The Hero of Madigapalli
Deep down in the rocky hills of Rayalaseema lies a village named Madigapalli girded at a distance by the outlying hills of Eastern Ghats but neither a rivulet nor a river was in its sight. A quiet village presented by opportunities if one went beyond it but those who continued to live their lives, life was on expected lines.
Bheemdu has ventured out of the village few years ago leaving behind his family of parents, wife and his three children. He made his living as an auto-driver in Cuddapah the district headquarters.
On a Sunday in the summer of the year Narednra Modi sworn in as the India’s Prime Minister, Bhemmdu left the town in his three-wheeler to his village, and his sole passenger was Pushpa the town girl.
They were eloping: Pushpa was sure if she did not elope with Bheemdu there will never be a chance to be with him. She saw in him a future husband like in the movies she watched.
Bheemdu could not think of going anywhere else other than to his village with Pushpa.
The sight of a three-wheeler coming to the village was not new as Bheemdu made visits in his auto unlike others but the girl in the auto was the news.
The lovers carefully entered into Bheemdu’s house. The sight of Pushpa in his company not only surprised his family but the news spread all over the village in less than hour. The villagers started to gather at their house one by one to see the new girl.
Puspa never felt the attention of so many people. Here she was, in the house of his lover who had everything a man aspired: wife, children, parents and stable roof over their heads. But Bheemdu’s mother and wife were displeased with him: He has brought a girl from the town instead of earning money and sending the money to them. What would be the position of Mrs Bheemdu?
When Pushpa left the house to an outdoor toilet, Bheemdu’s mother confronted him, “What do you want to do with that girl, here?”
“I will marry Pushpa,” he said, clearly.
Mrs Bheemdu asked her husband, “What will I do?”
“Still, be my first wife,” he said, clearly, authoritatively, an authority that indicated to her not to raise her voice.
When the three were discussing, the patriarch of the family entered the house. Bheemdu’s father patted on his son’s shoulder: you did a good job. “Your second wife, will be another helping hand for the household,” he said. “We will get you married tomorrow.”
As the preparations for the marriage started, Bheemdu’s family had two issues to solve. Mrs Bheemdu’s parents who lived in the same village were disappointed with their son-in-law but they could not say or do anything as Bheemdu’s father blessed the couple.
By the evening, Pushpa’s family members, relatives and friends of the family – all males – reached the outskirts of Madigapalli in three-wheelers and bikes. Pushpa’s father Konda Reddy was determined to take his daughter back to their home but how? They discussed the only way was to forcefully enter into the village, and bring Pushpa back.
Sensing a trouble was going to happen, the villagers had gathered. The eldest to youngest in Madigapalli gathered around the parapet of the dried well, and discussed what to do if they came to take away ‘Pushpa’. They debated for and against:
“How can Bheemdu bring a girl when he is married?”
“He is a married man, with children.”
“That is not the issue here.”
“Proud moment for us, our villager has found a girl from another caste. The girl loved our man, otherwise she wouldn’t come here, in his auto. He is our hero.”
“This is not right. He has a wife. What about her?”
“We will come to that later. Time to unite.”
“To attack if the girl’s family comes to take back the girl.”
As the villagers expected, Pushpa’s father and his supporters were waiting on the outskirts of the village, how to take the first step.
The villagers also gathered, and made the move towards Pushpa’s father and his supporters, with axes and pickaxes and sickles.
The two groups inched closer and closer but who would take the first step of hurling a stone or sickle or an axe became the point of discussion for the all the boys and girls of the village who watched the unfolding scene from a comfortable spot: from a mound around a dried water well.