Close Encounters of a Simple Kind ~ Ravneet Sangha

Today was an interesting day and my jaded eyes go cleaned a bit. The day starts very early for us at the farm and we had someone coming at the gates around 7 am and the security guard said he’s a tall Sardar and an NRI and it seems he coming to take thekha ( lease money ). Do not confuse this with the world famous Punjabi thekha – the place to buy alcohol. So , I was told to send tea and all for him , till the offices open. When I called the guard to take the tea , I was told that he had gone away.

The day went by as it as it does, nothing crashed , climate was still the concern, the Akalis were bashing the Congress and  AAP was as shrill as ever, nothing seemed to change and India was getting a makeover as if the Dulha was at the doorstep.

Evening came, and I have a fixed routine , with the evening classes with the children and the mandatory coffee and then my paath . The same person was at the gate , and he had to come to meet. The guard ushered him in just because he was an NRI , he was accorded special status .In Punjab ,it is of matter of great pride,when someone comes to visit you , but even more so when he is an NRI . The red carpet was rolled out , we presumed he was a land owner and just wanted to meet my in-laws and was brought home . Anyone coming from Amreeka is accorded special importance as he’s come back from the shores where everyone wants to be. The roads are paved with gold ,there. And why stay in Punjab, we don’t owe it anything .

Well , he came in and Mama met him and he started talking about America and how great it was and the fact that he made so much money and about his kids and the weather etc. He was from a small village near Nakodar and they had emigrated a decade ago and his kids were making so much money and that in America , milk was abundant .

It seemed so ironical that he went from Punjab , the land of milk and  honey and he revered that there . I was called in and they had an album open . In his complete innocence, he had brought his daughters album and was showing us his family. I kept on looking and didn’t say anything . He , in all his humility had been impressed by the boys , and wanted one of them for his daughter.
It was so innocent and his simplicity shone through . I have been thinking about him and his approach, he also told us that the families don’t match but he just liked them ,he had seen them in a wedding album.

It was his simplicity , his faith and his chutzpah to come and his anecdotes kept on regaling us . It was better to drink coffee he says ( that’s what they all do ) , he hadn’t been educated and never liked school , and from his childhood had just been caught in the rut of growing fodder , wheat and the cycle that goes with eking out a living ! When he went to the States he had to sign everywhere but he couldn’t remember the squiggle . so , the next tie he came to India , he just got it tattooed on his arm . See, problem solved.
Where he lived, he used to carpool with another Bhenji to the factory but she charged 5 dollars , so he decided to get a cycle and bike to work , knees would be fine , and he wouldn’t have to buy the car and any the steep insurance !
It was so refreshing to talk to him and hear this little homilies of life. No drama , no frills , no fancy stuff . When I asked him , hwy did he start working, and how did he cope with the language problem ? He said he started to work, because sitting at home , he had started to imagine all sorts of things about his daughters, he would make scenarios that they were being followed by boy s, or something had happened or why they never came back on time . He assumed the worst and then said if something like that would happen he would have no izzat . It reminds me of the new book I read, ” A woman is no man”where no matter what , where you are , you toe the line !

So , he started to work , and he says it was better than sitting at home and fanatasizing the worst case scenarios.

Im telling you somedays , just makes me feel that all is well and there exists an invisible balance in this society that reaffirms my faith in a worl that is spiralling downwards into a dark dark chasm of evil.

Over the years I have become cynical , jaded with the deprivations and the complete disintegration in human character, fibre that this persons optimism, simplicity shone through ! There is hope for mankind and what better way , that a punjabi to lead the way ….