Raju’s father – Khagesh was a rickshaw puller, in a small township – Soonpura, of Sibsagarh district of Assam. Raju had three siblings. He was the eldest, so, he thought himself responsible enough for taking care of the family, next to his father.
His mom - Champa used to go to the villagers’ house on various occasions to help them in the household work and whatever money she used to get from there, used to keep separately for the school fee of her children.
Champa studied till class six; still remembered the lecture of her teacher who taught her about nutrition and related benefits. She never used to leave any effort unturned to make all her children sharp, intelligent and healthy. Raju was the first boy of his school.
Every afternoon, she used to go to the nearby jungle in search of fruits, green vegetables, wild eatable leafs etc. Early morning, she used to get up and go to the paddy fields and the small public ponds for fishing. She heard people saying – eating fish sharpens the brains. Raju used to accompany her all the time.
Khagesh used to believe in hard work. Getting up early, after having a cup of tea, he used to start his day. Small township. So, sometimes, he used to get pessangers and sometimes, he had to come back with no money. But, he did not had to think much as Champa used to connect the dots with her morning and afternoon excercise. Till date, they never had to stay empty stomach. As if, the jungle was the blessing for them.
The jungle was Raju’s kind of best friend. When he was hungry, he used to run to the jungle to pick some fruits, every afternoon accompanied his mom to pick vegetable and green eatable leafs and in the summer vacation, he used to pass most of the time in the green lap – the green cozy grass carpet shadowed by the big trees, cooled by the soothing breeze. He used to borrow few story books, novels from his classmates and peers and read them hour after hour lying there. If hungry , get up and climb a tree and have some fruits...may be few mangoes, or a jackfruit or some guavas, bananas....!!!
He even gave a name to the jungle ‘Kissanpur’. Engraved his name, few hidden expectations, fantasy in some trees. As if the jungle became his second home. His brothers used to join him sometimes too.
Now he was 15 years old. Month of March. Beautiful weather, the flora and fauna were dancing with the song of Spring....beautiful flowers were decorating the earth as if for some beauty contest.
After coming back from school, he was just all set to run towards his Kissanpur. All the way from the school to home, he was thinking about the ripen jackfruit, he was eying on. He was planning to call his neighbor friends and his brothers to accompany him to relish the fruit.
But whaatt!!! He heard some sound of cutting trees....Suddenly, he could hear a bigger sound in his heart. He felt helpless for a second thinking of his unsecured Kissanpur. But, gathering some courage, he enquired his mom if she could also hear the sound of cutting trees. He waited for answer, but could see few drops of water penetrating through his mom’s eyes.
She said, “Don’t go there, our village-head has bought this jungle from government and now he will open up an amusement park, cutting all the trees.”.... She said what she heard from others, though she could not understand the complete meaning of ‘amusement’. “I am sorry son, I cann’t save your best friend....I am helpless, don’t know how will I feed you now onwards.....Probably, I will work harder...”...Champa could not help crying loud.
Raju ran fast towards his Kissanpur....Around 40 labourers were in their full speed in cutting the trees. The village-head was giving instructions and also encouraging everyone to meet the target before the dask. Few cars were standing in the open space. And two/three people were cutting a big jackfruit. Raju went to the village-head, cried and prayed him not to cut the jungle... The village-head replied, “This is my land, its my decision what will I do with it....Go have some portion of jackfruit and go away....U brat!”
Raju came back; but he was not crying like a child; Chinned up; consoled his mom, “Do not worry Mom, I will study well.....and clear my IFS and save my mother Nature. I will bring back my Kissanpur....”
In the extreme distress also, Champa could see some rays of hope, and got some encouragement for working harder......
Image courtesy : Google