It was not one of the best days, things didn’t worked as they should have. I reached back to my apartment at 5:00 PM, 4-5 hours earlier than expected and realised I didn’t have house keys. The planned meet at Nagpur got cancelled on last-minute. After reaching back, tried to call my wife but the phone was repeatedly unreachable. Perhaps she has gone for shopping with Kids or may be for a movies show, kids have insisted this for a long time. Then I looked sheepishly here and there, finally decided to browse some magazines at club house lobby.
As soon as I reached reception, Panchu, the club house security guard greeted with a smile. I reciprocated with same gesture and moved towards the sofa as I heard Panchu asking “Sir, you do not have the house keys, madam left the building with kids almost 2 hours back”. I looked at him and thought, it seems he know too much information on my personal front. So I casually smiled back, but looks like Panchu was in mood for more. He asked “Sir, are you coming back from Nagpur”. That was a surprise and I had to nod my head. My doubt now seems to move more on the affirmation side, these guys know too much. So just to explore “How did you guessed that I am coming back from Nagpur”, he answered “Sir, I read the tag of your flight” pointing at my luggage. The guy seems to be smart, knows to read and looks from a good background that was my first impression. And then he immediately announced about his Spoken English Classes. To strike the conversation and know more about him, I went ahead for a chat with him. What I came to know was an intriguing story.
Panchu hail from a village near Nagpur and his father was a farmer. He is in Bangalore for last 6 months and got this job as his younger brother’s friend was working with this security agency. While he spoke this sentence I can see his eyes filled in, somehow looking at him my eyes also got filled in. I felt he wanted to share something and I guessed he was looking up to me.
Looking at affirmative expression on my face, he went ahead and shared, this date my father left us, it is an year now. He told me his father has taken loan for his sister’s marriage and his younger brother education. Due to unseasonal rains, the crops didn’t come up well and they couldn’t repay the loan EMI for 6 months. Though they still own the farming land, they need to repay full amount with interest to get it back from Pawn broker. The money-lender in turn has leased to third party for tilling the land. He will charge the new tiller and make adjustment in the loans from money received. But Panchu knows, he will charge large amounts and adjust very meager towards the loans. He has circled to district and tehsils offices to get help from government schemes. But it was of no use as he couldn’t get necessary info neither had money to bribe the officials.
Suddenly to me the problem of not having keys seems miniscule. The very idea of time was lost and I forgot how long I have been listening to Panchu. I look again to Panchu, he is eager to get my attention to share his feelings.
Panchu’s younger brother Suhas had moved to Bangalore for a course in BBM from a private college 4 years back, that has already stressed out the finances. He graduated an year back but had to struggle to make the ends meet. Initially, he got a job in marketing company and then he changed to a job in the delivery company. This makes easier for him as he can stay with Suhas , the apartment is also near by. Suhas and he stays along with 8 other guys in the same room to make it easier on pocket, otherwise Bangalore houses is a costly affair. In the night when both get a
chance to meet they will talk, how they can bring Mother and Panchu’s family to Bangalore. Suhas has the exposure and necessary information but is short of cash. He has a dream to own the car, there are OLA cabs, Uber, they say each driver makes 75000 to 1 lakhs per month. But for that you need 4 wheeler driving license, some cash for deposit as well. Panchu will caution Suhas not to get into trap and not to spread legs too far. Meanwhile he is bumped by nearby fellow on mattress, there are 10 of them sleeping in small room. The guys mutters not to talk and go to sleep and both of them just ignore staring to stars in night sky thinking when will their stars change.
Indeed, both of them changed their life for better or worse that time will tell. But this is a very telling tale of today’s youth, their limitations in village and rising opportunities as well as cost at the cities. But Panchu considers himself fortunate that he has to guard the apartment gate instead of his own field, yet he has a certainty at the end of the month to finite cash in the hand. He may be taking less oxygen in the city but there is hope that the fruits of opportunities can ripe on the tree of labour. And at least his coming generation will not limp in the shadows of power cut and unavailable government schemes.
I told Panchu, I have 2 old smartphones with me and he can collect. This will help him to practice english and be also in touch with his near and dear one. He had same smile on his face perhaps for getting something of need or was it a smile of hope to change his world. I was amazed with Panchu’s tenacity and looking at the positive aspects of life. he was indeed an inspiration to get on with life and make your way. And at that point I saw my kids waving towards me, both of us moved on to our lives.
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