A DISTANT DREAM
‘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.