Shekher Sangawat stood near the window and kept looking outside. But his eyes weren’t registering anything other than the memories of the past. He closed his eyes and suddenly every little detail started to come back.
The first time he had heard about the Raijdas family was from his father Maldeo Sangawat. He had been narrating the family history to him and his cousin Vikram and being only about 5-6 years of age; the mention of that family triggered their interest. And there was a specific reason for it.
Time and again they had heard their grandfather and fathers opine about how friends had suddenly turned into foes.
Their association with the Raijdas family went long back. It started with an intense bond of camaraderie between their great-grandfathers, Thakur Jaswantveer Sangawat and Thakur Bhudev Raijdas. This friendship went back to the days when they were young boys of 15 or 16. In fact, the connotation of Veer to the name of the Sangawats was given by Bhudev after Jaswant Veer had saved his life during a fight with the local village boys.
The only difference between the two families was their residing villages. While Bhudev had his mansion in Bheem Baori village, Jaswantveer had his abode at Kesarigarh Basnag. But their friendship became a talk of the town as they grew up. When the time came for their marriage both refused to get hitched without the other getting married too. Both families waited until their sons found brides for themselves.
Years passed and their companionship just grew by manifolds. Both families were blessed with sons at the same time. And when the time came to name them, both friends got together and choose the names of their respective sons.
Bhudev named his friend’s son as Arjanveer and Jaswantveer coined the name Baldev to his son.
As Jaswantveer again became a father 3-4 years later, it was again Bhudev who named his second son Maldeo.
They were not friends with each other but also with the respective village folk. No one from Kesarigarh Basnag was ever returned empty-handed from Bhudev’s house and neither did anyone come back without the blessings of Jaswantveer if they were from Bheem Baori. Both the families were never regarded as separate; they were one.
And they remained one till tragedy struck.
Two years later both villages were suddenly struck by the fear of floods as the nearest dam had started to overflow after continuous four days of torrential rain.
The dam being in the close vicinity of Kesarigarh Basnag, the fear of it being wiped out completely was the biggest threat.
Without wasting any time Bhudev with a horde of villagers along with Jaswantveer had managed to evacuate the entire village hours before the tragedy struck.
They even tried their best to stop the waters from entering Bheem Baori, however, the heavy rains combined with the force of the dam waters just swept inside. Although there was government help present still it had become impossible to stop the devastation.
Bhudev and his wife along with their son got into the same boat as Jaswantveer and his family but as they reached the middle, their boat started to rock with the heavy flow of the waters, and Bhudev’s wife and son fell over.
Before even Bhudev could jump, Jaswantveer had already dived into the waters and grabbed them. One by one he handed them over to Bhudev and was about to climb into the boat when a swimming tree trunk struck him hard, separating him from the boat.
Bhudev was about to dive into the water when his son jumped into his arms crying out loud. Jaswantveer’s wife and sons scrambled to save him but they were stopped by the other villagers in the boat.
A day later when the waters cleared and the bodies of numerous villagers came through, Bhudev was the first one to spot the Jaswantveer. But he didn’t believe it till he saw his dear friend lying on the funeral pyre.
As the flames engulfed Jaswantveer, a wound lodged deep inside Bhudev’s heart. And slowly as the years passed by, the guilt of not having saved his friend ate him away till he became confined to his bed.
But still, he never forgot the Sangawat family. He could never forget what his friend had done for him. So when Arjanveer got married, he called on him to give his blessings.
And along with his blessings, he presented a palatial mansion (haveli) to Arjanveer.
Shekher opened his eyes and shook his head.
If only he hadn’t presented that haveli then all of this wouldn’t have happened.
Soon after gifting the haveli Thakur Bhudev Raijdas passed away.
And his death turned the whole Sangawat-Raijdas equation upside down.
Within years of his death, Bhudev’s son Thakur Baldev Raijdas moved the court to get the haveli back claiming that the Sangawats had stolen it.
The case got dismissed when Arjanveer presented proper deeds of the haveli signed by none other than Thakur Bhudev Raijdas.
But the seeds of the feud had already started to lay its roots. Time and again there would be unnecessary clashes between the Sangawats and Raijdas and almost all the times these fights would be instigated by the Raijdas family.
The animosity between the families became so intense that it even started to impact the relations between the two villages.
And suddenly one day the bridge of friendship between the two villages snapped. The road between the two villages suddenly became red as people from the two villages clashed with each other. Finally, as the administration intervened, the fight stopped but hostility and sense of malevolence remained in each and everyone’s heart.
Arjanveer tried his best to make the villagers understand but they didn’t deter from their stand. Finally, the panchayat and local administration decided to separate the two villages forever.
To ensure that the villagers do not clash again, a police check post was constructed on the juncture of the road uniting the twin villages.
As Shekher turned away from the window, his mind suddenly replayed the words of his father.
“Once the seeds of evil are sown there is no way to uproot it. You just have to wait till the day of culmination.”
And the day of culmination came but it destroyed such innocent souls.
And scarred one for life.