Thursday, March 19, 2009

A review of Sarat babu's "Mahesh" by a Tribal.

This evening is unlike the other when we only relax and review our achievements and physical wounds while doing this reconnaissance part of mineral exploration. We have completed this phase and shall proceed to our base camp leaving beside this camp for use in the succeeding phase.
our Small camp beside a river

our local friends, the tribals stayed back with us for this evening. The campfire started with entertainment programmes from both ends and a multi-cuisine dinner cooked and enjoyed by all. At the end we all sat beside the fire and were recollecting our hard days of covering this tough terrain consisting of steep hills and valleys.
The river beside our Camp
The chief of tribal, Manglu Sardar, was little drunk as usual in this occasion and was often saying incoherent words. One of us being inquisitive asked him to share his thoughts. He said " The story of Gafur Zola and his pet bull Mahesh once told by some of you is good but needs to be amended in view of some hard technical facts." Talking among us we soon recollected the story told by a good narrator who also speak their languages also.
We are exploring for Iron ore in a new location unknown before and trying to narrow down the target area by preparing a local geological map of the area. The iron ore occurrences have been detected by us.

Iron Ore located during reconnaissance

The area is in a remote corner and we are lucky to have a single road passing by the hilly terrain connecting the external world. Our day begins at 6.30 a.m in early morning and we get divided in small groups with assigned tasks for each group.

Small path connecting the world outside.
Tough terrain of Exploration. A small exploration group starting for work.

Completing the days work we all meet once again near the main fountain of the area. We just drag our exhausted body and soak till we shiver by the flowing cold water of the fountain.
Main Fountain, meeting place and cool bath after work
A small group which stayed back in the camp for sample preparation job cook the lunch for us by the side of the fountain and call us repeatedly. The heap of rice mixed with lentils and roasted potatoes consist the menu and sometimes fresh fish roast covered by leaf refill our energy. Till it gets dark we either play "Golly-dunda" or Bow and arrow practice under the coaching of tribals.

Bow and Arrow game with our coaches in the evening.

Some days we are too exhausted which either the cool bath or the late lunch or both together fail to remove. We go back to our shelters and sit in the open field and our story telling session starts from each side. The tribals tell their folklores, their social customs and hunting stories while we tell our social customs and sometimes a story. In one such session the Short story "Mahesh" by the famous Novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadyay was narrated by one of us. The well known short story in very short goes like this. A poor peasant Gafoor Zola had a pet bull Mahesh. Both of them are old and Mahesh after eight seasons of ploughing can no longer plough the field. It was difficult for Gafoor to have rice enough for himself and his daughter Amina. One day while Gafoor was returning home in empty hand found the hungry Mahesh eating the last stock of grain and a part of the dry paddy grass covering the house roof. Being overpowered by anger he beat his pet Bull who died on the spot. Next morning Gaffor left his house along with his daughter to a small town to become a jute mill worker which earlier despite his starvation refused to take up. The story written few decades back touched the hearts of the tribals and they listened the narration with deep sighs and left silently. Our Manglu Sardar was referring to that story. Manglu said" That story is for people like us but please tell Sarat babu to make few amendment's." One of us amusingly quipped " well! please carry on."

Manglu said " No peasant maintains a single bull, they are maintained in pairs because ploughing can not be done by a single bull. There is no mention of another bull living or dead. Was he really a peasant? There is no mention of another bull by Gafoor living or dead. This is unnatural for a person loving bulls so much. Secondly no bull can do ploughing job for eight years. At the best it can continue up to four years. Lastly I assume that another bull existed but died due to draught and starvation. How many people in Sarat Babu's village died in that year due to the same reason? Stock of human food exhaust faster than animal food." Manglu now broke in tears "only two year's back, my two children starved for day's together and died before me. Gafoor is better off, he could become a jute mill worker but we do not have so. You are going back to town, can't you tell govt. to do something so that our children do not die." People tried to sedate him with drinks still available for the last sip.
The dimly lit fire was no longer there; the moonlight shall be late this evening. We helped Manglu to rise and walk. We have no means to communicate this tribal's review to Sarat Babu. We proffered and have to walk a little in darkness to reach our camp. None of us dared to switch on the torch lights but kept it in our pockets.

Bon Voyage! We are leaving now.