Today morning as I was entering my college at Dhobi Talao, I saw many unfamiliar faces outside my college, in a state of despair, agony, some with hope, with aspirations and most of them exhausted, but didn’t lose the spirit and spark. I entered my college and handed over my bag to the security and immediately turned back, the distance of 20 meters from the main road to the main gate of my college put me in innumerable introspections.
I came out, they were the farmers of my state who had been walking for last six days, with minimal means at their disposal. They had walked throughout the night to reach Azad Maidan for their final destination of protest.
I sat with them, inquired about their well-being, they had not had tea and breakfast since morning.
Though they didn’t ask for anything, but my mere interaction with them made them feel they have the attention of Urban centric people. I returned back to my canteen and placed the order of 200 cups of Tea and biscuits for them. I returned back to them and had conversations which moved me to the core.
They told me their reasonable demands and least expected the state government to take cognizance of their existence and give them fair price for their production. I could see their swollen feet, dark patches around the eyes, the bare minimum attire, which expressed their woes of last six days struggle. Some got emotional and others still had hope that they would get justice.
Finally after sometime the tea arrived and as I started distributing the tea, I saw some members offering the cups to the elderly men and women of their group who couldn’t reach to the spot due to over exhaustion and ill health. The tea with biscuits were taken by them with each one giving instructions to each other, that take in the limits so that everyone gets it.
These expressions were phenomenal and indeed brought out those virtues which we teach as part of compulsory subjects to our students. It is inherent to them and they practice it with pride.
I really had my best morning tea with them today. After spending almost one hour with them, I left with the empty can of tea and many startling and distressing questions with me inside my safe St. Xavier’s College campus.
My Questions are still haunting me…..
1) They told me they were supposed to start today morning, but preferred not to cause inconvenience to the students of the city appearing for their SSC exams. If they are thinking about our children and their future, is it not our responsibility to think about the future of their children too?
2) They told me they don’t want to trouble and disturb the city life, is it not our responsibility to see that even their self-sustained rural fabric not disturbed by the uneven policies?
3) They said they do not need any loan waiver or packages, but an adequate price equivalent to their investment in farming, is it really too much they are asking for filling our plates with variety of food?
4) They said all the political parties and leaders tried to meet them and showed their support to them, but why not a single leader from their constituency or the constituency they walked through or the leaders who met them yesterday chose to walk with them today?
5) While interacting with Sangeeta Maushi from Sangamner, Nashik District, she said we only have one request: “you also live and allow us also to live, as our lives are integrated to each other’, was she really demanding too much from us?
As I introspect now, I could not do much for them, but sincerely prayed for them to get justice, which is their inherent right as the citizens of this country.