Sunderlal Kumar had not taken long to become Sunder Bhayyiya, a prominent figure within the circle of farmers in his village. Nothing was taking too long in 2020, rapid changes took place outside, and within, within sprung a new consciousness, a new zeal, a new realization of the horrors of the inhabited world. There were fervent efforts to bring out the rotten truth, dismantle a harrowing system on one side, on another were fanatic efforts to clamp down the change, to deny that there is at all, any misery.
It was the morning of 26 November 2020. The day they will take to the streets. It was evident that there was no other way left. The struggle began upsurging in their hearts the day they all went home after toiling hard on sahibs farms, some had to take their children with them too, the wages were pathetic. Every time they looked at their children, they were aghast by the resemblance the children bore with those shown in the ads seeking to spread awareness for malnutrition.
At the end of the day, their meagre incomes ridiculed the sweat on their foreheads, thighs, armpits. The fathers and mothers, day after day promised their children a plateful of dinner of bread and gravy, but night after night, saw them chewing on stale bread and onion, going to bed starved.
Then new laws were proposed in the parliament, to further shrink their income, promising a distant development for the millionth time, that never approached them but only pushed them deeper in the bottomless pit of poverty.
Their life already was so terrifying in its deprivation, they could not imagine it getting worse, and by no means, be passive witnesses as it did.
So they had protested. In the land that echoed ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ every now and then, farmers demanding their rights were condemned as terrorists. They agitated vigorously for their lives, but the authorities merely laid a glance and said to themselves “nevermind, oh! Nevermind the petty people”. Nevertheless, the law was passed. The farmers whose life had been made into a torture were told that they’d been misinformed and misguided, that their hardships are a myth.
The law was passed. Their demands, tears, sweat, complaints, all trodden by the privileged feet.
26 November 2020, the first day of the struggle, they took the streets. Urban-rural, all streets were thronged by farmers across the country. Sunder led the farmers of his village. It was a day of zeal and enthusiasm. A day they fought for their hungry children, their untreated illnesses, their unvalued labour. They chanted slogans, displayed banners. Their hearts pounding in their chests. “They had nothing to lose but their chains, and a world to win.”
“Begaar Kheti Manzoor Nahi!” Sunder bellowed “Manzoor Nahi! Manzoor Nahi!” Fellow farmers chorused behind him.
It was a wonderful sight. The ‘weak’ asserting their hitherto latent power. When something hard hit Sunder on the spine, he was paralyzed momentarily, and then fell flat on the ground. He looked up, it was a water cannon, sending a harsh stream of water, operated by police. He saw, an old farmer, lying on the floor, shivering under the spray of water, on the cold winter day. Still struggling to join the call, shivering where she was, with all the strength she could muster, the frail old woman yelled “Inqalaaaaab” “Zindabaad” The others joined, similarly wounded by the chilled stream, and lying on the road unarmed.
“Farmers turn violent in their struggle” Sunder heard a reporter say, then another, then another. Anger surged in his heart, the mispotrayal did not surprise him though. He got up again “Jo Kisanon Se Takrayega” he roared. “Choor Choor Ho Jayega” others chorussed shivering under the chill.
“Hunhh, all this for little attention” Kanak told his wife, Shweta, switching off the tv, sitting in front of his Heater, in his warm quilt. “Oh! These farmers won’t understand their own good! Imbeciles” His wife said donning her silken shawl. “Come I’ve made Manchurian and Fried Rice, your favourite!”
Kanak and Shweta had their lunch, devouring on the labour of farmers like Sunder.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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