I don’t think there is any bitter experience. In another word I can say it is not a sweet experience. If you lose something again and again and even after that you don’t achieve your goal, and after great toil and moil – after struggling too much, you can say firmly that you have a bitter experience in the field of a particular work or job or feat or show and now you are able to make it successful in the first attempt since you have a bitter experience of performing it successfully and if you succeed all along all the time, it’s encouraging for you but if you fail and suffer, you may either dare not further to execute it or may not take risk staking your life.
Let us be practicable a little bit and let us demonstrate the subject in question in the laboratory:
When I was merely 11 years old reading in class VI, my uncle had a bitter experience of catching scorpion by a long thread, hanging over its rising up-tail and by making knots carefully with both hands its tail after great efforts. People particularly the children of my age or older or younger were watching the whole show anxiously encircling my uncle, sometimes going back in fear and sometimes coming forward bravely.
It was the summer season and for months together people were restless due to continual hot weather. The Sun was hanging just over our heads and workers had to work for bread under the scorching sun unwillingly, no way out to run away from duty and responsibility of the job assigned to them. Hunger was the prime cause or reason that was to be quenched at any rate to save their lives and that of the family members.
Stomach is there in human body and it is to be filled up regularly otherwise … that is why to earn bread in all situations or conditions – no way out if anyone wants to survive.
The farmers were praying to God for rains, but the rains had gone beyond the sky and were not listening to anybody, rather waiting for the order of their boss.
People say a true prayer never goes in vain. In the middle of June the monsoon broke all of a sudden and one day early in the morning black clouds appeared in the sky all of a sudden, seen going from east to west in cluster, lightening and thundering started off and on, it rained continuously for the whole day or so and people were relieved of hot weather, felt relaxed for the time being.
There was water and water everywhere. Flood like scene every where! The temperature also gone down.
As the people were confined to their huts and houses, so was the case with the birds and beasts, insects and worms they were inside their rest rooms or holes to save themselves from the extreme hot weather.
It is our nature or attitude when we suffer from anything, we start cursing God, when He favours us fabulously, we start cursing Him even. God never minds in either of the cases or criticism. He is addicted to put up with all whether good or bad and that is why He is considered the supreme Authority all over the universe.
When it didn’t rain for a couple of weeks, we prayed to God, but when it rained continuously for days together and people couldn’t come out from their houses, they started cursing God. Such was the worst situation that people were confined to their houses. We were selfish by birth inasmuch as we only think about ourselves, not for other living beings residing near us -animals, birds and beasts and other tiny insects like ants, rats, snakes, scorpions etc. which live in holes beneath the surface of the earth and just imagine how much they feel and face the problems the moment the rain water starts entering their dwelling places and very often the holes are filled up with the rain water to the mouths of the holes.
Life is dear to everyone and nobody wants to die.
In such an adverse situation where question of life and death arises, everyone tries to save life by hook or crook.
The snakes and scorpions were inside their burrows in cool shelter as usual. The moment the rain water entered their burrows, they started coming out to save their lives in safe and dry places. They were scattered and even scrawled to the public places in burandah, courtyards, garage, stores, even in drawing rooms and kitchens as they felt dry and safe places to survive till the rains do not stop.
My uncle was a very dare devil person since his childhood. He was merely ten years older than me in age.
Tying the scorpion by its tail was his one of the magical shows that he was interested to do in presence of the group of the spectators that gathered together to see anxiously as to what happens next.
Someone informed him that one scorpion was seen hiding itself under the sofa in the drawing room. My uncle stood up setting aside the counting of the coins he had just collected breaking the earthen pot.
We, children, boys and girls followed him to the drawing room. He had had a torch in his hand. He lighted it and saw the scorpion. And surprisingly the scorpion also saw him and raised its tail quickly up that could sting any time if any unprecedented attack was made from the other side. Any how he caught it with chimta (A type of tool) and brought to the courtyard in the middle of his house – a very spacious place. Now he left it free but it sat quietly as if afraid of death. My uncle never killed any scorpion. He used to catch hold of it by tying thread by its tail only and taking it outside of the house. Everyone was enjoying to see the scorpion in hanging order quite helpless waiting for the last day of its life. Every now and then it was raising its tail up and searching opportunity on “Trial and Error” basis. (Trial & Error Theory is an important subject of Phychology)
But this time my uncle appeared nervous to find that the scorpion was wiser than he. He threw the thread around its tail to knot tightly but every time he failed. He was so annoyed that he lost the balance and the scorpion stung his finger raising furiously its tail. After all it succeeded in its objective. The moment it stung hard, its poison spread quickly all over my uncle’s body. My uncle cried out in unbearable pain , “ Bap re ! mar gya ! feeling pain absolutely all of a sudden, call someone to take me to Sitaram mamaji. We cared for uncle only and took him to Sitaram Mamaji just opposite the road. None cared for the scorpion and its whereabouts.
