Posts Tagged ‘blogeshwar’

the poppy prophecy

This post is written for BLOGESHWAR 8.0 and ANUBHOOTI

The mighty Salween gently flew athwart the golden hued fields and a cool breeze from the eroded Arakan Yoma blew across but hardly helped the villagers of Kai Laek soothe their agony. A river, much like the cycle of life and death, brings happiness and sorrow both but one as calm as the Salween, shouldn’t have been of never ending mourning. The people in this part of the world had a tale rather different from the civilizations that once flourished on the banks of some of the greatest rivers on earth. For them Salween was a river of blood, a river they wished had never flown across their fields.

river salween

Khun Sha was one of the many farmers from the village that stood a few miles from the west bank of the river. He had three children to raise but without his better half and most villagers, or should I say all, had a similar story. His wife, Manjuri Sha didn’t die of disease or hunger, which one might obviously think, but was raped and killed by the Tao Army of Shan state.

Shan is one of the largest provinces of erstwhile Burma and the village of Kai Laek was a part of the much infamous Golden Triangle, which produced more than half of world’s illicit opium poppy (which made the popular drug Heroin). The villagers had no say for themselves. They had no rights, no voice for humanitarian concerns and their lives revolved around cultivating opium. They couldn’t grow paddy or anything else nor could sell or surrender the opium they produced. Who would, after all, buy opium from unlicensed farmers? The catchment area of Salween, one of the few undammed rivers in the world, was a hotbed for growing the divine produce that was snorted world across by the rich and famous and involved various national and international state machinery.

One of the surest ways of dying a gory death was crossing the river to the east bank which the villagers knew led to the borders of Thailand and Laos amidst thick jungles infested by drug traffickers and warlords.

the gentle breeze from the arakan yoma

The people of Shan were of an ethnicity of the same name and a minority to the Bamars who formed the bulk of Burma’s population. The Shans felt threatened and marginalized and to save their language, culture and identity picked up arms. They had much knowledge of the area and soon occupied a good deal of the state and forced the illiterate and poor people into opium farming which they smuggled to the neighboring countries for arms and money. The military government at the centre had no care for anyone, not even for the Bamars and what followed next was a vicious cycle of blood and gore. The insurgency killed from both the sides and it soon spiraled down to a free-for-all battle which culminated into much inter-ethnicity hatred and doubt. The battle killed without asking for religion, sex, ethnicity or language. It became a battle of power, supremacy, money, arrogance and vested interest.

What started as an insurgency soon became a blind game of murder and rape. What good is an insurgency? What good is violence? The Shas wanted food, education and a life of dignity and not this. Who had given the Tao army the right to fight for what they called a cause? What was the cause and at what cost? This and many more questions crossed Khun’s mind every passing second of his life and it was like a torture for his already frail and dying body but he didn’t hope for answers. He was the last person on earth to be having any hope out of the mess. What troubled him was the future of his children but deep down his heart he already knew their future.

His only son, Minao would grow to become an opium farmer under the watchful eyes of the cruel and mindless state army. He also knew that Minao would die soon, either by the kicks and punches of the state army or the bullets of the so-called central government who were nothing but a bunch of gun-totters who though propagated of cleaning the state of the opium fields had their eyes fixed on the golden bounty. The lure of power and money blinds one and all. Khun’s worst nightmare was the fate of his two daughters. It was the worst thing to be born a girl. He knew they would be raped, much before puberty, by any man in uniform and looked down as baby-making machines. The left-wing extremism the state army maintained had no morality to speak of. They were cruel and talked of liberation.

the golden fields

Amidst the glaring cruelty and a life of utter darkness Khun fell, face down, in the murky fields one fine day. The Salween was still flowing gently, the breeze from the Arakan Yoma still cool but the man could take no more of the state atrocities. One of his daughters, the younger and the more beautiful one had been taken by the army only a few days back. Her wails and cries were still fresh in his mind. His son’s left hand had been amputed for he dared to punch one of the soldiers who tried to force on his sisters out in the open. But Minao was there beside him with a hand that still hadn’t healed because he still had to work in the fields. Lifting his father’s head he gave a loud cry but before the man died he told Minao a story he had promised his father he would pass down in his last breaths.

“Minao, my dear son! My father had told of a Chinese traveler from Yunan who was the first to bring the golden seeds into our fields. What was once green with the paddy now smells of blood and drug. He had said the seeds would bring riches and glory to the land but somehow my father knew he spoke wrong and for his own benefit. I have nothing to give you except a faint glimmer of hope. The world is but a merry-go-around. Some get to sit on the blossoming lotus while others on the cactus but all the suffering and evil of the world, on the guise of a cause, will come to an end. It definitely will.”

