Monday, July 18, 2011

Back Home, Fulfillment of Desires

Back home
Fulfillment of Desires

The telegraph ,Statesman, The Times of India ,India today, Reader’s Digest, Hindustan Times, Drawing books, Colorful papers!-All and many more were spread untidily over the two joint broken tables of Ramoji. Ramoji was illiterate and hence had least curiosity in the letters and sentences on the papers. All he did was cut apposite pieces and bits of papers and use those cuttings in his collage works .Collage and arts were not his livelihood but his hobby. His mother passed away when he was only seven years old and father when he was ten. Now he is twenty five years old and works in a carpentry shop. He had grown up in a harsh milieu devoid of any type of luxury under the canopy of his uncle and aunt. His uncle was also a carpenter. Ramoji lived in a slovenly dressed hut with almost crumpled down walls with his uncle and aunt in the middle of a rice field. The surrounding lands belonged to Ramoji’s father who had built a hut for his uncle to live. It was over 15 years ago. No land belongs to them now. All were taken away cunningly by the land holders and middlemen as mortgaged property. The fields are still green but the greenness provides enjoyment only to their eyes and no more to their life. Mr. Bhushan did not have any children and so Ramoji was their beloved.

Whether it be rainy season, winter or summer, Ramoji and Mr. Bhushan always woke up at 5o’ clock, took a bath in the nearby pond, light an incense stick before an idol of Lord Krishna and then set off for a 1 km walk to their shop. Most of the days they went out without breakfast and if they had any it was only one or two hard breads. After continuous hard work for about six hours they came back home for lunch to have dry breads again. In spite of all the hardships they never complained and tried hard to adjust to their needs. Last pujas (festival of Bengalees) they had opened a sweet’s shop in the market and had a good profit. This puja they are planning for another such sweet shop hoping to make some more profit. Apart from all these day jobs, Ramoji’s mind remained busy in constructive art works. Whenever he used to get time from his work he used to take wood pieces and carved out different beautiful structures of God, Goddesses, animals, humans etc. At night he used to sit at a corner of their two room hut and carry on his collage works. He was an expert in collage too and he used to bring old papers from the market to serve his purpose. The only people to appreciate him were his unckle and aunt and he too did not care for anybody else’s opinion. Sometimes his aunt lend a helping hand in his art works. Ramoji dreamt of so many things and all those are indicated in his collage works. His uncle while at home spent his time on a cot smoking hooka and chewing tobacco.

One day it was too hot in the summer season in April. The heat waves blew all over the land making it extremely difficult to survive. The cows seemed too fatigued to eat grass and preferred shade. The dogs sat with their tongues out and the buffaloes cooled themselves in the ponds with their faces out of the water. In this oppressive heat Ramoji and his uncle Bhusan were strolling back home. They had tied torn towels dipped in water around their head with a part of it covering their mouth and nose to survive the tremendous heat.

In their hands they carried the bag containing their carpentry tools. Ramoji’s aunt was waiting eagerly for them. Today she had cooked cabbage and pumpkin along with breads and rice. They came and went to the nearby pond to have a bath and also to cool themselves after the day’s hard and toiling work. They returned and sat for the lunch but couldn’t eat much, in spite of the good food as the extreme heat had ruined their appetite. Bhusan went for his afternoon nap on a broken cot and Ramoji sat with his aunt carving a rose structure out of a piece of wood. That day Bhusan went alone to work in the second half of the day. Ramoji was not feeling well and so preferred not to go out. The whole afternoon he worked carving a structure out of the wood.

In the evening a slow cool breeze was blowing which seemed to bring bits of life to the dying atmosphere. Ramoji sat with his aunt and discussed over so many topics, the fields-if they regain it someday, a good house, their own carpentry shop, their golden old days and so many other things. By this time Ramoji had carved out a structure of a beautiful “Rose” .At night after dinner Ramoji sat by their outside boundary fence and looked at yonder point beyond the unending fields of grain. A smoke was curling like a serpent in the sky above and getting inside one of the holes in the cloud. It was the smoke from the engine of the only passenger mail that passed through the Silpahari station far away. Ramoji suddenly had a strong wish to be there and feel how being on a train is like. In his short life he had boarded bus a few times and cycle, that too of his master at the carpentry shop. Ramoji’s innumerable pieces of dreams joined to converge into one wish that is to be on the train. He has seen the train and its smoke from their hut. He now wanted to see how their home looks like from the train.

