Daai Maa had aged now. For the last several years, she had worked for the zamindar. To the world, she was Yuvraj Kirti’s and Yuvraj Dhruv’s Daai Maa but she was in fact………..
“A Bonded Labour “
But the Zamindar saheb was exceptionally kind to her. He had also borne the expenses of her only daughter’s education in the city.
She had been working for the Zamindar even before the birth of the elder prince. The debt her father-in-law and drunken husband had taken from him was being passed off from generation to generation without being repaid.
So after the death of her mother-in-law, the responsibility of paying off this loan fell on her head. And to pay off that loan she was stamped “Bandwa–Their Bonded Labour” after her mother-in-law.
She was pregnant when Thakur Saheb’s wife was also expecting. But even in that condition, she had to come to work every day because there was no concession to any bonded labour under the rule of Zamindar Sahib.
She used to spend the whole day in her room helping her with her daily chores.
Luckily, both of them delivered the children on the same day. While laddus were distributed at the landlord’s place, there was as silent mourning at Daai Maa’s house because a girl was born. After all, her husband had also expected a boy.
But no one was allowed to mourn on the occasion of the happiness that come in Zamindar Saheb’s house. After all The bonded labours had to be happy and sad in line with their Masters—“The Zamindaars”.
Moreover, after ten years of marriage, a child was born in the Zamindaar family, that too after so much treatment.
A celebration was held in the village at night.
For the first time, the Zamindar Saheb himself attended.
The midwife on behalf of the Zamindar called Daai Maa’s daughter “Lakshmi”, presented her with gold bracelets.
The whole village kept silently watching. Everyone was wondering how did the landlord who made the bonded laborers yearn for even a drop of water, become so kind.
Lots of talks had started circulating behind Daai Maa’s back in the village.
After all, for the first time, a mother was allowed to rest in the mansion along with her child. And the status of Daai Maa too was bestowed upon her from day one.
She herself wondered why the Zamindar Saheb was so kind to her, but taking it to be her fate and the luck of her newborn daughter Lakshmi, she accepted everything with an open heart.
Taking care of both the children did not give her much time either. So now she didn’t even go home much.
Meanwhile, one day her father-in-law and husband picked up a fight with each other and her drunken husband strangulated his father. The very next day the police came and her husband was also arrested and sent to jail. He was sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment.
Now that there was no one left in her house so whatever little she used to earn was being deposited with the zamindar only.
Time passed and after five years a son was again born to the Zamindar Saheb. Now Daai Maa’s responsibility increased even more.
There were two other women in the village to help her, as she was responsible for taking care of both the children. They used to comment a lot behind her but she never cared about all these remarks.
When the younger Yuvraj was about one and a half years old, the zamindar sahib advised her that he would send her daughter Durga to a good boarding school in the city. And she could continue to repay with her salary and her education expenses.
She had no choice but to accept the deal because the bandwas weren’t allowed to speak. They were just meant to follow orders.
Durga was sent to the city to study and Yuvraj Kirti was also enrolled in a very prestigious school.
Yuvraj Dhruv also started growing up fast, but his health always remained a matter of concern. He was very weak. After all the tests, it was found that he has a respiratory disorder.
He could neither jump much nor could he run fast or play like other kids. For these reasons, the landlord couldn’t keep him away from his sight.
The situation became such that every little wish of his was taken care of.
Due to such pampering, he developed bad habits and kept getting worse day by day. He never respected anyone nor did he care about anything.
The only person he cared for was his father perhaps that too for his own selfish interests.
Due to his illness, arrangements were made for his education in the mansion, but he didn’t pay any special attention to his teachers and studies.
Now that the teachers had been hired, there was no need for Daai Maa as well, so she was assigned other miscellaneous tasks in the mansion.
After all, the expenses are done on Durga’s education also had to be recovered.
Time took a turn. Many years passed.
Now Yuvraj Dhruv also started helping his father in the day-to-day affairs of Zamindari. And he was one step ahead of him in oppressing the Bandwa workers.
Yuvraj Kirti after having many vain and futile arguments with his father, regarding the oppression and ill-treatment of villagers and labourers by his family.
In a way, after many arguments with the newly framed rules and laws mentioned in the constitution by Dr. Ambedkar with any positive outcome, he had, he felt guilty for not being able to make his family understand the newly formed laws regarding individual freedom and casteism by Ambedkar Saheb but though he respected Dr. Ambedkar for his achievements and appreciated his philosophy personally being their loved son he couldn’t gather the guts to come up openly against them and hence gave up his attachment with his family and their system and settled abroad.
Durga on the other hand after finishing her studies and got a job in a very big NGO working on Dr. Ambedkar’s philosophies and was involved in helping the poor and the destitute people belonging to the lower strata.
The organization was actively involved in Mass awakening of people regarding their rights and duties.
She also wanted to call her mother to live with her in the city, but as she was a Bandwa, the Thakurs did not allow it. When she came to the village to take her mother with her, Yuvraj Dhruv imposed many restrictions on her too. Calling her the daughter of a Bandwa, he asked her to pay the debts of her father and grandfather.
On protesting, she was tortured and the seal of a Bandwa was marked on her arm too. Her going outside the village limits was also banned.
But what Dhruv probably forgot was that she was Durga. Durga with special powers of courage, knowledge, and ability.
Durga met the district officer of that town, and lodged a complaint against the atrocities of the Zamindar but nothing much happened. After all, the tinkling of money had perhaps deafened him too.
But yes, after this move, her enmity with Dhruv became deeper. She and her mother were accused of theft and handed them over to the police.
