आज घरी निवांत वाचत बसलो होतो. तेवढ्यात आमच्या वाड्यातल्या दरवाजाजवळ उभा राहुन कुणीतरी आवाज दिला. वहिनी दादा हायतं का ? मी उठुन पाहिलं तर आमच्या पेठेतलं रामभाऊ कदम उर्फ भऊ व्हतं. घरात आल्या आल्या आमच्या आईला म्हणलं “लई दिसं झालं दादाला भिटुन तवा मनलं कसं हायतं ती बगावं म्हणुनशीन आलुया”. एवढ्या आपुलकीने ख्याली खुशाली बघायला आलेल्या भऊला पाहुण मला खुप कौतुक वाटलं. आमचे दादा घरी नसल्याने भऊ लगेच निघाले होते पण मीच थांबवून घेतले व चहाचा आग्रह केला. काही वेळात दादापण आले मग ढाळजत निवांत तक्क्याला टेकुन भऊ, आमचं दादा आणि मी जुन्या आठवणीत बुडून गेलो. भऊंनी वयाची पंच्याहत्तरी ओलांडली आहे. अंगावर मळकं धोतर, सदरा आणि टोपी परंतु मन अगदी स्पटीकासारखं स्वच्छ आणि निर्मळ. भऊला मी लहान असल्यापासुन बघतोय. हा माणूस मला कधीच निवांत बसलेला दिसला नाही सतत काही ना काही काम. परंतु आज या वयातही हाताची आणि पोटाची गाठ घालण्यासाठी दुसऱ्याच्यात साल काढत आहेत. त्यांच्या आजवरच्या आयुष्यातली दोन वर्ष त्यांनी आमच्यातही पन्नास पैसे रोजाने काढलीत. त्याची जाणिव ते विसरले नाहीत. आज सुद्धा घरी आल्यावर मालक असं, मालक तसं असे माझ्याशी बोलत होते. त्यांच्याकडुन मालक हा शब्द ऐकताना खुप कसनुसं वाटत होतं मला. “भऊ, मला मालक नका म्हणू मी तुमच्या नातवासारखा आहे” असे कित्येकदा विनवूनही भऊचं आपलं बोलणं चालूच होतं. माझे वडील लहान असताना आमच्या शेतात काम केलेले भऊ आजही जर आम्हाला ईतका आदर देऊन बोलत असतील तर या जाणिवेला काय म्हणावे समजत नाही. म्हणूनच या अशा माणसांच्या नावाअधी प्रामाणिक, जिव्हाळ्याची, प्रेमळ, आपुलकीची हि असली सगळी विशेषणं मातीमोलं वाटावी एवढ्या उच्च प्रतीचे प्रेम ती व्यक्त करतात.

भऊला एकुण तेरा मुलंबाळं झाली त्यापैकी आज फक्त दोन मुली हयात आहेत. मुलगा नसल्याने नवरा बायको दोघेही रोजंदारी करून जगत आहेत. जुन्या सर्वेत त्यांचे दारिद्र्य रेषेत नाव नसल्याने घरकुलाचे खरे हक्कदार असतानाही शासनाच्या भंपक सर्वेमुळे ते वंचित आहेत. “मालक, आमास्नी शीती नाय, शिक्षाण नाय आन् कुणाचा आधारबी नाय पण पांडुरंग रोज चतकोर भाकरीची सोयं करतोय”, “हात पाय चालतंय तवर राबायचं मेल्यावर कोल्हं न्हिऊ नायतर लांडगं कुणी बगीतलंय” अक्षरशः काळजात धस्स व्हावं असे त्यांचे शब्द काळजात खोलवर रूतत होते. वंशाला दिवा का पाहिजे याचे उत्तर भऊंच्या बोलण्यातून सतत अधोरेखीत होत होते. घरादाराची परिस्थिती अतिशय गरिब असतानाही आमच्या गल्लीतली गौराईची परंपरा त्यांनी आजवर समर्थपणे जोपासली आहे. त्यांच्या पश्च्यात ती सुद्धा नामशेष होईल. मला नेहमी गरिबीत जगणारी अशी श्रीमंत माणसं शोधण्याची सवय आहे आजही बऱ्याच दिवसांनी भऊंसोबत बोलायला मिळाले हे खरं तरं माझंच भाग्य समजतो. “भऊ, कधी काय गरज पडली तर नक्की या माझ्याकडं आय एम प्राऊड ऑफ यु”. यातलं अर्धच वाक्य समजलं असल त्यांना परंतु एक गोड हास्य माझ्या पदरी टाकून हातातली बॅटरी सुरू करून भऊंनी उंबरा ओलांडला. ते गेल्यानंतर कितीतरी वेळ मी आणि दादा भऊंच्या आपुलकीचं आणि माणुसकीचं कौतुक करत होतो. खरंच हि नुसती माणसं नसुन ग्रामिण जिंदगीतले खरे रिअल हिरो आहेत. आजही असे कित्येक रामभाऊ आपल्या अवती भवती कष्ट करत आहेत. गरज आहे फक्त त्यांना आपलं म्हणण्याची.

लेखक : प्रा.विशाल गरड
दिनांक : ०४ एप्रिल २०१८ 

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