श्रद्धाजंलि : भवान सिंह धर्मशक्तू ‘भागवतानन्द सरस्वती’, जिनकी पुण्य तिथि जुलाई महिने में थी.

देश की आजादी को हासिल करने में अनगिनत लोगों का योगदान रहा है. इन स्वतंत्रता सेनानियों में कुछ ऐसे भी हैं जिन्होंने कभी अपने परिवार की परवाह नहीं की. कठिनाई से जूझते हुए वे जीवन डगर में देश सेवा में आगे बढ़ते रहे.

राष्ट्र की स्वाधीनता के कारण अपने परिवार का सर्वनाश देखने के पश्चात भी जिस व्यक्ति के जीवन में देश सेवा में समर्पित होने के अतिरिक्त कुछ शेष नहीं रह गया था, वह भवान सिंह धर्मशक्तू ही थे.

उन्होंने लाल सिंह धर्मशक्तू के घर में 15 मार्च 1891 को जन्म लिया. भवान सिंह जी बचपन से ही धार्मिक एवं सात्विक प्रवृति के व्यक्ति थे. परिवार का तिब्बत के साथ व्यापार होने के कारण उन्हें तिब्बती भाषा का अच्छा ज्ञान था. परंतु अल्प शिक्षा और अभावग्रस्त गृहस्थी के मध्य जोहार के तृतीय श्रेणी के व्यवसाय द्वारा संघर्षमय जीवन के प्रारंभिक काल में ही इनमें त्याग और आत्म शुद्धि की भावना पनपने लगी. अत: अपने पैतृक व्यवसाय को छोड़कर इन्होंने सन् 1919 से सात बर्षो तक टिहरी में और पाँच बर्षो तक मिलम में तिब्बती भाषा के शिक्षक के रूप में कार्य किया. तत्पश्चात सन् 1936 से 1940 तक गाँधी आश्रम, चनौदा के खादी उत्पादन केन्द्र में ऊनी बस्त्र उत्पादन का कार्य किया.

द्वितीय विश्वयुद्ध के आरंभ हो जाने पर भारत को भी इस युद्ध में शामिल किये जाने के आदेश से रुष्ठ होकर कांग्रेस मंत्रिमंडल प्रन्तीय सरकारों से त्याग पत्र देने लगा था और युद्ध विरोधी सत्याग्रह की घोषणा आरंभ हो गई थीं. बिनोबा, नेहरू और पंत आदि राष्ट्रीय नेताओं की भाँति अलमोड़ा जिले के हरगोबिदं पंत, बद्रीदत्त पांडे और दुर्गासिहं रावत आदि ने भी 1941 के बागेश्वर मेले में सत्याग्रह आन्दोलन का मंत्र फूँक दिया था. जिससे अंग्रेजों के विरुद्ध कुमाऊँ में भी जनाक्रोश प्रज्वलित होने लग था.

ऐसे अवसर पर भवान सिंह भी स्वयं को इस आन्दोलन में आहूत करने से नहीं रोक सके और गांधी आश्रम से त्याग पत्र देकर “इस खूनी लड़ाई में धन जन से सहायता देना हराम है” का नारा लगाते हुए गोरी फाट में युद्ध विरोधी भावनाओं का प्रचार करते समय 18 फरवरी 1941 को मदकोट में गिरफ्तार कर लिए गए.

कुछ दिन पिथौरागढ मे रखने के उपरांत एक वर्ष की कैद तथा 125 रु. का आर्थिक दडं देकर इन्हें अलमोड़ा कारागार भेज दिया गया. कारागार में नित्य संध्या वंदन करते हुए जीवन बिता ही रहे थे कि अकस्मात् उनके जीवन में एक बज्रघात पड़ गया. पत्र द्वारा उनको ज्ञात हुआ कि दो बच्चों सहित उनकी सहधर्मिणी और पूज्यनीय माता जी का हैजे के प्रकोप से निधन हो गया. घर में अब केवल 13 बर्ष का एक लड़का ही बच पाया था. इस आघात को सहते हुए उन्होंने सोचा कि जन्म देने वाली माता की सेवा तो न कर सका, अब जन्मभूमि की माँ की सेवा में समर्पित होना ही श्रेयस्कर होगा.

अलमोड़ा के पश्चात् 19 अगस्त 1941 से बरेली कारावास की यातना सहने के बाद 13 दिसम्बर 1941 को इन्हें मुक्त कर दिया गया. परन्तु जिस व्यक्ति ने अपने गृहस्थ जीवन का सर्वनाश देख लिया हो, उसके जीवन में बचा ही क्या था, सिवाय देश सेवा के.

जेल से छूटने के बाद वे भारत छोड़ो आंदोलन में पूर्ण रूप से समर्पित हो गए. आंदोलन के लिए वे पदयात्रा पर निकल पड़े. अपने क्षेत्र के कई अन्य सत्याग्रहियों के साथ हाथ में तिरंगा लेकर जब ये मेले, कौतिको और गाँव गाँव में अंग्रेजों के विरुद्ध जनाक्रोश उत्पन्न करते हुए भ्रमण कर रहे थे, 28 सितम्बर 1942 की रात्रि में सेला ग्राम में एक गोरे अधिकारी द्वारा पुनः पकड़ लिए गए. 5 अक्टूबर 1942 को थल पड़ाव में डेढ़ वर्ष की सजा सुनाकर इन्हें भी जोहार के अन्य सोलह साथियों के साथ अल्मोड़ा और बरेली जेलों को भेज दिया गया. वहाँ कैदियों के द्वारा जेल अधीक्षक को दिये जाने वाले अपमानजनक परेड का विरोध करने पर सल्ट के गंगा दत्त शास्त्री और अन्य पाँच साथियों सहित इनको भी 15 दिन के लिए खूनी अभियुक्तों की भाँति बेडियाँ पहनाई गई और दोनों पाँवों तथा कमर में लोहे की कडियाँ (मतभंगा) डाल दी गई. 

16 अगस्त 1943 से लखनऊ कैम्प जेल में रहने के बाद, 6 जनवरी 1944 को इनको कारावास जीवन से मुक्ति मिल गई. स्वाधीनता संग्राम में भाग लेते हुए सत्याग्रह शिविरों और कारावास यात्राओं से मुक्त हो जाने के पश्चात सन् 1946 में इन्होंने सन्यास ग्रहण कर लिया. तब से ये ‘भागवतानन्द सरस्वती’ के नाम से जाने जाते थे. सन्यास ग्रहण करने के पश्चात् अब ये पर्वतीय और मैदानी भागों के ग्रामीण अंचलों में अवैतनिक रूप से प्रौढ़ शिक्षा कार्य करते रहे, फिर दो वर्ष तक कपकोट और तीन वर्ष तक चौबटिया के उद्यान विभाग में भी अवैतनिक सलाहकार रहे. इस प्रकार सार्वदेशिक भावनाओं से ओतप्रोत होने के कारण इनका कार्य क्षेत्र विस्तृत हो गया था. वे जीवन के अन्तिम क्षण तक वे मानव मात्र की सेवा करते रहे.

सन् 1958 में उत्तर प्रदेश के मंत्री चौधरी चरण सिंह से लड-झगड कर ये जोहार के 27 भूमिहीन परिवारो को तराई भावर के गुलरभोज में 5 एकड़ प्रति परिवार को भूमि दिलाने में भी सफल हुए. इसी वर्ष से इन्हें स्वतंत्रता सेनानी के रूप में 30 रु़ प्रति माह की आर्थिक सहायता मिलने लगी. 

जीवन के प्रारंभिक काल में अभावग्रस्त रहकर, तरुणास्वथा में कठोर परिश्रम करके, युवावस्था में राष्ट्रीय आंदोलन में तरह तरह की यातनायें सहते तथा वृद्धावस्था में अल्पाहार एवं समाज सेवा के लिए स्वयं को समर्पित करने वाला भारत माँ का यह सपूत मात्र चार दिन अस्वस्थ रहने के पश्चात् जुलाई 1969 को भारत माता की गोदी में समा गये.

जोहार और देश के इस महान विभूति को शत् शत् नमन!

Story of a group of students of Munsyari, who were on an educational tour to Nainital…

Hi Kids, Parents and Teachers,

Our Kumaon is a rich treasure trove overflowing with the bounty of scenic beauty of nature and man made splendour, artistic interest and historical importance. For students to whom knowledge is their first requirement and love, there is so much to learn and gain from the endowment. 

Realising this a dynamic teacher of Munsyari thought of an educational tour for his class 9th students.

So this is the story of 9th grade students of Munsyari who were on a visit to Nainital. As you know Munsyari is a small town where gossip spread quickly and nothing—absolutely nothing—remained hidden. So the news of these students spread like wildfire. People were surprised to know that such a tour is possible. They had never heard of students leaving for an educational tour.

This dynamic teacher was Aditya Sah who took the decision and arranged for the educational tour to Nainital. On his initiative, parents of students agreed to send their kids. Students were excited and so were their parents. Aditya Sir hired two vehicles in which 15 students and Aditya Sir started their journey on a bright day of October. It was an approx. 290 kms journey to Nainital. So the group of 15 started early in the morning (6 a.m.).

Out of 15 students as many as 10 of them had never stepped out beyond Munsyari. So every spot on their way was new to them. They were thrilled and curious about everything. The group led by Aditya sir was enjoying the journey.

The students had brought packed breakfast from their homes and every one had some extra for their beloved teacher Aditya Sir. They took their breakfast at Birthi village watching Birthi-fall. With lush green surroundings blooming in various colours, the water fall is the most beautiful sight on this stretch.

