Sunday, January 19, 2014



‘If wishes were horses then beggars would be kings’, I do not need a horse, neither am I a beggar, nor do I want to be a king. My wish is very simple but I know it can never be fulfilled. The simpler the wish the tougher it becomes.

I have always wanted to live in a small cottage beside a stream with the hills in the background and the lush green paddy fields in front and as the gentle breeze blew across, causing ripples on the sheet of water I would watch the paddy dance, a slow waltz. I would read ‘The Solitary Reaper’ and listen to the song of the lonely reaper waft across the fields. I would wake up to the morning sun just peeping out from the hills and the chirping of the birds on the trees in my backyard and then the milkman would arrive with the milk, fresh and undiluted straight from the udder. Then in the garden with a steaming cup of coffee on my rocking chair breathing in the freshness of the morning and then off on my morning walk to the village nearby being greeted by friendly faces. The unpaved street cleaned and sprinkled with cow dung mixed water with kolams in front of each house as if reminding one that the street was the canvas on which every house let their creativity flow. The only mode of transport, the bus would make its visit twice a day to keep you in touch with the outside world. The newspaper at least two days late ensured that you were always behind what was happening out there, not that one was really bothered about being out of sync.

You may wonder whether I am in a time warp. Does such a world exist? I woke up to the reality that this was a dream, a distant dream and would remain as such. But I remember that such a world did exist in my childhood not as a dream but as a reality. It is not that I was born and bred up there but every time I went to my native village during the school vacations I always returned with these images and may be these are recurring as dreams now. The first initial of my name is the name of my village and the second my father’s name. I never dropped using the first name as it tied me to my roots and an identity that I still treasure.  

Gopalasamudram was a quaint little village those days though now it is no longer so. It was a panchayat in the district of Tirunelveli, in those days unspoilt by the intrusions of city life. There was one long street, where everyone knew everyone else. The street was bound by the Siva temple at the eastern end and a Vishnu temple at the western end. The entry in to street was right in the centre literally splitting it in to the west side and the east side. On the northern side flowed the Thambirabarani river. One had to cross a small bridge over a canal which was called as the vaykaal of the main river before climbing over a mound to reach the river bank. The river was ever flowing and the water was crystal clear, one could see the bed of the river and the fishes. The river derived its name from the fact that it was said to contain copper. Though there have been various interpretations for its name, there was a sanctity attributed to it as it was believed to be as old as the puranas and epics. One had to travel by a bullock cart to reach the village from the nearest bus stop which was two miles away. I always enjoyed the holidays, playing with the others my age and older, below the trees. My grandfather spent his life there and I am sure my father would have wanted to go back and settle there. If you ask me whether I want do it, the answer is that it is not possible. I can dream but I also realise that I cannot now do without all the comforts, if that is what we can call it. We have been caught up in vortex of wants and wanting more and more. When I did get an opportunity to visit my native place I found that two distinct changes had taken place. One, the village was no longer a village but a small town by itself and the other a dilapidated village inhabited by old and mentally unstable elders because the succeeding generations had moved away to seek a new life to the cities and across the seas in keeping with the changing times. The remaining still held on to their past realities which had now become a dream.

I am not at all comparing the past with the present. I can only say that life was simple and the wants were fewer and it suited that generation. With the progressive evolution of the human kind, the succeeding generation’s wants have increased and life has become more complex. That is why we would like ‘If wishes were horses beggars would be kings’ to come true. Of course we are not satisfied with only horses and we want to be kings. Nothing wrong with that, for we have expanded the boundaries of our knowledge and may be we are in a better state of understanding of the working of this world. We have built our lives on Liberty Equality and Fraternity, but the quest for power and dominance still rules.

But I still dream for that is all I can do now. I know it will remain as a dream. I speak for my self only for I still ache for the simplicity and innocence that appears to have been lost somewhere down the line.


Suprabhat Ganguly said...

Well written post. Progress in science and technology has made our lives more complicated, more commercialised, physically more comfortable but mentally more stressed and tense.

GS Subramanian said...

Shumon Sengupta on FB :Reading your post, I was gripped with a sense of intense nostalgia Subbu and the way you have described the village of your childhood is simply lyrical!

Loved every word and thanks for sharing … look forward to more

GS Subramanian said...

Man Singh on FB : Beautiful write up. However, the village/country life has changed everywhere and one(Urban dweller) shall find it difficult to remain there for a week.The rivers have become highly polluted and water(river water and nearby ground water) is not worth drinking at some places.Social life there has become full of strife and turbulence ( Even Gopalsmundram was in news in November,2013 for murder of two people belonging to weaker sections of society) .

GS Subramanian said...

Kumar Venkatraman Iyer on FB: After reading your Distant Dream post in your blog, I could recall my school days in Thanjavur where I used to go with my friend to nearby village called Vallam by bullock cart in the early morning during holidays to the paddy field and stay through evening. Unforgettable experience. Please keep on kindling our olden days

GS Subramanian said...

Diwakara Tanujaha on FB : Nice. Thoroughly enjoyed your posting. It was like reading Thi Janakiraman story. I too am lucky to have lived in such villages and have been part of such simple surroundings. Not as holiday trips, but, actually have lived. Even, as a Branch Manager of the Bank, I lived in one such remote village with just four streets, and a strutting mountain beside my house.

But, the ache to be part of it is not there, because even my metro life is as simple as that of a village life. It has no vortex of wants (other than what would exist in a simple life), no ego boosting interactions, no peer level comparative confabulations, no farcical social gatherings, no actions for the sake of actions, no going-through-the-motions, none at all.

So, when I got an opportunity to buy a piece of land and settle down in such a dreamy innocent neighbourhood, I found out it can be created in a city too. (of course, the nature cannot be created as in a village). But, the mindset can be!

My cover photo is one such village that was closer to where I had lived.

Varsha Nagpal said...

Life is made up of memories. The best memories are always of childhood, the slow and laid back life, the simple events, the peace and quiet of a village, where one just allowed the day to go by without a care in the world, during holidays.
Going back later is not possible as with progress we have change, our wants have changed and times have changed.
It is lovely to return to those memories and re live those moments of sheer bliss. In real life one has to move on as the village of our memory also does not remain the same. That place too has changed and those olden days of a bus coming twice a day and of getting a two day old newspaper too is over. Internet is available in most places, so we simply move on…. with the times…
Beautifully written,nostalgic.