How do you feel if you see few cows and buffaloes always at the front gate of your house? When you open the door in morning, fresh fragrance of bullshit, urine and other mess of animals spread into your room. You walk carefully at the home entrance by avoiding the chance of putting feet over their bullshit and picket. Mosquitoes get developed around your house and in the evening, when you try to relax at the corridor, your pet mosquitoes attack and suck your blood like mango juice. In the night when you closed the door, regurgitating animals said good night to you, and the whole night you hear the music of cattle’s yawning and belching. Your guests are welcomed by these animals before you say hello to them. Your friends avoid visiting your home by scarring from these animals. By chance, one day you missed to close the doors and these uninvited guests enter and eat your meal.
Well, before you start imagining about stable instead of home, I want to say that it was the environment around our house fifteen years ago. I was ten years old at that time and we had just migrated from small village to Indore city… so called Mini Mumbai of Madhya Pradesh. Our migration was caused due to natural disaster; those were indeed very difficult days for us. Our village was situated at the bank of the Narmada River, 50 km away from the Khandwa district. One day there was Monsoon flood in the Narmada and government authorities alarmed villagers at night around 1 AM. They moved all villagers at the safe place and opened the dam gates. Wild water of Narmada took everything of that village with its flow and when the sun shined in the morning, the village was nowhere on the map. Next day local media and newspaper appreciated government authorities’ work for taking action at the right time. They have saved big cities from flood by the cost of our small village; everyone was happy except few villagers who had lost everything in just one night.
In the next couple of days, everyone forgot about flood and village. Government had done their job of saving our lives and now they didn’t have any responsibility toward us. They saved us from flood and left to die by starving. I moved to Indore with my parents after this incident. My father had started working as a labor in building construction site to feed us. He had some cash that he had taken from home while moving from village that night. We had rented a house in the city with that money and started living there; and this was the same house whose ambience was described by me in couple of paragraphs ago.
That was a big house and total four families lived there under one roof including landlords’. A yard was there at the entrance and four apartments constructed in every corner of the yard. Every apartment had been consisting of just two rooms of the same size and we had to manage dining, bed as well as kitchen in those rooms. Toilet and bathroom were common for all families and it was constructed outside home, near the entrance. Our landlord was a couple in their fifties; and they didn’t have any child. They had many cows and buffaloes and they made their earning by selling milk of those animals. The yard was the home for animals. That was not a big area but the animals were more in numbers. Our landlord tied them randomly in the yard and we had to cross these animals to reach at our apartment doors from the entrance gate.
As I said earlier, the entire area around our apartment was stank with the smell of bullshit. These animals kept the yard dirty entire day either with their meal (grass, animal food, water etc.) or wastage (bullshit, urine). Our landlord cleaned the yard once in a day but that was just swept by a hard stick brush. They never cleaned it with water, surf powder or any hygienic liquid, that’s why it smelled a lot. Mosquitoes were also developed due to such unhygienic condition. Our apartment door was hardly twenty steps away from the main gate but one had to be very careful while crossing those twenty steps; sometime buffaloes/cows blocked your way and sometime their shit shattered you. Bullshits are usually round in size with soft layers, almost like a birthday cake in greenish color. It was the favorite play of kids in that house; whenever someone puts feet over the bullshit, they clapped and started singing happy birthday song.
So this was the condition of our home entrance; now let me tell you what happened when you enter into the lane of the city where this house situated. That lane was known as Goo-Gali (potty-lane) in that locality. Most of the houses on that lane were rented by people, who operated small business there like Joss stick manufacturing, papad (wafers) making, flour mill and spices grinding. People worked in those small firms came in the morning 10 AM, worked in the day and returned their home at night around 8 PM. Except few houses like ours, all were rented by these firms. Due to less number of families in the area, lane was mostly quiet and isolate, especially in the night and early morning. People of other lanes took benefit of this fact and dropped all their wastage and dirt in our lane. Due to this, a big detritus of wastage had deposited in our lane. In the early morning, some people of the surrounding area especially slum children came there around the detritus and dropped potty too. Even labors worked in those firms were also used to urinate in the open gutters of the lane. Many times our landlord had complained about it at Municipal Corporation but they didn’t care about it. Once in three months a wastage pick-up lorry of the corporation came in the lane and dragged all wastage but from the next day, people again started depositing their dirt there. So this was our lane, stank with the dirt smell mixed with the acrid of human shit and urine.
