26 June 2006

A blissful dread

Continuing with my 'thriller' trilogy, second post is here

One more incident that left me clueless about what I should be doing then and finally got over that moment with great memories is as follows.

There is a small village called Bedigana Halli in Hassan district, near Hole Narasipura. It was way back in 2000 when I wanted to visit this village, where our neighbor’s parents lived. Incidentally it was holiday season and my neighbor also had been to Bedigana Halli.

All settled and it was decided that I go there, meet them, take their Aathithya and get back to my college which was starting two days later. So, I decided to pack my bags and take the bus to this un-known place. I was alone traveling, so it was decided that I take the 1:35 bus from Bangalore to reach there in time.

Let me first warn you about the place and how to reach there. This was a remotest village in an unknown corner of the country. The villagers boast themselves of being one of the neighboring villages of Deve Gowda (former PM). The village didn’t have a direct bus facility from anywhere in the world. It didn’t have a single telephone connection. It didn’t even have a first-aid center. Fortunately it had one primary school and a small temple. But most importantly, the village had a canal from Hemavathi reservoir running through it making it a water-sufficient place. Villagers feel to be living in a heaven for their crops were never a failure with such good water facilities. And they grew, mostly, commercial crops like tobacco apart from other gram seeds. There were some 500 families living a happy life in it.
That’s about the village. Now how to reach there. From Holenarasipura take the Arakalagud/Sakaleshapura buses, and get down at Bidirakka stop. It’s a request stop and not many people will be there to get-down there along with you. From there you need to request for a drop, from some villagers, to Bediganahalli or walk for about 3-4Kms. This is one way of reaching. There is another way. Take Madikeri buses from Holenarasipura and get down at Keralapura and walk for about 5Kms on the tank bunds to reach Bedigana halli.

Hmmmmm. Yeah now that I know that place well, I can advice you about how reaching there and such stuffs. But when I went there I didn’t know all these things. All I knew was I had to take 1:35 bus from Majestic and get down at Bidirakka, and get along with my friend who would be waiting for me there on his bike.

I left Kolar early enough not to miss the coveted bus. But a traffic jam near Hoskote spoilt the party and I got down from the bus exactly at 2:30. I ran to the platform of Hnpura. But unfortunately, this time the KSRTC was punctual. I find these guys more punctual when I’m involved in it, more specifically so when I’m sure to miss the deadline, otherwise, they never will be punctual. But unfortunately, the news was I missed the bus by a whisker.

There was one more bus ready to leave to Hnpura, I thought of taking that bus and catching the other in hnpura itself. I asked the driver to go fast and help me catch that bus. All through the journey I could not sit peacefully. ‘coz I knew that my friend would be wondering why I couldn’t make it. And if he happens to call up, my mom would tell him I ‘d left in time and they all would be worried. I hated my fate very badly that day. So many things were going in my mind, I could not sit properly. To add to my woes, the bus was driven very slow. At some point, I thought of slapping the driver and taking the bus to my control, to drive crazily. In short, I was really getting pissed, on missing the direct bus. But well as on other occasions, I derived strength from somewhere and said to myself that there would be many more buses to that place, and I was strong enough to walk the 5KM distance too with a little guidance from the villagers. I was relieved. The bus was now flying through the National High way. I could see the statue of Bahubali on Vindhyagiri at Shravana belagola like a small object in the sky. Basically I was now enjoying the show, anxiety was lost to the courage.

I got down at Holenarsipura at 5PM. I thought there was still 4 hours before ending the day, by which time I could easily reach Bediganahalli. I enquired at the Help me counter at the bus stand where the officials told me there was no direct bus until 8Pm; I could take any bus coming at a specific platform to reach Bidirakka. They asked me to stand there.

I stood there waiting for the bus. I stood there, stood and stood. There was no hint of a bus coming in. It was 5:45 and there it came… a bus and stopped just in front of me. By the time I went in, there were people sitting everywhere in the bus. They all had climbed in from the driver’s window, the small windows besides the seats, and they also reserved seats for their friends. I was angered, and wanted to start a quarrel, but as I was opening my mouth, my mom’s words came to my mind. She had warned me from starting conversation with strangers in the strange land. I kept quiet and reserved to myself. I was but no chance, to be content standing there. Finally the conductor came issuing tickets, and when my turn came, I said to him, I wanted to go to Bediganahalli, and queried him to let me know which was the nearest point to reach there. He asked me to get down at the last stop, and he didn’t know further. Well… I cursed my fate for the second time, and since I didn’t want to go back, and it was already late to get back to college too, I had no other option, but to travel. I had full confidence that somehow I would reach the destined place that day. I took ticket up to Bidirakka, the last stop.

I heard from the fellow travelers that the distance between the two places was 5KMs. And when I enquired about the distance b/n Hnpura and Bidirakka, they replied it was to be 25Kms. I thought I’d reach there before 6:30 and had ample time to walk 5KMs and narrate the villagers my adventurous expedition to their village.

Finally bus left for its destination filled with the villagers, at 6PM. This bus was slower than a centipede. I cannot imagine how a vehicle can move in such a slow pace!!!!! I think I could’ve reached faster had I tried walking those 25KMs. Well… the bus was reaching its destination slowly. 6:30 passed and so did 7. Finally it reached a place called ‘Koppe’ at 7:30 and the driver declared that he could not go further because of bad weather. I had no option but get-down.

