“A teardrop on the face of eternity”….that is how someone described the Taj Mahal. For sure, for many of us, the Taj epitomizes the grandeur of romance and to those who swear by the magic of love, being together in the vicinity of that monument on a moonlit night ,is the ultimate ode to one’s romantic inclinations.
But then, Shah Jahan had at his disposal, all the wealth that could pay for the architectural splendour of that building ; he had at his bidding, craftsmen from far and wide, who laboured through days, months and years, so that he, the Emperor, could bask in its glory.
All the admiration one had for the Badshah, however, paled to insignificance, when, for the first time, one read about Dashrath Manjhi, the Mountain Man of Gehlour, near Gaya in Bihar, who for 22 years, chipped away at a mountain, to build a road across it.
Dashrath Manjhi was twenty years old, when his wife Phalguni Devi slipped and fractured her leg, on the way across the mountain, while carrying food for her husband. Without sparing another thought about the foolhardiness of single-handedly chipping through a mountain with a hammer and a chisel, to cut out a road through it, he went about doing just that. People called him mad, but nothing deterred him. He shifted his dwelling closer to the mountain so that he could continue working at night. He kept chipping away for 22 long years till the people of his village could walk through, across the mountain on a road that was 360 feet long, 25 feet high and 30 feet wide. Sadly, his wife did not live to see it.
Manjhi died of Cancer at the age of fifty seven a couple of years ago. He had been admitted to the All India Institute of medical Sciences in New Delhi at the behest of the Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar. It had been reported that on an earlier occasion, when Manjhi met the Chief Minister in a junta durbar, at Patna, the Chief Minister had got up in reverence and made him sit on his chair.
Manjhi had been allotted five acres of land in Karjani village by the State Government. True to his character, he donated the land for building a hospital. When he died, he was given a state funeral.
This blog is my salute to Manjhi and his indomitable spirit and his palpable love.