At noon they were in Bageshwar where they stopped for lunch. In less than an hour from Bageshwar they reached Kausani. Kausani is a hill station and famous for its scenic splendour and its spectacular 300 km-wide panoramic view of Himalayan peaks. Mahatma Gandhi called this place the ‘Switzerland of India’. Aditya Sir stopped the vehicles there and took the group to ‘Anashakti Ashram’, a quiet and revered place where Mahatma Gandhi spent some days and wrote his commentary of Anashakti Yog. Aditya Sir explained to the group about the importance of the Ashram. It was a great experiebpnce for our young students.

At 5 p.m. they reached Nainital. As Nainital is in the hills, the mornings and evenings could get quite cold. But that day it was unusually pleasant. The sun had not set and looked bright.

Aditya Sir had arranged the stay at his friend’s house in Mallital. The house was big enough to accommodate all the students. 5 of them were girls so they were given a separate room. The remaining 10 students were adjusted in a hall. 

Though Aditya Sir was from Nainital and he had a house there, but he stayed there with the students. At 8 p.m. the group were served dinner which was arranged by the friend of Aditya Sir. The food was delicious and followed with gulab-jamun….2 for each of them. The students enjoyed the dinner.

Aditya Sir asked all students to wake up early the next day. 

Aditya Sir was happy when he saw all the students ready the next day. A quick breakfast was ready for them. After having breakfast, the group left for Raj Bhavan or Governor’s House.

On reaching there, when the group found the huge building before them they were speechless as they had never ever seen such a huge structure. As they approached the imposing structure, Aditya Sir pointed towards a small pebbled pathway that led towards the side of the building. Aditya Sir told them that it is the summer retreat of the Governor of Uttarakhand. The building is an imposing structure set in the Tallital side of Nainital.

Aditya Sir was not only a teacher to them, but he was a guide to them like Dev Anand in the Guide movie. He was explaining all about this historical structure. Legend had it that in the pre-Independence era, Nainital served as the summer capital of United Provinces and this building, built like a Scottish castle was christened as the “Government House”. Raj Bhavan was built by British as residence of Governor of then North-Western Provinces. The construction of Raj Bhavan was started in April 1897 and it took two years to complete. It is built on European pattern and based on Gothic architecture. The designers of Raj Bhavan at Nainital were Architect Stevens and the Executive Engineer F. O. W. Ortel. After Independence it was renamed as Raj Bhavan The Raj Bhavan estate is spread over 205 acre of area with a Golf Course in 45 acre of land. It has 75 rooms. The Golf Course of Raj Bhavan, built in 1936, is one of the vintage golf courses in India, and is affiliated to the Indian Golf Union. It also consists of a garden and swimming pool. In the post-Independence period, Sarojini Naidu, the first Governor of Uttar Pradesh, was the first occupant of this historic monument.

After seeing the Governor’s house, Aditya Sir took them to a restaurant in Tallital where they had their lunch. The group enjoyed various kind of foods. Girls liked the Chinese Noodles whereas boys relished momos and soup.

Aditya Sir told them that they are now going to see the High Court. The students were already excited to see the Governor’s House, so they were all happy on knowing this.

But there was a twist in their going to High Court. Aditya Sir asked the drivers to park their vehicles in Mallital. The students were clueless. They thought that they would have to walk all the way to the High Court from Tallital. But when Aditya Sir took them to the lakeside, they understood the plan. And the plan was to go to Mallital in boats. It was a brilliant idea of Aditya Sir. He knew how to utilise the time. The students enjoyed boating and on reaching Mallital they walked down to High Court, not very far from Mallital lakeside.

On reaching there, Aditya Sir as usual explained all about the building and High Court to the group. The building of Uttarakhand High Court was constructed by Santoni MacDonald in 1900. The Uttarakhand State was carved out from the State of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000 under the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000. At the time of the creation of the State, the High Court of Uttarakhand was also established on the same day at Nainital.

On having seen these two historical buildings Aditya Sir left them free so that they could enjoy themselves in flats, market. But they were clearly instructed to return to their place of stay by 7 p.m., which the group followed.

Next day the group returned back to Munsyari with Aditya Sir. 

This educational tour was a great success. Inside the classroom, a student gets to know about new things, new ideas, and new concepts, while outside the classroom, a student explores and experiences. Our students learned many things like they were now more exchanging their ideas with each other, their communication skills had improved, their perspective about life had changed and they developed amazing social skills.

As the teacher and philosopher, Confucius famously quoted, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” The idea of educational tours is built around the practice of experiential learning.

I am a firm believer of educational tours as it teach students a lot.

Are you inspired..? If yes, ask your teacher to arrange for an educational tour to some important place from learning point of view.

Good bye…I will be back with a new post soon.

My village … Kanoli

I do not know how on earth my ancestors chose Kanoli for their winter home despite the fact that they had the choice of settling along the bank of Ramganga or Jakuli River like many other Shaukas who had settled there in the villages like Tejam, Bhainskhal, Timtia, Rasiabagarh, Quiti, Nachni, Thal, etc.

Kanoli, our village has pucca houses and sufficient land. With 57 houses the village is divided into Talla Kanoli, Malla Kanoli, Pari Bamo and Toli. It is 40 kms away from sub-district headquarter (block) Kapkot and 64 kms away from district headquarter Bageshwar. My clan resides in Talla Kanoli.

After 74 years of independence Kanoli is still unconnected by motor roads. Public and private bus service is available 10 kms away at Nachni and Shama. Now due to awareness among villagers road construction has started to link Kanoli with Nachni and Shama. However, there are many bottlenecks which need to be tackled. Sometimes the government, sometimes contractors create avoidable problems leading to delays, lack of funds, etc. One can realise that due to lack of political pressure we are lagging behind. We all know that without political influence such developmental work hardly takes place in villages like Kanoli. Having said that I am hoping against hopes and hopefully within a year or two we may see motor roads in Kanoli.

The village Kanoli is situated on the middle and lower levels of the ridges, in the midst of the cultivated fields. The place is neither too hot and damp, like the low-lying land near the River banks, nor too cold, like the hill-tops. It is well- drained, elevated, and spacious place. I think this might be the consideration for my ancestor as to why they chose Kanoli over the areas near River banks. 

Another consideration in determining the village site might be the supply of drinking water, which was available in adjoining hill-stream, within less than a half a kilometer from the village. The springs suffice to meet the village requirements. The situation of forest land is also kept in view. As a rule, it is conveniently situated in relation to the village site: neither too far for grazing and fuel, nor so near that the wild animals are likely to alarm the villagers. On the one side the village has access to good forest land, and on the other to the semi irrigated fields. The villages along the banks of Rivers generally are found in a chain in lower valleys. There was no such chain of villages near Kanoli.

My great grandfather was one of the five brothers and he was the youngest one. All of them had built houses in Talla Kanoli. The houses of four brothers (not on seniority basis) are in the front row whereas the remaining brother’s house is behind. All houses had a courtyard and together it made a huge one, very much suited to children for their play. The courtyard is covered by stone-slates.

Talla Kanoli is well known for its Peepal tree (Ficus religious or sacred fig). This very old and big pipal tree is located behind our houses. The tree is large and leafy and easy to climb. Children used to play different kinds of games in and around this tree. If one hides in the tree, he or she could not easily be seen from below. Some of the branches of the tree are hung to the ground making small children climb them and swing which give them immense pleasure. The pipal with its heart like shape leaves would flutter even on the stillest days providing cool shade. I think the tree is older than our houses, older than our grandfathers. This great tree was a small world for us throughout the year. Now our relatives play cards under the shadow of the tree, as the children are away from school. The other trees like guava, orange, and lemon (big and small), malta would attract our attention during their fruiting season.

Another attraction of Talla Kanoli is its Kachehri, a meeting place. In good old days the Kutchery used to be full of life where everyone would meet each other. It was a place for settling disputes, village functions, panchayat meetings, etc. Even it served as a playground for children.

The houses are built on stone walls and the flooring has been done with wooden planks as base and then smeared with the paste of cow dung and clay mixed together. Stone slates known as ‘Pathar’ were used as roofing material for the house. For plastering the inside walls, mud paste was used. On the first floor, there are four rooms; two rooms in front and two rooms behind them. The main room which is bigger than all other rooms, was mostly used as ‘baithak’ and was called ‘Bhoni’ (baithak).

The staircase, connecting the first floor in front of the house, is called ‘Gon’. Staircase was made of stones which also served for sitting. The ground floor is divided into two parts of which one was used for animals mainly cows and their calves, oxen and goats. The other part is ‘Chulha ghar’ (kitchen). In the kitchen room, there was a small platform, like a niche for keeping ‘gharas’ (pitcher) for storing water. I remember there were at least four gharas in our house.

The house has the carvings on doors, windows marvelously adorned in a simple and gorgeous style. The open space of the window is filled with particular latticework to give a photo-frame like effect by craftsmen. Besides floral design and picture of animals, most of the wood carvings have Gods and Goddesses as their motifs, concept. Such wood carving can be seen in most of Shaukas’ houses. These types of houses were made in a linear pattern and are earthquake proof. I recollect that in 1964 we had a massive earthquake followed by a series of vibrations on the ground. It was severe. The whole area was trembling. We had come out in the open area. It lasted for almost a minute. There have been many more severe earthquakes in the past but our houses withstood all such tremors.

There were no water tanks or pipelines in the houses. Water was available but at a distance from villages in Rivers, dhara (streams). Water for drinking as well as cooking had to be carried to homes in ‘gharas’ (pitchers) and mostly ladies used to carry water on their back. Carrying water in ‘gharas’ from a distance was tough for women. But they would never complain about it, as it was like an outing for them with other women of the village. On their way up and down they would discuss all sorts of happenings and events of the village. In fact they enjoyed it. I remember seeing my mother carrying a ghara of water on her back. She had her own ‘ghara’ given to her by her ‘Maika’(mother’s family). Strange thing was that this job was exclusively assigned to ladies. I do not remember any men carrying such loads of ghara.