He paused for a while and spoke these last words before falling dead in the arm of his only son, “Even these poppy fields.”

N.B: The pics are sourced from Google and any resemblance to a person or event is purely coincidental


rolling green and the gun

The Mahindra Scorpio zoomed past the freshly pitched highway and the speed indicator barely touched 60kph. It was unusual for Ramu kaka to drive at such speed but then the place wasn’t usual either. The boys sitting at the back had their eyes glued out of the window but kaka couldn’t afford a side glance. He was driving through the famous Kodarma ghati of Jharkhand notorious for its hair-pin bends. It was a heavenly place with the roads lined by beautiful deciduous trees and mighty forested hills seen at the horizon. Every minute the road took a sharp turn and the huge rock outcrops full of mica sheets could be seen shining in the afternoon sun. Large rivers flowing voluminously from the monsoon rains lazed its way across the green and red landscape whose beauty was unparalleled.

Ravi, one amongst the boys in the rear was numb seeing so much beauty in a state that was always in news for all the wrong reasons including poverty, poor governance, and naxalism. His heart skipped a beat every time the car took a bend, not for the fear of accident, that, in any case, he had been part of quite a few but because every entwine brought in another splendor from the place. Beautiful lakes, sleepy villages, quaint little towns kept on passing in a whisker. Praveen was sitting in the middle and hardly gave a second look to the beauty unfolding every single second. Ramesh, sitting on the other window seat was amazed at the marvel of the place for sure but didn’t look excited.

Ravi was the one who took notice of things and never failed to analyze places, people and events. He always carried a map wherever he went. He very well knew that the huge reservoir that just passed by was the Tilaiya lake and the town that they had stopped at for tea was Jhumri Tilaiya. It was the site for the first dam to be constructed for Damodar Valley Corporation. It was late in the afternoon and kaka definitely needed a tea break and the guys a puff. They were returning to Kolkata via National Highway 31 after having spent their summer holidays in Uttar Pradesh’s Purbanchal region.

“Yaar, you are such a bore” quipped Ramesh and continued, “Why do you even come with us when the only companion you ever need is your map and your silly notebook?” Ravi returned a smile and after he was done with his puff and tea continued towards the car. Suddenly he heard a loud scream and before he could turn his gaze saw a huge crowd gather near an apartment. The boys rushed and moving in the front saw a beautiful girl dressed in a bright red sari frozen to death and lying in a pool of blood. A lady beating her chest cried out loud to a middle-aged man having a stoic appearance on his face, “Why did you sell off your own daughter to marriage to a goon? It would have been better had we all died together.”

Ravi fixedly looked at the girl’s corpse. A zillion questions filled his head and made him go mad. He pushed ahead of the crowd, went near the cold beauty, covered her face with a portion of her sari, all the more reddened by her blood, and asked the frail man, “Kaka, why did you do this to your daughter?” The man, who till now was sitting remorseless, burst into tears and fell on his knees. He got hold of the still body and held it close to his chest and gave a cry so loud that it shook the nearby hills.

Ravi looked around and saw a constant fear in everyone’s eyes. Every soul seemingly had stories to tell but none came out forth. How could such a beautiful place have such grieving people?

He went to another man and asked, “Kaka, what’s all this happening?”

“This is Jharkhand bhaiya.  The only thing that rules here is the gun. You seem to be from the city. Why do you want to get into this?” He didn’t want to continue but the pain in his heart didn’t allow and he continued, “There is rampant abuse of resources here and a pervasive nexus between the gangsters and the government. The rich control the resources and become richer leaving precious little for the poor. There is corruption, misery, poverty and crime everywhere. A father taking petty loans and then selling off his daughter is common. The son of a poor farmer becomes a naxalite and the young daughter is raped by the landlord. Nothing is fine here and what’s worse? Everyone knows about it but prefers to keep quiet.”

Even before the man could finish his tale of agony a bunch of men clad in khadi came and got Ravi by his collar and cautioned him, “Boy! This should be none of your business so get going or else you too would be thrown behind the bars on charges you haven’t even heard of.”

Sensing the matter going ugly Praveen pulled Ravi by his wrist and took him inside the car and told kaka to drive as fast as possible.

The lakes, the rivers, the forests, the hills and the rocks continued to pass but Ravi had his eyes fixed outside the window and kept looking at the endless expanse of beauty still unfolding at the usual pace.

This is my first ever entry for BLOGESHWAR 3.0 and the event and set-up is purely fictional