Initially I found our house better than the lane. At least bullshit smell is better to bear than the wastage odor. Home always smelled same to me, but lane always gave me new fragrance as per the kind of dirt people made there. When our nose inhales the same smell continuously for a long time, it always makes us feel that same smell spread everywhere in the world even if it doesn’t exist there. Soon bullshit smell smacked into my head. I started feeling bullshit smell everywhere, school, roads, park, train, bus even in flowers and food items. I found my nose is there to make me feel only one sniff. I hate the smell but that smell was not ridding me away. My father had selected that house just because it was cheapest in the area, and now I could understand why it was worthless. I mean who wants to live in such bullshit house except helpless people in hopeless condition like us.
That house might be bullshit but the landlord was very gentle and good person. We all kids used to call them uncle-ji and aunty-ji. Uncle-ji was very simple and innocent man while aunty-ji was religious and extremely energetic and hard working lady. They really cared each and everyone living in the house including cows and buffaloes. Take care of sick children, giving money to people for paying pending bills, physical and monetary help during occasions like marriage in the area, provide their scooter for taking ration…there were n number of occasions when these kind couple stand in good stead for the people in that house. And not even people in the house, this couple equally helped other people in the locality too. Due to such quality, people in locality liked and respect them.
As I said, uncle-ji was very simple and innocent, and he liked kids a lot. Many times he played with the kids like a child. Aunty-ji didn’t like such habit of uncle-ji; she always objected uncle-ji to behave maturely. Also, she didn’t express such affection with kids; instead she used to tick-off the kids a lot. Reason behind it was that kids of that house (including uncle-ji) were really very naughty, they used to nag her a lot. Kids used to do just opposite what aunty-ji said; they played exactly at the place where she denied them to play; they played cricket at the same time when aunty-ji was milking the cow and tried their best to send the ball inside milk bucket. Aunty-ji loved cows and buffalos rather than kids, even she treated them as her own child. Kids (again including uncle-ji) used to play and bug these animals a lot especially in front of aunty-ji to make her hyper. Aunty-ji got annoyed when kids disturbed her but she lost her temper completely when someone touched the animals. She spewed fire words and ran behind the kids with a stick in hand when these animals were troubled specially while grazing or resting.
There was one more wiggle other than troubling animals that made aunty-ji red hot. It was not the prank of kids but the obligations of habits. Aunty-ji behaved weirdly if her morning schedule was delayed or got broken. It was her regular routine to consign milk to lord Shiva. She used to wake up early in the morning around six. After taking bath, she wore a special saffron sari and dragged some milk. Then, She decorated worship plate with some milk in special bronze KALASH (urn) and other Hindu worship stuff, and went to the famous Shiva temple of our colony. There she rendered milk on ShivLing (the lord SHIVA idol) with chanting mantra for almost an hour. It was her regular routine for every morning; If somehow this routine broke, aunty-ji behaved weirdly the whole day. The morning must be started from the Shiva worship for her otherwise everyone had to bear her cynical attitude. I still remembered once she asked one of the family to leave the house just because all the members of the family used to wake up early in the morning and kept bathroom busy. Aunty had to wait many times for the bathroom due to them and it made her late in Shiva worship. Finally it led to the elimination of that family from the house. Many times uncle-ji said this as a joke that aunty does TANDAV dance if she didn’t see the Shiva in morning.
Though aunty was little cynic and hard by mouth, she was a very soft lady by heart. She helped everyone in pain or trouble with open hands. Whether it was monetary matters or materialistic help or require some physical effort, her doors and hands were always open for people in trouble. She used to tick-off a lot the kids gang but when someone got down by fever, she treated him/her like a mother. Due to such noble work, she made a good image in the society and no one complained about her cynical attitude.
She may cared about kids but she never expressed her love to them. She never played with kids, not hugged or kissed them, not even looked at them with love. But this was not the case with me; I was the only kid in the house whose appearance made aunty smile. It might be because I was not involved in any trick and tease of the naughty kids gang. As compared to other kids of my age, I behaved very silent and quiet in that house and aunty liked it. That was not my natural character but situations sealed me into mum mold. Free bird of the Narmada landscape was captured in the cage full of bullshit, and this bullshit seized all his childhood innocence and impishness. I didn’t like anything in that home, lane or city, all I wanted to return village at any cost. But the fact was that the village had completely sunk into Narmada and now this bullshit was the only life around me.
