When you read literature, first read ancient texts,
If you want to study science, then read the book Naveen.
-Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’
The geography of Olapur-Gangaur matched its history. The boundary of the village used to be very interesting. A long village on the banks of the old Gandak, a kutcha road passing through the middle. A Thakurwadi right in the middle of the population, where before entering, we had to prostrate to Mahant ji by saying ‘Dandavat Sarkar’.
In the beginning of the village there was a liquor store and a toddy. In the evening the gachi used to buzz. When I read the muddy zone for the first time, I felt, Iss, Renu is writing about my village somewhere:
Stop fuckin motor car.
At the end of the village, some such houses of a particular caste were populated, where people used to go only in the dark of night. The boy from one of those houses was our classmate in middle school. With his help, all the children had read Kokshastra in the class itself, that too illustrated.
treasure of the night
If this role is making your perception about the village wrong, then stop a little. There was a library in the middle of the village. A spacious room with thatched roof, whose wooden shelves were stuffed with books. The villagers had raised that library by donating among themselves. Somebody gave bamboo, some gave tree. Some gave tiles and some gave bricks.
Those people who had nothing except their two hands, they also helped. Poor, illiterate people – people who knew they would never be able to enter the library. They dug the foundation with a pickaxe, laid bricks on the earthen pail, helped to cover the shed, made wooden shelves to keep books and chair tables for study, installed windows and doors, and raised beautiful bamboo jafris around the flowers. Planted plants. That’s how the library was made!
That treasure was opened in the evening under the light of lanterns. That’s where I met pipe drinker Sexton Black to Aiyar Bhoothnath of Aiyar. People like Rahul Sankrityayan to Premchand and Yashpal to Krishna Chander MA were introduced there. Gandhi, Nehru were there, Tolstoy and Tagore were also present there.
Gangaur was much bigger than the surrounding villages. There was no road and electricity, but there was a high school, where children from all the neighboring villages used to come to study. The school’s tiles may drip in the rain, but he also had a beaker in his laboratory, chemicals and also Massab, who taught experiments with him.
The mood of the village was feudal. We were also proud of our uncle who was known for his lathe, wrestling and 7 foot body for committing dacoities in the area. But in his Gotiya-Farik he was considered a Sharif because he did not bother anyone in the village. The Khagaria-Begusarai belt is notorious as a crime belt among policemen. Gangs from far and wide could not even move towards our village from his majesty. The more fear Lahait uncle had, the more respect he had!
There was a court in one corner of the village, from where the yellow mustard fields were visible and the river too. After losing badly in the battle with America, Lord Cornwallis (1738–1805) was sent to spread the rule of the East India Company in India. He introduced the Zamindari system and laid a network of such courts under the rule of Company Bahadur. The zamindars and princes used to hold their ijlas there to collect rent and other taxes.
While writing about this village, I sometimes find myself in Paranpur of a fallow fairy tale, sometimes in Gangauli in half the village and sometimes in Shivpalganj in Raag Darbari. The four villages become badly muddled.
So, let’s take you on a journey to this village in the heart of the ocean of the Indian countryside, commemorating Phanishwar Nath Renu, Rahi Masoom Raza and Srilal Shukla. On this pretext, we will also take a look at the socio-economic changes that have taken place in the Ganges belt in the last 75 years. Along with some forgotten tales and best of all juices, the fun of Batras.
Next week: Kansar-Katha…
(Disclaimer: These are the personal views of the author. The author himself is responsible for the correctness / accuracy of any information given in the article. News18Hindi is not responsible in any way for this)