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Friday, June 25, 2021

When Humanity would be priority religion?

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After a long time when I was really fed up with monotonous daily routine and work, I finally thought to take a vacation, a leave from the daily chores. I finally packed my bags off and catch up a train from Kolkata. I was going to a place called Islampur. Islampur is a faraway place from Kolkata. It is located in Dinajpur district of West-Bengal. Islampur is a small town small town, nothing special to see there. Only attraction is one of my closest friends; Dr. Maqbool Hussain who lives there. We call Maqbool by his pet name “Shibu”.

After a long and hectic journey of about 10 hours, I finally reached Islampur. Shibu was waiting for me on the station. He welcomed me with a great smile and a big hug. After all we are meeting after 8 years. From station we catch up a “Tanga” (Horse Cart) and moved towards his house. He had a very traditional styled Bengali Haveli(house) and also he belonged to a very noble family of Landlords.
Within 15 minutes we reached his house. We just started our gossips when suddenly the phone buzzed. Shibu attended the call and then suddenly he became apologetic. I asked him what happened. He told me that he had to go for an emergency operation in Mumbai. He was feeling very sorry but I asked him to leave because it was more important because it was about life and death. With all this huffs and puffs he finally left.

Now, I was alone in his house. His mother asked me to take a quick shower to get fresh since I was very tired. After a cool shower she offered me the traditional Bengali breakfast “Loochi Aloor Dum” and “Rasgoolas”. I enjoyed the delicious food very much. But happy times don’t last for long. After taking breakfast I was thinking what to do next. I thought of taking a nap or what…I finally make up my mind to visit the nearby villages to explore Islampur.

I started wandering to and fro, since this place was not very familiar to me. I lit up a cigarette and started roaming. Suddenly, I heard a sound, a voice….coming from a very distant place. I could easily make up that it’s a voice of a boy hardly 9 or 10 years of age. He was shouting “10 minute er khela Babu 10 minute er khela” (In English: 10 minutes Game…Oh sir! It’s just a 10 minutes Game”). I thought that it was probably or for sure another case of child labor. Since I was left with no other option to move towards that place.

It was not very far placing. Just a few minute walk and I reached that fellow. I saw that boy was showing some magic games and was entertaining people with his circus shows. He was also having a pair of monkeys. One was a child and other was an adult female monkey. He was entertaining people with his magic shows and circus acts like walking on head or balance games. Children were really enjoying as it was evident by their smiles and claps. He also managed to play a show in which he was showing the female monkey as a teacher and the baby monkey as her student. Seeing this shows, reminded me of my childhood. I was feeling so nostalgic that that I didn’t even noticed that his 10 minutes had extended to 1 long hour.

At the end of the show when everybody was leaving, I was also about to leave when he shouted upon me. “Oh Babu…..Tumi to kichu poisa na diyei chole jacho…?” (In English: Oh Sir!! You are leaving without giving me a single paisa”). I laughed and called the boy. I asked his name. His name was Anwar. I paid him 10 rupees. I also asked him with whom and where he is living. He told me that he is staying in a nearby village with his mother. I enquired whether he is going to school or not. I was shocked to hear his answer. He answered me with a pale face that “Pora shone kore ki hobe…..Asol hoche Taka babu” (In English: What to do with studies….the real thing is money”). I got very much annoyed and he is just a bogus fellow. I paid him 10 rupees and left immediately.
I returned to Shibu’s house. His mother was very congenial towards me. They served me the best Bengali food I have ever taken. After having the lunch, I was thinking about Anwar. A face full of innocence was just a show? Or maybe there is some other naked truth that he was trying to hide. With all this thought process I could never know when I fall asleep. I wake up after 5:30 in evening when Samina (Shibu’s sister) waked me up for a cup of tea.

