Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Work, Pray, Eat

Kannan had been working at a far away place for the past 18 months. He hadn't seen his family in those 18 months. An year and a half ago he had to leave his family at his village and go work as a coolie for a railway track laying project somewhere in Maharashtra. The rains failed for the third consecutive year. He couldn't afford to make a living from agriculture. He had to leave his wife and 6yr old son. But he didn't have a choice.

He sincerely sent the 15 rupees he got as salary every month to his family through Money order. He never saved for himself. He never saw the need for that. They built a makeshift shed for all the coolies who worked there. They were provided with 2 meals per day. A doctor visited once in a month for a general medical examination. He couldn't have asked for more.

After 18 months the project came to an end. He got a letter from his wife 3 months back. She mentioned that the rains were good this year. He thought he can go back and be with his family and take up agriculture again.  That month he kept some money for his journey and sent the rest to his family. On the day of travel he packed some food for his 3 day journey. He boarded the train that would take him home. 2 days into the journey, all the food he brought was over. Thanks to his generosity for sharing his food with a poor fellow passenger. The 8 annas he was given by his employer as a departing gift was spent on toys for his little son. With no food and no money Kannan thought he could mange the remaining one day without food.

On the third day at around 4 in the morning the train stopped at some unknown place. The tracks ahead were broken, someone told him. It would take 5-6 hrs to repair the tracks and get the trains running they said. The train was re-routed to a near-by station till then. It was already close to a day since he ate anything. And he had to manage almost another day. The hunger pangs started hurting his stomach. All the passengers waited at the station close to 10hrs, still there was no news about when the train would start. Kannan was trying to pacify his hunger by drinking water. It was of no use.

He didn't have money to buy food and he will not beg. He would rather die he thought. He also thought about working for food. But there were no such jobs available. As he sat on the bench clutching his stomach he saw a family having their meal from their packages. All their heads were tonsured. He got up to ask some food from them but turned away and went to drink some more water. He came back and sat on the bench. Now his eyes started blurring. Uncontrollable, he went to them and asked, "Returning from Thirupathi?"

"Yes brother." The lady replied with a smile.

"Will I get some prasadam?", he asked hesitatingly.

"Sorry brother, we don't open the prasadam package until we reach home and perform pooja", the lady said with the utmost apologetic tone.

"It's ok.", he said and turned to leave. But unbearable, he again turned towards them and asked, "Do you atleast have some food. I'm very hungry."

Feeling very sorry for him she said, "Brother, couldn't you have asked us a little earlier? We just threw away the remaining food."

Then the man of the family took Kannan to a stall and bought him idlis. Kannan hesitated.

"Think of this as the prasadam you asked us a little while earlier.", the man said.

The memories came rushing to Kannan when his 10yr old grandson asked him, "Thatha why do you pray to food before you eat?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Society and the scary man.

*Random rant start*

When we were very young our parents told us about the Poochandi(Boogeyman) - a scary man, to scare us and make us compliant. 'Eat your food or else he will take you away', 'Take your medicines otherwise we will send you off with him', 'Behave well, if not he will come and catch you' and so on.

And when we grow up and are no more afraid of the Poochandi, our parents use the 'Society' to do the trick, albeit for different reasons. 'What will the society think if you do this?', 'What will the society think if you do that?', 'What will the society say if you behave like this?', 'What will the society think if you act like that?','The society wont accept this' and so on.

If you come to think of it, there are somethings common between these two.
Both are used to scare us and coerce us into doing things which we do not want to do.
Both of them are non-existent.
And even if they do exist, they don't give a rat's ass about you or your life.

I would have said the same about God and religion too. But they are also used for various other reasons. But Poochandi and Society are solely used for the purpose mentioned above. To scare and coerce us into doing/not doing things which we don't want/want to do.

*Random rant end*