Like many villages in our hills, Kanoli today wears a deserted if not desolate look. Once a bustling village where the villagers tilled their fertile fields and one could hear the laughter ringing and the shout of children playing reverberating in the thin mountain air. All of it is a thing of the past as one by one the young and able left in search of greener pastures and once they found a means of livelihood, they took their families along with them.

All I hope that the village is connected by motor roads soon and it springs back to life once again. No doubt roads are life line for any village.

Remembering my initial days in Munsyari and College…

Hi friends/kids,

I hope you agree with me that our nostalgia for the good old days will never go away entirely. … It turns out we can realize we’re living the good old days right now. So remembering my initial days in Munsyari and my college is a great feeing for me. I feel happy in sharing them…

After passing Junior High School from Shama, my father decided to send me to Munsyari for further studies though I was dreaming of going to Nainital. The thing that touched me most in connection with my going to Munsyari was parting from my mother. She was more worried about my stay and food away from home.

At that time Munsyari was not connected by motor road, so my father accompanied me. It was some 60 kilometers’ journey. We reached Munsyari next day after halting overnight at Quiti. To me it had been my longest but eventful journey; but the first sight of the large college building covered with corrugated tin seemed to have rewarded me for all that I had undergone in order to reach Munsyari.

The great ‘Panchachuli’ representing five mythological Pandavas stood proud before my eyes. Their legend forever ensconced in the five majestic peaks of the Punchachuli range was giving me ethereal feeling. At Munsyari my father took me straight to Didi’s house, which was her in-law’s house. She welcomed us and very soon arranged for my stay in one of the rooms adjacent to her room.

All college going students remember their first day at college as it is a memorable experience of their life. I do remember my first day..

Though I don’t remember the exact date and month of my first day, I remember that I was feeling very happy and proud of being a college student.

My first day at the college was quite eventful. I was dressed in a new trouser, shirt and a new sweater knitted by my father. It was made of Australian wool which was very soft. I remember when I returned I was caught in rain and got wet. My sweater had shrunk a little bit and I found it difficult to get out of it. I was also sporting earrings (‘Murki’ as called in Shauka language). When I saw how all the boys were dressed, to my embarrassment I found none of them wearing earrings. I began to feel quite uncomfortable. I decided to get rid of this as soon as I go to Shama (my village) in my coming holidays. 

After having been admitted in ninth class, I found myself in difficulty because I did not have books. In the entire Munsyari there was only one book-shop cum stationery and this shop had only Primary School level books. Didihat was nearest place to buy books. The other choice was to find a boy/girl who had cleared his/her High School and was ready to give his/her books. 

Going to Didihat (80 Kms) was a costly and time taking affair. So I took the trouble to find the boy who had cleared his High School. I found one, but he was not ready to give me the books without paying him 50% of the cost of books. The condition of the books was also not good. It appeared to me that the books had changed many hands before. I had no option and bought the books. Later I found that some pages of books were missing and there were marks of ink, tea, food on many pages.

For a couple of months I stayed at Didi’s house. Though I had no serious difficulty in staying with her, I wanted some space, some privacy which I was missing there. So after two months I decided to live separately on my own against the wishes of Didi and my family. It was a tough decision on my part.

I took a room in the market area on rent and started living alone. The great responsibility of being free of having to think and plan for myself was an exciting feeling. This was my first experience of living alone. It was like suddenly turning a youth of 14 years out in the world to provide for himself. There was a shopkeeper at Munsyari who was our distant relative and also a good friend of my father. So, on my father’s request he became my local guardian. He arranged a ‘Charpoi’ (Cot), a kerosene stove, a kerosene table lamp, some utensils and some kerosene for me. But I didn’t know cooking. Why kerosene lamp..? because there was no electricity in Munsyari.

There were many restaurants available in the market that offered meals (lunch and dinner) on a monthly basis. Their monthly rates were reasonable. I selected the one which was quite near to my place of stay. This restaurant was run by one Mahendra Singh Nitwal, a young and handsome guy from Sarmoli village. He had many student customers on a monthly basis. All cooking was done by himself. He used to serve meat twice a week, but he gave only two pieces of meat. I think his meat preparation was superb. At that time the meat seemed to me to be absolutely the most tempting thing. I, then and there, resolved that if I could get enough money, I would order a full plate of meat and relish it.

While I was happy with lunch and dinner at the restaurant, breakfast was a problem for me. As I mentioned earlier, I did not know cooking. At most, I had some idea of preparing tea. Moreover, there was no bakery and getting bread was out of the question. Even eggs were not available in the market. Sometimes I would go to a nearby ‘Tea Stall’, run by one Gopal Singh Rawat of Jalath village. He was ‘Gopal Da’ to his customers. ‘Da’ means elder brother. Apart from tea; milk, boiled chana (beans), boiled and fried potatoes were available in his stall. But this was a costly affair.

Soon I discovered that a friend of mine, who was also a customer of Mahendra Singh Nitwal, the restaurant owner, shared with me something which was quite strange and unusual. He disclosed that he used to steal two/three chapatis (Roti) while taking dinner and keep them in his pocket or under his belt without getting seen by any. He encouraged me to do the same. I somehow agreed and did exactly what he had explained to me. Thus I brought the stolen chapatis to my room which I would eat next day with tea prepared by me. It continued for some time and my breakfast problem was solved to some extent. But somehow I was not happy with this kind of stealing as it was unethical too. When I told this to my father during his visit to Munsyari, he got angry and scolded me not to do this and to stop it then and there. However, he increased my monthly expenses limit (money) which he used to send me on a monthly basis. I was happy that due to this episode I got an increase for monthly expenses. So I started going to Gopal Da’s Tea Stall for my breakfast as money was no more a problem.

I am sharing this with the hope that it inspires you to write your College/School experience. Would you?

See you soon with a new post. Take care.

My dream : to open a library in my village Darkot (Munsyari)

Hi Kids and friends,

As you know I am from the hills of Kumaon in Uttarakhand. I come from a middle-class trader’s family. In my family, as with many other families of traders, books and knowledge were considered secondary. My father, grandfather were all traders with Tibet and were always on the move from one place to another. So they had little time for school, study, books, etc…

In our village, I still remember the way people respected each other. All families were more or less busy with trading and its related activities. But there came a turning point when everything got changed. It was a war when our neighbouring country China invaded our country in 1962 and Tibet was completely taken over by China and the result was Tibet got closed for Indian traders.

That was a tough time for all of us. But very soon families realised the importance of education. So they started sending their children to schools. One of my grandparents used to read religious books particularly Ramayana, Mahabharata, Kalyan. Sometimes he would call us and show us the pictures of Gods and Goddesses. I was fascinated with those colourful pictures of Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Pandavas and many others. As I grew older and was able to read, he allowed me to read those religious books. That was my first encounter with books other than school books.

I remember having read the story about Arjuna. I was particularly impressed with the way he gave respect to his teacher (Guru) Dronacharya. In fact Guru Dronacharya passed on all his knowledge to Arjuna which made him the greatest archer of his time. Arjuna knew the value of knowledge. It seems Arjuna once said, “In this life everything perishes over a period of time. Whether it be diamond, beauty, gold or even land. Only one thing withstands this destruction. It is knowledge. The more you give the more you get.”

A teacher gives knowledge to students and I consider him the richest person. I think that is the reason a teacher is respected; not for his riches but because he is the source of knowledge.

Apart from teachers, I think Books play a quintessential role in every student’s life. They provide knowledge of the outside world, improving their reading, writing and speaking skills as well as boosting memory and intelligence.

I had not seen any library till I passed my intermediate as there was no library in my village or in Munsyari where my college was located. However, as a student, my first expedition I ever made to a library was to the ‘Durga Sah Municipal library’ in Nainital when I came there for my graduation and post-graduation.

An interesting episode is linked to how the Durga Sah Library came into existence in Nainital. Late Mr. Mohan Lal Sah, an eminent citizen of the town, frequently rued the fact that there was no library in Nainital. He came up with a proposal to establish a library during the municipal corporation meeting in 1933-34. The then chairman, Mr. Busher refused the proposal saying that the Municipal Corporation didn’t have enough budget for such a project. He told the members present in the meeting that building a library would cost about Rs. 5000 which the Municipal Corporation couldn’t afford. The proposal was rejected.

Mr. Mohan Lal Sah offered to donate Rs. 5000 for the project on the condition that the forthcoming library is named after his father Durga Lal Sah. His proposal was accepted and a library was built. This library went on to become one of the best in the whole of North India. Even today, it hosts some very important and rare books.

Thus the work of Shri Mohan Lal Shah brought true colours for the people of Nainital and they still avail the facilities of this Library and take it as the blessings of Shri Mohan Lal Shah.The library was a center of attraction for the locals and tourists alike. People from all parts of the country visited it and savoured the books. The ex-President of India Mr, Varah Giri Venkat Giri was the Governor of UP 1957 and 1960. During his summer stay in Nainital, he would make it a point to visit this library. He was so impressed by the library that he called it a ‘heritage of the hill station.’

When I was in Nainital, I used to visit this library often in the evening. I still remember the cupboards with glass panes of the library so that one could read the titles of the books easily. Newspapers and weeklies were piled up neatly. Tables and chairs were laid for people to sit and read. There was absolute silence. I started reading children’s books and story and history books and used to be absorbed in them until it was dark and time to go to my rented room. Years passed and I did my post graduation. By that time, I had finished reading a good number of books in that library.