With the end of the last sip in the cup of tea I went for an evening walk, when I saw Anwar again. I called him. He hurriedly stepped towards me. I asked him how much he had earned in the morning. With a jolly smile he replied 35 rupees. With a bit of little interference in his personal life I asked him what the hell he was going to do with the money. He replied with a sad expression that he would buy foods and medicines. I recalled the word “Medicine”. I curiously asked him in details. He told me that he was going to buy some medicines for his mother who was suffering from cancer. His father expired when he was 1 year of age. He was the only earning source in his house. After hearing these facts I was feeling very sad and I was cursing myself, that without knowing the real fact how I could blame the boy. His family load was so huge that money has replaced his all happiness his joy his sorrow…..his education his childhood…his everything. I could do nothing but at least to satisfy my cursed soul I gave him 50 rupees.

I requested Anwar to take me to his house. He welcomed my wish with a joy. I reached his village within 5 minutes. As soon as I was entering their house a crowd of Hindu mass ordered me not to enter the house because those people were Muslims. They told me “Bauner er beta, Bacha, jeo na oder ghore…jaat jaabe…” (In English: You are a Brahmin, please don’t enter their house…Else you will lose your religion and cast). I was very much disheartened and got really red faced on hearing these words. In India and especially in communist states like Bengal people are still like this? I wondered. I didn’t care about them and just by ignoring these nuts I entered the house. Let I lose my religion and cast, no problem but humanity was my preferred religion.

I entered the house and saw a lady in her mid-thirties was lying in bed. Sickness had made her very much dependable to her bed. Her face turned pale and she was crying bitterly. I hold her in my arms and asked not to cry. I asked her not to cry but I could not know the way how I could sooth her for not crying. There was no one to help them as it was very apparent from the neighbor’s attitude. I learnt from Anwar’s mother that Anwar’s father was in army and was martyred in the borders of Kashmir. Also I came to know that no pension is provided by the government to them. I wondered how people could have a great family like Anwar’s whose father had sacrificed his life just for our happiness. “Just because they are minority?” I didn’t have my answer…so I came back to Shibu’s house.

The night was normal and I took my dinner then slept. But I was thinking and thinking…and I was not able to sleep for whole night. I puffed of a pack of cigarettes but it’s of no use. Next day after my breakfast I again reached that place where I had met Anwar first time. I waited a long but Anwar didn’t come. Finally I decided to go to his house. When I reached his house his house, I saw him playing with other boys. He was playing as if he had no burden in his life. I enquired why he didn’t come to show his game. He told me yesterday his full money got saved since I brought him food and medicines. Additionally I had given him 50 rupees. So he had lot of money for the day. I asked him what he was planning to do with this money. He answered a very infuriating answer. He said he would buy some foods and toys and a Blanket for himself.

I gave him a bad look to this rascal saying “Your mother is lying on the death bed and you are planning for yourself”. I was about to leave when suddenly another boy shouted to Anwar. I was listening to the conversation. That boy was saying to Anwar “Dekh amar kache Bat ache Ball ache tor kache kichu nei…tui Bhikhari” (In English: See Anwar! I have got a Bat, Ball but you have nothing you are just a beggar). Everyone was laughing at him. He was crying. Suddenly he replied ” Na amar kache onek taka ache ami kaal I sob kinbo..tokhon tora dekhbi…..” (In English: No I have got lot of money …and I will buy all the toys by tomorrow…..then you people will see…Who am i? …I will buy blanket for my maa(mother) and I will share with her. I will buy good foods for her).

After listening this conversation I realized, that Anwar was also a child. A normal and usual child with childish sentiments. He can also have wish to buy Bat and Ball..Because his age does not permit him to take the family load. He is also having a soul to have good foods. If my kind reader carefully observes his conversation, he can find that Anwar always tries to full fill his mother as well as his needs. Just think a child thinking this complex world’s truth. My God! He is also a kid his childish mentality had stopped him to work for the day. I can realize that in this age I myself sometimes bunk the office just to take rest.

