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Endless Voyage - 6

Endless Voyage

Rise and fall of humanity

by

pradipkumar raol

&

prakash vaidya

Part - 6

In a region called ‘Kathiyavad’ in Gujarat a small village ‘Meghpur’ was unique in its own way. It had a mix population comprising Patels, Brahmins, Kolis, Bharwad etc.

In all, they were no more than thousand in numbers. It is needless to say that they depended mainly on cultivation of their land and raising cattle. Their uniqueness was in their simplicity and still adhering to centuries-old customs, dogmas and way of life. In 21st century when the whole world was moving ahead toward technological and social advances, the village moved with a pace of a tortoise. It had bullocks, buffaloes, goats, sheep, hens, camels and so on. There were no asphalt roads, no school because no one studied here. Government had tried a number of times to encourage education but it failed. It was really a remote village in its real sense. Several times it had appeared on front pages of newspapers for its uniqueness. Surprisingly no murder, theft or rape, even quarrels had ever been reported from this village. People of this village rarely ventured out, and if they did, never brought back vices of the outside world on their return.

Meghpur’s Rameshwar Pandit was an early riser. He was a true Pandit in every sense of the term. Staunch believer in his ‘Dharma’(moral and religious conduct)and lived his life exemplary for others. He advised and helped others in need. In days of crisis people would rush to him for solutions. During preparations for his Puja he would sing Bhajans(devotional songs) about lord Krishna with a slow and sweet tone. And he would never forget chanting divine Vedic mantras.

An old woman Jivkor on hearing his Bhajans(holy songs) would come to know that it is time to feed her cattle. After that she would milk her cows and then give a wakeup call to her son Madhav. He had the broad shoulders and the muscular built of one who had been used to hard physical labor.

Madhav would always get up reluctantly. He would help his mother for a while, and have breakfast. After that he would be ready to go to his farm. He would take his two bullocks along with him and he would never forget to take his radio with him. Listening to old filmy songs and Bhajans were as important to him as tending his farm. On the way he would puff his hand made tobacco biddies. On reaching to his farm first he would tie up his bullocks under a tree. Thereafter, he would enter a small room and switch on the power to water his farm. Then he would begin to listen to the morning Bhajans(devotional songs) broadcasted from the station. After that his neighboring farmer Manaji would come. They would talk about agriculture and cattle and which cow gives better & more milk, which breed of buffalo is better etc. this used to be his usual time pass at the farm since he was a child. Today, also Madhav was ready with bullocks. He put the radio on a small stool and went for opening the door. The old woman put the milk pot on the raised platform and said to his son, ‘they are (his in-laws) coming to take your wife so come early today don’t waste time in gossiping with Manaji.’

Before he was able to answer, there he heard a loud bang as if something had fallen to the ground. He turned back and saw that his radio had fallen. He heard his mother’s voice, ‘oh you bitch! (Actually it was a cat) you have spilled my milk.

Madhav came out and saw that the milk was flowing down the small steps and the pot had tumbled and went near the buffaloes. A cat with a mouse dangling from its mouth was quickly jumping to climb up a nearby tree. The cat was after the mouse chasing it with dazzling speed. In haste it had collided with the radio, the radio in turn gave a strong push to the milk bowl before resting in peace. Madhav examined the radio carefully but if was broken and damaged, his heart also broke. However, he suppressed his own anger and said to his mother, ‘Don’t worry, what is the use now! It is none of our fault,’ he took the binding ropes of bullocks in his hand; ‘I will come early.’

It will take very long to buy a new or second-hand radio he thought and felt gloomy. How will he pass time at the farm! He puffed his bidi(rolled tobacco) on the way. He started watering his farm. This work will go on for four five days. He had forgotten to take his watch and now how will he come to know the time. Radio could have helped him in telling the time but that was also broken. He looked at the sky. Twilight was what he observed, Venus was shining in the east, and millions of stars were flickering. It might be five O’clock. He would stop the motor at six. He sat leisurely to smoke his all-time companion ‘bidi’ again. Thinking about his radio and the lost milk he fell asleep.