One such evening, I was coming back from the library. It was dark and the street lights were blinking. Suddenly an idea came to my mind …how about having a library in Munsyari. But how…? I had no clue. But often I used to think about it but when the question of resources for opening the library came to my mind, I found myself helpless. 

Soon I got a job and got posting at different places. It was a time taking job where I hardly found time even to follow my hobby i.e. reading books, travel, etc. After retirement I settled in Haldwani where I started purchasing and collecting books of my choice. Today I am happy to have a small personal library of more than 160 books in my home at Haldwani.

But my dream of opening a small library in Munsyari is still in the back of my mind. I had read somewhere that there was a great man called Andrew Carnegie in the USA. He was a billionaire who lived a century back. He willed all his wealth not to his children, but to build library buildings in as many villages as possible. I have not seen America, but it seems any library you see in any village in America was invariably built using Andrew Carnegie’s money. ‘I do not know how long I will live, but today I realized how much I love opening a library in my village.

I am not rich like Carnegie, but certainly I have a strong desire to open a library in Darkot, Munsyari. The biggest problem was to get a room for the library. Now our people have built a Kachehry (कचहरी) in Darkote (Munsyari) near Devi Temple, in which there are four rooms and one of the rooms has been provided for the library.

So Kids, I am in the process of opening a library in Darkot, Munsyari. I have already purchased more than 180 books..and few magazines for children, teens, older people and book-lovers…all brand new and choicest ones. Books are both in English and Hindi. I have also purchased two cricket bats and few balls, one volley-ball, a football, chess, carrom. Some of my friends are helping me in this regard. Very soon the library will be operational and I will post a detailed write up on that…I am excited …

If you want to donate some books, please let me know through my email – harishcsingh13@gmail.com

Your donation will go a long way in building a useful, children friendly library.

See you soon with my new post.

Take care.

Folktale : Story of Johar…

Do you know Johar – Milam has a story? It has been mentioned by historians like Charles A. Sherring (1906), Edwin T. Atkinson (1884). I heard the same story from my grandfather also. This pretty story is about the first advent of the Shaukas or Sokpas into Johar.

Juhar, Jibar or Jiwar is the old name of Juhar (Johar), and long before the present race of men came into the world there were two princes (principalities) in Juhar called Halduwa and Pingaluwa. The former extended from the snows to Mapa and the latter from Mapa to Laspa. The people of these countries are said to have been covered with hair even to their tongues. There was no pass open at that time to Hundes. High up on the cliffs near the source of the Gori glacier (different from Milam glacier) lived a huge bird (piru), whose wings when extended were able to cover the valley at Mapa and who lived on human beings. The bird fed on the hapless inhabitants of Halduwa and Pingaluwa until but a few families remained.

Sakya Lama lived at this time in a great cave near Laphkhel. Every morning the Lama used to leave his cave and come to Laphkhel, where he used to sit all day at his devotions, flying back at night to his cave. There was at that time in the service of the Lama a man to whom the Lama wished to do service and he called the man to him and said, ‘Go across the snowy mountains to the south and you will find a place called Juhar, where the piru has eaten up Halduwa and Pingaluwa, who lived there. I will give thee a bow and arrow with which thou shalt fight the Peru and kill it; go, take possession of and colonise Juhar.’

The man answered and said, ‘Thy servant will obey the voice of his master, but he knoweth not the way and who shall guide him.’ The Lama said, ‘Fear not, I will provide thee a guide, but take care that thou leave him not. Whatever shape he may assume, follow on and fear not; remember that he is thy guide.

‘The man and the guide set out together, and after a short time the guide took the form of a dog and the place was called after him Kingri. The man followed the dog and it became a stag, hence the name Dol-dunga; then the stag became a bear and the place was called Topi- dunga; and again a camel, hence the name Unta-dhura; then a tiger, hence the name Dung-udiyar; and finally a hare which lost itself in Pingaluwa’s country at Samgaon.

On looking about him the man saw nothing but the bones of the people who had been eaten by the Peru, and becoming alarmed fled and took refuge in a house which he found near. Here he found a very old woman covered with hair, and he inquired of her who she was and how the country had become desolate. She told him that she was the last surviving inhabitant of Pingaluwa and Halduwa’s country and added, ‘I have remained for the Peru’s food to-day and you have come to give him his dinner for tomorrow; well done of you.’

The man then told her the story of his master the Lama and showed her his bow and arrows and asked her what the capabilities of the country were. She told him that it produced ‘ua’ (Hordeum caleste) and ‘phaphar’ (Fagopyrum tataricum), that there were plenty of houses but no salt, and that they could not get to Hundes, where salt was to be had for the asking for it. Whilst thus engaged in conversation he suddenly heard a great whirr of wings and the bird appeared and seized the old woman and eat her up, nothing daunted the man, seized his bow and shot his arrows until he killed the bird.

Then he lighted a fire and said to himself, ‘I shall go back to the Lama and get some salt. I am pleased with this place, and this shall be a sign to me that if the valley is intended for me this fire shall not go out until I return, and if the valley is not to be mine then the fire shall die out.’ So saying he returned to the Lama by the way which he had come and told the Lama all that had befallen him. He found his old guide at Laphkhel in his proper shape and then asked the Lama for salt. ‘The Lama said, ‘There is plenty of salt in Hundes, but I will produce it for you here. ‘The Lama then took salt and sowed it over the land like grain and promised that the supply should be sufficient for the entire wants of the new settlement. Having thus spoken the Lama flew away to his cave and was never seen again, and to the present day the herbage here is so saturated with salt that there is sufficient for the Bhotiya flocks. The people still say that this salt is one of Sakya’s gifts, and when Buddhist priests visit the valley they ask for alms in the name of Sakya who gave the people salt.

When Sakya Lama flew away his servant returned to Juhar and there he found his fire still alight and accepting the omen resolved to remain in the valley. He collected a number of people called Sokas and established them near Milam and built a temple in honour of Sakya. In the time of Sonpati Soka, who lived at Madkot, the route to Hundes by the Madkuwa River which was used by the people of Athasi was opened and much gold was acquired by him. This route has since fallen into disuse owing to the accumulation of snow and the debris of avalanches.

These events occurred before the time of the Katyuri Rajas and in course of time the Sokas also disappeared. They were followed by the ancestors of the present Milamwals, who came from Tibet into the valley in this manner.

I don’t know how far it is true, but folktales have long history. It travels from generation to generation.

There are folktales in every community and children enjoy them listening from their grandparents.

See you soon with a new post. Take care.

बोली-भाषा… कुछ मुद्दे मेरी नजर में

बोली इतनी महत्वपूर्ण है कि दुनिया भर में बोली-व्यवहार के आधार पर इलाकों की सीमाएँ तय होती हैं, प्रांतों, प्रदेशों के नाम तय होते हैं. भाषा के सवाल पर ही पाकिस्तान ने बांग्लादेश को गंवा दिया.

कहावत है कि भाषा बहता नीर है. यह दिलचस्प है कि भौगोलिक सीमांकन का आधार भी प्रकृति की यही दोनों धाराएं करती हैं, यानी भाषा और नदी. भारत में देखें तो आज़ादी के बाद रियासतों का समन्वय हुआ. उसके उपरान्त 1956 में जब राज्यों का पुनर्गठन हुआ तब देश का वह स्वरूप उभर कर सामने आया जिसमें भाषायी आधार पर राज्य बने.

मुझे तो ऐसा लगता है कि अगर हमारी बोली कुमाऊँनी बोली से भिन्न नहीं होती या कुमाऊँनी ही होती तो जो अलगाव हमें देखने को मिलता है शायद वह देखने को नहीं मिलती या कम मिलती. शायद भोटिया शब्द इतना racial नहीं होता. ज़ाहिर है भाषा बोली के आधार पर दारमा, व्यास, चौदास घाटी वालों को भी जाना जाता होगा.

अब देखिये हिन्दी और हिन्दुस्तानी में भी भेद रहा है. हिंदुस्तानी मूलतः अंग्रेज़ों का दिया हुआ शब्द है. वे जानते थे कि यह उत्तर भारत के अधिकतर भागों में बोली और समझी जानेवाली भाषा है, इसीलिए उन्होंने इसे हिंदुस्तानी याने हिंदुस्तान की भाषा कहा. फ़ोर्ट विलियम कॉलेज में 19वीं सदी के आरंभ में हिंदी की पाठ्य-पुस्तकें हिंदुस्तानी के नाम से ही बनीं. उसी समय हिंदवी के नाम से अरबी-फ़ारसी लिपि में लिखी उर्दू की पाठ्य-पुस्तकों का भी लेखन शुरू हुआ. इस तरह औपचारिक स्तर पर दो भाषाओं का विभेद हुआ, हालाँकि बहुत समय तक सामान्य बोलचाल की भाषा को हिंदुस्तानी कहा जाता रहा. संभवतः आज भी लोग कुछ आम बोलचाल की भाषा को हिंदुस्तानी मानते हैं. वे कहते हैं, मैं हिंदुस्तानी बोलता हूँ.

इस शब्द का दूसरा संदर्भ गांधी जी से जुड़ता है. गांधी जी के नेतृत्व में जो भाषा नीति अपनाई गई वह कांग्रेस की हिन्दू मुस्लिम एकता लाने की पद्धति से मेल खाती थी. गांधी जी ने कहा था कि कांग्रेस हिन्दुस्तानी का समर्थन करती है. हिन्दुस्तानी न तो हिन्दी होगी न ही उर्दू, बल्कि दोनों का मिश्रण होगी. उसे देवनागरी और फ़ारसी दोनों लिपियों में लिखा जा सकेगा. इसका काफी विरोध हुआ जिसमें प्रमुख थे- पुरुषोत्तम दास टंडन, रविशंकर शुक्ल, घनश्यामदास गुप्त, आदि. हिन्दी और हिन्दुस्तानी के विवाद में गांधी जी ने 1945 में हिन्दी साहित्य सम्मेलन से त्यागपत्र दे दिया.

