Friday, July 23, 2010

RIDE TO KHURJHADI – FORT (23rd July 2010, 1950 Hrs)

On June the 17th, I pedalled my way to Khurjhadi (Fort), a village 27 kms away from Wardha in heavy rains. It was indeed the ride of a life time, however, I do feel there will be many more exhilarating experiences coming my way in future. Since I had decided to visit the village come what may, the drizzle didn’t stop me, little knowing it will take shape of heavy showers all my way.
No sooner I had left Wardha, the drizzle became heavy and I had to take shelter at a tyre repairing shop. I thought, I should have taken the bus instead of pedalling my way in such rain. However, deep down I was enjoying the rain. At the shop I met a lady, an LIC agent, who was very surprised with my cycle trip. We exchanged few minutes interacting about farmers’ suicide and government policies. She gave me direction to the village and said with a worried look – ‘The village is very far and it is raining heavily. Go safe.’ I thanked her and as rain stopped for a while, we both left for our respective destinations.
I presumed God was testing me and no sooner I left from the shop, the rain started once again and didn’t stopped till about 15 kms… I kept riding enjoying the rain and open expanse of fields on both side of the road. There was no sign of any villages as vehicles were passing by to and fro in high speed on the road. I was wet completely inspite of my windcheater. For the second time after covering 16 or 17 kms I thought I should come another day in bus… but I nixed the thought and said I have not started something to give away in the half way… yes, I was determined to reach to my destination come what may and I told my Sai Baba – Baba give me strength to reach my destination.
After 18 kms, the rain started once again and this time it was heavy. Once again my clothes, which became dry for a while got wet in one go… I was smiling to myself and wondering what the hell, I am enjoying the rain man! People in cars, trucks and two-wheelers were looking at me in amazement. The village was near about 3 kms away from the main road and the rain was so heavy that visibility was mere 5 to 6 metres… thirsty I opened my mouth towards sky to drink drops of rain and enjoying my struggle. It was dark and the thunderous blasts of clouds with lightening striking the open fields shook me once with a fear – what if it strikes me? I prayed to Baba and said – ‘Baba let my work complete here and then you may take me away forever.’ He listened and protected me to make me reach Khurjhadi.
One village man guided me to widow Ujwala Prabhakar Petkar’s house. Her son Prashin welcomed me and immediately served me with a glass of water and warm tea. His mother came in a little later and thought I was sent by Swami Vivekanand Trust. When I introduced myself and told them about my mission, they were very supportive. She updated me with what her husband Shri (late) Prabhakar Vasudev Petkar had to go through at the young age of 32 years to give away his life. The Petkars had nine acres of land but in the year 2001 – 02 flood took a toll on the whole village. There was no yield and rupees 20,000 loan rose to 1.5 to 2 lakhs and their four acres were grabbed by moneylenders for the small amount. Left with just five acres, Prabhakar committed suicide on the 8th October 2002.

Prashin with mother Ujwala

Life was tough for Ujwala to look after two young children, Prashin was just 6 years and Rushali was 9 years. I find women to be stronger than men in such circumstances to fight against all odds with bravado and Ujwala did just the same. She worked hard to send her children to school and today, her daughter is doing nursing training in Nagpur with the help of Swami Vivekanand Trust and Prashin is a class ninth student. She grows cotton, tur dal and soyabean in her five acres and have been fighting her war of loneliness with gusto.

It was getting dark and the rain was not showing any sign of stopping. The village’s entrance is a low lying area and the gushing high speed current water had blocked the way from both the sides. Neither anyone could enter or leave the village because of the high speed current. Ujwala told me to stay over at night and leave in the morning as it was dangerous to cross to the other side….

What happens next?... Read in my next post tomorrow…

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