture, it didn’t consider educational qualifications as an important factor –instead what was considered more important and graceful was the pursuit of traditional Land Lords status. Obviously my father couldn’t go for higher education. It was a different matter that he was a highly learned person. He was a good speaker, ofcourse within the limited frame of the boundaries then obtaining. Given a chance, he could have proved tobe an orator. His speech during the visit of Pt Govind Ballabh Pant, the first Premier (now Chief Minister) of Uttar Pradesh in Saidaha Bagh of our village was a highly applauded event and we youngsters felt so jubilant on that count for several days thereafter. The first one who made a visible debut towards education was my Uncle Dev Pryag Awasthi who could go upto High School initially and subsequently could secure a Master’s degree in Economics from DAV College, Kanpur. This gave the family an impetus for the next generation to give preference to educational pursuits. Such an impetus however failed to reflect as an immediate manifestation for the reason that it still lacked any visible incentive capable of arousing interest amongst youngsters. Such an element was later coupled with a situation overshadowed by a badly dwindling economic condition in the family. My eldest brother Shyam Bihari and the next one junior to him Radhey Shyam and my elder cousin Deep Narain were sent to different schools but it remained confined to just a pre matric level.

On one of his visits to the city, father left a word in the morning itself that while returning from Bahraich he would see us at Bednapur enroute to Rampurwa. The popular mode of transport those days particularly during rains was the horse or Yakka (a horse drawn carriage) besides bicycle. Ours was a solitary family in possession of two made in Japan version of bicycles - a most priviledged possession those days. My father often preferred horse and that day he was to pass through Bednapur by it. The whole day I alongwith Bhai (Krishna Kant) waited for him to come and we became restive when it was late in the evening and he didn’t turnup. Hurriedly we cooked some food for him besides the routine one for ourselves tobe sure that he gets something to eat in case he insists on not breaking his journey. We became impatient and I used to rush outside the verandah to see if there was some indication or the other of father or his horse. We knew that the eyes of a horse give a blinking brightness during rains and in darkness. Nothing was in sight and we felt so restive.Our patience had crossed all its limit. Standing by the side of a pond in front of our room I just took a chance crying ‘Dada’ in the dark and to my surprise with a thrill, I could notice the two blinking eyes of the horse with a dash in the dark clearly indicating that he was there close by. He was at the other end of the pond moving towards the road to our village and, as he told us, but for my cry for him in the dead dark rainy night he might have proceeded onward. He appeared and our joy had no bounds. He spoke to us emotionally surcharged realizing what a miserable time we had waiting for him. He stayed with us overnight. The very thought that he could have gone ahead towards the village without even meeting us infact disappointed both myself and Bhai (Krishna Kant) and the very feeling that we had almost missed him that night continued disheartening us for a long time thereafter
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