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Meet Andrew Perkins, The Keeper Of The Bungalow At The Top Of Hill And All Its Loneliness

Andrew Perkins has heard of the homeland dream, but he does not believe in it. He has his own dreams, but those are on hold ever since he began looking after the hill-top bungalow in McCluskieganj. For now, the house, full of loneliness, is everything he has.

Andrew Perkins in McCluskieganj
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Up on the little hill, in a house with a portico, a young man lives all alone. There is no road leading up to the house. Whatever there was is left in slight traces, like everything else here. Andrew Perkins has heard of the homeland dream but he doesn’t believe in any of it. He has his own dreams except they have been put on hold for a while ever since he came down here to look after the house so that nobody else takes over possession as has happened in some cases. The house, full of a strange loneliness, is everything he has. His sisters send him an allowance and he lives in this house with green doors waiting for a future that seems far away.

Andrew’s uncles left like many others. His grandfather was one of the early settlers who bought this bungalow in the 1930s. There are many stories about the Perkins. They say his grandmother, an Adivasi, used to work at his grandfather’s house and they fell in love. The grandfather had been married before.

The woman was married off but would come down the hillock in the evenings and walk to the Perkins bungalow. Once, they even injured her leg to stop her from going there but she escaped. When she reached the bungalow, she knew she wasn’t going back.

Like everyone else here, the shared memories are of the potluck lunches and dinners and picnics and those were the glorious days when they still had hope. But Andrew wasn’t born yet. His mother was Adivasi. His father used to work for the mother’s elder sister as a tractor driver in Simdega and his aunt was married to an Anglo-Indian. That’s how he met his mother and they came to stay here.

Perkins inherited a dream. It was almost an imposition. 

“The only thing left is this house. People come here to look for what McCluskieganj is also looking for. Everything has vanished,” he says.

Perhaps he will write about the ‘good old days’ just to preserve some of that past that he didn’t witness. The nights cut him off. After 5 pm, he doesn’t go out. It is dark.

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