My roots have originated from a rice field in Mohania, Bihar. My fore fathers were into farming. My father studied hard and got into government service whereas my uncle stays in village and does farming. We visit them occasionally. And when we do, I do not forget to meet Suraj. Our families have been neighbors from decades. He was born after three girls and was the apple of everyone’s eye. Years back, when I met him, he was in 5th standard. He was very bright and bubbly kid. He was the topper of his class. I asked him then, “What is it that you want to do when you grow up?” He came up with the reply, “I want to create a machine that brings global peace. No one will ever fight again anywhere.” I was amused with the reply. Time passed. Since he was bright, his father sent him to a nearby English medium school cum hostel to study. It was the only English medium school in vicinity. He took loan for his studies and invested every penny in his son. His land was giving nothing in return, but he hoped his son will. Three years later we visited my uncle few days after Holi. My cousin informed that while everyone played Holi, Suraj confined himself to a room and cried continuously for three hours. The reason was that he had no new or good dress to wear on that day. Their farm was not giving a good yield and so they had no money for luxury. The latest he had was his school dress that too because the school insisted on getting it. His mother made him wear that. We celebrate Holi in Bihar with the greatest zeal. It’s the one obvious time in Bihar when we buy new dress and visit each other in the evening. I felt very bad for him. I heard he wasn’t performing in studies now. I took a test. And I was not wrong. The boy was brilliant as always. He was smart in Maths but he did not understand the story problems written in English. Go and come, were two of the very few words he understood in English. I was worried. Where will such degree land him? I again asked what was it that he wanted to become. He lowered his face and silently replied, “An engineer like Chachaji(my dad)”. I was happy that the zeal to do something is still alive. His father wanted him to start helping in farming but Suraj wanted to study.
Time passed. Latest I hear that he is in jail. An enquiry in the matter revealed that after higher secondary education, he could not get into any college. He was part of some protest for opportunities in village when he was arrested. It does not matter what the protest was for. What always will matter is that he was arrested. His father is very worried and became sick after this. Who will look after him and his family now? His son and field gave him nothing. Even he was planning to attend a march before Chief Minister to get some relief on the loan. And Suraj? I wonder what he is going to do.
I pity him and so can you. But I know many Suraj who perished in darkness. And this is the real story of the Indian farmers. They have a piece of land but no present and no future. They give their time to education over farming but education gives them nothing. They have been suffering for long but have started fighting now. There can be many speculations on what is this fight for? Is it Educations, loans or good pay for crops? Nah. It’s for none. It is for the dignity of a farmer. It just takes a different form every time. A farmer demands for right to education, equality and transparency. He wants to be proud as he once used to be. Humble and hardworking farmers killed themselves to tell what they wanted. It is now; they have started agitating and demanding. I just hope it continues and grows till the day, when a Suraj decides to be a farmer again.