Candle March in Shimla
There are stories all around. From everywhere I can fetch tales to be told. How much can I write? It is endless. Sometimes I want to stop. Perhaps there are people who do not want to read me because they are just fed up of my writings. But words keep coming and thoughts keep floating in my mind. On seeing everything I wish to record it on my paper. The moments with memories make interesting essays, stories and articles. I don’t need to weave them rather they keep woven in my thoughts and through my pen they just spread on paper.
Tribute to Yug
Yesterday, a candle march was organized in Ragyaan by the villages, to pay tribute to Yug, a young boy of four years, who was kidnapped for ransom and when they failed to fetch money, they killed him – brutally. It is bad, awful, against the humanity and not acceptable in the society. One of the three kidnappers is the boy’s next door neighbor. What came to his mind, god knows, to kidnap Yug and go for easy money to make his future bright. With his two more friends, of course with the same opinion he made a plan and committed the crime. But who can escape the result of such crimes. They were caught and presented to teh court.
Yug’s father, a simple shopkeeper, failed to arrange the amount demanded by the kidnappers and lost his son. The four years old boy was forced to consume liquor and when he became unconscious, they tied a heavy rock to him with a small piece of rope and threw him, alive, into a water supply tank. There he drowned and finally met his end. No one came to known about the sinful act for two years. The dead body remained in water which they kept supplying to the community. Even the judge, next to whose house is the water supply tank and is listening to the case, also consumed the same water. He, surely is not going to forgive the culprits. Everyone, including me, ate human flesh, in a way, and have become unknown brutes.
The news terrified the whole city and then the country. Media, as usual, played a vital role in highlighting the issue and Shimla – the King of the Hills – is ashamed of it. The claws of modernity are taking it in its grips and soon we are going to remain no more paharis – the innocent hill people.
Claws of Modernity
I miss my childhood in Shimla when we hardly had a padlock at home. Just the latch was pushed to shut the door and we would go away, to bazaar, to a neighbour, to meet a friend or to the nearby shop to buy milk, bread or vegetables. It is only a few years later when television arrive in the town and all the rooftops were fitted with antennas. Later a change in life began to arrive with cable channels, followed by the internet. And now, those simple and innocent ‘paharis’ have begun to disappear from the society.
Kusum, my office manager, came running to me and informed that a candle march had been organized and they have asked me to join them. I left my chair, left the book I was reading to aside, took off my glasses to put them into the case and got up to join the candle march. This was a good way to pay tribute to Yug and pray for the peace of his soul.
Babloo’s shop in Ragyan is the most happening place. Children, women and men assembled outside the shop. Anju, Babloo’s wife, a fearless and brave lady, had called everyone. Lata, the Gram Pardhan – the head of the village, was also there and was encouraging children to go and call more people from the houses and join the march. She was holding a box of candles in here and was distributing candles to people.
‘Why are you coming late?’ she asked be giving me a candle, with her usual smile.
‘I am not late, rather I came to know just now about this gathering. You are a courageous woman. Weldon’. I encouraged her.
It is difficult to handle a crowd. When you have children as a part of it then it becomes tedious. But here in the hills the children are docile and listen to their parents carefully. Some of them had brought boards with Yug’s picture on it. They wanted to lead the group so I told them to be at the front. The candles were burnt and the children, boys and girls, moved. The crowd followed them, silently, with their burning candles in their hands. I was given the responsibility to click some photos, which I did. My candle left me to be in the hands of an old man who joined us a few meters later.
Ragyaan, once a sleepy and unknown village till a few years ago, suddenly started seeing growth, as the natives sold their lands to some city dwellers. Several new structures, mostly with four floors and an attic sprung up both sides of the road that, once, was a bridal path, is now a street. The crowd marched through the houses, towards the forest and then turned around to go towards the other end of the village. The residents who hadn’t received the massage earlier, saw us and joined the march.
Be Remembered for Yugas
Yug, Nirbhaya, Sanjay & Gita (Ranga – Billa fame in 80s) – these people come to the world for a short life but they are the incarnations of some sanctified souls who sacrifice for the welfare of the society. They come to aware us against a handful of hoodlums who remain around us in the shape of political leaders and bureaucrats. These incarnated ones are from the holy souls and save us from these demons who actually play with the lives of people to benefit themselves. The holy souls aware us, awake us and sleep for ever. This is a sacrifice that they make for the betterment of the humanity. After they have left for their heavenly abode they become immortal.
The twilight arrived and gradually engulfed the atmosphere. By the time we reached our last stop, the dusk had moved away and the last ray of the day was sinking behind the western sky of Shimla. Looking down the valley where the tiny bulbs of Shimla hills were waking up, the young children placed the boards with Yug’s photo on a stone, against a rock and everyone put the candles near the photos. Before we ended, a two minutes mourn was suggested by a gentleman. No one knew Yug and we had never seen him ever, but everyone was grieved on his death. People were grieved not on his death but the way death had reached him at that tender age.
Two minutes later everyone moved, leaving the burning candles behind. The clouds formed and a drizzle began forcing everyone to disperse.
Another day was added to Yug’s death. In the history of Shimla, he would be remembered for yugas – the ages.
Also read more stories from our blog written my Sumit Raj – Life in the Hills.