He was nearing the house,assuming it could be the residence of that gentleman Krishna Rao.No more houses found around the place and the ambiance seemed dead calm,yet green fields covered the house just like a maze,fortunately there he discovered a small path to reach the gate of the house.He was excited that many things of the past days will be unraveled in a few minutes.The moment he meets Krishna Rao he might be of short of words in hurry.In view of that,he meticulously prepared a list of important queries to elicit key points, not to miss a trivial one from the loads of reminiscences of Krishna Rao.As a freelancer,he contributed many interesting stories to different publications.But this is somewhat special in nature.
This is all about the burials.Be not afraid.He was very much sober as much as we all do.He was going to write a story about the burials where several British people were buried before independence.It is now called as Dummugudem,a sleepy village on surface for this generation and very few people are aware of the history how a lot of action had taken place here once upon a time.River Godavari flows at the mouth of the village and over where the locks were built to accommodate the water to paddy fields along with boat travelling by making another stream.All cargo was to arrive this way right from Rajamundry.In those days,it's the most used way for people for any communication.
Adjacent to the river,before entering Dummugudem,the hamlet was called as "Work shop",here navigation center was established by the British officers.Couple of rock laden buildings constructed by those colonial rulers were remained there as their signatures.With their high walls,slope roofs,gorgeous windows and abundant timber used inside make one transport into the past decades.And there were some colossal trees in the place must have planted by those people.Amazingly,those trees looked like what we could see in some European countries.However,the shade of trees is still the favorite place for domestic animals like cows and buffaloes.Sometimes children are playing in the cozy place.By night fall, nobody goes there since the place turned into a devils work shop.
He,our reporter, has seen all this an hour back and now got to the burial place which located at Lakshmi nagaram almost adjacent to work shop.He was approaching the lone house where Krishna Rao lives in.He stood in front of the gate.Never liked to call him loudly.Some instinct signals him the gentle man would come out on his own.He keeps examining the surroundings intently.All of a sudden,Krishna Rao came out from a foliage of his garden located at the corner of the gate.
" Are you Madhu,reporter of some magazine..?" Krishna Rao asked.
"Yes..sir..! I am.My friend should have informed you the matter" replied our reporter with a smile.
"Yes..!very happy to meet you,I will tell you all the information that I know about the burials of that British people.."
"Oh..great sir..!.I have met a right person at last"
"Please do one thing.See there,the dilapidated walls.Hardly just two furlongs.That's the burial ground.Keep watching the tombs yourself ...and I will join you later soon after finishing my garden work in a while"the old man said in a friendly tone.
The reporter started walking towards the direction mentioned by the old man.The narrow path leading to the broken gate of the burial ground is having unruly bushes.But it's not an arduous walk.A cool breeze seized to unleash from somewhere else.Is it an air of joy felt by the deceased souls on knowing the news of there was some one coming here this day...? Of course not to be buried..!
He entered the burial ground.Walls looked very weak and rustic,at any instance of heavy blow they could be collapsed.Already some portion was broken into heaps of debris.The best part here is no trace of human activity around the area.Sea of serenity everywhere.Really souls rest in peace here,no doubt.
These people buried here must have been dispatched their services to move the juggernaut of the British empire,in their own capacities.What kind of dreams they had in their lives are difficult to imagine.Condemned here in eternal sleep for ever.There could be a dyer and an Arthur Cotton and many of several other characters.
Some tombs were made of polished granite.Their details ascribed on each tomb.On the first one he saw,was belonged to an young British civil servant.His name was furnished as Angus Alstair Fernandez.He served as Assistant Collector and special agent of Bhadrachalam Agency,in those days.Interestingly that ICS officer died so young at the age of 25.The maximum age limit for civil service was twenty one in those days.Maybe an epidemic caused his death,who knows..!
He moved on to another tomb.In fact,these were two but constructed in close,one was Miss Sarah Claire and next was Miss Dorothy.They both were missionary teachers as per the details on surface.And there was another tomb almost in the midst of the ground was belonged to a girl named as Charlotte Henrita.Died at the age of 15 years old.Her father was working as an inspector general of Medical and health department based at Madras.Almost the place cited here was more than 600 k.m. and how it happened burying here..?Clueless.
Most of the tombs had got raw deal by some hooligans,maybe in search of hidden riches in the coffins or under them.Almost all burials were dug up and displaced in some extent.Sure to be vanished in a few years,if it continued.At least these are better to be preserved as historical monuments.
"Hello" a voice was heard from behind him.He shuddered for a while.Came out from his thought process.The voice belonged to none other than Krishna Rao,the old man.They exchanged smiles.
"Oh..my goodness,In fact I am waiting for you sir" our reporter said.
"You seem to be absorbed in the past" old man smiled.
"Well said.I have been transported to British era of ruling"
"Once upon a time,this village Lakshmi nagaram, considerably populated.I born and brought up here and at the age of twenty, left it for employment.In those days,surroundings were very busy with people.."
"Then how come it turned into a desert look..?"
"That's the magic of time.Dummugudem and Lakshmi nagaram were treated as twin villages.Several British families settled here in line of dispatching their services.To maintain navigation center,revenue works and survey etc.,apart from it,they established a church and hostel so on"
"Did you know any British employees personally..?"
"Yes...I will tell you whatever I know.A person with enthusiasm like you is scarce anyway.You can still see the rock studded building of hostel at the work shop area.Ms Sarah Claire and Ms Dorothy were in-charges of it.They had imparted basic education,lace knitting and carpentry to the boys and girls,mostly came from tribal and other oppressed classes.Food and accommodation free for inmates.."
"Have we not exploited in colonial ruling..? Apart from the facts you mentioned.."
"Who said no..! It was prevailed without any doubt.What here happened was happened everywhere,forms could be different.The nations first opened their eyes unleashed all over the under developed nations.Apart from evil, eventually some good also happened with their invasion.Education came down to common masses in our caste ridden society.Schools and colleges opened for girls.Superstitions like Sati were abolished.English language opened new windows among us. Even Swami Vivekananda said once 'because of you,the fetters of the age old superstitions loosen in this country,oh..British government,thanks to you'..."
" Countries like China and Japan developed with their own languages...you know"
"The soul of China and Japan is entirely different.They don't have hundreds of sub castes like us.Here diversity in languages,culture,local customs and political fabric all these are different.Everybody considers their language and caste is superior to others.Political unity achieved by the British ruling or we could have been continued as hundreds of princely states.." the old man analysed in his own way.
"You're living in this remote area after retirement.Any specific reason behind it..?"
"I retired 20 years back.Sound health by God's grace.I have a vehicle facility to reach the nearest railway station if necessary.Commodities are available to live peacefully.Also blessed with Internet connectivity.My garden is there above all.What more should I long for..? In addition,people hesitate to venture into my house because of the burial ground's proximity.Of course,except my doctor..!" Old man smiled.
"I don't know how to express my gratitude for your kind info about all these.."
"Oh...that's my pleasure.Let's go to my residence to have more chatting over a frothy coffee..By the way,what will be the heading of your future story "
"Hmm...probably 'A burial ground and memoirs'...how is it?"
"Just terrific..." tugged at the sleeve of his guest. (The End)
---Written by Murthy Kvvs