Nihar Beura
Activist and Counsellor

I was born as 2nd kid of my parents (In fact 3rd kid as my mother says, the first one died when she was 4 months old only). Barely I was with my whole family (My father who was working as a school teacher in Kujendri school at Gunupur of Koraput district, mother a house wife, 5yrs old elder brother and 4 months old younger sister ), may be for only a few months, when the devastating cyclone cut short our family size. As my mother says, that night we all were at our village in Dumuka, Marshaghai when the whole house made up of mud and straw collapsed. All were trapped including me, a 1 year old kid then, along with others not knowing what happening the whole night and crying for help. Next day morning when the cyclone subsided, we found my father, brother and a uncle dead. The almighty took away all from us when I was not old enough even to gauge the situation. Myself, my younger sister who was few months old then, my mother and other family members survived. My mother, who was around 25 yrs old then, without any saving left by my father for us, started struggling since then in every sphere of her life. My mother’s days were becoming worse day by day and she was struggling badly to take care of me and my sister . Under the circumstance, she requested my maternal grandfather and mother to take care of me. They took me along to their house when I was only 2yrs old. Then, as I remember, my mother used to visit me once in two months or 3 months or so. She could never make it more frequently as she had to deliver the duty in the joint family, could not afford to payout for Rickshaw fee(man puller rickshaw) and was never easy for her to walk over nearly 6 kms on bare feet from my village to uncle’s village Manatir.

My maternal uncle’s place was really enjoying as I remember perfectly. I had 3 uncles, grandfather, grandmother and one unmarried aunt (my mother’s youngest sister). All of them never used to beat me thinking “a small child without father should be shown mercy always no matter how naughty he is” . In fact there was very little control on me or rather I was let free to do whatever I wanted. I was living in a typical mud and thatched house, bathing in a river let, playing all around greens, not bothering of study much till I went to class seven there. Atmosphere was quite perfect for me like child to eat whatever available ( my uncle’s family was not well off either), to miss out from school if possible, to play always beyond usual hours and time, to steal berries & mangoes etc from neighuors’ orchards and then to go to bed at around 8 pm ( 7 pm during winter). Hardly it was convenient to continue studying for hours in night without electricity and with the help of lantern or Dibi (a little tin made pot filled in Kerosene and using cotton bead for flaming). Both the villages Manatir and Dumuka did not have electricity and I got the electricity in my home at Dumuka when I was in class 11 only. I remember clearly that my days were full mostly with typical games including Hide and sick, Gachha manku, Bowoo bagudi, Luna, Cigarette tanka khela, playing cloth-football ( no cricket that time in the village); bathing for hours in summer, sitting in Ramalila rehearsal house for hrs during eveing, watching open air theatres nataks; doing typical village boy activities including Dhana goteiba, Banishi Pakeiba, Chuare machha dhariba, Akhu kolhia jiba, Arua jhota rakhi bikiba; visiting Yajnas, Durga puja, Laxmi Puja; and spending time with the teachers when they used to live for a few days in school during rainy season and winter. Interestingly I was among top 3 boys in the class though my score was never more than 19 or so in Mathematics ever up to 7th standard.

I was very stubborn and remember of crying for 4 hrs or 5 or more in many occasions while not getting school puja chanda, a piece of pencil or so. But this never made me think poorly as the situation for my peers would be no better in village then, as I remember. Bathing in untidy river (in fact everything including cleaning bowel after passing stool, drinking water, making Chua for catching fish, washing cattle etc etc all done in same river), using dirty, unusable public place for passing stool and living in dark & moist room, coupled with poor diet because of poverty, always lead to my frequent falling in fever and suffering from Kachhu (typical skin disease). Barely, as I remember, there was a single year when I did not suffer from Kachhu. I was very good at running and sports and hence mostly used to enjoy beating others in them.

The social fabric –the relationship between family members, villagers, friends, teacher-students etc etc was unbelievably stronger and it was more stronger as I did not have father. Gradually I was growing as a boy with others’ blessings, support and good wishes, most of the time in my maternal uncle’s house and sometime in my own house at Dumuka. I offer my pranam to all of those teachers, Jeja, Maa, Mamus, Mnaiin, Sanabapa, Dada, Sanabowoo, Mausi, Piusi and other relations and love to friends because of whom I am today where I am. May God bless all of them? During the period, a lot many great souls supported while I was sick and admitted in hospital, including Great MalatiDevi and NabaBabu.

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