I always cursed Bangalore rains, especially whenever I am heading to railway station to catch the train, I missed the train almost every other time during rains, and this time I can’t afford to miss it. I was checking with auto driver every 5 minutes once, if we can reach the station on time.
We reached the station, I looked at my watch, 5 more minutes to the scheduled departure and I was relieved, gave 100rs to the driver, and I was in no mood to wait for the driver to give me back the change, and I started running to the 9th and the last platform, where my train is waiting to depart in 3 more minutes.
I took my seat beside window, and staring at the rain. The same rain which I hated and cursed five minutes ago looked so beautiful and pleasant. So, love and hate are never absolute, it’s always circumstances based, either its towards a thing or a relation. Staring at the rain, drown into memories.
Like every other day, I went out with my friends to top of the hill we stayed to play and to hear echo of our shouts, which was very exciting for us as kids. It’s a beautiful winter morning with little fog all around, from top of the mountain the stream down the valley was hardly visible because of the clouds, yet the sound of the stream one mile down the valley was so clear. And I don’t remember if I ever heard such a pleasant sound in the later stage of my life.
The game has started, this time I am the one who should find all hidden. Though I was youngest, I was considered intelligent of all the guys, I always felt it as a curse rather than a reward, when society thinks you are more capable than you are, you left with no option rather proving it, it chased me always since childhood starting from this very game of finding hidden ones in all weird places of an enormous valley, where everyone is sort of pre-determined that I would be the winner. “Hey satya”, I shouted loud as I found the last guy to emerge as a winner.
Satya though eldest of our gang but is only at age, he was mentally retarded, but we never knew what it meant even until his last breath, we at that tender age always felt his illness as innocence. Satya was six years old when I was just three, though he was double my age, yet his mother use to feed him always, I thought his parents loved him more than mine. But, the truth I found in later part of my life is People had no time to think about manly relations in this wild valley whether you are a three year kid or an hundred year old man who escaped death over and again and ready to face it any moment. Life in this valley meant, struggle for existence every moment.
Like every other day, we all gathered under banyan tree of our village to start to top of the hill where we use to play, and hari is the one who realized that satya isn’t there yet. Hari volunteered to go and bring satya, five minutes later, he came running screaming loud that “satya died”!! Satya isn’t the first guy who died since I knew what a death is? Yes, in this valley deaths aren’t unusual. There is no hospital nearby our valley, if one has to go to hospital, it meant walking ten miles to nearby town to bring a vehicle and then taking patient to the vishakapatnam which is seventy miles further. And, more than all these it meant a quite lot of money, which made people never to think of going to an hospital, even if it is to fight against death. As a kid, I use to wonder if somebody can stop these deaths in this valley?
My parents collects honey and fruits grown in the valley and sell them in the nearby town, and this was the only livelihood to majority of the people in our village. I am the fourth child to my parents, though I never saw three other, am the only survivor of the four kids born to my parents. It was continuous deaths in the valley scared my father and decided to make me to stay in a government residential school in the nearby town, and I still remember the humiliation my father had faced when he took me to join the school, from the admission officers in school stating as “what’s the need for a tribal kid like me to study?”.
It felt like prisoner in the school, being unable to go out and play with the friends, I missed so many things in my life, but somewhere in my mind I was growing determination day by day to do good in studies and do something good to my village. My hard-work never failed, I got admission into MBBS in Andhra medical college, which was a distant dream for any student, forget about a tribal kid like me. I finished my post-graduation too from the same college, and within no time, I settled well in a corporate hospital in Bangalore. The first salary I earned was more than what my father would have earned in last 5 years. I was proud of my achievements when I looked back. And, I left behind one thing in the midst of this success story, the purpose of my studies and the motivation that drove me to reach this far.
Life was going smooth, a lavish flat, a luxury car and I had more than everything that I need. One day, I finished my duty and reached my flat, was having tea and watching tv, then came phone call of my life from my village saying my father had expired of severe fever from last one week. I had everything to save my father’s life had I been with him.
I was awakened by ticket collector shout ‘ticket please’. I switched off the light after showing my ticket. I felt comfortable in shedding tears in the darkness feeling shy of myself being unable to save my father’s life. I remember my father’s request to start a hospital in valley to rescue the people from mysterious deaths, but I refused with all greediness to earn more in life, and that greediness cost me dearly. Whole night I was thinking, how could I have saved my father’s life? Probably, this is the only night of my life until this day, when I haven’t closed my eyes even for a moment.
As I entered the village premises, I got more worried thinking as how to console my mother, and with heavy heart finished last rites of my father. In the evening, I went alone to the top of hill, where I spent most of my childhood with my friends, and many of them are not alive today, they also are victims of mysterious deaths of this valley. After a long time, I felt so peaceful at my heart sitting on top of the mountain listening to the soothing sound of the stream down the valley, I wondered if even the best music system that I had at home ever produced such soothing sounds? “Never”, I said to myself. And, suddenly there was a cool breeze blown onto my face, I wondered if air conditioning system at my home ever produced such a nice breeze? “Never”, I said to myself. Yes, these modern inventions can never match up to the mother nature.
It didn’t took me long to realize that I was behind wrong things in life, and I have started a hospital in the valley. Very soon, I realized that the deaths in the valley aren’t mysterious, people were dying for simple diseases like malaria and typhoid, only because they didn’t had access to minimal health care. I felt sad at the fact that I could have saved few lives in last 2 years, had I started this hospital immediately after finishing my education.
Now, I don’t live in a posh bungalow, I don’t have a car here, I earn enough money to survive and more than money that I earn, the status of being “godlike” to the people of this valley makes me go to sleep peacefully every night which was lacking in my past luxury life.