Aunty-ji not only smiled at me but she showed her special attention at me. She often asked my mother about my wellness, breakfast, meal and studies. Whenever I returned from school, she stroked my head and hairs with love. She hugged and kissed too sometimes me especially when I stepped from the bathroom to our apartment and she appeared in the yard. But I didn’t like her love for me. In my eyes, she was a cynic middle aged lady who lost her mind because of her sterility. And under the depression, she argued and shouted at everyone whole day. Her voice was loud and a bit unpleasant, and I hate it. Second reason to dislike her, she didn’t clean the yard properly every day. Although she swept yard daily with special brush of hard sticks, she never washed it with water and any hygienic liquid. It made the whole environment of the house blossomed with bullshit smell. Third, she loved animals and I hate them. If it was under my control, I dragged all animals out from the house. But as per her, these animals were like god and she got meal of two times just because of the animals, so whether it was milk or bullshit, everything was welcomed by her like the blessings of God. Fourth and most important reason to hate her, whenever she hugged or kissed me, I felt a strong bullshit odor from her. Hugging by her was like crossed by stream of bullshit to me and kissed by her was like putting mouth in tons of bullshit to me. While kissing, she usually mounted some spit over my face and wetness of cheek kept the fragrance of her bullshit breath alive for a few more moments to me. Many times I avoided by going close to her just because of all these but she was never affected by it. Somehow she grabbed and showered her bullshit love on me every day.
Days were going very tough for me in that house. It was not just bullshit smell that killing me but the whole life had converted into big bullshit battle for me. We were struggling for basic needs every day. In village, we can get drinking water anytime from river Narmada, but here my mother had to stand in long queue in early morning to get water from single drinking water tape in our lane. Battle for water might not be that tough in spite of long queue as there was enough water for everyone, but battle for ration was very ruthless. City corporation used to provide monthly ration at cheaper rate to below poverty line people like us. They distributed the stock at fixed date of month. But stock was never be enough to fulfill need of all people under this category. Corporation authority process queue and provide ration till stock lasts and once the stock ended, remaining people had to return with empty hand. Usually only one fourth person got the ration and these lucky people were the whom who stood first in the queue. So there was always rash in people to stood first in queue and this rash led to few ugly fights between people. Verbal abuse and tussle was very common thing there. My mother made some special effort to avoid such scuffle; she stood in queue for whole night so that she would be ahead in queue in morning. She might came in one fourth lucky people and got ration most of the time, but that ration was never be enough to fulfill our needs till month end. We always had shortage of money and the ration came in those few bucks would never be enough to fulfill our needs till month end. My mother used ration very mindfully; she always counted for available ration before cooking anything so that it runs till month end. Even sometimes she dropped to eat in days just to save ration.
In the fight with bullshit, water, food and life, education was the only easy going game for me. Fortunately, Government school of our state didn’t take any fee for primary education so I was attending school but with the lack of books and pencils. So this was how life went on for me; I wanted to shout, I wanted to outburst but somehow I was living silently managing with situations.
I still remembered the last few days of July month. It was a rainy week and work at construction site has stopped due to rain. My father had no work and it discontinued his daily earning. As it was the end of the month, there was nothing in ration except dalia. My mother was cooking dalia in both meals of the day. In the afternoon, she cooked salty dalia, and in the night, she made it sweet by adding sugar. Quantity of sugar was also fixed; 2 spoons in my plate, 1 spoon sugar to father and half spoon(or rather negligible) sugar in mother’s plate. It was me who can add more sugar after this fixed amount, my parents didn’t as we had not enough sugar in monthly ration and we had to manage till month end.
Couple of days passed and I got irritated by eating dalia everyday. First bullshit made me inhale same smell everywhere and now dalia made me eat same taste everyday. Things that I hated were not leaving me. The irritation was clearly reflecting in my behavior. I became dumb for outside world, not spoke much with anybody. My mother was the only one over which I can express my outburst so I morose over her many times. Sometime I shouted her as my shirt was not in almirah, sometime I became hot as she was taking too much time in cooking food and sometime I yelled just because it was raining. My behavior was getting worse day by day and I gradually becoming moody, cynic and stubborn.
It was 26 July date in calendar and seventh day of our dalia eating day. I clearly denied my mother to eat dalia that day. I want anything except dalia in dinner that day. My mother coaxed me that month was ending in just few days; she will surely cook other dishes next month. But I was stick on not eating dalia that day. She then cajoled me that hopefully construction work will start tomorrow so father would get money and we will eat jalebi next day. We both very well knew that if rain had stopped then also it would take two to three days to start construction site work again but still she was telling me to hope something that was not possible. I shouted at her argument but she remained silent .
