Wednesday, July 8, 2009

the teacher-briji

“There is an urgent need for teachers in the valley”

This message flashes in the office of education ministry almost everyday, with every possible communication from the education department.

“No one cares” .chides mastergy.

“No one wants to work in this remote valley”! He adds.

But the sleepy village is unaffected about the problem ‘or rather unaware of the cores of messages sent.

The village gets up very late as the sun rises little later because of the huge mountains in the east. The weak sun rays struggle to wash away the mist and ice even in summer. The stubborn fog refuses to retreat and hides among the folds of mountain valley.

After a hearty meal, men and women start off to the apple orchard and boys off to explore meadows and hillock with their sheep. The beautiful maidens kept the “choola”burning. .They make sweaters and other beautiful head scarves out of the wool of their warmth and love. The stillness of the valley took life only by the melodious flute of shepherds, or the country music of ladies and may be, the mild cry of a new born lamb!

Mastergy gave a sigh of frustration as he looked at the corridors of the school empty as usual. He never left the school even after he got orders from government to close down the same as there are not enough students. He is pulling on with a dream and making futile attempt to rejuvenate the villagers, literally canvassing parents to send their children to school. He cannot even think of the closure of the small school which he built after years of struggle for a sanction from the government

Mastergy stayed in the big old bungalow in the same compound. He helped writing letters for the illiterate villagers, but never got time to write to his wife who is staying in Srinagar with their son. According to her he is a “pagal”.

On some occasions the pretty wife of Ishtaque Ali Mohamed’ will come with her two sons to request mastergy to write some letters. Before going, she will clean up the place and do some dishes and rotis. Mastergy never wasted the opportunity to plead with her for sending her children to school so that they can write letters of their own

Most of the villagers are not actually understand why they must learn things from a book, that, this valley exists, this is in the northern end of India or there is a Himalaya or Kanyakumari …and apple grows in a tree….., stupid.!

Matsergy tried his best to make them understand the value of knowledge and wisdom.

But they insisted that there are no teachings other than Allaha’s.

They attended compulsory religious classes as mastergy kept on reminding them the need to learn language also, so that they can bring the world to their front yard.

Government updated Mastergy about the unwillingness of teachers to work in the valley and it was almost certain that he has to close down the school. .Mastergy could not gulp down the contents of the government stamped letter.

That was the time one Mira yadav volunteered.

“You must be crazy.’- That village is almost cut off from the rest of the world and is a haven for all activities…you know what…that is a dangerous place!

Her friends warned

When Mira boarded a bus from Jammu, she was not sure about her destiny but when she reached the beautiful village which is lying low between two mountains, she had a feeling that she always was cherishing a dream of such a place.

The undisturbed serenity of a place which always was a far fetched luxury in her ordeal.

Her life was always a tough river rafting through all the bumps and sharp stones of miseries.

It had been a miserable chocking ride down hill, through sharp turns and curves…., but by holding the oar of spirit she reached so far..

Little Mira sat tearing her hair of fate. She hated her screaming and yelling mother when her step father was around. She hated him too for she thought he devour her mother like a beast even in the presence of her. .At times he stretched his hands to caress his ‘daughter ‘ and her mother will be furious. One day as Mira told her mother that she hates his ugly stinking mouth, she gaped at her in disbelief and suddenly she slapped her. The very next day she admitted her in a boarding school. . She left a note with her which she is keeping as the most precious thing in her life. .

‘I love you Munni .I always loved you. You will understand things when you grow up.. please forgive me.’

Bus stopped with a jerk .Mira could not place herself for a moment. She stood in the bus stop immersed in the beauty of the hillside. Who told that’ if there is a paradise on earth that is here’. If mother was alive she could have given her a life! Mira thought.

The rattling of reality shook her from retrospective. Cute little boys were returning home with their flocks .Beautiful ladies were walking with basket full of fruits and vegetables. No one took much notice of her.!She tried to ask the location of the school but by the time mastergy came panting with a wide grin of gratitude.She was given a room in the same bungalow. Next day both of them went to the school and opened all the doors and windows which was shut for years, and thus started a dream!

Mira was like a daughter for the old mastergy and she called him ‘bapu’ .Mira won many hearts and slowly children, as well as little elders also started coming to school. Mastergy was beaming with happiness when one more teacher agreed to come.

Mr. Jacob john from Delhi also got a room in the good old house. Different beliefs and rituals went hand in hand .Different holy books remained in the same house!. Id Christmas and deepavali blended very well with the season.

paiting: briji

The corridors and class rooms are filled with the inquisitive foot steps of children.But winter was so severe that they had to close the school for a week.One winter night was so disturbed and caught unaware in heavy snow. The howling wind was so strong that Mira could not sleep. She got up and came to the fireplace to find bapu, staring at the flames which were slowly engulfing the firewood.

“This untimely snow will affect the orchard!”.Bapu told.

he unripened fruits will be affected within. The fruits may appear fresh and nice outside, but when you cut it, you find all worms inside. Poor farmers.”

Villagers noticed some new faces on the other side of the mountain where there are only a few houses.

Ahamed and kabeer were very happy to see some guests at home. There were lots of dry fruits and sweets in their houses. They were overwhelmed and talked at length about the dishes their ammy made.

