Strangers In Our Own Land
If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey,
most of us would never start out at all.
- Dan Rather
“The journey into the unknown”, felt like a fitting phrase to describe the beginning of our journey to Dhenuki. I and my fellow cine-activist Sagar Chaudhary boarded the Lichhavi express at 3:30 PM from Anand Vihar Terminal. The day was warm and humid. As the train left the platform, it was a seething mass of humanity.
As we settled and looked around there were people from different walks of life, some of them worked in the city and were now going home for some relaxing time as they were tired of the hustle-bustle of the city life, some of them were students who were visiting home for the summer. Some were daily laborers who after earning in the city were now heading back to work on their lands, July is the ideal month for the Kharif crops to be sown.Then some were families who were either traveling back to their home after enjoying their vacations or were now going to visit their relatives spread across the region. During our journey we made various acquaintances, one was with a very bubbly little girl and her parents. We shared newspapers to be used as table mats for the food, water bottles, etc. Then there was an old woman traveling with her daughter and her kids, then there was a couple and me and Sagar. It was like we were all a big family, all were happy and helping each other as and when required.
During our train journey, we crossed many cities like Varanasi and Siwan. When we were crossing the city of Varanasi, I was peering out the window for a look of the famous ghats of Banaras. Though I never got one, I know it was a long shot that I would. The one thing I won’t ever forget is the samosas I ate at Siwan Junction. Our train stopped at Siwan and I was hungry as I skipped breakfast that morning. I saw this guy carrying a huge wicker basket and newspapers playing peekaboo from the corners. He stopped just outside the window and I saw the tasty samosas. I called out to him. He gave me 2 samosas on a sheet of newspaper and a homemade tomato sauce which I loved along with a glass of cutting chai(tea).
After this fulfilling brunch, I was talking to the old woman sitting next to me. She told me about how she was taking her daughter (who now lives in Punjab) home after five long years of her daughter’s marriage because her son-in-law doesn’t like sending his wife to her mother. She saw her 3 grandchildren for the first time ever. I had nothing to say to her on the issue. On the other hand, her daughter didn’t speak much, she was busy looking after her kids. Her youngest son, who was not even a year old was a smiling little thing.
Around 2:30 PM on 20th June, we reached Chhapra Junction from there we took another rickshaw to reach the bus stop and boarded the bus which would drop us to Dhenuki. We reached Dhenuki around 8:30 at night and were welcomed by the black canvas that was the Dhenuki village and shining stars and glittery fireflies.Though we reached Dhenuki, we were still quite far away from our destination. We were not aware of what the future holds but what we knew was, we were hoping not to feel like strangers in our own land.