देश विभाजन के बाद जनसाधारण ने अनुभव किया कि हिन्दुस्तानी एक मृगतृष्णा है जो हिन्दू और मुसलमानों के बीच एकता उत्पन्न करने का साधन नहीं हो सकती.

16 जुलाई 1947 को कांग्रेसी संसदीय दल ने इस बात पर विचार किया कि राजभाषा किसे बनाया जाय – हिन्दी को या हिन्दुस्तानी को. किन्तु जब मतदान हुआ तो हिन्दी के पक्ष में 63 और हिन्दुस्तानी के पक्ष में 32 मत पड़े. देवनागरी लिपि के पक्ष में 63 और विपक्ष में 18 मत थे. हिन्दुस्तानी के समर्थकों में जवाहरलाल नेहरू, मौलाना आज़ाद, सरदार पटेल जैसे लोग थे.

मतदान के फलस्वरूप संविधान के प्रारूप में तुरंत प्रतिबिंबित हुआ. फ़रवरी 1948 में जब संविधान का प्रारूप परिचालित किया गया तो उसमें हिन्दी शब्द था, हिन्दुस्तानी शब्द हटा दिया गया. राजभाषा से सम्बन्धित सभी बातों में कोई विवाद नहीं हुआ. संविधान के राजभाषा भाग में चार अध्याय है – (1). संघ की भाषा (2) प्रादेशिक भाषायें (3) उच्चतम और उच्च न्यायालय की भाषा, और (4) विशेष निदेश.

यह घोषित हुआ कि संघ की राजभाषा हिन्दी और लिपि देवनागरी होगी. किन्तु अंक देवनागरी लिपि में नहीं होंगे. अंकों का जिस रूप का शासकीय प्रयोजनों के लिए किया जायेगा उसे भारतीय अंकों का अंतर्राष्ट्रीय रूप कहा गया है.

चलो अब बात करता हूँ हमारी बोली के सम्बन्ध में. अगर अनुभव के आधार पर कहूँ तो मुझे लगता है कि हमारी बोली काफी हद तक कुमाऊँनी से मिलती है. पर कुमाऊँनी भी बोली ही है. इसमें भी समरूपता नहीं हैं.. जैसे काली कुमाऊँ की बोली, दानपुर की बोली, शाह लोगों की बोली, कत्यूर घाटी की बोली, आदि. 

हमारी बोली में भी ऐसा ही कुछ मुझे दिखता है. पंच ज्वारियो की बोली में मुझे तिब्बती का प्रभाव दिखता है. ऐसे ही हम लोग जो दानपुर की तरफ बस गये हैं जैसे फरसाली, गुलेर, कपकोट, शामा.. वहां की बोली में थोड़ा दानपुरी बोली का प्रभाव दिखता है. आदि… 

ये तो एक बात हुई.. प्रभाव की. 

पर जो बात में कहना चाहता हूँ हमारी बोली जैसा भी प्रचलित है, जैसा भी सम्बाद शैली, उच्चारण है… वह जिस रूप में सामान्य लोक में प्रचलित है वहीं समझ में आती है. 

पर सबसे बड़ी बात है कि न तो कुमाऊँनी बोली में न ही हमारी बोली में कोई व्याकरण रचना हुई है. अन्य बोलियों की तरह हमारी शब्दावली का जो भंडार है उसके उच्चारण की जो एक विशिष्ट तकनीक, पुट या शैली है  उसमें अधिकांश शब्दों में अक्षर चाहे व्यंजन मात्र हो या स्वर की मात्रा युक्त व्यंजन हो उनके अक्षर विशेषों का उच्चारण, यदि ह्रस्व छोटा है तो उसे देवनागरी लिपि में भली भांति हमारे आने वाले शब्द कोष में दर्शाना होगा. हमारी बोली में शब्द विशेषों का ह्रस्व उच्चारण संबन्धी संकेत के निर्धारण करने में अलग अलग मत हमारे सामने आये हैं. 

हमारे सामने जो चुनौती है कि किस प्रकार कहां कौन सा चिन्ह लगाया जाय जिससे सामान्य जन या सीखने वालों को ह्रस्व उच्चारण का संकेत भी स्पष्ट रूप से दिखे और समझ में आ जाये. 

हिन्दी भाषा के व्याकरण नियमों के कारण हमारी बोली में इस प्रकार के सटीक संकेत को दर्शाने वाले संकेत का निर्धारण कठिन होगा, क्योंकि हमें तो देवनागरी लिपि में ही लिखना है. हिन्दी की तरह हमारे पास कोई व्याकरण है नहीं, तो जैसा भी व्याकरण हमारी बोली में प्रचलित है, उसी को आधार बनाकर एवं परिष्कृत कर हमें अपना व्याकरण बनाना होगा. 

मेरा मानना है कि हमारी बोली-भाषा के लिए आवश्यकता के अनुरूप व्याकरण को रचा या गढा जा सकता है. पर मेरा यह भी मानना है कि इस प्रकार का कार्य यदि भाषा विशेषज्ञ या जो हमारी बोली में पारंगत है करेंगे तो हम एक समृद्ध एवं निर्दोष व्याकरण को रच सकते हैं. 

अभी तक जो शब्द लोगों ने लिखने में प्रयोग किए हैं उसमें सब की अपनी-अपनी शैली दिखती है. ह्रस्व उच्चारण वाले शब्दों को कुछ लोग अक्षर के नीचे हल् या हलत्ं चिन्ह (् ) लगा कर दर्शाते हैं. जिससे हलत्ं वाले अक्षर का उच्चारण सामान्य से छोटा होता है. पर कहीं कहीं तो मुझे अनायास लगते हैं क्योंकि कुछ लोग बहुत अक्षरों के नीचे हलत्ं लगाते हैं चाहे उसके उच्चारण में वे आवश्यक हो या न हो. 

जैसे जा्न… मतलब जाना. यहां जा् में हलतं लगने से जा् का उच्चारण सामान्य जा का आधा उच्चारण होगा. पर कुछ लोह हलतं नहीं लगाते हैं वे न मे हलतं लगाते  हैं या दोनों में लगाते है…. ये सब हमें तय करना पड़ेगा.

जहां अक्षरों के बीच विस्तार देना हो तो कुछ लोग अंग्रेजी के s या बड़ा S लगाते हैं. पर इसमें भी सभी की अपनी शैली है. जैसे रात… कुछ लोग राsत लिखते हैं… यह भी एक मसला है, इसमें सहमति बननी है.

जहां तक व्याकरण का सवाल है हमें सबसे ज्यादा मेहनत क्रिया (verb) पर करनी पड़ेगी. क्योंकि संज्ञा, सर्वनाम, विशेषण के जो हमारे शब्द हैं वे लगभग वैसे ही रहते हैं उनका रूप नहीं के बराबर बदलता है पर क्रिया का रूप समय-काल के हिसाब से बदलता है… भूत काल, वर्तमान काल, भविष्य काल. तो हमारी क्रिया का रूप भी काल के हिसाब से ही बदलना होगा और उनको सुव्यवस्थित ढंग से प्रस्तुत करना होगा जिसके कि सीखने वालों के समझ में आये और वे उसी तरह बोलें… 

उदाहरणार्थ – 

I go – मै जानु (वर्तमान काल) 

I went – मै गे (भूतकाल) 

I shall go – मै जौंल (भविष्य काल) 

अगर हमारी क्रिया मजबूत होगी तो हमारा व्याकरण मजबूत होगा. या यूं कहें कि कि क्रिया व्याकरण का राजा है बाकी उसकी प्रजा है, तो अतिश्योक्ति नहीं होगी.

अभी बस इतना ही… वैसे ही लेख लम्बा हो गया है.

Meet Raju Swami, a Miniature Artist …

Hi friends,

Throughout art history we have been enthralled and inspired by the art and artists.

Like music, art has a way of evoking raw emotion. It can make you happy, or cry. It can draw you in, or repel you. It can soothe your soul. It transcends language, borders and the ages. It has a language all its own. It helps you to see and perceive the world around you in a different way. You stop and notice things you’ve never seen before. It can transform and even heal. It’s been used in therapy to heal others with emotional issues. It is a primitive desire we all have.

Here is an artist who has made India proud with his miniature art, which has crossed international borders.

Amidst the deserts of Rajasthan, this man is painting trees. Raju Swami a miniature artist has painted so many artworks, but his domain- the plant kingdom is something that puts him a class apart.

Raju Swami was born on 18th February 1967 at Bikaner (Rajasthan), India. From the very beginning he has been blessed with an observant eye. He had a keen interest in drawing figures and objects. He undertook miniature art’s study under the guidance of his father Sh. Gordhan Dass Swami.

When a journalist asked him as to what he thinks about painting botanical art in miniatures, Raju tells, “Miniature painting is our family legacy. We are into it from the last 6-7 generations. I learnt the art from my father. Our studio however, specializes in botanical art, especially trees and traditional flowers. The art is Mughal style botanical paintings. Even as I do the other sort of paintings, trees are a major backdrop in them. Our art is so intricate that you need a magnifying glass to see them. In a tree there are thousands of leaves painted”.