Slowly Ahamed lost interest as he never got his ammy beside or rather waited for him with hot roties and goat’s milk. She was always cooking big meals for the strangers. She and other few households cooked and cleaned their kitchen round the corner.

Ahamed reminded his mother about the promise she made to send him to school. But he heard only one statement from his ever tired mother. ‘munna I am busy.”

“Who are they?”

“I don’t know. Mullah brought them and they are going to be around for a few days.”

But Kabeer got more information.

“They are here only because they want to protect our land.”

“From whom?”

“They!. They will snatch our land and kill all of us.”

“Why? And who are “they?”

“”The kaffers”.

The discreet behavior of them raised many queries but no one dared to ask.

During the day they slept and after midnight they all gathered around a small bonfire and trained the youth of the valley to tame their guns and minds. Everyone followed their footsteps out of fascination or rather fear.Ahamed was always afraid of them and slept early, but Kabeer sneaked into ,like a small cat .Kabeer always had a passion for dangerous pleasures. He mocked Ahamed.

“You are such a coward you know ...Hey… it is fun to watch them pace like a cat with their shining weapon.”

“I don’t want to see.”

“You know every night they hunt people who are against them.”

“Hunt? And do what?”

“Eat.., you stupid. It is fun to watch them torture people.”

Ahamed ran home with pounding heart. He hated Kabeer

Kabeer always toyed with his dangerous pleasures. He loves to torture kittens and enjoy the painful and angry advance of it. He nags the little lamb to death.

One day the strangers spotted Kabeer watching stealthily and one of them chased him.

“Hey no. let him come. We need young blood like him.” the chief told.

“Don’t you want to kill you father’s murderer?”

Days passed. Kabeer and so many other youngsters vanished in the forest with them, only to surface one day in the darkness by covering their faces. They were no more the same people.Kabeer stared at Ahamed through the small slit near the eye and Ahamed could not figure out the cold expression over there.

They recruited so many innocent boys by force. Mothers mourned the death of their sons who could not make it to the crossing.

Bapu.Mira and Joseph were worried about the declining strength of students. Mastergy stood every corner flashing a caution board against the intruders, whom the villages considered as saviors.

“They are going to destroy this valley!” Mastergy warned

“.Black widows are weaving web in every corner and they will trap innocent souls and inject venom to change them into horrible creatures!”

It was exactly what happened to Ahamed. When Ahamed disappeared in the thin air, his mother smelt a dead rat. She left no stone unturned to get him back. The chief retorted

“She is a nuisance and more over he is not a good recruitee. He cannot kill.”

“He will kill his mother, you see.”Kabeer assured.

The drugged brain of Ahamed lifted his gun to wards his ammi .Before he realized what had happened, he saw his mother’s left hand on her stomach and stretched right hand.

“Munna …., put your gun down. Weapon is not any solution.”

Impressed chief approached him.

“You got an important mission on Independence Day celebration. Your name will be remembered for ever! “.

All schools were participating in the big occasion.

Mira was busy practicing students for a tribal dance.

Ahamed also got the same costume with lots of feathers and flowers stitched secretly. A costume of death! A broad leather belt with a very powerful bomb attached was tied underneath on his waist. He was under a spell as they painted his face with lines and dots of coloures.

The chief reminded him,

‘These are the two pins that you have to pull when you reach the Dias. Then every thing will be over. He pointed to Kabeer and Ishtaque.

You and you will be there in the crowd and if anything goes wrong shoot him on his belt itself.Ahamed didn’t feel anything as he started to hate this life .He was struggling to offload his mother’s memories. The leaning bloody frail body of his ammi haunted him throughout.

Ahamed was halted in the front door of the auditorium

‘Why did you come so late? After all security check we closed the front entrance.’

‘But he is a performer.’

‘Then you will have to go through the side door.’

As some one ran to call the teacher Ahamed was perplexed. What if she finds out?

.He looked back and could not locate Kabeer or Istaque.

Mira was so angry

Who? Rahul? When did you get out? You never listen.

She reached and held his hands up and led him through the standing crowd very carefully so that his dress should not be spoiled. Ahamed felt the hands of a teacher for the first time in his life. He was walking behind her under some spell forgetting that he is a human bomb. This is the way his ammy use to hold him if he spent more time near the blue lake side.

At one point Mira turned back and gave a penetrating look.

Is she having any doubt?

Ahamed saw that he could not do any thing as he was passing the Dias. Mira was holding both his hands up!

Suddenly barging the police ring army commandoes with black head scarf jumped in and got the prime minister and chief minister, and chief of staff out of the hall within seconds.

‘Everybody down….lie down …there is a bomb…. suicide bomber inside!’

All participants gathered around Mira, also Rahul!

Rahul?! And who are… my God !.Mira stared at the boy dressed in the same costume with her wide eyes.Ahamed could not do any thing other than gaping at her eyes, the large blue eyes of his mother!

Suddenly a sharp shooter pointed his gun towards the boy’s head. Before the bomber could think anything pump the bullets in the head itself.

No….! Mira jumped in front of the boy…Please…no …Don’t kill him..

Before she could say anything more bullets shattered the boy’s head and Mira’s chest….!

“There is an urgent need for teachers in the valley”..

A fax message surfaced again and repeated…!