One Amongst The Many

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Suresh felt a tremor , he had been lying asleep on the floor of the moving train . He woke up to the sound of hustling in his compartment which was fully packed . The time was 7:15 am and in another 45 minutes he would reach the city of Bangalore. The general bogey of the train was trembling with all sorts of noises , arguments , crying babies, loud music and what not. His back was now severely paining after a tiresome journey of almost 45 + hours.   “ How big that city would be ? ”   Suresh thought looking at  these migrants , he was also a part of this group who were undertaking this long journey for one opportunity of work and earning some money .

After an hour , the train arrived at the Bangalore station , Suresh got down and  with him came the whole lot , which started rushing towards the exit gate . Suresh just had a worn out school bag and some wooden equipments . He went to the corner and took out a wrapped polythene from his bag , he checked his train ticket and his Adhaar Card. His ID card had his full name Suresh Jadhav , he remembered the taboo he had faced in his village all his life  . He looked at the his ID , and called out his name “ Suresh ” .  He was skeptical , whether his surname and cast would haunt him , here in this mega city as well . He kept his ID proof in his pocket and proceeded towards the exit gate.  He carefully walked ahead ,  this was the first time he had come this far away from his village in Bihar  , to look for work.  His hesitation was evident in his inferior way of walking , near the exit gate a Ticket Checker caught hold of him and demanded his travelling ticket.  Suresh couldn’t grasp at first , what the official said who passed a grin look . A moment later , Suresh hesitantly showed him his ticket . The official glanced at the ticket and pushed Suresh towards the exit.

Outside the railway station , Suresh took out his mobile phone and dialled a contact named  Raju. He instantly answered his call and asked “Kya haal Bhaiya , kab pahuche ”. ( How are you  brother , when did you arrive ? ) . Suresh replied ,  “ Arrey Bhai , hum abhi kuch samay pehle utare train sai ” ( I just got down from the train , some moments ago. ) Raju said , “ Theek hai Bhai , aap bus lekar seedha us address par pahuchie , Jo hamne aapko bataya tha ” ( Ok brother , now arrive straight at the destination , which I have told you earlier . )

Raju hailed from the same village and had arrived as a labour in Bangalore 4 years ago , now he worked as an apprentice to a small time construction businessman  . It was on his advice that Suresh came for work here.   When Raju last visited his village , a month ago he told Suresh

 “ Hamare Saath , bade sheher mai kaam Karo , Apne ghar vaalo ka accha se dhyaan rakh paaoge , unki sahayata kar paaoge . ”  ( Come with me to the big city and work , you would be able to take care of your family in a better manner . )

Suresh already tired of the journey so far , went ahead and boarded the bus to reach his destination , which was some 30 mins away.  He got a  window seat in a BMTC bus and all the way he was astonished looking at the mega city . All he could make out was that they were giant structures on each side of the road . He somehow felt happy  about the fact that nobody looked down at him but he was accustomed to that way of living ‘ where cast was more important than humanity ‘.  Throughout the journey he kept his gaze fixed on his wooden equipment  , he was nervous and hesitant and shaky . No matter how far he was from his native an inferiority was imbedded in his personality .

A man sitting next to Suresh asked “where are you going ” ? Suresh looked at him hesitantly and answered  ” Wilson Garden ” .

“ In another  5 minutes you’ll reach there ” the man casually answered .

Upon his arrival , Raju took Suresh to his room and asked him to take  rest and get to work  from next day .

Suresh was so tired that he lied down on the mattress  and slept at once  . He woke up in the evening  and called his family in Bihar and after further enquiry  told them about his work , expected duration of stay and wage .

These three things were what mattered in the life of a labourer . ‘ Work , Wage , Duration of Work ‘ , which determined whether he would be able to feed his family.  Suresh had a wife , a son and an elderly mother to look after. As a young boy , he had helped his father in his work , which led him astray from education . All he became in life was a labourer , and   was left to earn something with his bare hands.

But he had different dreams  for his 16 year old son , he wanted him to study and do something in his life .

From next day onwards , Suresh started his work as an assistant to Raju in construction of some shops in the area . He received a monthly pay of 10 thousand rupees out of which he used to send 5 thousand rupees back home in his mother’s bank account . His work in Bangalore lasted 10 months , after which he wished to go back and look for some work in nearby region . His mother’s health was deteriorating . Raju understood his situation and he also advised him to go home .

After 10 long months , Suresh returned home and found an ailing mother . She was completely bed ridden  . One night she called for his son and told him “ Hume tum par bahut garv hai . Tum ek acche insaan ban gaye ho ” ( I am proud of you , you have grown up to be a good human . ) She kissed his forehead and asked him to leave . Moments later she died in her sleep .

The cremation took place in the outskirts of the village and was attended by a handful number of people.  Since time immemorial , Suresh’s family and other outcasted communities had lived this life of utter desolation and isolation.

His mother’s last words “ You’ve grown up to be a good human ” . Filled him with courage and hope , maybe one day he would take his family away from the village and uplift their standard of living. 

After a month’s stay in his village , Suresh was ready to leave again to another city in search of work.  His son who  was now in 10th standard came to say goodbye to his father at the railway station.  Moments before the train’s arrival . Suresh embraced his son and said “ Mehnat sai padho , hum tumhare saath hai . Apna jeevan saakar Karo ” ( Study hard , I am with you , become successful in life ) .

Suresh boarded the train , his son stood teary eyed on the platform but with courage and determination in his heart. 

His father – the migrant labourer the “ One amongst the Many ” was lost in the jam packed train …..

By. Abdullah Kazmi

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