Often many people come and go in our life. Some of them always leave a great impression on our life; even though, we do not have any type of relationship with them. Each person is a book of knowledge himself or herself which could teach us at least one thing if not many. Even, we could learn something from the actions of a bad person. Can you imagine how much we could learn to interact with a person who is the owner of a good soul? Altaf used to tell me that our inner eyes tell us a lot if we pay attention.
Once upon a time, a great soul had lived in my town, who was known as a Baru. I never knew what his real name was. Everybody used to call him, ” Baru” except me. I always called him “Baru Baba”. I had a very good relationship with Baru baba because he always told me old timings stories. I still love to listen about our ancient culture, society, and old stories. At least a couple of times in a month, I used to sit by Baru baba to listen to his stories. His stories always reflected the truth which was based on reality. For example, how our town looked before the partition, and how people with different faith lived in harmony, how was the caste system when he was a kid.
I doubt if Baru Baba ever saw how a school look inside. But his manner of speaking was much better to compare to the people who hold doctorate degrees. The teachers are not only responsible to teach the students how to behave or act in society. The parents and other external factors also influence somebody’s personality and manners. Baru Baba was an example of this reality. He could not get an education due to being belong to a poor family of the lower caste. This was not his choice or option to be born being poor in the lower caste family.
It raises questions that he was the owner of a great soul because he did not have the chance to get the education or he was just born to be good and great. Education teaches us very knowledgeable things but also bring some materialism. My above statement might reflect some of my life experience so I could be wrong on this. However, Baru baba was hardly 5’-6″ tall who had very dark skin and tiny stature. Baru Baba had lived another side of town across the railway track where all the lower caste people used to live. There is no suspicious or secrets or debate how my native country was divided into a caste system or rich and poor etc.
Baru baba had worked in my farmhouse. I had never seen his wife. She died before even I was born. Baru baba had 3 sons and 2 daughters. He never went to school himself, but he worked very hard to give his children higher education. He told me once that education would open to all his children if one of them get an education. His thought was right because it did open a new path and bright future for his remaining children. To erase the discrimination, the Govt had provided free education and had reserved quotes in the school and jobs for lower caste people.
It was my routine walking around my farmhouse every day. This was the time when I heard his stories as I mentioned above his stories were mostly related to; how was the country under British rule, how people fought to get the freedom, and how it had influenced the lives. However, my favorite topic was to know-how was the geography of my town, how people used to live without modern facilities, how people used to travel, and how the entire town was enclosed with a strong and wide wall which used to protect the town from the intruders. There were four big doors used to call Darwaza, which were the only way to enter the town.
later, my town did come under the influence of modernization and industrialization, so it had changed completely. Baru Baba was the one who told me that my ancestors were the first ones who had built the home outside the walls of my town, then followed by many others.
His conversation used to be interesting which always made me forget my curfew time. My mother was not very happy that her daughter spent a lot of time talking to the people. She used to remind me of time to time my limitations. But she always forgave me when I used to tell her, “Mom, mom, it not my fault. It is all Baru Baba’s fault telling me all those good stories which make me forget the time”. However, I was a careless child who listened to my mother’s lecture with one ear and let it go away through the other ear, so there were no hard feelings at all. My mother knew well that I never paid attention to her lecture. So, she always ended up forgiving me but never forgotten to blame my father and uncle.
Baru baba spent most of his young life struggling and working hard so he could provide higher education to all of his children. I still remember the happiness on his face, brightness in his eyes, and shivers in his voice the day his older son graduated from college and got selected into the Indian army and received a commission at officer rank. He was Baru baba’s son, of course, he had acquired great qualities from his father. The older son helped younger brothers to achieve higher education. His middle son got a job in the state electrical department, and his younger son had become a doctor. After receiving higher education and high paid jobs, all three sons were moved to another city. One of baba’ s daughter got married in a good family. All sons requested Baru baba to stay with them. Even they had involved my family to convince Baru Baba, but he always refused. Baba had made his mind to die where he was born.
