The Beauty of Araku Valley is Fading – Pitambar Naik

Araku-Valley-1-1889

Pabitra, aged about 32 and is living with AIDS. Gouri, aged about 35 and is living with AIDS. Anamika, aged about 30 and is living with AIDS. Seeta, aged about 25 and is living with AIDS.

They are women, Adivasis, they have no permanent income and are thrice-alienated. People hardly have social intercourse with them. They have future with sarcastic gloominess. Their family members, relatives and the villagers get scared of them. As if whatever they had, would magnetically attract them to inherit their long-lasting curse. Their age descended to be grilled and barbecued.

All fled their life sometime back playing with death and reached Araku, their abode. Now, they risk, take even more risk to survive. Those panicking and nightmarish pain after being sold as sex slaves lasted for a long time; they were kicked to various whorehouses as to kiss death and calamity. How could they be humans? They were reduced to sub-humans, almost animals, inferior; and deplorable than the wretched of the earth.

KVM Sushil was dropped out of school at 10; he lost his father at 15. The responsibility to feed his family came upon him at a time he never had expected. It’s a very tragic period for him to confront. Throughout his life KVM Manu Venkaiah worked as a tourist guide for a living; he usurped people of various ethnicity and religions into the nudity of the beauty of the valley Borah Cave and wild terrain of Araku for years.

A family that migrated to from Anakapalle to Arraku Valley, the three sisters of Sushil were already born and they were also fully mature and Sushil was just kid then. The first one was 13, the second one was 12 and third one was 11-year old. That fateful day was like a ferocious enemy hiding to prey. Like every year, just as other young and unruly folks, Shirisha and Srilatha went out with their friends to a fair nearby. The entire community of youths and adolescents got catapulted into nostalgia. In fact, every year they go for a little fun and amusement.

And that day they never turned up home. Sushil with his friend Shalil went every corner of the valley in search of them but in vein. They met their friends and inquired every other person of the locality. They went insane day and night, no food no water and no rest for quite a few weeks. Alas, they didn’t get any information about them!

‘What happened, Sushil?’ asked T Kodala Babu near P Ramaih’s tea shop.

‘Nothing, sir, my sisters are missing since last week. The other day they went to the fair with their friends and they have no address. What happened to them none knows. The entire village is silent and has no information about them’, said Sushil.

“But, what is the issue? They might be safe somewhere, after all you backward caste people have any dignity or what? You can go anywhere you like, can fuck anybody you like, can elope anyone you choose, can talk and go with anybody, any stranger, any freak, any novice, any unknown and anonymous to sleep. You are also very much like those lowly, untouchables, what is the difference! You fucking bastard, go to hell. Why you people live in this valley you are all a curse for us,’ B Kodala Babu screamed at Sushil.

On 1st January 2012, Sushil didn’t go out in search of his sisters, His friend and his father living their small business in the market they’re here with Sushil’s family. They started talking about the tragic denouement of their agony. They visited the history, reminisced the pervasiveness of the local culture that embraced them openhanded. What can be likened to the serenity of Arraku of 20 years back? How the sinless elegance of the valley attracted thousands of tourists from across the country. It was a place of extraordinary aesthetics and exquisiteness.

How thousands thronged daily then and thousands rush to this abode of beauty, a cocoon of pristine austerity and silent enthusing, perplexing and giggling heaven of Andhra Pradesh! When they came to the valley the situation was pretty cool. Both these families were migrated from two different places from two different southern states. Both had the same objectives, similar titillating anxieties—better life and social mobility.

The purpose behind coming to Araku was to fulfill their aspiration and dreams of their children. Thus far that has hardly happened; the dreams they had while coming to this nature’s pristine abode are turning as nightmares. No hope blossoms, no possibilities bud and no new morning sets as different as they thought.

Sushil ponders over the sarcasm of an evil society where they live. As days go on he tries to burry those shafts of heart-wrenching burden, makes sincere efforts bringing various matters to their lives ignoring all stormy curses. When this incident happened his heart and mind go collide with the nasty words uttered by B Kodala Babu.

He is trying his best to turn the whole situation as his hegemonic power game that terrorizes the commoners. He is investing his entire obnoxious clout and muscles to bring the valley to his fist. It’s his ancestral vision and hereditary conspiracy. Today he is on the verge of celebration.

In just 6 month times around a dozen of girls below 30 have missed form different localities in the valley. This is really shocking and spine-chilling. Certainly in all cases there is a big nexus and there must be an invisible hand from Araku itself.

The other day, there’s a big fight between B Kodala Babu’s goons and the Adivasi Mukti Morcha’s youth. The issue was a local tender. His goons lost and the other party clinched. It’s for the first time B Kodala Babu was reduced to nothing, A mere nomenclature, he lost his long-established tawdriness at once even after trying to bribe the chief engineer of the Public Works Department and the local MLA but nothing led him to win this. Last Wednesday he had a prolonged talk with one of the Adivasi leaders who had indeed been the instrumental to unite the deprived here.

‘Hello, Sameer Panu, how is life?’ asked B Kodala Babu as he met him in the weekly market.

‘Life is good, Kaku,’ said Sameer.

‘Sameer, you look so aggressive these days, you are training your boys and girls to win the world, what is the motto of your association?’ I’m indeed impressed,’ B Kodala Babu said.

‘It’s necessary Kaku, else our survival would be at stake and further we might be eliminated from the valley which is home to us for thousands of years, you are well aware, nothing is hidden, all is crystal clear, Kaku,’ said Sameer very rhetorically.