The colors and medium he uses are antique and hand-made papers. The colors are all natural pigments which are grinded from stones or extracted from vegetables- such as indigo, chalk, limestone, lapis lazuli, cinnabar, lacquer, charcoal etc. They are prepared and blended with gum before painting.  The brushes are made of squirrel tails. He also uses gold leaf for the golden colors as needed.

When asked how much time he takes in creating one art piece, he replies, “Depending upon the scope of works it may take a few weeks to months to even a couple of years. I usually engage myself in a big project and a few small creatives simultaneously to disengage”.

Talking on his aspirations, he shares, “My paintings have travelled across the world- right from UNICEF greetings to various exhibits at International levels and places including Botanical Art and Illustration organized by Hunt Institute of Botanical documentation in Pittsburgh, USA. I am hoping that this kind of work gets more recognition and promotion, so that it continues to flourish and the art form does not fade away. I have been trying for the Guinness book of records. My younger son is trying to make this art more contemporary by connecting it with spaces, backdrops and digital gadgets. We continue to teach students every year in our studio and art school”.

Under the patronage of the rulers, it grew to become one of the finest schools of miniature art. Depicting mainly court life, the flora and fauna, the school closely followed the Mughal traditional styles and this is apparent in the early examples which exist from 1600 onwards. While the artistic style kept pace with painters in the Mughal Court, the Bikaneri artists were more expressive and nuanced. Around 55 such paintings have been procured from a master of that genre, Raju Swami, who has exhibited his works worldwide, and put together in this exhibition. The influence of the Mughal style has been all pervasive in the Bikaner School and the Bikaneri style could be considered almost a provincial idiom of that style. There have been instances of Mughal and Bikaneri miniatures being mistaken for each other. A distinctive feature of the Bikaneri style is the palette of opaque and translucent vegetable and mineral water colours, and a delicate portrayal of nature and human forms. …

Day to day accounts from the royal archival diaries (bahis) and numerous inscriptions on Bikaneri paintings, makes this one of the best documented Rajput schools. Inscriptions, mainly in the Marwari dialect, but also occasionally in Persian scripts, reveal the names of artists and dates and in some cases, even the place of production and occasions for which the works were commissioned.  There is recorded evidence of interactions between visiting Muslim painters from neighbouring Rajput states with local novices, who later adopted Islam and were called ustas. From the 16th through to the 19th centuries this art flourished, and is practised even today.

Raju Swami’s paintings have been printed as UNICEF cards. His works have been published in the Garden of Life, by Naveen Patnaik (Doubleday New York); and his paintings were included in the 8th International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration organised by the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Pittsburgh. Now, they are up on display for Delhiites too.

Art forms have always been created to communicate important messages and to inspire people to act and think. Every child draws when they are small. I believe it is a part of us. A way of connecting to our past, our creative energy, to each other.

See you soon with a new post. Take care.

पैसे की माया…

बच्चों,

चलो मैं आज तुम्हें आपबीती एक दिलचस्प कहानी सुनाता हूँ.

बात उन दिनों की है जब मैं कक्षा आठ में पढ़ता था. सन् होगा 1967-68. तब हमारा परिवार शामा में रहता था. शामा एक पहाड़ी पर बसा है, जो बागेश्वर जिले का एक ख़ूबसूरत गांव है. 

तब हमारे पास कोई पैसे नहीं होते थे. घर वाले भी कोई पैसे नहीं देते थे. ये जो तुम लोग पौकेट मनी (Pocket-money) की बात करते हो तब ऐसा कुछ भी नहीं होता था. कभी कभार जो भी थोड़ा बहुत पैसा मिलता था तो हम लोग दोस्तों के साथ जलेबी, चने-मटर खाने में उड़ा देते थे. 

एक दिन क्या हुआ कि मैं स्कूल से आकर, खाना-वाना खाकर शाम को दोस्तों के साथ खेलने चला गया. हम लोग बस स्टेशन के पास वाली खुली जगह में गिल्ली-डंडा खेल रहे थे. तभी मेरे एक दोस्त ने इतनी ज़ोर से डंडा घुमाया कि गिल्ली बहुत दूर एक पगडंडी के पास चली गई. गिल्ली लाने की मेरी बारी थी तो मैं गिल्ली उठाने पगडंडी के पास चला गया. जैसे ही मैं गिल्ली उठाने नीचे झुका तो पास में मुझे एक तुड़ा-मुड़ा कोई नोट की तरह कागज दिखा. गिल्ली को उठाकर जैसे ही मैंने वह काग़ज़ हाथ में उठाया तो मेरे होश ही उड़ गये. मेरे हाथ में पूरे सौ रुपये का नोट था. किसी तरह लोगों की आँख बचाकर मैने वह मुड़ा हुआ नोट अपने जेब में रखा, और गिल्ली के साथ दोस्तों के पास आ गया. 

जब मेरी बारी खेलने की आई तो मैं डंडा ले के ऐसे खड़ा था जैसे मुझे कुछ समझ में ही नहीं आ रहा हो. मेरा सारा ध्यान जेब में रखे उस नोट पर था. मैंने डंडे से गिल्ली किसी तरह उछाली पर वो ज़्यादा उछली नहीं और मैं जल्दी आउट भी हो गया. मेरी खेलने में कोई रुचि नहीं थी. दोस्त लोग भी हैरान कि मुझे क्या हो गया.

ख़ैर…जैसे ही अंधेरा होने लगा तो हम लोग भी अपने अपने घर की तरफ़ जाने लगे. मुझे ऐसा लग रहा था जैसे मेरे जेब में कोई गरम चीज़ रख दी गई हो. मैं उसी जेब में हाथ रख घर की तरफ़ तेज तेज चलने लगा. अभी तक मैने उस सौ रुपये के नोट को पूरी तरह देखा भी नहीं था. घर के पीछे की तरफ़, जहाँ कोई नहीं देख सकता था, जाकर मैने जेब से वह नोट निकाला और उसे पूरी तरह हाथ में फैलाकर उसको पूरी तरह देखा और उसे महसूस किया. सचमुच वह सौ रुपये का नोट था. मैने उसे अच्छी तरह मोड़ा और जेब के हवाले कर मैं घर के अन्दर चला गया.

घर में मेरी मुलाक़ात सबसे पहले माँ से हुई. वह बोली खेल कर आया है, हाथ पैर अच्छी तरह धोकर आ. मैं हाथ पैर धोने बाहर गया पर मेरा एक हाथ जेब के अंदर फिर चला गया. हाथ पैर धोकर मैं जैसे ही माँ के पास बैठा था तो माँ बोली, “क्या बात है आज तू कुछ परेशान लग रहा है?”

“कुछ नहीं माँ, खेलकर आया हूँ ना इसीलिए.” मैंने सफ़ाई दी. 

“अच्छा..हार कर आया होगा तभी ऐसी सूरत बना रहा है”, माँ बोली. पर मैं चुप रहा.

अब मेरी मुश्किल यह थी कि मैं उस सौ रुपये के नोट का क्या करूँ. माँ ने मुझे कपड़े बदलने के लिए कहा था. तो मैं वह नोट कहाँ रखूँ.. सोचने लगा. मैंने अपना बस्ता खोला और वह नोट माँ की नजर बचाते हुए मैंने एक किताब के पन्नों के बीच रख दिया. फिर कपड़े बदलकर माँ के पास खाना खाने बैठ गया. खाना खाते खाते मैं बार बार बस्ते की तरफ़ देखे जा रहा था. मुझे पता नहीं ऐसा क्यों लग रहा कि कहीं मेरा बस्ता पिता जी खोल कर न देख ले.

पर ऐसा कुछ नहीं हुआ. मैं झट पट खाकर सोने चला गया और बस्ते को सिराहने के पास ही रख लिया. सभी लोग भी सो गये. पर मुझे नींद ही नहीं आ रही थी. मैं सोचने लगा कि उस नोट का क्या करूँ. सौ रुपये उन दिनों बहुत बड़ी रक़म होती थी. इतनी बड़ी कि उतने रुपयों से एक बकरा ही ख़रीदा जा सकता था. समझ लो कि आज कल एक छोटे बकरे की क़ीमत कम से कम पाँच हजार रुपये से कम की नहीं होगी. तो अंदाज़ा लगा सकते हो कि तब सौ रुपये कितनी बड़ी रक़म होती होगी. आज के हिसाब से पाँच हजार से कम नहीं.

रात भर मैं प्लान बनाने लगा कि मैं उन रुपयों से क्या करूँगा … कभी सोचता था कि मैं एक अच्छा फ़ुटबॉल ख़रीदूँगा, पंप खरीदूंगा, खेलने वाले बूट ख़रीदूँगा आदि आदि. कभी सोचता था कि मैं नोट को संभाल के रखूंगा और जब बागेश्वर का मेला देखने जाऊँगा तो वहाँ बाज़ार से बहुत सामान ख़रीदूँगा, मिठाइयाँ खाऊँगा, दोस्तों के साथ सैर करने कौसानी जाऊँगा….इसी उधेरपन में कब नींद आ गई …पता नहीं. 

