Jagdish Mahto has almost lost his mental balance; his feeble wife faints every now and then. They have lost their only son Pawan who had gone to appear in a Railway recruitment examination in Mumbai.
Pawan was their only hope in life, only support for old days. Both had laboured hard to educate Pawan and shared many dreams together. Pawan too had worked hard to get a low-paid government job to realize their dream---of getting two-square-meal daily and making their thatched house a pucca so that it does not leak in rainy days.
Mahto comes from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's home district, Nalanda. Of Bara Khurda village under Noorsarai police station. Along with him the whole village is in complete shock while seething with rage.
The body of young Pawan has just arrived. He died young---struggling to survive, running away from the menacing hands of MNS goons.
Still. His face says he struggled hard to run away like others, to run away for his ageing parents, to run away to get a government job, to run away for making his house pucca before next monsoon.
But luck ran out of him. Pawan died young; Pawan died raw; Pawan died for being a Bihari.
He was, reports said, caught and beaten-up brutally to death by the rampaging MNS goons. MNS is Maharashtra Navnirman Sena led by Raj Thackeray, an estranged nephew of Bal Thackeray.
Both the senior and junior Thackerays are locked in proving themselves up before Marathi Manus that they are their real guardian. Mumbai Ka Baap.
Like several others from Bihar they too were thrashed, beaten-up with stretched fists, sticks and furious faces of MNS goons. But, they somehow managed to save themselves and fled from there.
Some with broken hands, fractured legs, deep blue-burgundy marks on their backs, red punch marks on faces and poultice eyes reached Patna junction on Tuesday and vented their ire.
Pawan's body reached by flight and the Bihar chief minister announced Rs 1.5 lakh compensation to his family.
1.5 lakh to realize the dreams which they had shared together; to make their leaking house pucca; to get two-square meal all through their life.
At the village rage is reeling. I'm enraged too.
And, decided not to call myself a Bihari. I donot wish to die young, I donot want to meet Pawan's fate, I donot want to get 1.5 lakh as compensation.
I simply donot afford to.
For, I've a little eight year old daughter, wife and old parents who all have shared so many dreams with me and made plans for the future.
My daughter wants to be a doctor and wife wants to see her successful in any field she likes. I want to see her as a good, strong human being.
We all work hard to realize our dream which we cannot have through 1.5 lakh compensation and a few words of sympathy.
Its not for the first time that the people from Bihar have been beaten-up, thrashed and shooed away from Mumbai. It has happened earlier too. On many occasions by these Thackerays.
And, why only Mumbai?
Just a day after the Bihari students were treated like stray dogs there was a report that a group of 12 migrant labourers from Bihar were herded up like buffaloes by some armed men at Sonepat railway station for the work in their farmland.
The hapless labourers somehow were rescued by police and later resumed their journey for Panipat to be used, exploited and engaged by some others in their farmland.
They say the wealthy farmers of Punjab and Haryana pounce on them at railway stations to take them away as labourers. There they treat them as their cattle, even worse than that.
Months earlier when a direct train from Patna to Goa was introduced a minister of Goa protested the move saying hordes of beggars from Bihar would come riding on the train and pollute their paradise state.
Earlier, they were beaten-up, killed and chased away from Assam and other northeastern states. The national capital Delhi too did not like them and time and again they raise the issue, make it an issue.
We, the people of Republic Bihar are not welcome at so many places. In fact, they detest us, abhor us and treat us like untouchables.
They mock at us, they laugh at us, they pity on us.
When, for the first time, I had gone to Delhi in 1987 to take my admission in DelhiUniversity to do graduation they addressed us as Tetnus, for we from Bihar used to carry a tin box along with us.
The girl students were called Behenjis, for their oily mid-parted hair and untrendy salwars and slippers.
When I returned to my rented room after Holi my landlord while reading a newspaper asked me: how do you Bihari play Holi in which 24 die?
"Holi ke hurdang mein 24 marein" was the caption of the story in the Punjab Keshari.
My wife says I looked like Pawan those days. Young, fresh with a straight line of moustache under my bulbous nose and with a dream for family.
Even on my Honeymoon in 1995 the hotel manager in Ooty had thrown a puckish smile on us when I named the place Patna, Bihar in the check-in register column.
Now, when things have gone worse I fear to reveal my identity. I prefer to call myself Not from Bihar.
No, like you all, I donot have that enough courage to call myself a proud Bihari even after so much of humility, pain, trauma, beating, thrashing and killing.
No, I'm not a proud Bihari. Sorry. But, I donot want to have a waste death, like Pawan who, I'm sure, will be forgotten a day after tomorrow.
The mass of land larger than France and population five times more than Australia Bihar, for me, has nothing to be proud of. It has nothing to feel great about. Take any index, any survey, any report you would invariably find Bihar at the bottom.
The post office remittance of Rs 450 crore is the biggest economy of the state with per capita income as low as Rs 5,772 per annum, as compared to Rs 22, 946 of national average.
Adiga's India of Darkness. Balram Halwai of The White Tiger.
People have no option but to migrate looking for their livelihood. We're everywhere now, in every city, town, statepulling rickshaw, selling bhel-puri, making malls, constructing houses, roads, highways, driving cars, running computers, papers, hospitals, administration and hotels.
What not, and where not ?
We're ready to work hard, do more labour than others for our survival and so people are targeting us.
But for the fear of Thackerays and others I donot want to venture out and if I have to I wish not to be with a Bihari identity.
Pawan did that mistake and paid the price.
Sorry to say Pawan but even your death does not get even one-tenth of media coverage than the arrest of Raj Thackeray whose goons allegedly were responsible for your unexpected demise.
But, has anyone ever thought of what if Biharis would . ?