By Manuwant Choudhary
My car got amazingly stuck at this railway crossing at NH 103 on the Hajipur-Jandaha Road in north Bihar.
The powerbrakes just froze.
I could not move an inch.
I really did not know what to do...
And my car does not even have a photo of Sai Baba or Ganesha or Hanuman...or the dangling Koran from the rear-view mirror.
No help !
No pics of any Baba's either !! (Many are in jail...and Sanju Baba is not a Baba)
I looked for signs of any oncoming train....luckily there were none.
But one never knew...
It had to be a quick decision.
I tried the accelerator but it just made a loud hum and the car would not move.
How I missed my amby....where you wrote `Powerbrakes' behind on the boot but in fact there would be no brakes.
But no time for all that....
A train could come any minute and already a few cars were honking behind...
Then there were instant flashes of news headlines were tractors are hit by oncoming trains.....
But a thought did come... `Wait...this car does not move forward, let me see if it can move backwards at least...."
A reverse gear and Eureka !
My car moved.
I have never been so happy at anything moving backwards as now.
In fact, in the state I live in everything moves backwards....even caste politics.
Like Bihar was one of the best administered states at India's independence, today its at the bottom.
Quickly, I reversed and let others pass...and then I just drove in the reverse for a while...
Children at the roadside looked amused.....the elderly smiled.
They were all wondering this driver is crazy or just PK !
I smiled back.
I do not know why but I must have driven backwards for a few kms and then I stopped.
I stopped in front of a house...there were a few bamboo poles in front..in preparation for something.
But I did not know why I stopped there and not anywhere else.
I did not get out of my car but just sat there....a void had set in.
My cellphone battery also had run out.
Then a man wearing a white dhoti and a white shawl stood next to my car and with folded hands he asked me if he could be of any help.
I asked him if I could get my cellphone re-charged anywhere?
He took me to his home...but could not promise if there was any electricity.
As I recharged my phone....the electricity went out again....but I managed to call Hyundai for help...
But during my wait for help..I noticed someone had passed away in the family.
An 86-year-old man sat on a chair assisted by another man...personally wrote down names of invitees on a thousand cards....for the bhoj (feast).
His wife had passed away due to the cold wave..She was 85 !
Jawahar Singh was a retired school teacher himself and he explained how it is important not to miss anybody for this feast...all castes...all the people in 5 villages.
"It is tough to remember all...but we try..because even if one person is left out he will feel bad....but more difficult is the distribution of the cards...."
A young family member was called, "Please ensure that you begin distributing the card in one village first..and finish it completely...not leaving anyone out...do not criss-cross the villages..."
Just then a wholesome meal was brought for me..despite my protests.
Rice, dal, aloo-gobi sabzee, chapatis and salad....
I wondered why they took such good care of me.
I was a complete stranger.
And wait this is `Kalyug', isn't it?
So I asked my host why he was good to me and this is what he replied, "Kalyug and Satyug are both on this planet....when you meet a good person and he treats you well it is Satyug...what if you met someone who robbed your car...then it is Kalyug."
On the road they met both.
Like once even a car thief met with an accident !
So generally I enquired if they were happy living on a busy highway.
I remember this road only some years ago was just a village road...and in many places there was nothing...
Then I also saw women repair the road under MNREGA...literally, no machines were used...stones were hammered in by hand..it must be the worlds second hand-made road..this first being in Gaya by the `Mountain Man', who built a road by cutting through a mountain alone.
But my hosts were not happy.
"It is bad for us..now they plan to build a four-lane highway here...They will destroy our homes..."
The Modi's & Jaitleys and Nitish & Manjhi's....will never understand their pain...
I only wish Anushka Sharma gave me some AIRTIME to explain......maybe the NATION does want to know !