Bapurao Tajne is a Dalit labourer from the Kalambeshwar village in Washim district of Maharashtra.
Like every such feat of man’s indomitable spirit, Tajne’s too has a story.
In March this year, the upper class owner of a well refused his wife to draw water from it. Stung by the insult, Tajne cried all day. But the owner’s remarks had stirred something in him.
That day Tajne decided to do the impossible – dig a well in a rocky terrain. And so he began.
Though Tajne expected help from his neighbours and family, none came forward. On the contrary, he was even humiliated by his wife for trying to do something considered a fool’s errand given the terrain’s condition.
He had no experience digging a well but he stayed firm on his decision. He went to neighbouring town of Malegaon and bought digging tools.
Back in his village, Tajne trusted his instincts to choose the spot for his well. And then he began digging.
He toiled hard every day, working 14 hours at a stretch for 40 days. Of those 14 hours, Tajne gave six hours to the well and the rest to work as a labourer to keep his family alive.
He continued digging and one day struck water.
The well is now 15 feet deep and six feet wide at the top. Neighbours and nearby villagers are now thankful to Tajne for ending their water woes. At the same time they feel ashamed for making fun of him when Tajne was on his way of achieving this seemingly insurmountable feat.
But the kind and educated Tajne – he studied upto BA final – holds no ill-will at anyone, not even the upper class owner of the well whose barb triggered his spirit.
“I don’t want to name the well owner for I don’t want bad blood in the village,” Tajne told TOI.
His objective was simple – no one in his village should have to beg water from others.
The labourer is still working on the well trying to make it even bigger. Now there are hands eager to help him. While the village sarpanch visited his house, Tajne got a call from actor Nana Patekar who said that he’ll meet the man soon. And there are people in neighbouring towns and government officials offering support.
In parched Maharashtra, Tajne is the example of man’s will power. He is not alone today, but perhaps if there was no caste or class divide and the government officials did their job a little better, he would not have had to dig the well in the first place.