Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Govindapally in the last 10 years

From the pen APN

I have been staying in a tiny village named Govindapally for the last 10 years. It is at the entrance of Malkangiri district, which is not only one of the most backward districts of Odisha but also of India. I must mention that Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Odisha hold the dubious distinction of having a negative association with poverty, starvation and deprivation. 

However, in the last 10 years, many things have gradually changed here. Progress has come slowly and stealthily to the village and has changed the inhabitants’ lives silently. The gradual transformation stretched over a decade, has taken place so sluggishly that the resulting changes do not call your attention immediately. Although some progress has been made, the rate of change is invariably at a snail’s pace. 

Today many residents of the village cannot accept the fact that the fruits of social progress which are so easily available to them now were beyond their reach a few years ago. For example, the buses, which used to halt at the roadside earlier, now have a spacious well-planned bus-stand. Now more and more buses ply through the village. And with the increase of traffic, the single roads are now being converted into double roads. The bulldozers have cleaned illegal roadside encroachments to pave the way for widening the road. (After few days you may see a good number of toll-gates on the same highway to suck money from you). Now the local residents do not have to cover a distance of 15 kilometres for bank transactions. Their village is on the road to progress. As a sign of progress, a nationalised bank with ATM facility has come up. The bank’s ATM smiles round the clock with its glow signboards. Now, the villagers do not have to ride 50 kilometres to Balimela (an NAC) to refill their cooking gas cylinders. The Gas Agencies take pleasure in ensuring home delivery of gas cylinders to every consumer. Similarly, a couple of bike showrooms with glass rooms and well to do receptionists have recently come up displaying the latest trendy bikes of their respective brands for sale. Extending railway connectivity to the district is also in the pipeline. 

New mobile service providers are erecting their signal towers and promising better coverage, better quality at lesser tariff. New dhabas (hotels) decorated with fairy lights dazzle at night with sweet-smelling delicious dishes. Today you have a restaurant and you see a number of vehicles parked in front of the restaurant. The number of shops has been doubled in the recent years. The market has grown and the value of land in the village has soared up. The inhabitants who own business stalls or houses and give them on rent basis are greatly happy at the growth of the village. Such house owners unconsciously wear a broad lasting smile in public places. They smile at the prospect of the new found pleasing worth of their property. The other day, a grocery shopkeeper and another owner of a ready-made dress material shop, who were renovating their shops, claimed before me that their initiations are nothing but the pioneering steps to import a mall-culture into the village. 

In these years many schools are rampantly upgraded and new hostels with colossal height, width and breadth are constructed. However, teachers are engaged on a contract basis to educate the students on a temporary basis in those permanent structures. The Government lays stress on creating proper infrastructure but forgets about appointing quality teachers with proper salary structure. Education and health care are the two non-profitable sectors which are severely hit in our state in the last two decades. No Government sincerely gives due care to these two sectors. The community health centre of the village used to have a qualified doctor but later on the post of doctor remained regularly vacant. Now the community health centre is run at the mercy of other paramedical staff. The pharmacist has replaced the service of the doctor and the people of the locality including myself are well-adapted to it. One month back I discovered that a young doctor wearing a stethoscope around his neck was sitting in the doctor’s chamber. My joy knew no bounds. I wished the doctor a happy stay in the village. As the rain comes rarely to deserts, so a doctor is rarely found in the Health Center of Govindapally. 

In the year 2006 when I had come to this place to join as a lecturer, I was home-sick. At that time the mobile service of BSNL had provided enough consolation and mental support to me. The physical distance between me and my parents had been greatly bridged up by the mobile phone. But today I see the local BSNL office is unkempt, dilapidated and largely hidden behind an unwanted bushy growth of grass and other useless plants. The only operator who works there and shoulders all responsibility for the last 12 years has lost all his sincerity. It is because he is made to work contractually for a paltry sum Rs 6000/- for the last 12 years, without any career growth.
Now many private mobile network companies are vying to grab the business opportunity in this area. Last week, I saw many excavators digging trenches by the roadside to lay the network for Reliance Jio in Govindapally. I hope the internet connectivity issues will soon be resolved by the advent of this network in this locality.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A precious pair of muddy shoes…..

