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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sarju, the stone breaker of Badagaon


Sarju loved this town anyday. Despite a population of little less than 50,000, it was the biggest centre in the whole district. The moffusil town had four telephone booths, one health centre, one police chowki and one primary school. The entire infrastructure, concrete and stable, was an amusement to the 200-odd hilly villages that surrounded this valley. Like Paris to France, Badagaon was macroscopic for the people Jangalia district.

Sarju’s village at 32 kilometre away, was the farthest in terms of distance from the district headquarters, yet Sarju made no hesitation in choosing a job there. “Tough to travel everyday,” he thought. "But never mind there are growth opportunities and a life larger than it ought to be in a forest village, like his own."

He made 12 kilometres by walking through the dense forest before getting on to some town bound truck of the local bauxite miner. After a two-hour travel Sarju would break stones at one iron ore processor.

At the age of 14, the boy had the strong and stout built of a gym going city lad. He was much adored for his extraordinary physique in his 20 hamlet tiny village. And perhaps that was the reason why the labour thekadar chose him to become a stone breaker. Stone breaking was the toughest job around tougher than ploughing, wood cutting and even working at the brick kiln.

In a month's time money flowed to his modest home. Small enough to be described but enough to make his hut look the best in the settlement.
He became the 'stone breaker' for the villagers. At a young age the money and the enviable physique made him the most celebrated man in the village.
Every boy in the village now dreamt of being a 'stone breaker'.

The picture is of a print of Gustave Courbet's 1849 painting -'The Stone Breakers. It depicts two ordinary stone breakers in average French life.

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