I saw one elderly gentleman calling me. I went there and came to know that it was his residence of which he was sitting in front.
I asked him, “Sir, is there any way I could reach Bediganahalli, now?”
He replied “Mari, Bediganahalli is just one mile from here, this village close to it than Bidirakka.” I was thrilled and thought that I was just a mile away and I could easily walk about that much distance.
I again enquired, “Please show me the way to go to that place, I shall be grateful to you. I’ll start now.”
He said, “Maga, that road is really scary, and we the villagers do not choose to walk thru that road in the darkness.”
“What the hell!” I thought, it was just 10 mins past 7:30. Still so much of time was there for the night, and enquired, “How else can I reach there, thatha?”
He said, “There is a direct bus to that village at 9:30. He’ll come here around 9:30-9:45. Be here. Come on. Sit down. You can reach there by 10 o’clock. Donn worry.”

I was relieved. It was one of the biggest relieving statements I’ve ever heard (!).
We talked about many things about my college, my native place, my caste, my traditions, and so many things. And also why I was on this foolish expedition, and I narrated to him how I missed the bus and all the things. He said he is a retired teacher and then I quoted that my father was also a teacher (Halli meshtru). We talked so many other things. About the caste system in the villages, about the temples, good old days of his childhood. His son-in-law who was currently a halli meshtru himself joined the party and he also talked to me about his school and such things. I was feeling really strange to be there, in that position. There was no TV in that house, welll.. I didn’t get inside the house. We just chatted from out-side itself.

And after sometime, the daughter-in-law of the gentle man came out and asked me to wash my hands to have the dinner and shyly showed me the way to wash the hands. I said I was in no mood to have dinner and in any case, I’d reach my friend’s house in an hour and no problems. I asked them to have it leisurely. But she was reluctant and got a mug of water and gave it to me. I could not refuse. And I had very little food that day. I thought having a little would be better than refusing it and had as little as possible. I had a customary dinner for me than the stomach filling exercise that day. By the time I finished, the bus came, it came honking. I hurried and spilled water all over my dress. Still.. I ran towards the bus, the son-in-law of the master ran holding my luggage. And rushed back with the same speed stating that the bus would not go to Bediganahalli that night as there was a reported fall of some big tree on the road between Bidirakka and Bediganahalli. So, they’d decided to halt that night in Bidirakka instead of Bediganahalli.

I felt drowned deep inside. I started quarrelling with the conductor of the bus, straight into the night. I asked him to wait, and thanked the master for his support and told everyone that I’ll travel in the bus and stay in it that night and walk early morning to my friends’ village. The conductor was angry on my but had to admit me inside and also let me sleep in their cozy palace that night.

Just a moment before the bus started, the elderly gentleman called for me and said “Maga, its far away to walk from Bidirakka to Bediganahalli, its easy for you to walk from here, instead. Sleep here in my home tonight, and tomorrow morning you can start to your destination.”

I was helpless, and could not decide upon what I shall be doing then. I was in an alien place, all-alone, and had to listen to this gentleman. I said good-bye to the conductor and his bus, and let it go. I was left to spend the night in Koppe.

The master gave me two rugs (kambali), one to sleep on and another to sleep with. I slept on the pyol of the house where we were chatting till then, and where I had food just before the bus came. I slept there itself. Master accompanied me, continuing the stories further thru the night. I was speechless at the humane item in the heart of one of the remotest villages and good nature of the person who had given me food, water, shelter that night. I slept that night with a well being going through in my mind. It was a good sleep indeed.

Morning I woke up at 5:30 itself. I saw the man besides me also getting up and ready to go inside. And also I heard some sounds from within the house that suggested that many people are already up and started with their daily duties. I rose to go, folded the shawls, keeping them in a safe place, asked him to show me the way. He asked me to wait since he wanted to go on a walk with me, to show me the way. He went in, came out with two glasses of coffee in that graceful morning. I was made to accept this last favor from him. I drank it shivering.

Then we both left. He gave me a walk through his village, a school for the primary children, an SC/ST colony, a temple, and all the things that mattered. He showed me the fields belonging to him and explained what all they grew each year.

Well.. after some distance, he showed me a way that would take me to Bediganahalli and bid adieu. I was equipped with no words to thank him and his kindness. Thanked him from the bottom of my heart and bid Good Bye to him.

People in Bediganahalli were shocked to see me at 7AM. They filled me with where I stayed that night and all such queries. I calmly explained them what went wrong, how and why. And finally how it all got a solution in the form of Ramiah master.

He was Ramiah, the teacher of Koppe village in Hassan district. I might not meet him again in life, but I cannot forget how deeply he impressed me that dreadful night. I cannot forget how he behaved as if the God’s words in Gita was given to earth after seeing him. What was the connection between myself and that village, I don’t know, but that night bonded it to me forever with a favor to repay. I can just remember now how bad a shape I was in that night and how good a feeling it ended to be. I will never forget this particular incident in my life that increased my faith in the humanity and the humane values.

If I think of it today, this incident might not have happened if I had a mobile then and they had a telephone connection in their village, or a direct bus to that village. Anyways, I cherish this particular page of my diary very much.

Though it might not be considered a ‘thrilling’ experience, it’s an experience worth sharing and an experience well documenting. I lived through this momentous night. I can never forget it.

No comments: