Little particles of dust flew from the ground as Krishna ran on the dusty crooked roads of his village. One of his hands flew from forward to backward with the grace of a Tiger and the other held a small steel tiffin box with great precaution and ease. Krishna looked like all the other boys of his age. His limbs were as lean as the branches he plucked out of trees while he played and his whole body looked more weak than athletic.
His father was waiting with his hands behind his back. Krishna was late today, a ritual. But Mohit only ate when his son Krishna brought him food and no matter how late he came, Mohit waited patiently. Eating with his 14 years old son was heaven for him. Krishna talked while he ate and fed his father occasionally with his little hands. He talked about his school, what was happening at home and everything there was there to talk about in the world of a 14-year-old.
Mohit was a farmer and led a simple life with his family. They enjoyed the fresh breeze of the season while sitting beneath a tree and ate what grew on the fields. It was a life of a perfect world. They knew nothing of a life outside the village and so never craved for it. Of course Krishna wanted to know so much but his father’s words always overpowered that hunger to know more.
One fine day some people from the city of ‘street lights and cars’ came to the village. They were looking for a land to set up their industrial unit. Krishna and his family had never seen a car that big and never seen Real People with little strings of clothes hanging from their throats. Is it for a disease?, Krishna always thought.
They talked about the big cities, the life, the food, the lights, the big houses and cinemas, everything that could leave a teenager starry-eyed. It was then that Krishna decided that he wanted to leave his mundane village to live a better life, to attain all the comforts of a city life.
It was a bright sunny morning, the birds chirped in the background and the constant clash of the spade with stones in the field indicated the start of the day’s work. Krishna was taking long strides as he crossed the fields, his small village school, the post office to finally reached the Guest House where the City People were living. He pleaded with the guard to let him see them. The guard knew Krishna so he allowed him inside.
Krishna softly knocked at a Teak Mahogany door with gold brass handles, just the door fascinated Krishna. After a few seconds, a man opened the door and invited Krishna inside, how harmful could a small boy be, the City Man thought. Krishna launched into an introduction about himself and his family. He explained to the man that he wanted to change his life which was not possible if he stayed at his village.
The City Man was shrewd and calculative. He saw this 14 year old as a bridge to fill in the city and village gap. He could use him for his new project and so he exaggerated and told Krishna how rich he could become and that he was willing to take Krishna to the city. Overjoyed krishna thanked him and promised to meet him at the Guest House Gate next morning.
Krishna argued and fought with his parents who wanted him to make a wise decision. But Krishna did not relent and started packing. His mother Savitri cried and told him horrifying stories about the cities, but Krishna did not listen. His father was in a state of shock and sat in a corner. Nobody slept that night, Krishna in excitement and his parents in a state of total shock, they were losing their son, they knew he was never going to come back.
Krishna sat in the big car and bid a final adieu to his village. They reached the city after sunset, the lights were on and so was the dream sequence of Krishna’s life. He was perplexed, he couldn’t make up his mind on what to see and what to leave as his car glided on the smooth roads leaving everything else a blur. Finally he reached the City Man’s house and was shown a place to sleep.
Krishna was given some money and asked to take a tour of the city while they worked out the details of the project they had to launch. Krishna pinched himself as he thought of the days that awaited him, it was no less than a dream. He saw the tall buildings whose tip he could only see when he bent his head downwards towards his back, Krishna was in a different planet, he thought.
Days melted into months, Krishna was becoming home sick. The city lights did not fascinate him anymore. the novelty of watching cinema was slowly leaving him and the urge to breathe in clean air increased. He had no work and he had skipped his studies. He had become a mere domestic help. His heart had begun to sink when the City Man came back one day to tell him that the project wasn’t happening and that he couldn’t keep Krishna at his home. He asked Krishna to leave.
With a heavy heart he packed his bag and left the house into the City Darkness, the lights weren’t enough to penetrate into the darkness that his life was facing. He went to the nearby park and wept. He wept all night long on a park bench. His stomach grumbled but he did not eat. The polluted air choked his throat and he remembered his clean village air with a tear.
As the first morning rays impinged upon his pale skin, he woke up startled. The memory of last night came back rushing and so did the tears leaking down his face. He made a quick decision and that was not to go back to his village before he earned a reputation in the city. He picked up his bag and started walking towards the nearby tea stall. After a quick snack, he went to a restaurant which was the City Man’s regular place to visit and asked for a job. He was assigned dish washing and a board to sleep. It was nothing what his father would have wanted him to do, but he accepted it with a smile.
The money was of course not enough to fulfill his needs and wishes and so he juggled between washing dishes and serving as a waiter. He started noticing the regulars in the restaurant and one of them was a big round man who looked rich. After dinner one day while the gentleman was leaving, Krishna followed him and requested him to keep him for a job. The man became impressed with Krishna’s courage and asked him to meet him at his office.
That man had an export and import business dealing in manures and other farming materials. Krishna was given a lowly job but better than what he did back at the restaurant. He worked hard but earned little given he was not even a High School Graduate. Krishna slept without food some days, shivered in the cold when he did not have enough clothes to wear and blanket to cover himself. The room was so dingy that he could hardly walk. Those were the days when he recalled his days in the village.His house with big rooms, the huge fields and the delicious food he ate with his father. He did not make friends and remained a loner.
He got married to one of the worker’s daughter after some years. The family grew and so did his needs. He juggled between being an insurance agent for two companies and worked full-time with the export import business. Krishna was blessed with twins. But soon enough he realized that it was no good trying to earn money here. He just couldn’t make it work. His wife Pratima was becoming frail with each passing day. He knew he was not feeding her enough even when he skipped his meals. He was sure of one thing and that was to get his children educated and fed.
After some days of hunger and deteriorating health condition of his wife and kids, Krishna decided to leave the city lights behind to once again enter his life line in his village. He counted every step as he entered the village. People did not recognize him as he walked by the familiar tube wells, houses, trees and fields. It was a difficult half an hour that he spent walking to reach his house. With a heavy heart he knocked the door twice. Nobody answered. His heart sank as passers by started stopping to see his house.
After a few minutes, the dusty wooden door flew open to reveal a sullen and thin old face of a lady, she was clearly disturbed that some body had knocked at the door. She looked up and froze. She could not move an inch but called Krishna’s dad who had aged 40 years in the past decade. He ran towards the door to see Krishna. He smiled but it quickly vanished as he closed the door on his face.
Krishna kept knocking as his neighbors looked on. He apologized for all the years he was away. He knew they were near the door, listening. His mother was arguing with his father to let the family stay inside the house. She asked if she can at least get the wife and the kids inside. He did not relent.
It was eleven in the night when he finally let him in. He hugged Krishna and cried, cried for all those lost years and told him how he had stopped farming after Krishna went away. Their situation was miserable. Krishna had years of export import experience in Farming products. He had borrowed and bought some with him with a clear plan in mind. He was going to do farming and revive his family business.
Krishna started farming and loved his life. He could breathe in the fresh air again, eat good food which was not rotten with chemicals and above all, he was back to his roots. His farms flourished and he saw profits. He bought more land and expanded his business. He started a small cottage industry and promoted education for everyone in the village.
His children turned 6 and he knew what he wanted them to do. He gave them the opportunity to study in a good boarding school. He knew that it was not the city which held him back and gave him a decade of misfortunes but his education. He was not going to let the history repeat itself….