To Walk The Distance

Shimanga is a rusty old town in the middle of nowhere. In fact, it would have become a ghost town had it not been for the iron ore deposits next to it. Thanks to this, a relatively small industry was thriving in this place for almost hundred and twenty years.

The ‘Trishool’ steel factory was the only god known to the thousands of laborers who lived in that place. There were hardly a handful people who had business apart from the factory.

Chinnappa was just another face in the crowd. Not much had changed since he started working in that place forty years ago. He had got a job in the factory when his father had died due to an accident in one of the mines.

Life had been a smooth sail for the old man. There was nothing much happening around in any case. He had a good married life of thirty-three long years before his wife passed away. His son was working for a small firm in a nearby city; and he took time to come back every now and then to visit his father.

In fact, his son even insisted him to come and join him in the city. But Chinnappa was now used to this place, that he could not see beyond the limits of the town. He had too many friends to leave back; starting from the mosquitoes in his house to his neighbour Sudhakar. He could not dream of leaving this place and ‘live’ a life.

He started from his house at around six in the morning and cycled all the way to the factory with his lunch box which hung on to its dear life on one side of the handle bar. The cycle was reflective of the small town – all rusty and tarnished, but still going good.

The monotonous clatter of the pedal brushing against the mud-guard and the occasional ringing of the bell whenever he passed over any pot holes, they were all there, as always, to accompany him in his journey.

A casual wave to his neighbors and the constable near the police station; a friendly hello to the watchman of the factory and some known faces amongst his co-workers, who like him thronged at the factory gates by seven in the morning; a salute to his companions at his work shaft; and a “gud morning sair” whenever he managed to pass across the division manager’s desk. He was an able worker; otherwise how else could he have managed to survive all those layoffs which occurred every now and then.

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