He was awakened by the loud shout of Manji Patel, “hey, Madhav, water is overflowing from the farm, stop the motor quickly. How can you fall asleep at this time?” he added scornfully.

Madhav got up but was in half sleep, ‘the radio went down the drain....’

‘Radio…? How is that possible?

‘No, no. actually it was the milk. It is a slip of tongue.’

‘Tell me about it, what is the matter about milk and radio!’ And he told him about the morning incident. Then he asked causally, ‘forget it, tell me the time now.

‘My watch says 6:30 am,’ Manji answered.

‘What are you saying? 6:30? Then why this Venus is not going and sun god is not showing his face?’

‘How do I know? It will soon appear. Tea is ready, you just puff at this bidi(tobacco rolled in some leaves), and he threw one bidi at him.

He lighted his ‘bidi’ and drew long puffs at it and said, ‘Sun has not appeared till now. If my radio was here things would have been different.’

‘Don’t worry; it will appear sooner or later. It has to appear.’

Manji Patel did tell this thing but when even after some time the sun did not appear on the horizon, he also started feeling anxious and awkward. He said to Madhav, ‘Let us ask Karsan Patel, it may be possible that my watch is not working properly.

‘Yeah yeah let us go there.’

They reached to Karshan Patel’s farm but could not find him there.

Madhav shouted, ‘O, Karshan patel, O Patel!’ No response. However, he saw at the end of his farm on a steep road Karshan Patel coming toward them with a big bundle of fodder on his head. As soon as he reached there he threw the bundle down. He said, wiping the draining sweat from his face, ‘How come, you are all here, at this time?’ He bent down to untie the knot of fodder bundle. He threw some of it in front of his two bullocks. Their small brass bells started ringing as they began their breakfast. ‘Speak up you men?’ why are not you saying something, Manji is always shy of breaking the ice, Madhav you say something.’

This time Manji spoke, ‘It is not like that Patel; we just wanted to know the time.’ Karsan started laughing and said, ‘oh! Manaji you are standing here for so long to ask just for the time. And for that you brought this Madhav along? If you had come alone would not have I told you?’ Madhav intervened, ‘No, No. I brought him here. You were busy in all this so we decided to wait for a while.’

In front of the room there was a small cot. Patel pulled it nearer and invited them to sit, ‘Come ...come, please have a seat and relax and Madhav, you go to the room, there you will find my watch in a cub board.

Manaji Patel and Karshan Patel sat on the cot while Madhav went to fetch the watch. As he came he looked at the watch and uttered excitedly. “This shows 7:30 am!’

‘What? Manji Patel exclaimed, ‘Madhav are you joking or what? 7:30? Let me see it myself.’

Manji saw the time himself, ‘It is alright, Madhav even my watch shows the same. So it is fine.

Madhav replied, ‘This is not fine, it is absurd 7:30 and still there is …’

Karshan Patel interrupted, ‘This is a watch, mind you and its job is to tell the time, what is new in that?’

In fact, till now Karshan Patel had not understood the whole exercise of these two fellows coming to him and asking for the time, he had not grasped the meaning of the situation.

But a minute after, he also realized that he had uttered something wrong and he said, ‘Madhav, give me my watch. Madhav did so. He put it to his ear to hear its tick tock noise and saw the time. And he asked Manaji, ‘what is the time you told?’

‘Yeah, at that time I told 7:35, now it must be nearing 7:40,’ Manji told him.

Now, Karshan Patel understood the gravity of the situation and jumped from the cot, ‘This is strange, really strange’ he looked at the sky.

‘We too have come to find the answer for this.’ They spoke together and pointed fingers at the sky. They discussed the matter with each other and could not arrive at a plausible explanation. Finally they decided to go to their village and consult others. One of them said, ‘if we sit here, we won’t get any answers.’

