It is almost evening and the darkness is engulfing the surroundings. Mohan is back from the office, sitting at the sofa, thinking of Kaveri Amma. He had been through this feeling some months back when he thought of going to India and he presumed that this one visit will suffice. But no, it has not. He went there with the memories of his childhood spent with Kaveri Amma, who brought him up and he came back with some more of them. These memories even more fresh and with even more characters.
Mohan is a learned man. He knows that it is not possible to look at the sky and know what time of the day it is. It, simply, is a bad idea to have. He believes in science, to an extent that he fails to understand why science is a failure if it is not in sync with the society. Isn’t this the biggest problem today? That what we are doing has no connect to our roots?
Kaveri Amma understands Mohan in and out. She knows what he was and what he has become. He is a genius in his field but he is serving a society where there are hundreds working already. Every time she is asked by Mohan to come with him to America, she gives an excuse. At other times, she wants time to consider it. Making Mohan stay in the village for a longer period. It is her conscious effort to make Mohan understand the country, totally.
I remember going back to my village every year during summer break. We would go with the idea of living in the dark. I loved when there was no power in village. We, who lived in city and consumed power in excess, loved when it was dark for real at nights in our village. My brothers in the village, however, did not love it. They had made a pact with it. There was no other alternative. My brothers and I would go to the village pond and take bath. What a serene feeling it used to be. But after a few days, I would start cribbing about the mosquitoes, darkness, power cuts, constant power cuts and more power cuts..
I, at times, wondered why my father took us to our village in the summer break and why he kept us there for one whole month?
Mohan also hated the fact that the whole village lived in dark. What’s worse was that they had made a pact with the situation. He had a caravan where he could sleep but one night stay at a deprived farmer’s house makes him realize what it feels to be sleeping below the skies but not having the dare to look at them. How it feels to be lying on the earth but not taking guts to call them your own.
Kaveri Amma had sent him to Haridas to collect money which was pending for a long time.
Mohan sees pain in Haridas’ eyes, something which he could not gallop all night, lying on the bed made of ropes. How could people live in such poverty, he thinks?
Kaveri Amma tells him that she knew he would not be getting any money from Haridas yet she knew that Mohan needed to go there.
“Apne paani mein pighal jaana, barf ka muqaddar hota hai” Fatima Bi tells Kaveri Amma when she asks whether she should go with Mohan or not? Not much she understands of it, but she knows that what she is doing is right for Mohan. She would not stop him from leaving her. She is not that selfish and does not hold any expectation in her heart although she wants someone to be with her. And why not Mohan himself? But she sees a bigger picture. Kaveri Amma wants Mohan to see India and if she ever wants him to stay back, it is for the people and not her alone.
When Mohan returns after visiting Haridas and his family in Kodi, he is in deep pain inside and Kaveri Amma sees that in his eyes. She sees that it is not his pain but Haridas’ and she knows she has been successful in telling Mohan that this is what it means to be in India.
Her wide eyes show that she too is troubled to see Mohan in pain. The forehead says that she is happy that he is going through this. This pain will change Mohan forever, to an extent that he might leave everything back in America and come down here forever.
Kaveri Amma makes Mohan see India. She makes Mohan believe that science has to run parallel with the people and not ignore them. It has to lighten their lives and not create just hopes. Science should not talk in numbers, it should reflect change.
Whenever I was in my village, my father took me to the fields. I saw my grandfather working there. I saw how he would put stacks of wheat on his chest and bring it home. He would continue doing it for hours. I would see how he worked in the fields.
I enjoyed getting potatoes out from the soil. It was so much fun doing that and every time I ruined one while taking it out, my grandfather would scream at me. I would feel upset then.
I never knew that the potatoes and chappatis I enjoyed eating were all produced by him. It took two seasons to come and go and his constant efforts to produce them.
By the end of the holidays, while going back to the city, the train would pass through my fields and I would just sit near the window and stare at them. I would wave and call them mine. There, almost every year, I gradually understood that why my father used to take me to the village in every summer break. To make me understand that while I was in the train, going back to the city, I was not going home, I was leaving one.