सुबह माँ की आवाज़ से मैं सकपका कर उठा और बस्ते को सही सलामत पाकर थोड़ा ख़ुश हुआ. जल्दी से नहा धोकर, नाश्ता खाकर मैं स्कूल की तरफ़ भागा. रास्ते में मुझे लगा कि कहीं नोट इधर उधर न हो गया हो. तो एक सुनसान जगह पेड़ के पीछे जाकर में बस्ता खोल कर देखने लगा कि नोट सही सलामत है कि नहीं. एक किताब खोली..नोट नहीं मिला, दूसरी खोली फिर भी नहीं मिला..अब तो मेरे पसीने छूटने लगे. करते करते सारी किताबें कापियाँ छान मारी तब जाकर आँखिर में हिन्दी के किताब में वह नोट मुझे मिल ही गया. झटपट नोट को जेब में डाला और स्कूल की तरफ़ तेजी से भागा…पर मेरा हाथ उसी जेब में…

क्लास में मेरा मन विल्कुल नहीं लग रहा था. मेरा सारा ध्यान उसी नोट पर था. गणित के क्लास में मास्टर साहब हैरान थे कि आज मुझे क्या हो गया है क्योंकि गणित में मैं काफी अच्छा था और लगभग सारे सवाल समय से हल कर लेता था, पर उस दिन मैं कोई भी सवाल हल नहीं कर पाया. पर मास्टर साहब ने यह सोचकर कि मेरी तबियत शायद ठीक न हो, मुझे विशेष कुछ नहीं कहा. 

स्कूल छूटने के बाद हम लोग घर की तरफ़ भागे. साथ में मेरे दो दोस्त भी हमेसा की तरह थे. पर वे भी हैरान थे कि मैं कुछ नहीं बोल रहा हूँ. मेरा एक हाथ फिर उसी जेब में. 

घर आया. माँ ने फिर वहीं प्रश्न किया कि मैं परेशान क्यों लग रहा हूँ, पर मैं कोई न कोई बहाना बनाकर अपने ही उधेरपन में खोया रहा. फिर रात, देर तक नींद न आना. सोचते रहना…

जानते हो मेरी सबसे बड़ी दिक्कत क्या थी… मैं उस नोट के बारे में किसी को नहीं बताना चाह रहा था. नोट इतना बड़ा था कि अगर मैं कुछ ख़रीदने भी जाऊँ तो दुकानदार सबसे पहले यहीं पूछेगा कि मेरे पास सौ रुपये का नोट आया कहां से..

तीसरा दिन….मेरी हालत वैसे ही थी. न ठीक से खा पा रहा था, न सो पा रहा था, न क्लास में ध्यान दे पा रहा था. अब तो मुछे थोड़ा बुखार जैसा भी आने लग गया. काफी देर सोचा…सोचा.. और अंत में मुझसे रहा नहीं गया. मैं उस नोट से तंग आ गया था, तो माँ को सब कुछ सच सच बता दिया और नोट को माँ के हाथ में रख दिया. माँ ने मुझे गले लगाया और सच बताने के लिए मेरी सराहना की. देर से ही सही पर मैंने माँ को सब कुछ बता दिया. मैंने चैन की साँस ली.

पता नहीं सौ का नोट माँ को देते ही ऐसे लगा जैसे मुझसे एक बड़ा वोझ हट गया. मैं पहले की तरह अपने रूप में आ गया, मेरा बचपना जो लौट आया था. उन दिनों मैने जो महसूस किया, मैं कह सकता हूँ कि सचमुच पैसा किसी माया से कम नहीं. वह नोट किसी माया की तरह मेरे से कैसे चिपका रहा…तुम लोग जान ही चुके हो.

अरे हाँ उस नोट का क्या हुआ …बताना ही भूल गया.

माँ के पास एक ग़रीब औरत अकसर आया करती थी. उस दिन भी देर शाम को वह आयी थी और रोते रोते बता रही थी कि उसका पति अपने एक बकरी को सौ रुपये में बेचकर घर आ रहा था पता नहीं उसका सौ रुपया कहाँ गिर गया पता ही नहीं चला. तब से उसका पति घर में लेटा पड़ा है. घर में कुछ भी खाने का सामान भी नहीं बचा है. सारी पूँजी वहीं थी. माँ ने चुपचाप वह सौ रुपया उसके हाथ में रख दिया और बोली, “तेरी क़िस्मत अच्छी है कि मेरे बेटे को वह सौ रुपया रास्ते में पड़ा मिला.” वह औरत सौ रुपये पाकर इतनी ख़ुश थी कि मैं बता नहीं सकता. वह रोते रोते अपने घर की तरफ भागी…

अब तुम लोग ही बताओ कि रुपये पैसे की माया है कि नहीँ ….?

मैं जोहारी, शौका क्यों हूँ…?

दोस्तों,

आज जो पोस्ट में लिख रहा हूँ वह थोड़ा हट कर है .. मैं कहानिया, क़िस्से, कॉमिक्स लिखता रहा हूँ पर आज कुछ अपने दिल की बात कह रहा हूँ. अक्सर अंग्रेज़ी में लिखता हूँ पर कभी कभी हिन्दी में लिखना या अपनी बोली में लिखना भी अच्छा लगता है.

कभी कभी सोचता हूँ कि मैं जोहारी क्यों हूँ? जोहारी को शौका कहते हैं तो फिर सवाल वहीं है कि मैं शौका क्यों हूँ?

पर क्या कोई पैदा होने से पहले चुनाव कर सकता है कि वह कहाँ पैदा होना चाहता है? नहीं… तो भाई मैं शौका के घर में पैदा हुआ …इसीलिए शौका हूँ.

अगर भगवान मुझे पैदा होने से पहले चुनाव करने को कहते तो क्या मैं यहीं शौका घर में पैदा होना चाहता? बड़ा पेचीदा सवाल है, है ना?

पर मैं समझता हूँ कि सबकी अपनी अपनी पसंद होगी. पर मेरी पसंद है कि मैं ऐसे घर और ऐसी जगह पैदा होना चाहता जहाँ खाने-पीने के बारे में ज़्यादा बन्धन न हो, खेलने कूदने के ख़ूब विकल्प हों, शिक्षा हो, व्यक्तिगत बातों पर ध्यान न दिया जाता हो, और जहाँ धार्मिक कट्टरता बिलकुल न हो और सबसे बड़ी बात जहाँ सुकून हो.

पर क्या शौका होना मुझे पसंद नहीं? यह मेरे लिए एक जटिल प्रश्न है. अगर पसंद नहीं है तो क्या यहीं रहना मेरी मजबूरी है. अगर मैं कहूँ कि मुझे शौका होने पर गर्व नहीं है तो मैं कहीं और क्यों नहीं चला जाता जहाँ कोई शौका न हो. 

पर मैं कैसे भुला सकता हूँ कि मेरे पुरखों ने जो कुछ किया, जो संस्कार दिया. क्या उसका कोई महत्व नहीं है? और आज हम जो कुछ कर रहे हैं क्या मैं उससे खुश नहीं हूँ?

पर अगर मैं यहाँ छोड़ कर कहीं और बस जाऊँ तो क्या मैं वहाँ आराम से रह पाऊँगा. मैं काफी सालों तक नौकरी करता रहा और नौकरी के दौरान मुझे कई शहरों में रहना पड़ा जो शौकाओं के जगहों से बहुत दूर थे. पर सच कहूँ तो मैं कहीं भी आराम या सुकून महसूस ही नहीं कर पाया, भले ही सुविधा, सहूलियत उन शहरों में अधिक थी.

भले ही मुझे अपने यहाँ की बहुत-सी बातें नापसन्द हैं, पर मैं यहाँ का निवासी हूँ और यहीं रहना और मरना चाहता हूँ. बहुतों की तरह मुझे भी विदेश जाना पसन्द है. वहाँ शायद ज़िन्दगी आसान है, साधन और खाना यहाँ से अच्छा है, और साफ़ सफ़ाई ज़्यादा है, ख़ूबसूरती, रंगीनियाँ वहाँ ज्यादे है और ज़्यादा मज़ा है. पर सच मानो तो मैं इन सब चीज़ों से बहुत जल्दी ऊब जाता हूँ, और यहाँ के भोले भाले, शौका बोली बोलने वाले, ज्या पीने वाले अपनो के बीच में रहना पंसद करता हूँ.

कभी कभी मेरा दिमाग कहता है कि दूसरे जगहों में या विदेशों में रहना ज़्यादा अच्छा है, दिमाग कहता है कि ‘फोरेन’ में बहुत मज़ा है, लेकिन दिल हमेशा यहीं कहता है, अपने लोगों में लौट चल. हर दफ़ा जब मैं कहीं और जगह से यहाँ वापस लौटता हूँ, और हिमालय की चोटियाँ देखता हूँ और किसी पहाड़ी होटल में खाना खाता हूँ, या चाय पीता हूँ, अपनी बोली सुनता हूँ तो जो संतोष मिलता है, बयाँ नहीं कर सकता. लगता है कि मैं अपनो में हूँ. थोड़ा बहुत खटर-बटर तो हर घरों में होता है पर जल्दी सामान्य भी हो जाता है. पर जो सुकून अपनो में मिलता है और कहीं नहीं मिलता है. हम सभी सुकून की ज़िन्दगी ही तो चाहते हैं…है कि नहीं?

पर कभी कभी मन में आता है कि मैं भारतीय हूँ, या शौका? पहली बात सही है, या दूसरी? मुझे सवाल पूछने का यह ढंग बेहद नापसन्द है; और अगर मुझसे मेरे शौका होने या समुदाय-परम्परा छीन ली जाए, तो मैं अपने को भारतीय भी नहीं कहना चाहूँगा. सच में… मैं भारतीय, शौका और जोहारी हूँ, और इसके बावजूद मैं उस व्यक्ति के साथ भी देशीय एकता महसूस करता हूँ, जो कहता है कि ‘मैं भारतीय, हिन्दू और पहाड़ी ब्राह्मण हूँ’ या यह कि ‘मैं भारतीय इस जाति का हूँ उस जाति का हूँ, पंजाबी हूँ , गुजराती, राजस्थानी….हूँ.’