From the pen-APN

Every Sunday I travel a distance of 50 kilometres to a private institution where I teach a few students. Those students prepare themselves for various competitive exams. On the weekends, I go and say a few inspiring words to them. I love their company because I treat them as my friends and I never wear the mask of ego before them. So I feel very unassuming and free there.
Very often, my wife expresses her dissent as I leave my family on Sundays and go to that institution. However, I love to go to that institution because it gives me an opportunity to take a long bike ride on the roads of Malkangiri to Jeypore. And while riding my bike I think like a poet and enjoy nature’s beauty to my heart’s content.
Life is very free in Malkangiri. You get the refreshing air everywhere. Tall and big trees stand by the side of the road. And moving through them connects you with Mother Nature deeply. The lush green landscape recharges your heart with purity of life. The innocent smiles of the tribal people and their unconditional joys are worth experiencing. They bring closer to your real self.
That day it was raining sporadically and the road was too muddy. Moreover, the road work was going on. So at many places, the road was dug and the thick mud was making the road very slippery. That day I missed my nature-journey as I had to grip the bike’s handle tightly lest I skidded off the road. After I passed the bad part of the road I discovered that my favourite and expensive pair of shoes had been thickly painted in mud. My black coloured trousers were also badly sprinkled with mud and looked weird.
I did not pay any attention to the stains or to my muddy shoes. I managed my work as usual and returned home after the class. At home, I removed my shoes and found that the mud had completely dried up and looked like a thick paste of sandal.    
At this time my wife came smiling and hugged me. I could not apprehend the reason. I was surprised because she had not cared my muddy attire. With a mystery-laden smile, she drew an envelope and handed it to me. I found a Government order in it which told that I had been transferred to a new coastal district and I had to leave my present station in 10 days. My wife was happy but I was most unhappy. I wanted to sit silently for a while. My wife left the place and went to do her household work. But I was crestfallen.

I looked at my muddy shoes. Now the mud that had covered my shoes appeared very precious. In a moment I could realise the worth of the soil. For a moment I felt to hold those muddy shoes close to my breast and cry for a while. Tears rolled from my eyes because for ten years I had established a strong bond with this district. And now I will miss every dust particle of this land…………..       

Friday, August 26, 2016

I am a fallen star

I am a Fallen Star….

From the pen APN

I am a fallen star,
Dropping off an unseen altar,
I brilliantly glimmer and shine
And I feel serenely divine.

I have travelled all alone
From the sky unknown 
To the earth’s atmosphere
To see all happy everywhere!

I hope before I fade away,
That you look skyward and say,
‘Hey look! A star is falling,
And our wishes it is fulfilling.’

Then I would add my shine
To your smiling lips’ line
So you always smile divinely
And I die happily 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Renewal of Love with Green Tea

From the pen-APN
After a bitter argument, my wife angrily left the room leaving me alone. She slammed the door of the living room loudly and then she locked herself in another room. An hour or two passed by. The entire house was plunged into walls of deathly silence. No talk, no whisper and no sound.   

Then I could hear the door of her room slowly open. I could sense that she went to the kitchen; she boiled tea leaves there and then came with a cup of refreshing green tea. She silently stood beside me with the mugful of tea. She did not speak anything, nor did I. Silence ruled all for a few seconds. And then I took the mug of hot tea from her in one hand and tightly embraced her in the other. 

The steam from the tea was slowly and slowly rising and then vanishing in the air. And so was also her anger vanishing in the thin air.       

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A true Friendship Found

(A Story written on the occasion of F’ship Day)
 From the Pen-APN 

It was friendship day.
With the most beautiful flowers of my garden I went to wish my lady a day of love and happiness. She came out of her room, took the flowers from me rashly and threw them ruthlessly to a nearby drain that contained all filthy water. Then she turned her back immediately and rushed inside her house, not even glancing at me. And she slammed the door at my face with a bang. All my sweet-smelling flowers floated away in the contaminated water.
Tear deposited in the corners of my eyes. Waves of irresistible pain surged inside me. A part of my heart became numb in excruciating pain. I was no better than a dumb, lifeless statue. I withered away more rapidly, more appallingly and more ignominiously than those flowers which I had taken to that lady as the symbol of my love.  
That night I wandered here and there not knowing where I was heading to. The street lights above me seemed to mock at me scornfully. I felt as if each passer-by was gazing and gazing at me and then laughing at me behind his/her hands. I could deeply feel how my heart broke into pieces and how an all-rounded happy personality got shattered in minutes. I could feel like standing all alone on an endless desert of human apathy and insensitivity.    
I cried and cried and slept somewhere I did not know. Night covered the earth and stars glimmered overhead. My eyes were closed and I was drowned in a sea of unfathomable sorrow. Then from the bottom of my aching heart, slowly and slowly, one after another, the faces of so many loving persons, appeared in my mind. All of those wonderful persons had loved me unconditionally without being loved in return. They all shined around me so brilliantly, with an over-powering light, that the inner gloom which was hanging over me seemed now powerless.     
I stretched myself, drew a long breath and then started walking past the lamp posts one by one. At a little distance the local church was glowing celestially in magic lights. And on the top of the church, a majestic idol of Jesus Christ stood impressively with its arms stretched and beckoning me lovingly to a world of inner peace. I went near the church and looking into the eyes of the idol I said, “Happy Friendship Day, Lord! I was late to come to You because I had been to the world to give love but someone in return crucified me so well that now my heart is bleeding like Yours. And the best thing you know Jesus, now with my bleeding heart, I can wish you the most genuine happy friendship day you have ever had.”
I closed my eyes. And miraculously, I could feel a pair of divine hands embracing me with an ocean of love. I could not speak anything because, deep in my heart, I had found the profoundest and eternal friendship which a man could ever have on earth- The friendship of the Almighty.
In life, when all hopes are crushed and all doors are closed, you look skyward and believe that someone high in the sky sits to release you from the abysmal depths of despair. And the best part of it is that you are never wrong in your assumptions.