Sanhati, April 8, 2015
[Sanhati’s Editorial Note: In view of G. N. Saibaba’s continued incarceration, we are reprinting this article which was written by P K Vijayan in June 2014 and originally appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly.]
I want to tell you a story, of a little man, if I can; his name was – well, his name – we will come to it shortly. This little man was born into a wretchedly poor peasant family that lived on the outskirts of a little known village, with the out-castes and untouchables. This little man’s father had chosen to live with the marginal and the excluded, as a mark of solidarity with them – and this was motivated simply by an instinctive sense of justice, since the little man’s father was not even literate, let alone politically educated.
So the little man grew up amongst the sweepers and the scavengers, with hunger and deprivation as bosom companions to him and his siblings. Then, when he was barely five years old, he was afflicted with polio in both his legs, as a result of which he almost died from lack of medical facilities. But the little man’s father managed to stave off his death, by running from pillar to post, from every doctor to every dispensary that held out hope, till the fast-spreading disease was finally checked; nevertheless, the little man lost the use of both his legs completely from the disease.
This did not deter the little man or his father. He was enrolled in a mission school, where he learned to read and write and consumed everything he read with rapacious delight. Reading by the light of street lamps, dragging himself on his elbows and hands on the dirt roads of his village, from home to school, eating one meal in two days sometimes, the little man delighted in the world of books, and forgot about his own deprived and depraved one, for the hours that he was lost in them. The father meanwhile, took the little man wherever he could, showing him as much of the world as he could from the handlebars of his bicycle, obdurately refusing to accept that his son’s condition would limit his mobility. The little man thus grew up with a deep wanderlust and an indomitable will to overcome the limitations of his condition.