It was the beginning of the summers and the Sun had decided to exhibit it’s extreme form showing off its blazing avatar. The scorching heat and the mirage formed on the surface of the road added to the agony of the already prevalent gloomy atmosphere. There was not a single vehicle on the road and the national highways that otherwise seem full of traffic, wore a deserted look. The houses seemed like a dream and there were many eyes behind the window openings that stared out. Fakira, and many like Fakira were the only ones to walk those long, never ending stretches of coal-tar patched paths with only hope in their bare hands.
It was a peculiar time in the history of mankind when a deadly disease had suddenly caught up. There was no mention of the extremities that this disease could cause and hence there was an atmosphere of panic everywhere. This was exactly when there was an uproar about the scientific achievements and man was planning to explore the outer planetary world, a microscopic organism had confirmed the belief that man is nothing but a puppet in the hands of some superpower that probably controlled many things that are yet to make sense to human beings. Some may defy the very existence of this superpower and maybe they are right for who has known it all! However, there are many complicated interlinked phenomenons beyond one’s understanding. This time, this complication was as little as a virus that itself is lifeless without a host body and in turn causes irreparable damage to the same body that helps it sustain itself. Isn’t the virus just like some of the known faces that one comes across in his /her lives who suck the energy of others to revive themselves? Life would be so much better if one could just identify such creatures before hand , but that is the toughest task just like identifying this virus and its intricate set of symptoms & effects on the human body.
As the intricacy coupled with the uncertainty of the diseases grew, so did the knotty factor of human behavior with time. When there is any adversity, it’s the age-old game of ‘survival of the fittest’ that comes into play! And this game is played in its rawest form in the most advanced cities which houses the most civilized, most advanced minds much to the irony due to lack of bonding with fellow human beings in the commercialized setup of city life.
Fakira was the victim of this vicious cycle who had left his simple village life to become a wage worker and had migrated to the city in search of better lifestyle only to become a cog in the wheel of materialistic life. He left his own home to build multi-storied high-rise sky scrappers which housed those ,who probably always consider themselves as God’s special child! Things took drastic turn for Fakira due to the outbreak of Pandemic. Fakira had been told to leave at once to his village and without any monetary assistance.
“Mallik, how can I just go like this in the mid-month? I do not have much savings? They say ,there are no buses and trains that are running also. If we do not stay here how can I manage, Mallik? I have a kid who is just six years old and my wife is expecting! Please have mercy “, He folded his hands and pleaded.
“Is that my problem? Everything is closing down and you have to leave at once. Look at others! You talk to them and manage yourself. When you come back, I will pay for everything but now in the mid-month, how can you even ask me for money? I am not running a charity organization. Jab Dhanda hi nahi to manda hi chalega na! ( Meaning that when there is no business, all that remains is a failed economy),” He dismissed Fakira with his own hollow logic.
Fakira, clueless about his immediate future had nothing but only to move ahead. There was disorder and everyone seemed confused. He just connected with his fellow brethren who had decided to leave for their respective villages and had decided to walk the whole distance. This was something that even the most adventurous hearts will think twice before attempting and even if they do, they will do it with all the equipments and prearranged resources. But situations in life come unannounced and only the ones who flow with it, might prevail! So, with small kids, elderly people and women who were either old or pregnant or ovulating during their monthly cycles and had no prior preparations, vowed to undertake this arduous journey. What they had with them was a faith that they will touch their motherland at the end of the journey & who will never reject them like this foreign land in the name of adversity.
So Fakira along with all, kept his doubts at bay and joined the bandwagon. His wife held his hand on one side, the kid’s hand on the other side and with a protruding belly, she too was determined to walk the path. After all, what other alternative did they have other than moving forward?
The sweat kept dripping and the thirst kept growing, the feet were covered with blisters, yet the family continued to walk just like others. They had lost the count of days and nights now. All they remembered was their God’s name and an insane madness to survive against any adversity. The wife had forgotten to complain, the kid had stopped crying and Fakira had stopped worrying… probably! All they knew was to be with their group and keep up the pace. Many passersby offered food and water bottles, some medicines, a few offered clothes, there was various other dry ration that was distributed that helped them survive in the journey.
After a few days, some men came with a big camera and a mike. Fakira and his wife saw these men travel in their own cars when the whole stretch of road seemed lifeless without a single vehicle.
“Namaste! we are reporters from one of the best news channels in the country. We have come to interview you”, said one of them while requesting the group to halt for some time.
” What is your name?” asked one of them to Fakira.
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still in front of the camera and answer what we ask you. okay?”
There was a flash of light that seemed to almost blind Fakira. He blinked his eyes but stood still as directed.
“Fakira” , he said without show of any emotion on his face.
“Ok, so you are alone?”
“No, I have Laxmi, my wife, and Bunty, my child with me.”
“How are you feeling now?”, the reporter asked .
Fakira looked clueless without knowing what to say.
“He probably did not understand, ” remarked the cameraman.
“Ok then, tell us where you are going and how will you reach your?”, he continued to interrogate.
Fakira paused and with a sigh said, “I and my family will reach my land, my village no matter what!” There was an extra emphasis on the words will & my and a firm conviction in his voice.
“Ok Fakira, all the best”, the man with the mike said and instructed the cameraman to zoom in the shot that could capture the tattered clothes, the dripping sweat from the forehead, the ignorant eyes, and every single aura of being abandoned in his frame.
The news clip highlighting the interview of Fakira had the highest views that day and had helped the channel garner the highest TRP ratings. The journalist and the cameraman along with the entire channel team had a celebration as a mark of appreciation of their hard work .
One month had passed by now .
He was on the hospital bed. He had all the symptoms of being a patient who had been affected by the dreaded & mysterious virus. His family members were not allowed to be with him. Even the doctors and nurses took extra care to have zero contact with their patients.
The Doctor asked,” How are you feeling? You look scared. Relax!”
Shiva, the reporter, for the first time did not know what to answer.
Scared? Did he look scared? All he could think of at that point in time was Fakira who did not have a single line of fear on his face. He had all the emotions intact starting from being stressed out ‘to confused but there was no fear on his face! Did Fakira manage to reach his village? Did his wife face any medical hassle on her journey? He recalled that he had never been kind enough to even think of these aspects the day he had interviewed the migrant couple! The variegated observations of the images from that day’s interview, starting from the dusty roads, to the burning temperature, to the brownish shade of melancholy air that smelt of deprivation was in front of his eyes. The roaring gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, the naked layer of the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ that always formed the strongest base of sacrifice and took the undue pressure of the cone that forms the peak with its cunning tactics , with the opportunist mindsets was in front of his eyes . He too was no different than them, he realized! Many such questions kept nudging his conscience making him feel restless.
But why are was he scared? Who are strong; people like Fakira with nothing to lose or people like him who had everything to lose? His mind slowly went into sleep mode with these thoughts, while his temperature kept rising constantly.
Kindness, if not shown at the right moment loses its significance!
I have decided to take up an emotional joy ride with this year’s A2Z challenge where my focus is to showcase different aspects of human behavior . I will be penning down pieces of fiction centered around emotions in alphabetical manner. I have a title for my theme and it is : A little bit of you; A little bit of me .
I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z -2021
You can click on the alphabets below to read the stories that have been published so far.