The Wanderer

This is a real life happening. My friend, Apurba Saha, who worked in a Press in Guwahati narrated this heart-rending story to me. The protagonist of this piece, Tamang, worked with him in the same press. In the following paragraphs, I will narrate a tale about a youth, who has spent the last fifteen years of his life in a most unfortunate manner. Moreover, he will have to carry these nightmarish memories for the remaining years of his life -- possibly throughout his whole life. When Apurba narrated this tale, I felt tremendously disturbed. Because I have this habit of writing occasionally, I decided to pen it down and would like to share this tale with my readers. And so, here goes ...

In a certain village of Nepal, surrounded by hills and rivers, lives Tamang. Tamang is a fourteen year old lad. For a city bred boy, fourteen years is sufficient to make him conscious of the workings of this world. But not for this village boy. His immaturity revealed itself by his actions as he even didn't feel the necessity to know his fathers' name, or that of his village.

Besides his parents, he had two elder brothers and two elder sisters. They were a happy family. Agriculture and farming was their main source of livelihood. Additionally, the rivulets provided water, and the forest firewood, free of cost. Whatever happiness one can expect in such a poor family could certainly be seen in their lives.

Ominously, Tamang befriended a man from another village. The man used to visit Tamang's village for some unknown reasons. When their friendship grew, the man tried to lure Tamang by narrating to him fantasy tales about the amenities available in the city.

"Why is citylife irresistible," Tamang used to ask.

"In the city, you can earn a lot of money. When you have money, you will have many friends, you can buy nice clothes, eat good food in restaurants. You will see many cars and meet many pretty girls, and you may even marry one of them one day. Who knows?" the man used to tell this dreamer. 

Time ticked away. Tamang was regularly fed on a dose of how much city life had to offer, much like that found in Arabian fantasy tales. One day, the city slicker man said he would be leaving for the city. His magnetic attraction drew Tamang to eventually leave his village without informing anybody -- he had begun cherishing dreams of the better life available in the city.

Before he set forth on this perilous journey, Tamang made a pact with the man.

"What work would I do in the city?," he asked.

The man replied " I would drive a truck, and you would be my assistant. "

At the initial stages, they reached a mofussil town in Nepal, a few hundred kms away. Tamang was still unaware as to where his unrealistic dream was dragging him. He could not comprehend how three months passed away in a jiffy. But as yet, he could not see anything of what has been promised so long by the man.

" Where're all those things you promised?," an exasperated Tamang queried.

" My dear friend, have patience. You will soon see all those things very shortly," the man attempted to console him.

One day the man informed Tamang that he was thinking of other means to make money. Henceforth, he would no longer drive the truck. The new plan was to go to India, and start a dairy business there. Drifting from one
place to another, Tamang saw six months slip away. In the end, via Siliguri he managed to reach a corner of Guwahati town. The place was the famous '10 miles.'

Days rolled by. It changed to months, months to years. The man who enticed Tamang arranged an accomodation for him i.e Tamang in this place. It was at a small dwelling of one of the villagers. Then he left, saying he was on the lookout for better avenues. He used to make an appearance at every two/three months interval. Sometimes, the interval was even longer. Penniless, Tamang was compelled to work.

"I must do something to stay afloat," Tamang told his hut owner one day.

" I will try to look something for you," he said.

After searching frantically, all he could provide Tamang was a job as a helper to the 'local milkman.' Again, time began ticking away. Four years passed unknowingly for Tamang in this manner. One day, he heard that the man who cajoled him to leave Nepal was no longer alive. The man was returning from Nepal border after depositing some smuggling money, and on his way back, the dacoits killed him.

On hearing this, several dreams of Tamang crushed immediately. Suddenly, he felt very lonely. However, by then Tamang has become an integral part of the Nepali colony of '10 miles.' Working here and there he discovered quite a few charms that life could offer. Living with Nepali Christians all around and influenced by Christianity, he converted his faith and sought solace in Jesus. He made quite a few acquaintances when he began going to the church. In this manner, he entrenched himself quite firmly in '10 miles.'

Soon, he got an offer from the press of this area. Presently, Tamang is a press worker. He stays in a watchman's room of a newly opened English medium school.

He is thirty now. A few days back, he unfolded these incidents from his life to my friend Apurba. Apurba asked him as to whether he i.e Tamang remembers his family or not. He seemed evasive.

Suddenly one day i.e two days before Bihu festival to be precise, he informed Apurba that he has taken a few days leave and would be going to look for his family in Nepal with the money he has saved. After sixteen years, Tamang went back to Nepal in search of his family.

"But what's this? Where's my village? Is Nepal really so big? Where's that rivulet near our house?," it appeared Tamang was searching for a needle in a haystack.

After ten days he returned, and narrated further tales of woe to Apurba. Without knowledge of his father's or his village's name, Tamang's only memories was of walking along the rivulet when he had fled from Nepal. With such a faint remembrance, he had gone there in quest of his own people. After travelling around Nepal, he was amazed at the vastness of this country. Not surprisingly, he couldn't locate the small river he was looking for. After a frantic search for a week, he has returned to '10 miles' again in a pitiable state.

There is no one for Tamang in this wide world now. OR maybe they're there, but he won't ever see them. Imagine, he won't be able to see his parents, and his brothers and sisters again. After a few years, even if he sees them somewhere, he mayn't be able to recognise them. Just think, what may be his mental condition now?

I wonder why I have narrated this sob story. There is no specific reason. After knowing such a tragic real life situation, shouldn't I share this with others?

Tamang continues to work in the press at '10 miles.'


More by :  Subhajit Ghosh

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