I was worried about the condition of Children in India and also I feel for the minorities. I went to the DM but of no use. He was absent. He also bunked a day just like Anwar. On the third day, again I reached the same place where Anwar show his plays. Today he was there with a good crowd surrounding him. He was showing Magic Tricks etc but I was waiting for the monkey play. At last it started and today’s played featured the female monkey as mother and baby monkey as her child. Anwar asked the female monkey to hold the baby monkey in her arms and also asked her to help the baby to take bath, get him ready for school and serve him foods. The Monkeys were really smart. They played well. It was a show that touched my heart.

At the end of the show I asked Anwar about his mother. He replied that “she died in the early morning”. I angrily told him that your mother died and you are here. I shouted a lot. He left sobbing and crying.

I felt bad after some time. I make up my way towards his house. When I reached his house I saw him sitting on the floor like a statue with no emotions. He was not crying. Everybody was saying if Anwar had not gone in the morning to play the show, the last funeral of his mother was not possible.
I was feeling guilty now. I left that place. I hurried to a nearby field and sat calmly. I puffed a cigarette and was thinking; imagine a boy hardly 10 years of age. His mother died in front of him. But he was so unlucky that he had to go out for earnings for his mother’s funeral. He didn’t even have the chance to hold his mother on his chest and cry. I asked to myself “In today’s circus, Anwar why? Why Anwar…….you have shown the love between mother and son. When the play was going on what was going on in your mind Anwar? Your mother had died long before the play started….what would have been your feelings?”

On the 4th day I was planning to leave Islampur. I thought before leaving I should make a last visit to Anwar. But when I reached his house no one was there. The door was locked and no one was able to say where he had gone. I searched for him a lot. Finally I was getting late so I catch up the train to Kolkata.

I remembered that day was Maa Saraswati Puja in Bengal (Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of Education and knowledge). It is celebrated with great zeal in Bengal. I asked to Maa “Why Maa …why can’t u bless that child with your blessings? Why? What fault he has done?” But no answer came.

I thought and kept on thinking about Anwar. He was not getting out of my mind. In mean time I reached Kolkata. I didn’t celebrate the occasion and locked myself in my room.

I haven’t forgotten Anwar till day. I don’t know where he is…where he is showing his “10 Minute er khela”. But I wish for that child that wherever you are be happy for ever.

I don’t know when people will help others, love others, be unbiased to religion and biased to humanity. I don’t know when our government will pay the deserved Pensions. But till then thousands of Anwar will suffer. An innocent childhood will fade up on the Magic shows or in mechanic garage or in civil sites. And thousands of helpless mothers will die in the darkness of poverty and helplessness.

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Ambarish Pandeyhttp://www.pak-times.com
Ambarish Pandey is currently working for PricewaterhouseCoopers PVT. LTD. in India, Kolkata. He is a Senior Consultant in the Advisory Division of the firm. He holds Engineering degree from Bengal Engineering & Science University, Shibpur, India's second oldest Engineering college. Besides Developing websites and other software jobs he loves to blog on Women, Minority Issues. His hobbies are Cooking, Collectibles and Archeology(Egyptology), Bengal's & Punjab's History... His book on cookery in Bengali under title "Hesel"(Kitchen) has been published in India.
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14 COMMENTS

  1. This man Ambarish Pandey always made me cry.. This is very common story of a third world’s child, several small girls are working on wages in homes and becoming the victim of brutality of the society. Similarly boys are being victimized in garages, carpet weaving factory, buses or hotels where there childhood is giving them a name “chottay”; being snubbed, beaten and scolded for no reasons they are suffering psychologically and physiologically.
    I always look at these small girls and boys working to fulfill the needs of their families; earning hands… killing their futures killing a country’s future.. on finding a boy or girl i always inquire whether he or she is getting education or not.. with big disappointment i always answered with bog “NO”
    In Last Ramadan during in Aitakaaf(asceticism for few days only in month of Ramadan) i promised my self to educate a girl living at my aunty’s place.. to what extent i can teach her i do.. To me Allah showed apath in my Aitakaaf that Humanity is biggest religion and all Ibadaats(worships) revolve around serving humanity.. If everyone start paying attention to their collective responsibilities as corrective measure.. world can become peaceful place.

