Today was a very big day for him. The entire hutment locality of
Jeevan Nagar, where he stayed, had been decorated and cleaned up like a festival. Dnyanesh, who was physically looking old at 70, with palms and hands showing sign of cuts and bruises he had over the years had the energy of 25 year old. He had made them proud as he was going to be interviewed by the people of a TV program.
Dnyanesh, a small boy, from Satgaon near Alandi had moved to Lonavala and was now a name to be proud of. Everyone admired him for his skills at gardening. His hands worked like magic and transformed an ordinary looking mass of soil into a wonderland of colours. Dnyanesh, or ‘Dnyanba’ as he was fondly called by young and old, was a popular name in all households having anything from front or backyard garden to small pots hanging in windows or balconies as their gardens.
Dnyanesh, was the elder son of his parents and named after Sant Dnyaneshwar whom his parents revered and worshipped. He had been seen in the bungalow housing colonies since he started walking as a 4 or 5 year old accompanying his father. As a child his small hands carefully helped his father to prepare the soil by mixing with manure or filling the pots or loosening the soil in the garden. He was an obedient child who would listen and do as his father told him.
Over the years, Dnyanba learnt the nitty-gritty’s of gardening with expertise and was on his own after his father’s death when he was just 14. He had to look after his three younger sisters and mother. His mother did jobs as a household help in the housing colony. It was his parents’ desire especially his father’s to educate the girls and so all the girls had been going to a small school. Dnyanba now took the responsibility to see that all his sisters were educated.
Dnyanba always wore a smile and when the garden was ready and gleaming with flowers he would ask the owners, “Bai/Sahab, how has the garden turned out?”Awaiting a reply eagerly, but shying away, he would stand in a corner wiping sweat on his hands and forehead. He would be rewarded with a pat on his back, money ,sweets or clothes not only as an appreciation for a job well done but for the love and sincerity with which he did his job.
Over the years, Dnyanba was a regular in the locality.He looked ordinary but when it came to skills,extraordinary than perhaps even the certified or educated class.
Dnyanba worked silently singing hymns of Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram with utmost devotion as he did his job. He had filled colors in every household with flowers of every color, made it green with different shades one could think of and a soothing and beautiful place to own. The pots and gardens he planted were not plants he planted but babies, he grew with care, and when they grew they cheered back with beautiful flowers and juicy fruits.
Dnyanba was a self made institute over the years. He was called by small groups undertaking gardening courses to demonstrate and guide students. Over the years, redevelopment took place in localities and the small bungalows were to be made into apartments. The builders also took advice from him to plan gardens or have potted plants as per his suggestions. Dnyanba had also trained youngsters from his neighborhood who were now working under his guidance in the localities nearby.
It was always a wonder that everyone had and now the story would be told all over the world through the powerful media of television. Dnyanba was answering questions with the same smile he had always.” And a final question before we conclude”, said the Madam interviewing him. “How can a person who has never seen colors of life add colors to everyone else’s life with such finesse?” she asked. Dnyanba smiled and replied, “Madam, beauty does not require eyes but has to be felt from heart”.There was a huge round of applause.
Everyone was proud that their fellowman though blind by birth was perhaps the most gifted with an extraordinary vision which most of us would barely have.