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The boy named Kancha

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He made no demands and walked with us to help, showing his kindness and good heart.

On one of my visits to Arunachal Pradesh in 2014, two friends and I came across a boy, around 15 years old, on the roadside in the interiors of Lohit district. He was helping his grandmother sell fruits and vegetables. He helped us find a mechanic near the woods as our car suffered a sudden defect. We had to walk some distance to reach a garage.

The boy introduced himself as Kancha — as people fondly called him over there (Kancha means the youngest boy in Nepali) — and led us to the garage. It was so enjoyable walking in the scenic beauty that we stopped panicking about the vehicle’s condition.

On the way, I got enough time to interact with Kancha. Eager to know about their lives, I just asked him how they spent their days in that beautiful hill. He said the place was beautiful and calm, but they had to travel many miles to reach the city, especially for medical treatment.

When I asked about his family, he told me that he lived with his grandmother and he often accompanied her for the roadside sales. Asked about his parents, he replied that his mother passed away several years ago. His father was in the Army, but had not visited for the past seven years. His grandmother had been his only caretaker since childhood.

Listening to his story, we became a bit emotional and our hearts filled with sympathy towards the boy who, with no demands, was walking with us to help. His helping nature truly showed his kindness and his heart for humanity. Seeing this, I imagined his upbringing to be a good one. When I asked him what he thought about his father then, he told me that he hoped his father would come home one day. And if that didn’t happen, he would join the Army with the hope that maybe he would find him there.

“Are you not afraid of getting injured or killed by the enemies while in the Army,” I asked. He replied recalling his father saying that Gurkhas are never afraid of dying; else, he is not a Gurkha. So being the son of a Gurkha, he would be proud to join the Army.

Our conversation amid the rocks and greenery all around made us forget that we had already walked about 3 miles. Finally, we reached a garage from where the mechanic came along with us and fixed our vehicle. Before we departed from the place, I asked the child what we could do for him in return. He shyly replied that he wished to have a ride home, suggesting to us the distance to be an hour on foot. But we could drive him only till the wheels could travel, as the lane was too narrow for a car to pass through. However, the boy, pointing towards the middle of the woods, let us know that his house was not that far from the place. We appreciated his help and bid him goodbye with a promise to visit his house in the future. But as days passed, all three of us forgot about him.

But his story was somewhere ingrained in my heart. I recalled the meeting with the two friends and planned to visit his place on our next travel to Arunachal Pradesh, wondering he might have grown up into a young lad now. Thus, on my visit to Arunachal this July, a friend and I went to the same place where we had left him. But things had changed; the woods were no more dense and many houses have come up. On enquiring about him, the residents said the boy had left the place a year after his grandmother’s death. I kept thinking about where could he have gone, and no one had any idea. Then, a lad came and told us that the boy was one of his friends and he had recently left for the Army after he qualified in the recruitment test a few months ago.

Though we failed to meet him, the news of his joining the Army made us happy for the brave Kancha.

karunlamascholar@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:07:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-boy-named-kancha/article29864133.ece

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