  2. Nice touching piece but I guess we humans have now become like robots when it comes to humanity. The situation in the third world countries is the worst. The elite class is but a medium for the multinationals (and their supporting western govts) to squeeze the money from the people.

    And i dont blame parents but it is indeed the government. And honestly, I am against the NGOs who just keep shouting against child labor. OK, I don’t mean we should treat children this way. I am a great lover and hugger of all children. But I have seen many a things from my eyes.
    The next ‘chooto’ working in the workshop repairing cars now becomes a shop owner frequently. I have such a friend who started working as a mechanic when he was a boy. Then, he opened his own ‘Khoka’. A couple of years later, now, he has taken a shop on rent and his smaller brother also works there. And he is earning good and respectfully.

    On the other hand, how are the educated treated in our nation. Oh yes, we all know that. I was once traveling in a taxi and while chatting with the taxi driver, I found that he was talking like a nicely educated man. Out of curiosity, I just dug him for more info on his background. And I was shocked to know that he held a Bachelors degree. But sadly told me that the Taxi is paying him better than the next job he would get.

    This might not be true in all cases. But this is the mentality of the parents who get their children to work at early ages. Don’t just shout against child labor before solving the problems of these families. I have met such parents. For all you know, they (in their minds) are doing the best thing for their child by sending him at work at an earlier age.

    And education. What education do you talk about? Let me tell the Pakistani education style. First, you have the A/O Level system (University of Cambridge Syndicate) for the elite class (and I have been thru that). Next, you have the Metriculate system, that’s for the common middle/low-income families. And last, you have the yellow schools (totally government-funded schools) which are simply pathetic. I would dare not admit my own child in these yellow schools. And the ministers and businessmen would dare not admit their children in anything less than the A/O Levels (in case they don’t go abroad for basic education).

    So unless we solve all these problems, we shouldn’t be just speaking against the next parent who gets his son to work at the age of 10. Or else, we would be looking at just one side of the picture.

    These are the bitter truths of the materialistic, capitalist society to be accurate. Where, according to surveys, the rich people are getting richer and the poor gets poorer.

  3. Dear Affan,

    I agree with you.Before shouting……”We are against child labor” we should try to find out why these children are working in these places. Why are forced to destroy there childhoods and work in the factories.In some places i have seen needy family is the reason or in other case just a school drop out case.
    NGOs are not always genuine. In many cases they exploit the society. I will not take the name but personally i know such NGOs where they claim they are here for the well being of the children.It is really astonishing to know that shout for the children , they help them to get out of the factory.But after getting out the factories they take them to their orphan house(If they are orphan) and would sell them or their body parts in such a silent way that no one can ever guess.Still they remain “The Masiah” of the children.

    Also one thing i would like to mention that not every child labor has the opportunity or luck to open his own “khoka”.Most of them are pushed in the darkness of crime forever.
    In past year i have met a person who was an example.He served 6 years of imprisonment.Will write about him in details in coming days.Till then may god bless you for your kindness.

  4. Dear Rubab,

    It’s really very kind of you to show such kindness to the innocents.Try to educate may be one if not many as far as possible. In my free times i use to teach two orphans.One of them is going to appear for his engineering entrance exam .Inshallah i expect a good result from him.I am really very proud of him.His name is Prakash.Another boy Arvind is in his 12th class.

    And yes ALLAH has taught us humanity.Humanity is the greatest thing ever created by ALLAH the MOST MERCIFUL.

  5. Yes Ambarish Pandey! If one literate person could teach one child we can remove the term ignorance from our dictionary.. but to make a point education level should be good to make this world peaceful..

