Through Time

Belgundi village 1910 , a young boy Ganpat would race his classmates during the noon recess to the top of the nearby hill. He would try and reach the Jamun* tree before anyone else. The fastest and brightest boy in his class. Panting he would mark his territory by peeing on the side of the gnarled Jamun tree. Squinting his eyes from the midday sun, he stared into the horizon. Plush green paddy fields, a meandering river, clusters of mango trees, hillocks in the distance and the little village where he was born .“One day I will own this hill and I will build a glass house from where I can see the view from every direction!”

Belgundi village 1936, a young man Ganpat returns home from Berlin. He has been in Germany for several years and his employer – the newspaper Berliner Tageblatt sends him to India to report on Gandhi’s non cooperation movement against the British. He discards his leather shoes, his necktie and blazer and once again runs up the hill, to the same Jamun tree, to perform the same ritual. But in his hands are the title deeds of the hill that he has purchased! Still panting he gazes into the horizon, a cigarette resisting gravity in his lips, his jet black hair combed, his hands on his hips. He leans on the tree and thinks of how quickly the years have passed and shuts his eyes. For that instant he is at home !

Belgundi village 1945, Ganpat has been recently released from the local prison where the British had detained him as a political prisoner for the duration of World War 2 because of his long stay in Germany. He is now an activist in India’s Quit India movement against the British Raj. He is with his fiancee and they are soon to be married and they stand under the Jamun tree, he points to the horizon and shares with her his dream of the glass house he will build for her. This will soon be their home !

Belgundi village 1975, Ganpat’s memorial stone is laid under the Jamun tree as he had expressed a few days after he breathed his last. A huge crowd from the village come to pay homage to the man who set up industry locally and gave them a means of livelihood. They gaze into the glass walls of the mansion in awe – ‘Ganpat was one of us’, they think, but in their hearts they know he was different from them – he had lived his dream and had finally come home! They gather under the Jamun tree, that stood there through every monsoon and every season. With arms outstretched The Jamun tree had waited patiently for this day – to embrace his favourite Ganpat back home .

Posted in Short Stories | belgundi | berlin | ganpat | germany | in the shadow of freedom | quit india movement