Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fracture, Silence, and Questions

Yesterday, one of the other volunteers, Jhuma, had fractured her wrist after she fell off a bike. She and her field partner, Chittranjan, accompanied us today. With her white cast supported by a sling, Jhuma seemed way too excited about having a fracture. It's my first fracture! Strangely, she was happy. Her optimism was inspiring.

We revisited Ramachandrapuram in the morning to better gauge the condition of that community. In the afternoon, we went to a settlement called Lilin Colony. The villagers were not open with us. Perhaps they were intimidated with such a large group of people visiting their isolated settlement. Since Chittranjan also spoke Telugu, I was able to sit with him and the tribal women separately as Naveen spoke with the men. The women divulged that the Salwa Judum had harassed some women in their native village. We were also told that a woman from a nearby village had been raped and killed. This information was divulged so nonchalantly, I doubted its validity.

Even the village we visited in the evening, Narayanrao Peta, remained quite distant and answered our questions vaguely. What struck me about the third village was how silent it was. Silence filled the air. The echo of women slapping wet clothes on rocks by the pond was the only sound, except for the dirt crunching under the soles of our shoes. The conversations with the villagers revealed very little. For one, we discovered that their relations with the local tribes were somewhat strained. The lone drinking water source lay in the farther end of the same village where the locals lived. The locals claimed that the IDPs were living on their cultivated land and had to vacate it. A few IDPs claimed that they were going to vacate this land. But where would they go? Why where they living on fields? Were the locals twisting the truth? These questions remained unanswered as the evening turned into an inky night. We found our way to the car using flashlights. I made a mental note to speak with local communities in the future visits we undertook.

Heavy Silence (Photo Credit: Jhuma Sen)

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