03 Jun 2023  |   05:02am IST


Kajal Chatterjee

It’s the ‘story’ of an 18-year-old boy from Murshidabad village, in West Bengal. In this age, when many of his privileged counterparts, dream of a prospective career and enjoy their best by having fun without getting perturbed about money, this boy had to labour in a hardware shop to douse the flames of hunger of his poor household.

During Durga puja, he desired to buy few new clothes for himself and his family members. So what could he think of doing, apart from approaching the village money lender!

The boy took a loan of Rs 5000, on the condition that he would pay Rs 500, as monthly interest (at a ‘very nominal rate’ of only 120%) with the principal to be repaid as lumpsum! The boy continued to pay the interest amount for the next seven months through hard labour! Yes, for a loan of Rs 5000, he had to already part with Rs 3500 as interest only.

The first disaster struck when he lost the job at the hardware shop! The poor boy defaulted with the instalments for just two consecutive months. The money lender and his goons start threatening him. The economic plight of the boy suffering job loss was a matter of least concern to them.

And on that fateful day, the threatening brigade invaded his dwelling, slapped, kicked and punched the boy and returned. They also warned him that if the pending instalments do not get paid within next few days, his limbs would be broken.

Physically assaulted, psychologically devastated with threat of more ordeal in immediate future, the helpless boy, in his most vulnerable mental state, prefers to ‘kiss’ the knot of the rope around his throat.

The ‘story’ of the boy ends. Now he is in the ‘land of permanent joy’ where no hunger, poverty or threats will haunt him ever.

But what about those privileged ‘proud Indians’? Don’t their heads hang in shame, hearts shatter to pieces on hearing these ‘stories’? Nothing but hard facts which plague millions of poorest of the poor in this country day in and day out. Still the chest of the fortunate ‘nationalists’ get puffed up with zealous assertion of ‘My India Is Great’! Glittering structures and statues, emitting foul odour of vulgar megalomania, would continue to enthral their mind space and vocal chords!

For a minute just visualise that the Murshidabad boy was ‘my child’. Close your eyes and try to appreciate the mental turmoil and humiliation which the boy had to go through or my child could have landed in. Still feeling much ‘proud’ for all things catering to the gallery. Just awaken your conscience and contemplate whether their lies any scope of getting delighted over inconsequential extravaganza advertised as ‘national glory’! 

And would the ‘nationalists’, going gaga over the ‘huge achievements’ of the nation, kindly answer if the country has turned so ‘elite’ and ‘forward’? How can millions of own citizens still languish in the darkness of poverty and hunger, compelling our children to forsake studies and enter the labour market to get ruthlessly exploited? Why do they get forced to entangle in debt trap just to procure minimum basic necessities of food attire shelter and medicines? How can private money lenders boldly operate in broad daylight? How could the goons dare to beat up the boy? Has law and order been reduced to absolute joke, farce or comedy? Surely, this is the reason why despite receiving threats of more severe beating, our boy preferred to hang himself  rather than knock the doors of the administration or judiciary, with the desire to live with/for his poor family members.


Idhar Udhar