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The following diary entry comes from the pen of a man who suffered a

great deal of trauma in his childhood because of the infestation of his


village by Cholera and Malaria. He talks about the incident and how he
was mentally able to survive it. He talks about hope which was instilled
in him by one of his village members: Pehalwan Luttan Kaka.

The sound of hope

17th May 1930

Saturday

10:24 pm

Dear Diary,

Life gets very strange sometimes. Everyone has their own secrets and painful memories that they want
to forget but sometimes it seems that these thoughts deliberately try to come in our mind at times
when we do not have any control over them. I dream. I dream about a lot of things. Now-a-days it
seems that the only image that comes in my dreams is of those unforgiving days and desperate nights. I
am all alone and you are my only solace. I have thus decided to pour my heart out (once again) and talk
about those dark times that have forever blemished my past and will continue haunting me in the
future.

The year is 1913. I was merely a child of 11 back then. My village was a prosperous one. We were a
happy bunch of people. We had a great king. His name was Karnavat. He was a just man and he ensured
justice and safety for all his people. My father was a farmer and by God’s grace, we had enough land and
resources to our disposal. The person who is most vivid in my memory is Luttan Kaka. He was an uncle
to all the children and a brother to all the grownups. He was a wrestler and his love for wrestling was
unparalleled. Every day he used to teach us children about the basics of wrestling which we greatly
cherished. He used to roam all around the village flexing his youthful body during the carnivals which
happened nearly every month in our village. He was loved equally by all and was the star of our village.
But as someone has rightly said, nothing lasts. After few years our beloved king Karnavat passed away
and his son became the new ruler of our village. He had different ideas about wrestling. Western culture
must have seeped deep into his mind because soon after becoming the king he replaced wrestling with
horse racing. Soon after that Luttan Kaka was expelled from the court and he started living at the edge
of the village. We villagers had set up a small hut for him where he started living with his two sons. I do
not know why but soon after that incident the world seemed to become empty for me. All we children
loved wrestling and now it was simply gone. When I think about that time now, I feel that the ending of
wrestling in my village symbolized the ending of childhood for us children. I felt that first dull ache in my
heart that has become a part of my life now. Few years passed by after that. Luttan Kaka still used to
teach us children the basics of wrestling but it wasn’t the same thing that it was back then. It had a
different feeling now. But still, being a child, I somehow used to reminisce about the old days from those
lessons. I never realized the passion and fire that was in me for wrestling. At least not till the worst
happened to our village…

After a few years of that incident, in 1917, my village was struck by Malaria and Cholera: The Devil’s
masterpiece. People of my beloved village were dying like flies. Hope was shattered and darkness was
abound. I was old enough to understand the peril that my village was in. The days were bad and the
nights were the worst. The silence of death was deafening. It tore through our souls and killed every last
one of us from the inside. The first few to give in were my parents. I still remember the emotions that
passed through me that day. I did not cry. My tears were dried up. I had lost all the hope. Then one day,
at night, when the village was in a corner like a scared puppy, I heard that sound. It energized me. It
soothed me. And most importantly, it made me feel alive. The sound was coming from Luttan Kaka’s
Dholak. That tune was much more than a bunch of notes sewn together. It spoke to me. It soothed me.
It gave me a newfound hope. That night, I slept like a baby. The next day when I woke up, I saw the
whole village talking about yesterday’s night incident. Everyone looked hopeful. It seemed that the
simple act of Luttan Kaka did the impossible. It gave us hope. It made us believe that there was still a
chance of survival. Days went by and Luttan Kaka’s dance with death continued. His sound of Dholak
acted like a lullaby for all of us villagers. A week after that incident, I heard that Luttan Kaka’s two sons
had succumbed to Malaria. I still remember how I felt that day. My heart went out for Luttan Kaka. I
couldn’t hold it now. I started crying. I cried for hours. My mind went numb. Once again, I had that
feeling of hopelessness. I felt that we had lost. But then at night, I heard the sound of Dholak again. I
was not able to believe my ears. That night he played Dholak continuously for hours and hours with
seemingly increasing strength. It felt like he was wrestling with death. The image of Akhada crossed in
front of my eyes. It continued like that for a few days until one night when the sound did not come from
his house. I couldn’t sleep that night. The next morning when we villagers went to Luttan Kaka’s house
we found him lying on the floor with his Dholak on the other side. Luttan Kaka had passed away.

How did I take his passing away? Did I cry? No. The way I saw it, it was only his body that had left this
world. His spirit was still there in every one of us. Luttan Kaka had left his legacy. He single handedly
fought the diseases. Everyone in our village felt the presence of Luttan Kaka in their heart. Now there
was no more desperation. We were the soldiers and we continued to march ahead through everything.
Soon, everything changed and the diseases were wiped out of our village just the way they came. At the
end we were cured…

I cannot say it for the others, but somewhere deep in my heart I am still haunted by the memory of
those days. Years passed by but the dreams are consistent. That experience made me strong in one way
and weak in the other. But I continue to remember one thing: No matter how many times life knocks
you down, the only thing that you can do is to stand up. After that incident, I realized that in life
everyone has got to take a beating sometimes, be it physical or mental. I took mine. But I wouldn’t be
affected by it. I will continue to move forward, just like Luttan Kaka did…
Goodnight Diary,

See you soon…