Thursday, 26 September 2013

Good samaritans: The godown owner in Siraha Madar

I love to travel. During my wanderings I meet hordes of people – some are good, some not so good. Coming across people of different nationalities, whenever I encounter a Nepali, that special feeling, the love for my country starts pouring in spontaneously.

I feel, Nepalis are special – they are there, at every nook and cranny, to pull me out of trouble. Their little acts of help, genuine smile, and quick chat have turned me into an ardent admirer of Nepalis. During my travel in and outside Nepal, I have met many Nepalis who have etched indelible memories giving me ample reasons to love my countrymen.

I am always excited to meet with Nepalis who want to remain anonymous, in spite of their generous help. In my couple of postings following this, I would retell their kindness and thank them for their benevolence. 

I had never been to Siraha Madar, the small town bordering India from where Jayanagar in India is just a few kilometres' walk. I was to catch a train to Patna from Jayanagar and then to Jaipur. Knowing the transportation woes, I left from my home as soon as the clock stroke 12. It took me one hour to reach Rupani from my place. Thanks to the intermittent bus services, sometimes you won't even see a single local bus on the highway for hours. Rupani is a small settlement on the East-West Highway from where the road bifurcates, with a 10 km stretch towards south leading to Rajbiraj, the headquarters of Sagarmatha zone.

Local buses ply between Rajbiraj and Siraha Madar at least two times a day. So, I kept waiting for the evening bus. But it didn't turn up on time. It was two hours late than the usual schedule. Thus, I reached Madar when it was dusk. Just after few minutes of my getting down from the bus, the whole area was shrouded in complete darkness. Unfortunately, it was a new moon day.

My close and dear friend, who had come to Madar to receive me, lives in a village that is 2-3 kilometres from the town. However, when I reached there, he had already left. He had waited for hours and seeing no signs of the bus arriving from Rajbiraj, he had left. I know his mentality very well. He respects time, is never late for any appointment and gives his best shot to help his friends. But he is afraid of darkness, ghosts and robbers.

It had started getting dark and his village is around half an hour's walk from the town. Between his village and the town is a vast patch of deserted fields. The area is notorious for robbers and dacoits, and few days ago a man was murdered in the area. My friend might have left the town fearing the dreaded robbers and murderers.  

I had no place to go. I asked the locals whether there were any hotels or lodges in the vicinity, but was saddened to know that only in Indian side there were few lodges. While I was searching a place to spend the night, a baba (a sadhu) in the nearby temple suggested staying at the footsteps of the temple.

I had no problem sleeping on the cold floor. Only thing I was worried about was the huge rucksack containing valuable gifts sent by my friends' parents. With no options, I made up my mind to spend the night there.

Then, all of sudden, a kind-hearted godown owner who had come to offer the evening "Aarati" (worship), knowing my condition, offered me a place to sleep in his godown. He also gave me the option of spending the night at his house in a nearby village which was one and half hour's walk from the temple. I chose to stay in his godown. I was afraid whether he would rob me in the way.

He left the whole godown and goods worth millions to my mercy just to help me as a fellow Nepali stranded near the Indian border. I had always heard from my friends in Kathmandu that Madhesi people (people living in the plains – Terai/Mades) were not helpful. But he had come to my rescue as a god-sent angel. Though he was like Gabbar Singh (a famous villain of the Hindi movie Sholay) and we had never been friends, he offered me help. He didn't even try to analyse my intentions. Seeing my condition, he believed me. My dress, posture and behaviour convinced him that I would not touch his property.        

However, I could not sleep well. I was suspecting – he might send some goons to rob me. So, I clutched the rucksack and tried to get some sleep. I was determined – if somebody turns up, I would fight with the fellow, till death. While unwanted thoughts hovered in my head, the mice and mosquitoes added to the woes. The eight hours I spent in the godown seemed like eight years. 

Early in the morning, I latched the main door and left the godown. The owner hadn't returned and I had no time; I needed to catch the early train. I moved towards the main market and found a rickshaw. As I was getting on the rickshaw, my friend appeared with his huge suitcase and bulky bag. He was vexed with my timekeeping; I couldn't reach Madar on time. He had bought fish from the market and arranged a welcome dinner for me. It was pity that I could not even taste a pinch of it. Then  leaving aside our misunderstanding, we left for Jayanagar.

I am thankful to the man who let me stay at his godown. It was my fault, I didn't ask his name. He still remains anonymous. 

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