  6. it is truly bad, it was very hurting incident with this guy, here posted persons are really read the “sachar commission report” with this, bcz minority poeple especialy muslims very very backward in bengal , that is bengal is state of communists!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    i am a muslim, quran is strictily giving the importance to lookafter orphans, in many many places eg: read the meaning of Lesson 107 [to know the importance]

    but actually no one not understand the meaning of Quran, if there any one know better, they will do the best to that boy,also

    contact “jamaathe islam hind” of that sector and give the detais of that boy, i hope they will help him sure.

  7. also you said hindu crowd not allowed to enter that boy house, same like in muslims, i told that these guys are not well versed his religion,
    if muslims, in history we allowed Christians to pray in our mosque,

    also i am from kerala [gods own country]

    search google Like “gods own country” u will get kerala details

    here u cant met like these kind of poeple bcz, in my life mosly frnds from hindus, and i am sleeping,praying and eating food from their house since i born, we are living together, when u get time just visit kerala

  8. Beautiful story…

    .. but why would you want Humanism to become a religion? Arent the current religions evil enough? 😉 Haven’t we screwed the happiness out of everyone already in our attempt to convert/kill/rape/usurp in the name of an imaginary God? It does not matter whether you pray to “Mamta-mayi Maa” or “Merciful Allah” – you are still searching for divinity in the gross-ness of this world and with a mind that is beset with a baggage…

    … talking of Maa Saraswati – there is a very interesting story in Yoga Vasistha about Saraswati – where she tells a Queen Lila – who is her devotee and is praising her for giving her a boon. To that she replies:

    “My dear Lila, I do not really do anything to anyone. Every jiva earns its own state by its own deeds….

    ….. you longed for liberation, and you obtained it. You may consider it the fruit of your austerity or worship of the deity; but it is consciousness alone that bestows the fruit upon you – even as the fruit that seems to fall from the sky really falls from the tree”.

    So, while the rest of the Bengalis on that day were celebrating the “sky” for bestowing the fruit; you were praying to the same “sky” to give something else – while you had never even planted the tree that was to really GIVE you the fruit…. as per Saraswati herself! 😉

    … So, if you have to pray – pray that we can all become just Humans! That will be the first step to spiritual awakening.

  9. In Pakistan you can see different NGOs working for different causes. But, can anyone tell us how much poor peoples they have helped? IMO these NGOs just plaster the old building despite the fact that they should make its base strong.

    You know, I and some of my friends started a free education program in Malir Karachi. Our program is being appreciated by majority of local residents. But some RESPECTFUL authorities of area don’t want us to work. They threat us of dangerous results and asked us to stop our work. The reason is that they don’t want the local residents to study, they use them for their own benefits.

    So, I think there are several factors affecting education system in Pakistan.

  10. Dear Yakoob,

    In Bengal the condition of Muslims are not very bad as u think.They have been awarded the highest position in Government jobs,in sports,in every field.The religious sentiments is least in Bengal. But still i would not disagree that sometimes though rarely you can see the persecution of Minorities in this State, mostly in the interior villages.
    In recent clashes in your “God’s own country” Christians have been attacked.What would u say now? Are minorities really very safe in your State?Who can say tomorrow a Muslim will not be attacked in Kerala? Can u guarantee?…

  11. Dear Ambarish
    I still fell so sorry for not with you when you came to our place…..i have tried to find Anwar…but all in vain…..but i do respect your feelings ……..u r the best buddy….

    @Yakoob,
    Dear Yakoob,

    I must tell u that u r absolutely wrong. In Bengal..muslims are not all in backward condition……i am a Muslim and i dont feel so…..

    @Rubab,
    Dear Rubab,

    Yes this man Ambarish always make us cry…but i can tell u ..he is a person with great heart…a great social worker….it was unknown to me that he is also a blogger!!!

  12. humanity needs not become religion, every religion in the world admires humanity, politeness, love and peace. its the people who do bad and find all excuses in the religion, the only real problem is the human nature and its hypocricy!

    religion merely serves as a standard for all which is required like any other human made standards and rules

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