The station in charge mocked her in front of Dhruv saying, ” Now coolly sit inside and relax. I’ll get many more books on your Ambedkar for you to read and gain knowledge as you will have lots of time behind the bars. “
But when Zamindar Saheb came to know about this, he went to the police station and got the mother and daughter released and also scolded Dhruv a lot. But this only made Dhruv more infuriated. He wasn’t ready to listen to his father also.
After being released from jail, Durga talked to the organization in which she was working and requested to find a permanent solution to this issue. Now she was determined that she would even sacrifice her life to end the Bandwa practice.
The very next day some people from that institution came to the village and discussed the matter with Durga.
As soon as Dhruv came to know about this, he planned to remove Durga from his path.
That night, on the pretext of reconciliation, he invited Durga to the mansion. There he and his friends had already gathered together, ready to teach her a lesson.
When Durga felt something wrong, she did not consider it sensible enough to go there and hid behind the bushes near the mansion. But they sighted Durga.
Holding her, they were taking her forcibly to the roof of the mansion when everyone woke up due to her screams.
Zamindar Saheb came running upstairs. When he saw, Dhruv taking Durga under his control and indulging in indecent behavior with her, “Leave her, she is your elder sister”, said he unexpectedly
By now Daai Maa, his wife, and others also had reached there.
“Elder sister, what are you saying, you old man. Have you gone mad that you are calling this obstinate classless Bandwa, your daughter”, shouted Dhruv.
“You are drunk now, we will talk in the morning”, the Zamindar said before leaving.
But the peace prevailing in the mansion had been disturbed. In his room, his wife shouted, how did you even think of calling that low-class Bandwa your daughter and my son’s sister.
“What I said is nothing but the truth, Thakurain, you had given birth to a girlchild that day and that lady had birthed a boy. But I tempted her father-in-law promising him to forgive the loan if he got the children exchanged”, said the zamindar.
Confused thakurain looked at Durga with astonishing eyes and then her husband and Daai Maa. On the other hand, Daai Maa was also startled at this revelation and so was Durga.
Daai Maa started cursing the Zamindar and her luck.
By now even Durga’s co-workers became aware of what happened to Durga. Those people also reached the mansion.
The word that Durga is the real daughter of Zamindar Saheb spread like wildfire in the village.
The villagers were cursing their fate for even their last hopes of getting freedom from bonded labour seemed to be washed over.
Thakurain wanted to hug Durga but could not understand what to do. Daai Maa wanted to see Yuvraj Kirti, but he wasn’t there.
She just stood in front of Durga with her hands tied. Durga went back to the city.
Everyone said that the blood of the Zamindaars had perhaps shown its true colours.
Why would she help them now?
Some even said that all those big talks and philosophies about ending discrimination and Bandwa system had effervated into thin air.
All those lectures citing examples of what Dr. Ambedkar had dreamt for the country were a farce. They stood true only till she was the daughter of a bonded labour.
Why would a Zamindaar’s daughter understand the plight of the workers now?
A few days later…….
A high-level inquiry was held. Senior government officers were sent to that village for investigation and even before that the media had reached there. Every activity that happened there was now being captured in the camera.
Live telecast was being shown on TV and news channels and the story of atrocities on the bonded labourers by the Zamindaars and Durga’s ordeal was being featured in her own words.
On the other hand, after getting to know about the turn of events and developments in his village Yuvraj Kirti also reached India and stood with Durga to put an end to the bandwa system.
He got actively involved in preaching the theories ord Baba Saheb Ambedkar to the locals.
Yuvraj Dhruv was arrested and taken to the city for questioning. Yuvraj Kirti came to meet Zamindar Saheb in the mansion.
“So you have shown your true colours”, said his father. “You have proved that only blood weeps for blood and you are the blood of these bonded labourers. Have you forgotten what I did for you? You stand here with your head held high because of me otherwise you would have been rotting in some mine. And you find the courage to stand before me.”
“You have proven that you aren’t my son”, said the Zamindar.
“You were and will always remain my father, Zamindaar Saheb, but sorry to say that no one has the right to oppress people in the name of casteism or Bandwa system.”
“Due to such actions done by some people like you, all are blamed, but now the time has come to free this country from such evils.”
“And for the atrocities that Dhruv has done and the crimes that he has committed, he must be punished.”
Durga continued and said, “I am sorry that you have not spared even the newborn children due to your conservative thinking and tradition. I am sorry but this blood of yours flowing in my veins will not be able to forgive this act of yours.”
“You will have to bear the punishment for the deeds that you have done and atrocities that the poor people of this village have been subjected to by making such rules against bonded labour.”
Saying this, Durga handed over some pictures which were openly and clearly narrated the story of the atrocities of the Zamindaar and Dhruv to the officer.
The Zamindaars were punished for their actions by the Honorable High Court and the village got freedom from bondage.
After decades perhaps, there was a celebration in the area with tinkling sounds of freedom reverberating in the atmosphere.
Rehabilitation activities were taken up by several NGO’s and a new era of ground-level development began.
Even though we have left many malpractices in the name of casteism, religion, status, etc., etc… far behind but some people still cultivate such mentality in their minds.
The laws have been made, rules have been framed.
The Constitution which is the result of the hard work of Dr.Ambedkar Saheb states clearly about rights and duties of citizens and individual freedom.
But much requires to be done still on the ground level to bring about a revolution and it is not about some particular caste or creed.
It is about all-round development in general.
It is about integrated and consolidated growth.
It is about the poor, about the needy, and about people from lower strata.
It is about rural economics, which is still very weak.
It is about birthing a girl child which is still considered a taboo in our country.
What say ????
Wishing you all a very positive Ambedkar Jayanti.
May Dr. Ambedkar’s philosophies see a new dawn and content his soul.
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