Bhimo Kolhi came to the presence of his local political patriarch, the tribal-caste feudal lord whom he voted and elected to the Provincial Assembly and who had become a minister.
Bhimo requested:“Saeen, if I may beg your mercy to allow me to ask for a piece of government wasteland where I could build my nest?”
The Minister, sitting in the middle of the audience gathered at his spacious guest house, replied with authority:
“Wherever you ask, go and find a place and settle there.”
“Saeen, there near the godowns, the government land is vacant, only if you allow me….”
Urdu-speaking man seated nearby the Minister cut off Bhimo and replied:
“…No, no, no Saeen, in fact, we have reserved that plot for the training center for the boys.”
Bhimo had other options in his mind, and replied:
“Alright….there is..near the road beside the water course, there is a small plot there…..”
Another man rose and said:
“Man, that land has been specified for building the social welfare office”.
Bhimo then suggested a third option, another piece of land, but someone again rose up and said: “That has been allocated for the girl’s hostel”.
None of Bhimo Kohli’s suggestions passed the mandate of the underlings of the Minister. The Minister said:
“Bhimo, please come up with any other suggestions. These plots are already booked”
Disapponted, Bhimo answered:
“My lord! No Wadero (landlord) allows us to settle on their lands. We can do nothing. It would have been auspicious for us if the Almighty had created us in the form of birds. Then at least we could have built our nests on trees, or could have respite on electricity posts and wires. There is no place for us on this land.”
After a couple of years, shops and bungalows were built on those plots by those very men who had denied Bhimo the same plots of land. Menwhile, Bhimo Kolhi and his family shifted their temporary shelter from the land of one Zamindar (landlord) to one of the other.
After a few years, same the Minister happened to visit the village where Bhimo Kohli and several other landless Kolhi peasant families had settled temporarily. The Minister delivered a robust speech before the crowd and said:
“You Kolhi are the true sons of the soil, you are the inheritors of the five thousand year old civilization of Dravidians.”
Amidst commotion of clapping, Bhimo Kolhi asked an educated fellow of his community sitting nearby: “My brother, Who are those Kolhis whom my lord calls the true owners of the land of Sindh! We here are living a life worse than animals and birds”.
The educated fellow replied: “Uncle. This is politics that is beyond your level of understanding”.
Short story translated from Sindhi by Sufi Ghulam Hussain.
Dayaram Rikhisir Meghwar is a civil engineer and anti-caste activist from Sindh, Pakistan.