One long week passed by. One day Ramoji took the wooden Rose along with him to the market. Mr. Saibal Banerjee, a big businessman came to the carpentry shop to place some orders of furniture. Ramoji was working in a side, shaping and smoothening a log to be used for making a bed. The wooden rose was beside him. It attracted the vision of Mr. Banerjee. He was impressed by the artistic skill of Ramoji. He gave orders for ten such wooden pieces and asked Ramoji to come to his home at Kolkata. He told Bhusan that he will also arrange for some more works with good payment once Ramoji comes to Kolkata at his house. He paid Bhusan the fare for Ramoji’s journey by train. Ramoji was overjoyed in his mind and at his heart. His joy knew no bounds. The dream that he had seen just a week before had turned into reality. Mr. Banerjee also confirmed to give Ramoji a job with Rs 1000 as monthly salary at Kolkata along with square meals. That day, everyone at Ramoji ‘s home was very happy. They conversed till late night discussing and planning things. Ramoji was about to leave next week. Though there was happiness on one side yet there was a feeling of emptiness in the heart of Ramoji’s Uncle and aunt, as their beloved was about to go away soon but Ramoji remained busy planning things and was very excited about his visit. The plume of smoke ---he has always wanted to be there! And now was the opportunity.

It was Monday next week and Ramoji was to leave. His aunt placed a ‘tilak’ that she had brought from the altar of a nearby temple. Bhusan took Ramoji to Silpahari station. They went by rickshaw. Ramoji carried two bags one containing his clothes and the other his sculptures. They waited eagerly for the train. The rails trembled and the sound of the piercing whistle of the train rang through the air. As the train dashed in the station Ramoji’s heart seemed to feel heavenly satisfaction. Ramoji got up and took a seat by the side of a window. Bhusan told a man who was sitting next to Ramoji to help him get down at Howrah station from where Mr. Banerjee was supposed to send someone to pick him up. The man asked Bhusan not to worry.

As the train slowly started its journey Bhusan bade him goodbye with tears in his eyes but Ramoji felt as if he was travelling in a boat sailing in the waters of his dreams. He watched the sceneries outside as the train ran passed the villages and towns, the rivers and lakes.

In the next station a beautiful girl of about twenty sat in the seat in front of Ramoji , face to face. Never before this, has Ramoji seen such a beautiful lady. He gazed at her for quite some time with two of his innocent eyes. The girl quite naturally did not seem to be interested in Ramoji but asked his name. They gossiped for a while .She was from Kolkata too. From their talks on hobbies Ramoji’s talents in art works came up. When she heard that Ramoji was called to Kolkata for his sculptures , she expressed her wish to see them. Ramoji took out one of his nicest sculptures that he had carved out of wood. Rusha asked him how he managed to do these amidst his days of tiring work. She was so mush impressed by Ramoji’s talent and overwhelmed to see it that she wanted to take all the sculptures. She was ready to pay a hefty sum for those. “Ramoji will you please give these to me?”, she asked. For the first time in life someone has asked for something from Ramoji directly. He couldn’t say no though he knew that he would not get the job if he did not bring the sculptures along with him to Mr. Banerjee. The next station Rusha got down. Ramoji too got down. He had given his heart to Rusha but he knew it wasn’t possible to proceed further. He gave all his sculptures to her without any payment. She said thanks gave a smile and then went away. She kissed one of the sculptures as she went away.

Rusha had not given her heart to Ramoji but to his sculptures. Ramoji’s heart was in those sculptures. Perhaps he had sent his heart and love secretly through them. He looked at the passing train and smiled. He did not want to go to Kolkata anymore. He felt as if he had got what he had wanted to achieve in his little world. He now waited for the next train to return home. He did not know how to buy tickets but by this time knew how to board a train. Perhaps it was enough to come back home. At least for Ramoji it was!

Author: Dr. Sonnet Mondal.

Brief Bio:
Sonnet Mondal is the author of six books of poetry including a poetry bestseller and is the pioneer of the 21 line fusion sonnet form of poetry. He is a regular contributor of articles in Edit Street newspaper,Stagebuzz magazine etc. His works have been published in several International literary magazines and have been translated into Macedonian, Italian, Arabic,Hindi,Telugu and Bengali. He was awarded Poet Laureate from Bombadil Publishing in 2009, Doctor of Literature from United Writers' Association in 2010, Azsacra International Poetry award in 2011 and was inducted in the prestigious Significant Achievements Plaque in the museum of Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur. He has also been a featured poet at World Poetry Reading Series, Canada and Asian American Poetry project, U.S.A.At present he is the managing editor of The Enchanting Verses journal of poetry.At present he is the managing editor of the Enchanting Verses Journal of Poetry.