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सानू सौदा नहीं पुखदा, सानू सौदा नहीं पुखदा...

रवि तो चेनाब पुछदा,

"की हाल है सतलुज दा?"

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Finding Neverland

Men, great men, came before me. Men who made current affairs into history, men who fought their guts out at times for pride, at times for love, at times for their country and at times for stealth walked the same lanes as I do now. May be the lanes, and the villages were not tiled then, and were not consecrated as Chandpur, or Gautam Budh or some xyz. They ruled the kind of us till they had the wish and the determination and when their bodies started decaying someone else came up to their place.

I am not one of them. I don’t have a zeal for power that makes men butcher thousands; I don’t have the pride that gets mutilated at every abuse that is thrown on me. I did not make any princess fall in love with me, and to be frank I did not give princess a damn. They had too much money and too much arrogance to even waste a try. For love I can safely say life is too long not to fall in true love. I am a wanderer. I wander from state to state, city to city and from village to village. I wander on foot when I have no money and I travel in government buses when my pockets jingle with chillers. I work as a casual laborer when I need food, or sit in langars with sadhus. Why I do that is the nectar of my life. I make someone happy.

Sameer is my name. I was born to good, middle class parents who gave focus on education. I was born a winter prior to the Indian Financial Crisis in a small village of Kheda, in Madhya Pradesh. My parents were good decent people. They knew they had enough money to feed me, and to educate me, and to make me a decent man and they made it a point to teach me that they had no money for my wishes and desires if they went unleashed. I did my graduation and my post graduation both from reputed institutes and did everything that could make my parents proud.

In the summer of 2012, during my post-graduation I fell in love with a smart, intelligent and beautiful girl. I may add pragmatic as another adjective and behave indifferently to being extravagantly praiseworthy. I was lucky, and most of the people surrounding me know, in the deepest of their hearts, that first love comes lucky only one in a thousand. I was the one amongst the thousands. We married in 2015 and had our first kid two years hence.

Ramya on the birth of our son said, “I always had the dream of seeing the whole of India. Cities, villages, the majestic hills, the pristine beaches, the clandestine sloping sand dunes, the haunted castles, the snow capped Himalayas, the turbulent Brahmaputra, the silent yet ferocious, the tea garden of the North and the East and beyond doubt divine Ganges. I want to see Kumb Mela, the sadhus who travel from far and wild on one foot with knee long hair and clad only in ashes. We will let our son live his life as he wants. We won’t ask him join the IITs and NITs or the IIMs. If he wishes to stay in the hills and write poetry we won’t stop him.”

“We won’t”, is all I could come up with tears in my eyes.

Spring of 2020 was a sad year. Ramya, Gautam (our son) and I were returning from Pune to Bandra via the expressway. An oil tanker had spilled oil on the road, and the brakes lost control when a cow suddenly came in front of our car. The car skidded on the spilled oil and veered off to collide with the mountain running parallel us on the left side. A truck which was just behind us braked and smashed our car from behind. Ramya, and my three old son and I were smashed in between the mountain and the truck. Both of them never made it to the hospital alive.

If anyone has ever experienced pain in his life and cried over it, let me tell him he was crying for mean causes. No pain is greater than the death of your loved one, and every tear shed on other reasons is a waste. The pain in my heart flayed each and every cell of my body. Existence was a prolonged curse for me under that moment. Images of Ramya running behind Gautam filled every nook and corner of the house. I wished someone might poison the bits of food, and the drops of water which went up to my throat but never made it till my food pipe. Death is a gift under that scenario and life an abuse.

In 2021, I resigned from my job, sold all my property, my house, my stocks, my shares and donated most of the sum to a charitable organization for orphans. I had decided to fulfill Ramya’s dream. If she could not see the whole of India, if God was brutal enough to snatch her away from me, she was going to see cities, villages, towns, sand dunes, snow, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Tea Hills and Hermits and everything through my eyes. I had decided to search for Ramya in the ashes of hermits, in the clanking of cymbals at Assi Ghat, in the scantily used roads of Himachal, in the sandalwood forests of Tamil Nadu, in the embankments of Hirakud Dam, and in the realms of Uttarakhand.

In November,2021 I started walking from Pune with just a knapsack that contained two pair of clothes and a blanket. I covered countless villages of Madhya Pradesh, innumerable sites of Gujrat and by the time I reached Rajsthan, I had stopped counting both days and villages I had spent on the road. In the first year each step that I took reminded me of Ramya’s smiling face, her eyes, her dark jet black eye lashes, her ears whose pinna were not detached at the bottom, her small tiny earrings and every moment that I spent with her. Ramya owned just one pair of earrings, and those were the ones I gifted her when I proposed. She wore it since the propose day in 2012 till the day in 2020 she died. I still carry them in my bag.

In 2025, I was in Allahabad during “Purna Kumb ka Mela”. On one hand there are men in India who have conquered the Everest, killed wild boar with bare hands, earned billions and billions and on the other hand there are men who have been to this holy place. It is a sight to behold. The absolute power of faith can be seen at this place. Multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and the frail enter the fray without hesitation and complaint. Many come across countries enduring tireless journeys, and miseries without repining. "It is done in love, or it is done in fear" opined Mark Twain. He did not know what it was that made people suffer, endure and still come. I know what make people come this far. It was the same reason for which I came, that others come too.

‘Peace.’

I gave the earrings of Ramya to the holy Ganges to protect it within her waters, and absolve it when it joins the mighty Bay of Bengal. I found my ‘Peace’, and Ramya realized her dream through my eyes.






(You might also enjoy reading Finding Neverland-2 and Reminiscences )

7 comments:

Shashank Singh said...

"If anyone has ever experienced pain in his life and cried over it, let me tell him he was crying for mean causes." Very true. Wonderful post.

Suvi said...

"I had spent on the road. In the first year each step that I took reminded me of Ramya’s smiling face, her eyes, her dark jet black eye lashes, her ears whose pinna were not detached at the bottom, her small tiny earrings and every moment that I spent with her. Ramya owned just one pair of earrings, and those were the ones I gifted her when I proposed. She wore it since the propose day in 2012 till the day in 2020 she died. I still carry them in my bag."

To tell you the truth, someone in the office asked me why my eyes were wet. I turned around and said, I am reading.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

A beautiful way to pay homage to the ones' love departed.

A wonderful short story!

Cheers,
Blasphemous Aesthete

Nikhilesh Jha said...

My fav:

Death is a gift under that scenario and life an abuse.

kanishka said...

all ur works seem to be written from heart..though its all fiction.. :)) that is the beauty of ur writing, professor :)

Mystical Skeptical Me said...

What a story! Except for the chronology, none of it feels like a fiction! Surrendering Ramya's earrings into the Ganga...was a beautiful way to safekeep the love!

Beautiful! :D

sp.ajay said...

@Shashank: :)

@Saurav: i am honoured. it is said if your writing makes people cry than you are evolving.

@Anshul: After certain time we dont even remember the faces of the departed; just what remains is a big hole. Sometimes time fills it, and at times nothing does!

@Nikhilesh: Life is beautiful you must have realised it by now. Even pain has a beauty associated to it. We just don't want the pain to be on us. :P

@Kanishka: Thanks for your comment; btw i write with my fingers. :P

@Mystical: thanks for passing by. Making the chronology sync with present would have misled people to believe such stories do exist. :P