The raindrops fell gently on the windowpane of the back seat as we zoomed through the beautifully constructed Highway. I closed my eyes to let the calm feeling seep into my being. The car continued to be accelerated at a constant 80 kmph. My co-passengers or rather my co-hosts were busy praising the speed with which the beast was being maneuvered through the straight road. We were on our way to the Kolar Gold Fields to invite a relative of one of the passengers for his wedding. I reflected that the history books were where I had only read about the place and this was my chance to live history.
As the raindrops continued to play the melody on the window panes of the sedan, we encountered a roundabout turn that took us straight to a crossroads signalling that we needed to take a right to reach Kolar and left to reach Bangarpet. We obediently took a right and in the next three minutes, we found ourselves parking in front of the house we needed to enter.
We were greeted at the gate by an old lady who had one of the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen. She spoke warmly and ushered us into the house that at first looked like a very humble dwelling. I struggled at the doorway to take off my Reeboks. Damn, they were tight. I looked at my Tissot. My fellow travelers had promised that they would only take 30 mins in this house.
I looked around and browsed through the house with a ‘filter’. I was told that these guys were into farming. The humble dwelling had an old sofa set, a Deewan, a fridge in the hall, and a lot of wall hangings that covered the wall in its entirety. The best way to avoid painting for donkey’s years. India needed to develop much more than what it was doing. There was no use of creating more and more employment in cities whilst the villages and villagers were neglected.
Over badam milk and the regular mixture ‘chewda’ that you would be expected to be served in a village home, I broke open a conversation with the man of the house with an intent to try and understand his lifestyle and how he makes ends meet. The real intent was for me to get a story that I could write over the weekend. He pulled his lungi up to talk about it. I started.
‘What is the work you do?’ His eyes twinkled as he responded, ‘We are farmers and we have some land. However, due to labour issues, there have been certain challenges’. Wow! These must be the slightly less poor farmers I thought to myself. They have labor working for them.
He continued, ‘We used to have rose beds, and every day our laborers would gather as much as 300 kilos of roses. We had about 20 people working for us.’ My heart froze when I heard this. I leaned forward now inquisitive to know more. ‘Everyday month from this alone, we would make around a lakh and a half after all expenses. My heart sank further. A lakh and a half!
Once again, I browsed through the living room. This time I noticed that there was an AC and a forty-inch LED screen. I also realized I was now using a different type of filter. As my uncle continued to speak, I also learned that in addition, he had three to four such farms and a bar and restaurant around the place.
As we bade goodbye to the well-settled rich family and started our journey back home, I sat back and reflected. I realised that we use filters to look at people in life. We look at people with a pre-judgmental thought process. We look at the clothes they wear and pass judgement. We see their looks and pass judgements. We see the cars they drive and the food they eat and pass judgements.
What we see through may only be the tip of the iceberg. We don’t see a lot that doesn’t catch the naked eye. The struggles, the pain, the misery, the lessons are the real things that make people. When Suhas Gopinath, the world’s youngest CEO had walked into an event where he was called as a chief guest, the security guard would not let him in. The organizers had to intervene.
Every person in this world has a story, a story that has made him the person he is. Never judge a person. You both know good and well how unexpected events can change who a person is.