Sitaram Mamaji was well aware of the herbal medicine he had had with him. He saw my uncle coming, crying loudly that he would not survive any longer as the pain was spreading his whole body.
He was hanging under the arms of the elderly people. We were following him. Mamaji asked the people to leave space to breathe him properly. He was laid down in the cot lying there. He asked for a glass of water and poured some herbal powder. He said to my grandmother to ask her son to drink the whole water at a time closing his eyes exclusively and to take rest till the poison’s effect was normalised. My uncle’s face became pale and pale, seen very worried about.
We were asked to vacate the room. No sooner did we get the order than we vacated the room.
After coming to house I was more anxious than worried to know how my uncle was. As I was restless no less than my grandmother, I dragged the chair and sat beside her. We kept a vigilant watch who were coming to see my uncle.
My dadaji – the younger brother of my grandmother belonged to a zamindar family as such people still used to pay due regard to us. I came to know that during the period when there was famine in the state in thirties or forties, my grand grandfather distributed food grains free of cost to the needy people. Since then people, though none alive, but their wards, had had due respect for our family.
The news that one scorpion had stung Gouri Shanker, my uncle’s name, spread just like jungle fire in the neighbourhood and beyond that very quickly and whosoever heard the news started coming to see and to show sympathy.
My grandmother was afraid of crossing the GT Road but I not. So I rushed to my uncle off and on to see whether he was awake or still senseless. After the sudden demise of my father at early age in accident, my uncle was the only son left out and naturally my grandmother’s all love and affection was concentrated on my uncle. She was loving him more than her life and leaving no stone unturned to make him happy with all she possessed under her custody as she was the custodian and the head of the family. She was very rough and tough by mouth for one and all but very kind too by heart. Whenever people mostly ladies of the locality came for help, she used to help immediately. She was an elderly woman so bold that she dominated all in and around the neighbourhood. She was a very good Vaidya too.
It was dadaji who brought the good news to his elder sister that Bhagina was alright then. It was evening and herd of cows with their calves were entering the galli to their gohal (A shelter place for them). Those were the days so to say golden days that every house kept cows of its own, as it was tradition or culture of the society. We got our own house milk every day and over and above cow dung to use manure in the garden and paddy fields. The maid servant used to clean the gohal everyday and cowdung so gathered used to make goyatha for burning purpose. Steam coal was very cheap sold by one baniya “one man” (About 37 kg) for 4 annas just opposite of the road. We had to burn our chullah (Oven) every now and then with the coal but raw coal could not be fired with a match stick. We kept dried goytha under the coal and burned them first with kerosene oil and then covered with coal pieces one by one.
No LPG cylinder was available those days. The well – to – do family was doing so but those living under poverty level were using dried wood they or their children collected from the nearby jungles. Ours was not thickly populated. There were dense forests in and around our dwelling areas. So far as I recollect the total population of the country was about 33 crore only when our country got freedom/ independence in 1947. We were extremely happy when we got ekanni (4 paise coin in yellow or white colour) from our parents while leaving for schools. Those days are gone! Now all such coins disappeared as they were devalued due to extreme price rise (Inflation) but I collected and kept them for my grand grandsons to see these very old coins once in circulation in the country in the British regime/rule. Coin collection is one of my hobbies since my childhood days.
Once I realised that from up above the sky my forefathers were jealous of seeing me using 1000 and 500 currency notes as playing cards asking question as to how this hike took place so early and who were the responsible persons and why not they should have been taken to task first long back why not thought of even? I consoled them satirically “My dearest of the dear! The dad of the dads! Please live there peacefully as have been living and enjoying every moment of life even after demise from here and please continue keeping bird’s eyes view on Indian economy particularly the price hike so fast that those days are not so far away when you will see 10000 and 5000 currency notes too.” Here anything can happen, no wonder!
After the Sun set and after the play was over I came to house and saw my uncle coming with my grandmother holding her hand. I threw my football , ran to him and caught hold of his another hand. He stared at me as if he were very annoyed with me.
A group of boys and girls was waiting at my door to greet my uncle but instead of greeting they started Corus jointly, “ The scorpion stung, the scorpion stung, hi ! hi!! Hi!!!”
I said to my uncle, “ Let them enjoy, what of that since it is a fact.”
Since then my uncle forgot to tie up any scorpion but I not. I took his place and still have been continuing the show/feat and keeping the tradition alive for the sake of people’s entertainment.
Let God be kind enough to assist me, teach me and guide me what I do for the cause of humanity!
My uncle has left for heavenly abode but I am still alive and do this fun every year enthusiastically, the moment the monsoon breaks, it rains continuously for a few days together and the scorpions come out from their holes to the surface to save their lives.
Writer: Durga Prasad.
2nd. August 2016 – Tuesday