A Bullock Cart Ride To Cuttack – 60 Km, 60 Years Ago

A visit to Cuttack from a remote coastal village was not easy six decades ago. It did not take a few hours as there was no motorized transport. People had to walk, cycle or ride a bullock cart.

Bullock Cart (Representational Image)

When Gopal's mother agreed to his demand that he could accompany his father to Cuttack, his joy knew no bounds! He had always dreamt about the biggest town of Odisha after hearing stories from his father and their retinue of servants. On 3rd January, 1962, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was on a visit to Cuttack to attend a public meeting and everyone in the state was eager to see him.

Gopal had never been to Cuttack though his father was a regular visitor. Gopal was the son of Balaram Behera, a Zamindar under the Garh Harishpur estate. They were from Paatra family (trader caste) who also were money /rice lenders to farmers in distress. Poverty was entrenched in Odisha as crop loss was regular phenomenon due to monsoon floods or drought. The British had set up the Taladanda canal network to alleviate acute crop failure but the water did not irrigate all parts of coastal Odisha. Peasants led a hand-to-mouth existence with their tiny holdings and ever increasing expenditures on family ceremonies and religious rituals which led to little savings.