Dejappa’s Bullock Cart

The evening sky was beautiful and the fresh evening air at cornich road was adding to the pleasant atmosphere. Zoom…as a sports car zoomed past my ten year old Danny immediately recognized it as the latest  Honda. The younger one was busy naming almost every vehicle that went past. It was amazing to watch their familiarity with practically every model of cars at such a young age.

“Look at this boy mama, he is spitting on me…!” the younger one complained. Danny had a strange habit. He would imagine driving some imaginary car and produce almost the typical sound of an automobile. We were fascinated by his talent of mimicking almost every sound of cars and bikes. As the boys started fighting and spitting on each other I had to beckon to my wife to mediate. She was busy with her usual deadly hobby in the car as I was driving. She had turned  my rear view mirror towards her and was busy painting her loud speakers with imported lipstick, admiring herself as I narrowly escaped the honking cars from all directions. “STOP !!!” she screamed with her high decibel voice reserved only for such occasions and the boys instantly sat quiet.

“You don’t deserve to travel in a car…you should be traveling in a bullock cart.” she admonished them and returned to her face painting .

I smiled gleefully as she bit her tongue and realized her mistake. It was too late. The youngsters who had never seen a bullock cart pounced on her with  questions. She resigned to her fate and started patiently explaining how a bullock cart looked like.

How strange…I thought. When I was their age the only vehicle I knew well was a bullock cart…and how well I knew it ? I slowly began to relish those old memories.

The mud road of Krishnapura was a long tiresome 8 KM road from home to school and a nightmare to school going children. The jungle that surrounded it was filled   with so many terrors that we hardly gave a glance or thought about it as we hurried  to the school. The Parish Priest  waited near the church school to catch the late coming children and made them kneel on the ground. The fear of this humiliation and  punishment  made us forget all the other things that worried our innocent minds. To think of a first grader walking that marathon 8+8 KM everyday !!! I think our generation was genetically engineered to walk and walk. Today the children might sue the parents or human rights associations may intervene.

But the fear we had was only of wild animals since humans were not so complicated and perverse those days as they are now.

…The occasional shout “OBB  BORIYA” by our hero Dejappa added to the solemn sight. ….

The only weapon we carried was a large family size umbrella  with a wooden handle. It sheltered at least four to six children in the rain. The heavy monsoon rain water flowed on the mud road and formed beautiful designs. But the most beautiful designs were the deep tracks of Dejappas bullock cart wheels. That  was the only vehicle we had ever seen  in the village. The small bells that decorated the bullocks made beautiful jingling noice.

The occasional shout “OBB  BORIYA” by our hero Dejappa added to the solemn sight. He was a hard worker. Come rain or sun Dejappa had always a song on his lips that elevated our spirits. Sometimes Dejappa slept all the way till the bullocks stopped in front of the usual toddy shop. They knew their masters needs so well. The giggling children hung the schoolbags  to the back of the cart and happily followed the cart. Occasionally the cart carried sacks of jaggery which was probably for making cashew fenny. This sweet load was a bonus for the children. With blades we opened the sacks and relieved Dejappa a small portion of his precious cargo. The greatest pleasure  Dejappa gave us was a free ride when he had no load. How we relished those rides!! Those were the sweetest memories for the innocent children who otherwise bore the brunt of poverty and misery of a village life.

“Dad…Dad…” the excited boys woke me up from my thoughts. My wife had already completed her explaining part about the bullock cart  But I was in for another shock. “Dad we want a bullock cart, dad Please dad…cant you sell this car and buy a bullock cart?”

As the boys started pestering me she smiled  and resumed to her face painting in the rear view mirror.

-Richie Bendore

Author: Richard D Souza- Qatar