One hour passed but we both didn’t eat dalia. Me, because I want anything other than dalia and my mother, because I didn’t eat anything yet. My mother had finished other work and came to me again, but this time she became hard and started shouting at me – “hey Nityam, finish your dalia and go to sleep, we don’t have other than dalia in ration so better eat it.” Her hard attitude arose my anger more and I moved dalia plate from my side and said very clearly –“I would die but not eat dalia today.” My answer did’t melt my mother, instead her voice got louder – “than go to hell…I really don’t care…I am doing so much for you and this family…and you don’t have any emotion with it…then better do whatever you want…and yes, don’t talk with me any more now.” My mother got away from there after saying this and I lay down on the bed by putting arms over head.
One more hour passed, I was trying to sleep but it was getting hard for me to sleep with empty stomach. My mother again came to me but this time she tried to make me agree on eating by emotional weapon. She put her hands over my head and said – “ I know…how difficult last few months were for us…and you are very little to handle with this…but I knew my boy is very tough…he fight with these circumstances like a warrior…he will surely do what his mother said and eat dalia like every day.” Her voice was very soft and emotional but bullshit and dalia made me rough that day. “Don’t talk with me…I just don’t want to eat Dalia” I roar on her. My raw attitude brought tears in my mother’s eyes and she started bagging me – “please …don’t increase our troubles… eat this dalia son and let us survive.” With this, she hugged me and started crying.
Her tears made me wet a bit and once I thought that I should eat dalia now. But when I looked at dalia plate, my ego again raised head and balked me for any compromise. I got harsh – “I will not eat dalia today…this is last and final.” My mother put her bed at my side and said – “Okay…than I will also not eat anything today” she lied down and started sleeping with this statement. That night we both didn’t eat and not even sleep. I spent whole night in weeping, cursing god for our troubles and just changing sides. It was the morning when my eyes were able to sleep but soon my mother’s voice called it off.
“Get-up son, you have to go school” my mother called. I raised with heavy heart and washed my face. My mother gave me towel, tooth-brush and soap, and told me to get fresh and take a bath. With heavy steps, I started heading towards the bathroom. I was at the mid of yard when aunty-ji crossed me, she was returning after bath. She smiled and said good morning to me but I didn’t look her and also not replied anything to her.
It was not the winter day but atmosphere was so cold due to rain. First time when I touched the water, I thought not to bath that day but in next second, my mood changed and finally somehow I took bath. While returning from bathroom, I again saw auntiji in yard, this time she was milking the cow.
I was very upset with the drama of last night and all those thoughts were only thing running in my head. I was not sure how to act now. I was still very angry but not sure who was responsible for this and whom should I upset; whether it was my parents who were not able to feed me or it was me who was not considering the things and overreacting, or it was god who had put us under these circumstances. I was captive completely in such thoughts and didn’t notice that there was bullshit spread at many places in area. One step put over the bullshit and I slipped and fall down on ground completely. Auntiji didn’t sweep the yard yet hence entire area was full of dirt that time. There was no physical hurt in the body but my face, chest and legs were completely decorated by mud and bullshit.
Auntiji was milking cow just near me and she was the first who saw me in that condition. My bullshit face and body made her laugh so loudly. We mostly saw her shouting and screaming so it was the historic moment for anyone that auntiji was laughing. But this moment didn’t tickle me, rather it made me more angry. It was her animals that creating such problem for everyone. Bullshit smell and mosquitoes were everywhere in the house just because she didn’t keep the yard clean and hygienic. It was the problem for everyone but she just didn’t care. All my bullshit sentiments about her refreshed in the mind while watching her laughing at me.
Aunti-ji looked like the cause of all our troubles to me at the moment and I imagined the scene of Lord Krishna’s life when Pootna hag laughed at little Krishna. But the only difference was that I was not strong like Krishna to kill her with empty hands. Believe me, if there was a gun in my hand, I really killed her. I was giving her angry look but soon my mother called not to worry. She told me to take bath again and with heavy heart, I again headed to bathroom. It was drizzling rain outside and temperature dipped at very low, I was thinking before bathing single time but now situation made me wet twice a day and that too back to back. Starving by stomach, humiliating by bullshit and beating by water in such cold day…My situation was really helpless, I was not sure what to do…should I feel angry with myself or should I sympathize with myself.
Anyways I cleaned myself and bathed again. Second time, when I was returning from bathroom, I saw auntiji was in saffron attire, preparing Pooja-thal (worship plate) for the Shiva worship. She was pouring milk into special Kalash (urn-bronze Jug) for lord Shiva’s bath. When she saw me, she again started smiling at me. I was hot from inside and her smile again raised my temperature. I looked at her with blood into eyes but she looked and smiled at me like I am a joker.