‘Anyway Sameer, I’d like to give a colossal surprise, if you really listen to me.’

‘Tell me Kaku, I’d keep things very private, it’s just within us’, said Sameer tactfully.

‘Look, Sameer, you have a future, you are married, you have wife and children and you need to think of their future as well. I don’t think you are serious for them,’ screamed B Kodala Babu.

‘Why, what happened, Kaku? Tell me, how I can help you, who are there more passionate than me to chalk out things with you?’ said Sameer.

‘Look, Sameer, your grandfather was a good friend of my grandfather, and your father was again great friend of my father. I know how he struggled. I’ve seen your father going to Kashipur, Mukhiguda, Jaipatna of Odisha for cattle business and reared you. In fact, I’m a great admirer of your aspiration and social commitment. You did your LL. B and now you are a renowned advocate, earning a lot of money that really flabbergasts me. But please be careful don’t waste your valuable time and energy behind these Adivasis.’

See, Kaku, they are my people, and it’s my duty to stand by them in every situation, said Sameer again.

‘Well, Sameer, if you quit this social work and join our group, I am ready to pay your worth. If you want, Rs 500000/- I’m ready, if you want Rs 100000/- I’m willing to reward you. Remember, whatever and however you like, we’re ready to agree with you. Tell me now, isn’t it certainly rare for you?’ said B Kodala Babu.

Sameer left the place, saying, these racist of the country would never let us live peacefully.

Day and night Sushil and Shalil searched for the lost and trafficked sisters but in vein.

‘How can such tragedy sweep a family?’ The beauty, the outstanding pensiveness of a green life of Araku is fading very fast. Isn’t it dying, drying, and fast becoming lifeless? On 6th September 2013, Prema went missing from Pezabada. On October 30th 2013, Shila went missing from Bishnugda. On 24th January 2014, Sangeetha went missing from Bairuguda. On 24th February 2014, Meena went missing from Amalguda. On 29th March 2014, Sharani went missing from Adaru,’ Sushil sighed embracing a gloomy Araku.

‘And now Shrilatha and Shirisha go missing. Who is that bastard conspiring against us? When we come to know, we’ll certainly haul out his mother’s vagina,’ shouted Sushil.

At last they decided to lodge a police complaint. Sushil, Shalil and Sushil’s mother Lera went to the police. As they narrated the story the police were so aloof—

‘Sir, my name is Sushil. She is my mother Lera. We are from Arraku, for the last I week my sisters, Srilatha and Shirisha are missing. They went out with friends the other day in the evening to watch opera in the fair but they didn’t return,’ said Sushil.

‘But you tell me why should they go out in the evening?’ cursed the police inspector. They are grown up, look like tender apple, aged and ready to be fucked… how can they venture to go out in such an hour? You tell me now, where should we discover them? Do you think you people have any common sense? Look, will your fate ever change?’ growled the inspector.

The next day in the morning hundreds of Adivasis came heavily to the street; shouting slogans, against the administration, netas and the local landlord. They burnt the effigy of the suspected accomplices, gheraoed the police station on 14th April 2014. The angry mob also set 2 police vehicles on fire, hit scores of local businessmen for their silent inclination to the perpetuators.

The Adivasis Mukti Morcha relentlessly demanded the arrest of the culprits behind Sushil’s sisters’ kidnap and trafficking to unknown cities. The entire district administration interfered into the issue. The whole Araku was boiling; hundreds of police were deputed to bring normalcy to the town.

The administration had a series of talks with the Advasi leaders to maintain law and order. Support poured in, authorities shed crocodile tears, yet they were forced to act stringently. Almost a month, two months, six month passed no girl was stressed, no information from any source reached their homes. Justice fatally denied. The common people lost their faith in social, justice system. Things looked cadaverous to them. But they never stopped raising voice against the crimes and violence.

One day at dusk a group of people had coiled a few girls, they were asking all typical questions; how that had happened, where they had been all these days fighting all criminal assaults. How was it possible to flee the death-trap? Who was their god to rescue them? Srilatha and Shirisha patiently narrated the story of their bravery. How they sacrificed their life and came heavily on the human traffickers and the goons appointed by whorehouses. They dared these horrendous devils with unstoppable altitude and spirit.

They won, they reached the finishing-line, and they braved like the soldiers, and rescued 11 girls from different brothels in Delhi and Gurgaon. The policemen who accompanied them from Delhi were typically gobsmacked. Srilatha and Shirisha escaped the crowd and rush to Shushil to embrace him and cry, their mother was waiting to say goodbye to them forever! It’s again cement dusk in Araku but a different one and of a different ilk. The beauty up course is fading, and the pristine aristocracy is dying nonstop.

About the contributor: Pitambar Naik is an Indian poet and writer. He was longlisted PN 10 (2)for the Wordweavers India Poetry Contest 2017 and the Rhythm Divine Poetry Chapbook Contest 2018. His works are forthcoming in Best Indian Poetry 2018, Vayavya, Joao-Roque Literary Journal and have appeared in Ethos Literary Journal, Mojave Heart Review, Literary Orphans, Occulum, Moonchild Magazine, Bhashabandhan Literary Review, HEArt Online, Formercactus, Coldnoon International, Spark Magazine, The Hans India, Better Than Starbucks, Kitaab, Muse India and elsewhere. He is working on his fist book of poetry. He can be reached at pitambarnaikwriter@gmail.com

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