Saturday, December 12, 2009

Its time to leave the village

You may have followed the travails of our city bred yuppie here and here. He survived the attentions of the peacock. He managed to escape being hitched. He got over the close association with bovine sex life. He even learnt to ignore the ever present gun. But , at last,  the time came for him to leave the village and go back to the city – back to normal business, back to the life he was used to.

The parting was really tough. There wasn’t a dry eye on the day of his departure. The hosts openly wept. They, and he, knew that they would never see each other again. For two months they had shared the same roof. Eaten the same food. They came from different worlds and yet had started to appreciate the other. It was now time to go their separate ways. But for both, their lives would never be the same again. He got his bags together. Said goodbye to the teary family gathered on the porch. There was mutual assurance that they would write to each other – on inland letters as was the norm then. But they both knew this would not happen. It was over.

On the long train ride back to the city, the yuppie reflected on the two months that he had spent. The good, the bad and the ugly. The good first. People make incredibly warm bonds in the unlikeliest of circumstances. The hosts had much of the simplicity that defines life in India. They shared whatever they had with their guest. They reached out openly to him. They were curious about the different life he came from, but they did not disparage it. They related to him with their hearts, not their heads.

But the ugly side of village life also needs telling. The appalling caste system is, alas, well and thriving in rural India. Untouchability in its starkest form is evident everywhere. Crime is omnipresent ; there is little of the rule of law – the gun is the king. The treatment of women is often barbaric. There is abject poverty. Poverty is demeaning to the soul. If ever there is anything that dehumanizes people, its poverty. Under the excuse of poverty, anything goes. It is so obvious that helping lift people out of poverty must be the number one priority for any state – in this there can be no better shining example than China.

As the train chugged on, the yuppie continued to ruminate. As in all things in life, there are two sides to everything. Some people glorify village life. Others disparage it. Each sees it through the lens he has fashioned. From behind his own lens, the yuppie concluded that his truth is that there is some good and a lot bad. But it was an experience indeed. Something he was not likely to forget in a hurry. For, after all, experience is the elixir of life.

The train chugged into the city station. He sighed deeply, and stepped forward into the world that was his, and the one he knew allright.