In this look and smile game, I forgot about bullshit and put the foot over same area again. It made me slip at the same place and same way. All it happened just like action replay of previous one but laugh of audience doubled…yes, queen of buffaloes, lady demon, my lovely auntiji, laughed in double tone over little Kanha this time. All my innocence blasted off in that moment and all I wanted was to take revenge. I saw villain of my story in aunty-ji’s laughing face, who was responsible for all my troubles. I didn’t think for anything , picked some bullshit by both hands and threw over aunty-ji. “Go to hell buffalo queen…it was your animals that creating such bullshit mess here…can’t you keep it clean…take this bullshit with you…wear it…eat it…drink it…take it” with this outburst, I was throwing bullshit over her again and again. It was four times I had thrown bullshit over her till my mother came from inside and shouted at me.
I was breathing heavily when my mother captured me. She hold my hands so that I could not throw bullshit any more. It stopped me from throwing bullshit, but fire inside me was not snuffed yet. I was still looking at aunti-ji with red eyes but aunti-ji’s smile had flew away. The saffron sari of auntiji turned green due to bullshit and her face also turned gray due to dirt. She was smashed and looked at me with wide opened eyes and serious face. Her lovely kid turned into monster and she was still not able to believe it. she was standing there silent, shocked and shattered.
After Bullshit-Holi, My mother took stand and stormed over me. She was very well aware about bizarre behavior of aunti-ji, so she was fearing that aunti-ji would throw us out from the house. After fire wording at me, she started bagging her – “Aunti-ji…please don’t mind it…he is just small kid…I bag sorry to you from his side..I will persuade him…He will not do anything like this in future.” My mother was bagging her but there were no signs of regret at my face. Aunti-ji was still standing silent there. Though she didn’t speak any word yet, her face was saying how hot she was at this matter. We both were looking each other like enemies. My mother still bagging her – “Hey…auntiji please forgive him…he is hungry from last night …he got irritated by eating Dalia everyday and yesterday didn’t eat anything…he is just starving that’s why his temper got out of control…otherwise he would never do anything like this.” My mother’s heart was pulsating with fear about aunti-ji’s reaction, but aunti-ji just said to take me inside that time and moved away from there.
My mother made me clean and brought back into home carefully. She closed the door and started weeping – “why are you enhancing our troubles…now aunti-ji surely throw us out…why can’t you just understand.” With this, she hugged me and her lament made me regret too. Now, I had started feeling that I put my parents in big trouble. I was cursing myself but there was nothing in my hand now except remorse.
My mother and I were weeping and suddenly our door was knocked. We both looked each other with doubts and fear. My mother opened the door and saw aunti-ji was there. Her face was cleaned but there was still bullshit stains over her saffron sari. She handed over a glass of milk to my mother and said – “Why didn’t you tell me that Nityam doesn’t want to eat dalia, I would gave you some milk. Now go and give it to little master otherwise he will paint every wall of this house by bullshit.” She smiled and moved away from there but I was still not believing on my eyes that someone treat me like this even if I throw bullshit and mud over her.
I was shocked but felt good. My mother boiled the milk and gave me to drink. With every sip of milk, monster inside me was moving out and all it left inside was regret and remorse. After finishing milk, I brought the dalia plate from kitchen and asked my mother that lets finish this too.
All our power of thinking good and bad works only till there is something in appetite; an empty stomach is really very dangerous thing, it transforms an innocent soul into monster. Aunti-ji’s attitude mild my bullshit anger into regret of rescue and Dalia converted regret into blabbering tears too. I put my head on the lap of my mother and started weeping, my mother stroked my head by her soft palms and soon I went into world of dreams while weeping.
After that day, aunti-ji started providing us a glass of milk everyday. Till the time we live there, she made special effort to keep the area of yard clean that came in our way. Uncle-ji once told us that it happened first time in his lifetime that day, aunti-ji didn’t go Shiva temple but still she was very happy and behaving normally…in fact she gave me milk that she was going to render over lord Shiva.
After few years, my father learn the construction skills and started working independently. We bought a house in other area of the city and left the bullshit house (yes…this is the name given to house by me). I still remembered the day when we were leaving, there were tears in the eyes of Aunti-ji. Time had flew and memories of Auntiji were deposited under my memory crust, but today also, whenever bullshit anger tries to capture my wisdom, auntiji’s face revolved around my eyes and it urged me to stop thinking destructively. After all this world is not like aunti-ji that i throw bullshit over it and it gives me milk…