“Not all are able to speak to the police openly so you have to understand our position and have patience in listening to us,” requested one man in the interactive meeting between the police officials and the the people belonging to the lower caste. With no time given for himself to muse over the point raised, one of the higher police officials said “One need not be having a Ph.D to speak about the damage done to him or her.”
Shri Bhai’s (Shri Prakash) first fiction film BAAHA is about a tribal boy who aspires to become a singer. The protagonist comes to the city, to be a singer, and stays with his friend belonging to an upper caste for a couple of days till his friends mother raises objection about a lower caste person living in the same space.
In the two days of stay at his friends house the protagonist comes in contact with his friends sister who is sympathetic of him. Once he moves out of his friends house, the friends sister contacts him once and asks him to meet her in a park. When they meet the protagnoist sitting on the edge of the cement bench starts speaking in a low voice without looking at the girl. The girl offers him some money to sustain himself which he takes after initial refusal. After he takes the money, very hesitantly he asks her “What is your name?”
Why was the protagonist sitting on the edge of the cement bench? Why was he not looking into the eyes of the girl while speaking to her? Why is that he was hesitant to ask her name? Why is that he couldn’t ask her name earlier? Does it require a Ph.D? Was he unable to sit comfortably and ask her name because he did not have a Ph.D? Or is there something more? What is there on the other side of this silence?
Here i narrate, in brief, a short story written by one of the most important voices of Kannada literature Devanooru Mahadeva:
A couple catch a random train not knowing where to go. Their main intention being to move away from their village that is hit by drought. They are caught in the train for travelling without tickets and a stranger in the same coach decides to pay the fine for them on the condition that both of them will have to work in his field. The couple accept it as it saves them from paying the fine and also is getting them a job which will get them their daily bread.
The couple stay in a hut that is in the field of the man owning the field. The husband (Name: Beera) gets close to Kittappa, son of the landlord and both of them have alcohol session every evening in the hut. As days pass by Kittappa ensuring that Beera falls asleep after consuming alcohol, misuses the wife for bodily pleasure. The wife though is unwilling to submit her body to him, is unable to protest as he is the landlords son.
One evening Beera is waiting for Kittappa and a friend of Kittappa arrives to say that Kittappa wouldnt be arriving as he is out of station. Beera decides to consume alcohol all alone. As he gets ‘high’ he starts telling his wife “I kept the sickle ready to kill him,” pointing at the slight gap between the wall and the roof. “But he dint come and got saved,” he says to see a fear struck question mark on his wifes face. Looking at the fear on his wifes face he says “Dont think i dont know what has been happening between you two,” and falls asleep.
The next morning when the wife wakes up she doesnt find her husband in the hut. Assuming that her husband must have gone to chop Kittappa she looks at the space between the wall and the roof pointed out by her husband the previous night. She finds the sickle in its place. Anxiously she runs out of the hut to see her husband and Kittappa talk to each other in the field. For some reason Kittappa laughed and so did Beera, withfolded hands, bending before Kittapa.
Why is the Beera could speak in the absence of Kittappa and not in his presence? Is it becasue he did not have a Ph.D? Or is there something on the other side of silence?
02 June 2009