By: Harjeet Singh
When I was a child, motorbike and motorcar technology was dwarfish.Varieties of cars and bikes were limited in number or fixed.Even well-to-do families, especially in rural area, were without personal cars but they were possessors of gear type scooters.At that time needs of people were limited.Richness was not the order of day.Villagers of remote area no matter rich or poor were inclined to travel through buses.But their visits were infrequent because of long distance between city and village and they used to go for special purposes or when some dire need occurred. To drive a car or scooter by a woman was, in rural area, considered as a fantasy.Very few women were employees and I watched them walk on foot, a few ones on bicycles or rickshaws toward their institution. In village a single person was owner of a tractor or car. Expressely man was man’s ointment in the hour of need.
Besides, there was a problem of communication gap.In rural area no landline wires were installed, on the other hand in urban area STDS or ISDS were available but people of rural area were stripped of such facilities, in plain English, convenience was one-sided.People used to deliver messages via letters or telegrams and they were dependent on one another for general and major purposes.Before the eve of someone’s wedding two or three persons of family or village were appointed to distribute wedding cards in remote areas.It was more so in the case of deaths to deliver messages of funeral or mourn.Telephone convenience was like a dream for villagers, they were waiting for that day as some rumors were bruited about the installation of landline wires.
In childhood, on rare occasions I journeyed with my maternal grandmother through buses.Sometimes old lady would carry me in the grip of furrowed arms.When her arms lost their strength, she used to say now walk on a par with me.Our walking speed was equivalent because she was an old lady and I was a child.One day I visited her parents’ home, after one hour’s travel we approached city bus stand and now her native village was at two kilometers from city bus stand.Before sitting in three wheeler, a driver touched my maternal grandmother’s feet as he was from her native village, my grandmother called him by the name of beta(son) Sodhi. He made some space for us by saying his family members are with him today, please leave some place, few young boys stood on the back extended portion of wheeler and other passengers were in it , like us they were to reach next-off destinations, it became congested with other passengers.As we sat in it , Sodhi started it and marched towards destinations.He kept talking with grandmother about new developments in the village and she asked about his profession of driving as he had bought a new three wheeler and adopted new profession, spoke he– fine beyond the limit, ”my wheeler always remains heavy with passengers when I depart from bus stand and when I arrive again”.We arrived at our destination soon, still talks were in between.He turned his auto towards village and dropped us before grandmother’s home whereas she kept saying that we would approach by foot because home was nigh from road.However, he left us before home and waved goodbye for the sake of his duty.Having reached there I met maternal grandmother’s mother to whom I had met before when I just began to go to my school as a nursery student.I used to feel homesickness at school time.Now long time passed, days had been bygone.It had been eighteen years when my maternal grandmother waved goodbye to this world.And twenty four years passed to above mentioned voyages with her. Now I had been a man of letter, I can’t say what happened to my heart, sudden emotions penetrated through my heart, one day I was passing by the same place where my maternal grandmother and I used to travel through auto or three wheeler.There were some special changes in the place as the modification of bus stand, except that other things were stable. But some new shops were installed and now that area had been crowdy comparatively. I began to think that places remain as they were but persons depart with the passage of time as she was not alive.I was alone there to remember past issues of life with her. Being a captive of philosophical mind I began to think, after me no one would remain to remember or no one would know what type of incidents occurred there with different people like us.Past memories were branded on my heart.
I moved further to watch the past places where myself and my maternal grandmother used to wait for some vehicle.Sometime new buildings had been old ones.Now there was a row of three wheelers and drivers were debating with one another for passengers. Time was when there was no contest for passengers.As I approached drivers, they considered me as a passenger but I said, now no places are available to visit. I asked one of them about the driver ‘Sodhi’ .They told that yah, his three wheeler was in the row and I asked if he was senior driver among them.When I used to visit here, there were no rows of three wheelers.They uttered, now he always remains drunken.Alcohol has been a great buttress to him.With these words driver began to shout for passengers and destinations. Soon I omitted a few wheelers and without asking someone recognized his old three wheeler.Over there I asked about Sodhi, someone told that Sodhi was in a tea stall, I reached there swiftly.He was taking tea and was speaking to someone else in the shop. I stood before him and asked him to recognize me, his mouth was emanating a smell of alcohol.He nodded his head in horizontal direction that he couldn’t. I gave a description of past days that my maternal grandmother was from his native village.Moreover I used to accompany her whenever she journeyed her native land when she was alive.Now he recognized me and hugged me tightly by saying, you were a tiny creature at that time.But now you are a well groomed young man. Immediately he ordered tea and sweets as accompaniment.And asked what would you like to take in meal? I beseeched that my belly is already full, so I would like to take tea only with you. And I extended the conversation steadily by uttering that he was a bachelor and quite young at that time. I told that I recognized his old three wheeler and now there have been so many three wheelers.He told that in past time people were not possessors of scooters.At that time there was no lack of passengers. Nowadays even old women are running gear free bikes.We remain in the wait of someone.Gone are the days, now everyone is an occupier of bike, even adolescents are running race bikes because gear type pattern was an obstacle for women and children at that time.Besides, bikes were quite heavy and made of iron metal but now light weighted and plastic made bikes are available. One who leaves bus, he begins to call his relatives to bring him from bus stand.What’s more , traffic has been so crowdy that our three wheeler can’t approach everywhere especially in small congested streets.Richshaw pullers also kicked our livelihood.In an era of costly life, we have to pay rent per day as we have to station our three wheelers before people’s shops for the sake of passengers because there is no three wheeler stand.Days of confraternity are now departed.Man has been so selfish by nature.Everyone is struggling for his personal benefits.Owing to a lack of selflessness, man’s bias has been self-centered.On the other hand drivers quarrel with one another for passengers.Few passengers are so eager, they don’t like to wait for second passenger as we cannot bring three wheeler with a single passenger to destination. Sometimes we get nothing in the first round and peep for someone while returning from first round.Further he told that sometimes people visit here for bringing their luggage, furniture and other things towards their village and other places, so to say we always remain ready for every type of work.Today I came back after throwing someone’s wheat bags to some village. We always keep ourselves engaged waiting for someone.
Now I asked about his family and children.He paused for a while and later on spoke, my wife died of bone cancer, i spent so much money over her treatment but everything went according to divine decree, theory of karma.My son was a crane driver, two years ago he passed away while operating it.My little daughter died in a road accident.With that my mother gave up the ghost on account of a sudden shock.Further my two buffaloes were buried beneath the burden of old building because of some sudden jerks of earthquake.And my diary farm closed.My small piece of land went in government account since somebody sold that piece of land with dexterity in artificial papers as it was the property of government. Last month my father passed away.At last he spoke: besides, everything is okay”.My fingers left tea glass and it fell and broke.I voiced with teeming eyes, now what is left to be okay’.