But the reality was different for his refusal. I heard Barbu baba crying in front of my mother how he could leave her younger daughter alone to live with his sons. I was then 11 or 12 years old. I told my mother why he won’t let his daughter marry somebody. As usual, the mother did not think it was necessary to answer my question. Baru baba was getting older day by day. One day, I went to covey him a message that my uncle needed his help. I went to Baru Baba’s house. I looked at his daughter when she opened the door. After that day, I never asked a question from my mother about his daughter. His daughter was 7′ feet tall, both knees had turned inward. She was so skinny, and her face was 1/2 burned that I still do not know what was happened.
Many times, I saw tears in his eyes while talking to my mother, “Sardarni Ji, can you take care of my daughter if something happened to me”. My mother was a very strong and hard-core woman, but her one corner was very soft though. Mother often told Baru Baba not to worry about your daughter and nothing would happen to you. At the same time, I knew Baru baba’s daughter was a victim of bullies in the school. Her higher educated and modern sisters-in-law were not very nice to her because of her look. It surprises me how a look of a person makes any difference. For me, inner beauty is most important than having a beautiful face or body. For me, his daughter was the most beautiful woman on the earth who loved and respected her father. She worked hard and she was a simple and honest woman. The people who know me, should not have any question or doubt about my selection of beauty.
One dark dawn, it was 4 o’clock in am when I woke up with continue and annoying noise of the train. I heard people were running toward the railway track. I wanted to go but did not get permission. After a couple of hours, our driver told me about the bad news that Baru’s daughter died due to the train accident. Her body was still turned into multiple pieces and was still scattered on the tract. I managed to escape from my home. The policemen were everywhere, and they would not let pubic go toward the accident site. I saw Baru baba was sitting on the ground with his head down. He was in very deep thoughts. It seems he was lost somewhere. Somebody called his sons and another daughter. They arrived so late due to the distance. The villagers helped for the funeral.
After the final prayer and memorial services, he was gone to stay his sons that I did not know where. I was also gone to live in a boarding school. I mostly came home once a week, but I never had the chance of talking to Baru Baba since his daughter has died. one day, I told the driver to stop the car when I saw Baru Baba playing card game with others. My driver refused to stop so I threatened him to break his head which always worked when I needed to scare the driver. The driver knew me well, so he did not have a choice. I spent a few minutes with Baba. I noticed the sadness in his eyes. He could not tell me any stories. He asked, “How long my tiger plan to stay home”.
My mother often sent him food, clothes, and some time money which he never refused. His health rapidly started to decline after his daughter’s death. It broke my heart when I saw him walking with a cane. Mother told me that Baru Baba did not like to stay with his sons, so he came back. I thought Baba wanted to die at the same place where he was born. He came to say,” a goodbye” when I left for the West.
I went home to see my ailing father. Suddenly somebody knocked at my door. Baru baba with his grandson was at my door. Baru Baba made his way to my home when he heard the news of my father. Baba was completely blind now. I touched his knees to pay my respect without saying any single word. I saw tears in his eyes and felt a stumbling voice when he recognized me. He recognized the touch of my hands. He asked, “when my tiger came to the town”. I was numb but his voice was so week. His son sent him money but he gave the money to other children for education. His children had climbed the stairs of success but Baru Baba was the same. All his children respected and loved him but Baru Baba was attached to his roots. Baba visited me every day when I lived in India temporary taking care of my father. Often, we had tea together. He told many other stories but never talked about his daughter. He loved calling my three-month-old Son ‘Gandhi’. He used to bless my son with his hands. My son was born premature and was so weak and did not have any hair. Baba always laughed after feeling my son’s head.
I returned to the USA after my father’s death. One day I received a call from my cousin who told me Baru Baba is terminally ill and he wished to see me. After 2 days, I received another call Baru baba died on the same cot which I bought for him. Per my cousin, Baba had spent his last day sitting under the big tree close to the same place where her daughter jumped In front of the train. I knew later that his daughter jumped intentionally because she wanted to see his father stress-free.
Nope, both Baru baba and his daughter never lived stress-free until both died. God will be helping and supporting those both great souls now.
I have told this story many times to my hubby bubby. This story was originally written on 05/29/2015 but I never shared with anybody except him. He always asked me to email him, but I never did. I share it with him through my blog today.
God, please bless Baru Baba and his daughter peace.