Sunday, July 11, 2010

Post Hiatus

After a significant hiatus from the Kheda we're back. Nothing has changed, save for the sprinkling of green shoots peeping out from some fields. Just like before, the clouds thicken on the western horizon, only to blow eastward and dissipate. The monsoons are yet to arrive here. However, the delay in seasonal rains has only furthered each family's investment in preparing their fields for the much awaited precipitation.

As we drove into the Kheda yesterday an eerie emptiness greeted us. Doors were locked and the usually loitering children were nowhere to be seen. Apparently everyone was working in the fields. During the 100 days of NREGA work, the villagers had plenty of time to sleep, chat, learn stitching and attend Kishore Balika (KB) classes. Now, each family's personal crop is at stake. Fences have been rebuilt so stray cattle won't destroy the young saplings. Lunch is prepared in the morning and eaten in the fields themselves. This isn't just manual labour - it is land that if given the proper care and attention, will reap large benefits.

Unfortunately for us, this meant the KB and stitching classes couldn't happen during their usual times. We spoke with the village women in the evening, asking if they would like to be part of a new sewing class group. A 1 pm class was scheduled for tomorrow. Many of the KB girls restarted school, so they can no longer attend during the day. A time is yet to be rearranged for them.

Most people returned from their fields after 6 pm; I didn't get to meet everyone I'd hoped to. The kids showed up promptly at 8 pm, ready to learn. Thanks to Meenu Bua we had a new batch of books for the eager children. The 12-book Mahabharata series was an instant hit, even for those who couldn't read its heavy text. After class was officially over, Jasodha, Pooja, and Vimla hung around for a bit, singing songs and asking Nikhil to take their pictures. Once they left, I lay down on the doliya and stared up at the clear, starlit sky. It felt good to be back.

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