Reams of newsprint have already been dedicated to the National Highway-39, which has now acquired the epithet, “Highway to Hell” because of the perils, natural and man made, that travellers on it are exposed to. Some even say that the highway may actually be jinxed. From the time of the World War-II, when Japanese and Indian National Army, INA, soldiers met with death and destruction on it, to the present day, the name of the game on it seems to be dacoity, death and destruction still. This perilous highway to Hell, once led to a luxuriantly green valley, the fecundity of which made life easy and left room for creative leisure. The rich cultural heritage and sporting tradition that the valley has been accorded, have been the rewards of both hard work and a kind, bountiful nature, most particularly its fertile soil, where it is once said, a year’s harvest was enough to feed the population for two years. Today, such stories have become nothing more than myths. For the reality we are faced with is something entirely different. The Highway to Hell now leads to no relief at the end of it. Instead it lands the travellers straight on the laps of the Valley of Death. No we are not talking about any baroque piece of literature. We are talking about the valley you and I know as home and the Japanese code named as the “Flower on the Lofty Heights.” during their India campaign of the World War-II.
How green was our valley, is only a distant memory now. The more relevant question now would be, how red are our hills and vales, rivers and lakes, the streets and playgrounds, from the numerous bloodbaths and daily mayhem. The golden land of the story is today a land of perpetual dreads and terrors. On every front, there is nothing to be happy about. And the sadder part of it is nobody seems interested in doing anything about it. As for instance, we have heard alarmed whispers of the rising unemployment in the land. The figure is somewhere in the vicinity of four lakhs. Considering the population of the state is only a little over two million, this makes for an extremely high percentage. But the fact again is, employment here is defined as government employment only. Neither the government nor those seeking employment have shown any inclination to change this attitude. For the government, jobs are still doles that it distributes to favourites, and for the job seekers, employment does not mean gainful employment of his brain or brawn or both and getting the worth of his ability, but government salary without the exercise of either brain or brawn. Like on this front, the status is one of ennui and stagnation on every other that has the stamp of the government on it.
Outside this suffocating world of the government, are the killing fields. It is the world where human life has become absolutely valueless. It is full of martyrs barely out of their teens who give up their lives for the cause, and martyrs barely out of their teens who take other’s lives for the same cause. The revolution is raging and the fury within it is terrifying beyond words. The fury in the hearts of those who think the revolution is misplaced is not any less terrifying either. Somewhere down the line, the issue ceased to be one of a creative force struggling to be born. It has instead become one big and violent confusion where many struggle mindlessly for supremacy. They have also made sure that all sense of security of the ordinary citizen is destroyed beyond recognition. Further this once upon a time golden land has turned into an inferno of insatiable flames.
Remember the verse: “My fatherland is on fire. My son is that you? Go douse the flame.”