मैं अपनी धार्मिक और बोली भाषाई विशेषता बनाए रखना चाहता हूँ, और उसी के साथ दूसरों के समान बना रहता हूँ. मेरा निश्चित विश्वास है कि हमारी विविधता राष्ट्र के रूप में हमारी शक्ति है. आप जैसे ही किसी एक राष्ट्रीय धर्म या भाषा की वकालत करके अन्य धर्मों या भाषाओं को अलग करते हैं—आप देश की एकता को नष्ट कर देते हैं, ऐसा मेरा मानना है.

हमारे देश में कई आक्रमण हुये हैं जैसे 1962 में चीन द्वारा और 1965, 1971 में पाकिस्तान द्वारा, लेकिन इन दोनों अवसरों पर अनेक भाषाओं और धर्मों के बावजूद हम एक होकर देश के लिए उठ खड़े हुए. 1962 में तो हमारी सारी अर्थव्यवस्था ही नष्ट हो गई थी पर देश की सीमा में रहते हुए हमें देश की सीमाओं की फ़िक्र थी, चेतना थी जिससे हमारा राष्ट्र मज़बूत होता है. हमने साबित कर दिया कि हम एक राष्ट्र हैं. फिर बार-बार यह चर्चा क्यों उठाई जाती है, कि देश को भारतीय बनाया जाए? और किसी को यह अधिकार किसने दिया कि वह नस्लीय भेदभाव करता रहे या हमारे रीति रिवाज, संस्कृति, बोली भाषा पर कटाक्ष करे.

तो भाई मेरी जो पहचान है मैं उसमें खुश हूँ. मेरा मानना है कि बिना पहचान (Identity) के मेरा कोई अस्तित्व नहीं है.

जितना किसी को और होने पर गर्व है, मुझे भी शौका या जोहारी होने पर गर्व है, अपनी बेली से प्यार है, अपनी संस्कृति, खान पान, रहन सहन पर अभिमान है. यहीं मेरी पहचान है.

अपनी संस्कृति, अपनी भाषा – जो मेरी पहचान है, उनको बचाना मेरा धर्म है.

(यह मेरा अपना लेख है, मेरी अपनी सोच है, पर ज़रूरी नहीं कि आप मुझसे सहमत हों. आँखिर आपका भी कोई मत होगा…).

अपना ख्याल रखें. मिलते हैं फिर एक नये पोस्ट के साथ.. जल्दी.

Mouth watering dishes of Shaukas…!

Hi friends,

Yesterday I visited my brother who lives in the outskirts of Haldwani, some 8-9 kms from my house.

I spent almost 5 hours with him and in between took lunch. In the evening his wife prepared “Patyur” for us which she served with tea. My God! What a dish…it was so tasty. So today’s post is about our traditional food.

Food defines the character of a place. The cuisine from the Shaukas is as unique as its impressive culture and vibrant tradition. In Johar, the men in every family used to eat first, and then the children and women at last. Now it has changed and whole family eat together.

My memory about food starts from the days we started living in Kanoli after 1962. I was young and learning to understand things. Our day would start with morning tea served in a brass tumbler along with a piece of ‘gud’ (jaggery) or ‘misri’ for sweetening the tea as sugar was scarcely available. In breakfast mostly ‘madua’ (a kind of Finger millet) ‘rotis’, ‘dwangcha’ (a kind of chutney paste) and ‘Jyaa’ (butter tea) was served. Sometimes ‘aalu’(potato) ‘gutkas’were also given.









I was surprised to find out that the potato was not known in India before the nineteenth century, and now it is an essential part of our diet not in hills only but all over the country. Researchers say that the potato was introduced by two Irishmen, Captain Young of Dehradun and Mussoorie and Captain Kennedy of Shimla in the 1820s. Probably the crop best suited to the stony terraced fields of hilly areas. That is why ‘Pahari-Aloo’ (Hill-potato) is so tasty and famous.

I do not know when Shauka started drinking ‘Jyaa’, though ‘Jyaa’ is the traditional drink of Tibetans. I had already posted my write-up on Jya some time back. All I can say is that Jya is a hot drink and a part of staple food of Shauka. Since the climatic condition of Johar-Munsyar was extremely cold, Jyaa being hot beverage suited Shaukas. 

As far ‘Dwangcha’, it is a kind of chutney. It is a paste of chilly (red or green), salt and ‘tyamur’ (a kind of herb found in our valleys). If tyamur is not available, coriander, garlic shoots is used. It is very hot. ‘Madua ki roti’ with ‘tyamur ka dwangcha’ followed by ‘Jyaa’ is luxury.

Another dish for breakfast is ‘Kukla’. It looks like noodles but its strips are thick as compared to the strips of noodles. ‘Kukla’ are made from wheat dough which is stretched, rolled into shapes of strips. It is then cooked in boiling water; then fried in mustard oil with salt, chilly and masalas and served hot.

The food of Shaukas is incomplete without ‘Daal-bhaat’. In lunch ‘Daal-Bhaat’ (rice-daal) and tupkya (any seasonal vegetable) with ‘bhang (hash seeds) ki chutney’ is common dish for Shaukas. If meat was available, it used to be the best lunch, a sumptuous feast. 

In the kitchen of Shaukas a wide range of pulses is used to make mouth watering recipes which are mostly taken with ‘bhaat’. ‘Bhaat’ is essential item for lunch. If ‘bhaat’ is not served and in its place ‘roti’ was served, Shauka would complain that he has not taken the lunch. Roti is never an item for lunch.

Shaukas have a soft spot for ‘bhatt’, a locally grown black soya bean. Bhatt blended with rice paste to make ‘Churkyani’ bestowed with a great many essential nutrients. Some time ‘Gehat’, a kind of local pulse is also used for making daal or Churkyani.

One very traditional Shauka recipe is ‘Dubuka’ which is made of either bhatt or gehat which are boiled and later separated from the stock. The stock is converted into a fine paste by adding rice paste and some spices and cooked in slow fire allowing it to simmer for a long time. ‘Dubuka’ is one of my favourite dishes.

Without ‘Bhang ki chutney’, the Shaukas’ lunch looks incomplete. It is made from bhang seeds, garlic shoots, tamarind, salt, chilly (red or green) and lemon. This incredibly aromatic chutney is prepared in a stone mortar (sil-butta).

But there was one more dish I was very fond of. It was ‘Jeola’ made of rice and curd. This special dish used to be prepared by my Thulima (Tai ji) once in a week. I still remember that I would always shut my eyes while the ‘Jeola’ was being poured out into my plate, with the hope that when I opened my eyes I would be surprised to see how much I had got. When I opened my eyes I would tip the plate in one direction to another, so as to make the ‘Jeola’ spread all over it, in the full belief that there would be more of it and that it would last longer if spread out in this way. Moreover, it was one way of allowing it to cool down.

These are some of the dishes I like most.

See you soon with a new post. Take care.

When I entered Junior High School…

Hi kids,

After passing my primary education I was admitted to Junior High School, Shama (Kapkot Block). The transition from primary to junior high school was smooth as far as I remember most of the students were the same who were with me in primary school. But at primary school we were the senior most students whereas in junior high school we were junior most. So senior guys were dominating and dictating terms.

The school had a beautiful building and it was located on Shama – Bharari old bridle path, some half a kilometer away from the market.

You will be surprised to know that we started learning English from 6th class. Learning a foreign language was tough but it was quite interesting.

For the first time, I reveled in the luxury of having pen-holders with ‘G’ nibs, fancy geometry box containing the divider, a compass, a half foot ruler, a protractor, eraser, pencil, etc. School teachers were dedicated gurus, respected by parents and children.

At that time the Principal was one Mr. Dhami. He had the rare qualities of a great teacher and a good sportsman. His teaching style was very good and he very often used live examples with a great sense of humor which had a great impact on students.

Later he became the best friend of my father. In the evening Shri Dhami would come to our shop where he would play chess with my father for hours, as he would be mostly free in the evenings. I somehow developed interest in chess-playing and watched them play and understood the various moves. In a few days I had almost learned chess-playing and one day I requested my father to play a game with me. He obliged and appreciated my way of playing chess. But there was nobody with whom I could play chess and it was out of the question for my father and Shri Dhami to involve me in their play.

As I said we were the youngest in Junior High School, we were always dominated by senior class boys. One such boy was Balwant (Bol-da as we called him), the son of a big cloth merchant of Shama. Bol-da was older by 2 years, but he was only one class above. He was very naughty and impish. He used to involve us in all his naughty activities. Since he was stronger and bigger than many of us, he was the boss and dictated terms. We all obeyed him. 

One day he ordered me to bring all the change (coins) from the cash box of our shop. If I fail to do so, he would not only beat me up but remove me from his group of friends and nobody would play with me. I had no choice. So when my father had gone to the kitchen to take his lunch, I went to the shop and opened the cash box. I emptied it by taking all the coins. With the coins in both pockets of my trouser, I ran towards the place where Bol-da was waiting for me. As I was running, the coins in the pockets were creating some crazy sounds like ‘Khach-Khach, Khach-Khach’, which attracted the attention of one passerby, who was going towards our shop. As he watched me in suspicion, I sensed some deep trouble coming my way. Before he reached the shop, I had made up my mind to return to the shop and keep all the coins back in the box.

However, before I could keep all the coins in the box, I saw my father coming to the shop. I was speechless. I had no idea how to tackle the situation. I was under deep fear that my father would scold me and even beat me up. Left with no choice, I somehow confessed everything to my father. I do not recall his scolding or beating me for this incident. That day I learnt that there could not be a cleansing without a clean confession. That was a lesson.

My confession helped me face Bol-da bravely. From that incident I spent my remaining days in school without fear.

I hope you enjoyed my story. Why don’t you share your experiences…? We will enjoy reading your stories.

See you soon with my new post. Take care.