Last week was filled with memorable experiences. We had the inauguration and book release of 8 Kuvi story books, the ‘Wadu Aju Kerina’ series. It was a momentous event, celebrated with by communities at H and K. We look forward to many more story and song books!!
A day later, A and me trekked down to J village. It’s about 8 km from school, and took us a couple of hours at a leisurely pace. We walked the narrow paths that have been made by the villagers, stopping to say hi to school kids and old students on the way at P and T villages. We climbed steep slopes, slid down paths, crossed the stream. We passed families making sun baked bricks, building houses, girls making palm leaf mats. The short cut path through the fields had been recently cleared. We thanked the many hands that made it so easy for us to walk down the hill. We finally reached J by 2pm just in time for lunch. The girls had left lunch for us and gone trekking up the ‘Domberetta’ mountain. We could see them on the top of the hill, tiny little stick figures waving to us from the huge huge rock at the top of the mountain. We had lunch and set out to meet the rest at the top of the hill. We met a hunch backed lady roasting ‘paerka’ and she kindly shared some of the juicy seeds with us.
The boys were leading the way confidently, but it soon became apparent that we were lost. We pushed our way through the thorny bamboo, clambered over small boulders and stopped to enjoy the view of J village. We were still lost, and there was no sign of any path, but there was only one way forward – UP! We could soon hear the shouts of the gang ahead and in no time we could see then waving to us from the top! The view from the top was stunning. “You have to climb a bit more, right to the top” coaxed S.
We scrambled up behind them. We could see across the mountains, into the next valley. The villages on the other side, C block, with the fields ploughed or planted, thin dirt roads snaking through the hills connecting villages with their parallel streets and sloping roofs. The girls and villages kids has already scaled the big boulders on top and were resting in various nooks and crannies.
We struggled to the top, crossing narrow ravines and tall boulders. Over the hill, J was no longer visible, but H and G villages were pointed out to us. Adivasi villages blend into the landscape around them, like salt dissolving in water. The tilled lands around the village, at various stages of agriculture, give it away much more than the village itself. In this day and age, where climate change and sustainability are the watchwords of development, we have so much to learn from these hill and forest dwelling communities.
So after snacking on bananas and pressure cooker cake, and many photo sessions later, we headed down to J. The kids collected any trace of plastic and waste what we brought along. A lesson to us mindless consumers from the people who consume minimally and live sustainably. This time, we refused to let the boys be guides and followed the village mothers instead. They showed us firewood collection areas, different sections of the forest for each clan or village. They used their axes to clear the path of branches and brambles. They told stories about the myths sounding the mountain. The kids of course raced down ahead of us, and we were very ably led down the mountainside by a lady who had a limp from polio!
We met the cows coming home, men walking in from the forests, women from the bore well and kids from playing at the stream. Electricity and PMGSY have not reached J but very house has a solar panel and a light. We met B’s sister. B is married into D village now, and is the Sarpanch of that panchayat. Talk about the impact of MRSK! We walked to the well to bathe and wash clothes. The girls had strung up a clothesline line outside the brick kiln. A dinner of hot rice and kandulo dal (red gram?) before we sat around the fires and kept warm. Domberetta mountain loomed high in the darkness, glowing silver as a crescent moon crept up from behind. The stars shone bright, shooting off sparks into space. We slipped into our mosquito nets and settled in for the night. Thanks you S and A for a wonderful day. May the tribe of U ever increase!