आज सकाळी काॅलेजला जाताना उक्कडगांपासुन तळ्याकडं जाणाऱ्या रस्त्यावर दोन लहाण मुले अनवाणी पायानं चिखल तुडवत चालताना दिसली, दोघंच बहिण भाऊ त्या सुमसान रस्त्याने चालताना बघुन मी गाडी थांबवली. खुप गोड आणि गोंडस परंतु तितकीच धाडसी असलेली हे लेकरं पाहुण मला माझं बालपण आठवलं. गावापासुन साधारणतः अर्धा किलोमिटरवर एक नदी वाहते त्या लेकरांची आई कदाचित तिथं धुणं धुवायला गेली असावी आणि तिलाच भेटायच्या ओढीणं हे चिमुकले चार पाय तिच्या दिशेने पडत असावे असा माझा अंदाज होता. मी देखील असे आईच्या मागे लागून कित्येकदा नदीवर गेलेलो आठवतंय, ह्या चिमुकल्यांना बघुन मला माझा भुतकाळ पाहत असल्यासारखंच वाटलं. हि लेकरं कुणाची आहेत म्हणुन कुणाला विचारावं म्हणलं तर त्या सुमसान वाटेवर चिटपाखरू देखील दिसत नव्हतं. दोन्ही बाजुला पुर्ण वाढ झालेला उसाचा फड आणि मधोमध असलेल्या चिखलवाटेवर चालत चाललेल्या त्या लेकरांची जरा काळजी वाटली म्हणुन गाडी थांबवून त्यांना बोलत बसलो. नुसता एकतर्फी संवाद सुरू होता माझा, ती छोटीशी चिमुरडी तिच्या दादाच्या पाठीशी लपून तोंडात अगठा धरून ईवल्याश्या डोळ्यांनी गंभीर होऊन बघत होती आणि तो मुलगा लाजत मुरडत फक्त माझ्याकडे पाहूण हसत होता.
अवघ्या दिड वर्षाची ती मुलगी आणि तीन वर्षाचा तो मुलगा गावाकडच्या वाटेने गुरांचा दल, गाई, म्हशी, शेरडं, कुत्री, डुकरं, साप, विंचू, असल्या कशाचिही भिडभाड न बाळगता आईच्या ओढीणे निघाली होती.
शेवटी बराच वेळ त्यांच्याजवळ थांबल्यावर दोन मुली गावाकडुन कमरेवर धुण्याची बादली घेऊन येताना दिसल्या या दोघांना त्यांच्या हवाली केलं आणि यांच्या आईपर्यंत पोहचवा काळजीनं असे सांगून गाडीला किक मारली. काॅलेजपर्यंत येईस्तोवर मनात एकच प्रश्न घुटमळत होता कि आईच्या भेटीची हि ओढ मोठे झाल्यावर का बरं कमी होत असावी ?

लेखक : प्रा.विशाल गरड
दिनांक : १५ फेब्रुवारी २०१८


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