Natural disasters reveal the real nature of mankind and the true culture of a nation. A calamity unites humanity. Adversity makes ordinary citizens perform extraordinary feats. Transcending differences and overcoming distances of all kinds, people rush to help one another. And what I faced from yesterday proved this beyond doubt. This whole calamity has taught me that in my country we all are finally one family, and religion or caste become meaningless in front of humanity.
South Bengal faced a deep depression on Saturday and it was worse time for Midnapore district. I was on my way back from Kolkata to Kharagpur that evening. After I crossed Kolaghat Thermal Plant, I faced heavy rains with very high velocity winds. By the time I reached a place called Khirai, we saw a big line of vehicles stranded. On inquiring we got to know that the bridge above the Khirai River (also called Kasai or Kansavati River) was submerged under water.
Then someone informed that water from the river was also overflowing into the villages nearby. The highway was dry but around us it was just water till my eyes went.
I knew this could be late night affair now. I took the umbrella, got down and walked towards the bridge. There I found few more people from Kharagpur and we all got together. Soon it was getting dark and we all decided to get back to our own vehicles with thoughts that soon we’ll be able to move on. I knew everyone was feeling hungry too.
The waiting went on through out the night and finally first light of dawn came. Tiredness and hunger both were making our waiting more difficult. We felt too helpless standing there waiting in anticipation. Just then we saw large number of villagers coming over to us. Most of them were young boys and with bottles of water in their hands. They gave us water and first thing they asked was – Did you all have anything to eat from yesterday night? When we replied in negative one of the boys suddenly started shouting and collecting others. They asked us not to worry and went off.
Within half an hour they were all back with local made bread, which they call “bun roti” and tea for all of us. The dry bread with tea was like Prasad from the God for all of us. Next they lead us all to the school building. On the way we saw the whole village was in total mess and everyone helping out each other to shift to dry high areas.
Around 11am we got the message that road is again open with the water receding. We all were getting ready to get back to our vehicles when those very villagers came with big vessels in hands. They contained rice, daal, some pumpkin sabzi and fish curry for all!!!! None were ready to let us go without proper food as they felt we all must be still not full, which was true too, and then who knows there could be more trouble further down the road.
All of us had food to our fill. Few of us wanted to pay them but they simply refused. On way back and even later, I am left thinking about the whole incident. We all are finally children of the same God. During adversity we all face it together and get affected the same way. How right these people were to join hands and be the support for one’s in need!!!
Among everything one thing I got convinced again, my country is these (extra)ordinary common people and they still have loads of humanity in them. When time arises they know how to stand beside others irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. I had read about such incidents during Mumbai Attack, Mumbai deluge, Gujrat quake and so many other calamity, this time I witnessed it myself!!! Someone commented to me later that where were those “Chaiwala and Chatwaalas of India” now when all were hungry. What was served to us was far beyond those “Waalas”!!! These people with their unselfish acts made me more convinced that – Yes this Country with its Common People is Indeed GREAT!!! And I feel proud and overwhelmed today to be part of such country.
The people there at Khirai Village taught me again – We must learn to Love and Live together!!!!
P:S: This post is just to show my appreciation for those poor villagers who ignoring their economic state, came forward to help us and provide us with comfort, as was possible and available to them. I feel these people and all such unknown faces of India who help selflessly, deserved bit of gratitude from me.