Almost a decade earlier I had a habit of collecting newspaper cutting related to my areas of interests. This no-profit business ended in 2001 with two files containing more than 4000 paper cuttings, covering various fields like science, geography, history, sports etc. But all of them were from Hindi newspapers so half of them were unreliable. Hindi newspapers are one of the worst sources of information; they are good for only local news.
Once my eyes caught a small article bearing a heading “Bharat ki Mahaan Deewar” (The Great Wall of India). Though the article contained only two small paragraphs, the information it contained was astonishing. It said there used to be a wall running no more than 2,300 miles, from Himalayas to Orissa. It was not made of concrete or bricks but of bushes and plants, and it was built by Alan Octavian Hume (founder of Indian National Congress). The article said nothing about the objective of the wall but there was information about the year when it was built, it said around 1870s. But when you search over internet about any such information you get nothing. Even biographies of A. O. Hume don’t say anything about 3,700 kilometers long wall. And when you search ‘The Great Wall of India’ on internet, the results will display content related to famous cricketer Rahul Dravid.
Historians always ignored it and therefore very few people knew about it, the people who saw it. In 2001 a tea planter Roy Moxham published a book on this subject and named it “The Great Hedge of India”, in which he explained the objective of the hedge was to prevent salt smuggling, 12000 people guarded this hedge. There were heavy Salt taxes imposed by British rule and therefore there were salt smugglers. There was hardly any relationship with A. O. Hume with the hedge. The hedge was built by East India Company, and was fourteen feet high and twelve feet thick.
For more than a century a significant part of history of this country remained unconscious. And now when we know about it, we know very little. The hedge vanished and there are hardly any remains left today. Roy Moxhan found some remains in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh but no one can be sure about the remains of a hedge which existed almost 140 years before. The history is lost!
When I was in seventh standard I had a tuition friend; Ajit. Once I had to visit his home for my maths tuition. We were busy with our tuition when a very familiar but irritating sound distracted our ears. It was a motorbike with two persons sitting on it, Ajit almost shouted, “My father with my new motorbike.” I asked him, “Which one is your father?” He replied, “The person who is on the second seat.” Again I inquired, “And the first one, who is he?” He shocked me, “He is the driver.”
I had my railway reservation from Howrah to Shahjahanpur. There was an old couple on the front seat. It was night and I was on my berth, asleep. Next day the old man asked my name and my destination, I told him, he said that he was going to Haridwar for Shiv-Darshan. By noon the coach was thoroughly perused by a dozen of beggars, different kind of them; blind, crippled, women, kids, and poor; but the old couple never cared. When the train was crossing a river near Varanasi this old woman took some coins from her purse and threw them in the water.
Monoj Prabhakar is my father’s cousin that is my uncle in relationship. His parents sent him to Gwalior University for his bachelor’s degree. He stayed there for two years and returned home unsuccessful. Next time he was sent to Allahabad. He studied there and fell in love with his landlord’s daughter. He completed his bachelor’s degree in arts and married to his love. Nobody had any objection since the bridegroom had a bachelor’s degree and in their world bachelor’s degree was the certificate to a good job. Almost two years later when he was sitting in his room unemployed he got a letter from an employee of NTPC Dibiyapur that he can work under him with a payment of 6000 per month, which was quiet considerable. After two months only he learned that the job required hard work and regularity. He resigned and gave a set of reasons to his kin. After another three years of unemployment he got his dream job. Today he is getting 2500 per month which is adjustable with his cell phone and motorbike expenses. His wife and two kids are living on his father’s earnings.
When I was in sixth standard I had a very good friend Snajay Gupta (Sanju). One day he told me that he was going to discontinue his study. I urged him not to do that because he was the only friend I had. But he told me that he had no other option. He explained me, “My father is sick, he can not work anymore and I have three younger brothers and sisters, therefore I will have to discontinue and work for my family.”
My precious summer vacations were over and I was on my way to Lucknow from Shahjahanpur. I always use general coach for this three hours journey. Somehow I got a place to sit after perusing two and half coaches. In the front seat there were four guys and on my seat there was a guy right to me and an old lady left to me. Three front guys and the guy who was right to me were traveling together. They were traveling from Bareilly to Lucknow. One of then was a law practitioner in Lucknow. All of them were in their early thirties. When train started moving from Shahjahanpur they began talking about the city. One of them said, “Shahjahanpur is such a dirty place!” Other guy added, “Yeah, It is due to the Muslim population of the city.” Train stopped at a station named Balamau, one of these said, “I am hungry.” The guy who was sitting right to me said, “I’ll get some samosas.” He brought some 4-5 samosas and all of them began eating. After some ten minutes later when all of them were finished with samosas, the place which was almost clean ten minutes earlier was now a mess.
Balkrishan, my father’s colleague, one day received a phone call and left immediately to his hometown. Next day he was at his parental house where his younger brother’s dead body was kept preserved. Almost two days before his brother ended his life by taking poison. Balkrishan came to know about the matter through his elder sister, he peeped outside the window where a shopkeeper was leaned over a local newspaper which had two photographs of different persons and the headline said “An unmarried couple took its life over an unsuccessful love affair” one photo belonged to his brother and another photo was of a girl who lived nearby.
How are you going to interpret each event, It is up to you.