On the way to the village they met many milkmen and shepherds. They were also confused at the non-occurrence of day-break. While in the village chowk(a large ground) substantial crowd had gathered. Even children and old persons had come there. The crowd was excited enough. On reaching in the midst of the crowd Manji Patel asked directly to the village head, ‘What is happening?’

‘I think it is all about the sun. Where has it disappeared?’ Before he comes to answer, the vegetable man spoke in between, ‘Hey, you are coming back from the farm. There also you did not see sunrise?

‘No.’ Madhav replied.

‘Is It so? I thought that if it is not seen here, it must be surely at the farm.’ Kallu, the vegetable vendor showed his intelligence.

‘Hey, Kallu, where did you go when the god was distributing brain power’?

‘He went to sell the vegetables’ someone said jokingly. ‘What do you mean’, Kallu shot back.

‘It means that, if Sun-God is visible here then it should be visible there also, at the farm, understand?’

‘Sarpanch! (Village head) Is there any news on the radio?’ Madhav asked. Radio was still in his mind even under this commotion & chaos.

‘Same news were being telecasted everywhere either on TV or on Radio. They say that sun light is not visible in this part of the world. God knows what is going on. And what do you call this who forecast about such things?’

‘Weatherman’ The school teacher replied, feeling proud of his correct knowledge.

‘Yeah and those fellows will, tell us after proper, investigation. The news said so.’

‘Oh! Why don’t you ask Pundit Rameshwar, he knows everything: horoscope making, fortune telling, religious rites etc? Besides he knows about our scriptures. In fact he knows everything.’ Someone pointed out. Pundit Rameshwar was a man of deep religious conviction and immense personal magnetism; he aroused devotion in his followers and earned their respect.

The village head asked Madhav to fetch him. Pundit had just finished his Pooja and readily came to the Village main chowk. It was Sarpanch’s call and he must respect that. The village head did not waste any time. Straight away he asked, ‘you must have also observed that the sun god has not cared to appear even when it is almost Nine O’clock. Do you have any answers, Punditji.’

‘The pundit replied thus in his vastly experienced manner of tone ‘Dear brothers, in my whole life I have never seen such an extraordinary phenomena. Even there is no sun eclipses in near future. It is not possible to have darkness without an eclipse or night. Yes there is one incident in ‘Mahabharata’ epic. Would you care to listen to it?

‘Yeah, I mean did it occur in this India?’ Kallu asked innocently, trying to become as smart as he could.

‘Kachia!’ You bloody keep quiet, let us hear the whole story, yeah please Pundit go on’ someone said from the crowd.

‘Kachia, it is a question of intelligence, either way you won’t understand, someone spoke with the intention to tease Kallu.

‘Oh! You fools, can’t you keep mum even for a while’ the Sarpanch spoke so sternly that everybody kept silence. Please, you go on Punditji.’ He assured him that no one will disturb him now.

‘In the great epic of Mahabharata there is one incident of such kind. During the Great War between Kauravas and the pandavas, Arjuna had taken a vow of killing Jaydrath and if he can’t do that then he would take his own life to save the face. So the Kauravas protected Jaydrath in order to fail Arjuna. Then Lord Krishan by his power made sun to disappear and total darkness prevailed in the battle field. The army of Kauravas thought that now it is night and Arjuna has failed and he will commit suicide. Everybody got relaxed. Jaydrath was no longer protected, however the sun reappeared and Arjuna killed him fulfilling his vow. So it is true that in those days even during the daytime there was darkness. So I can’t throw more light in the subject than I have already said.’ Punditji ended his little speech there.

Someone said that news is coming on Panchayat’s TV. So everybody rushed there.

“An important announcement, today in our country very extraordinary incident has taken place. According to Indian standard time sun rise has not happened as per its scheduled time. The whole matter is being investigated upon by Vikram Sarabhai Centre. Our country is also in collaboration with America to find out the facts about this incident. We will let you know as soon as the information is available. People are requested to behave calmly and with common sense under such changed circumstances. Also stay away from rumors. This announcement is given at direct instigation of Government of India.

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