Every day , the nation debates on multiple issues of religion, caste, political violence etc. Entire newspaper reels are devoted to issues of elections, demonetization, sexual violence, GDP, the idiosyncrasies of the glitterati and the like.
But here, completely outside the realm of urban existence, one becomes acutely aware that the real issues are very simple- SURVIVAL. EXISTENCE.
As the car glides ( and bumps, depending on the condition of the particular stretch of the road) on NH-33 (Ranchi- Jamshedpur Highway), I see some visages from the hinterland:
• A young girl (aged around 7-8? ..roughly my daughter’s age) working the handpump to wrench out water from the dry earth, while an older woman patiently waits for her turn with multiple vessels
• A chap (too young to be the father, I presume) interrupting his daily schedule to bring a girl back from school
•A tribal with his bow and arrow – hunting for prey I guess. But where are the prey at this time of the day?
•Two women waiting for their turn to work the fields, the day’s ration hoarded up in their humble gunny bags
• A daily wage worker mom carrying her baby by her side ( in the fashion that women in this part of the country adopt) and bag on her head , balancing both (no mean feat) and proceeding to work under the blazing sun ( the temperature outside is 40 degrees Celsius)
They are all preoccupied in their own pursuits, ignoring the heat and the dust , ignoring the passing vehicles, going about their chores happily, nonchalantly or grimly, as the case may be.
Suddenly, life doesn’t seem so complex anymore. It’s really very simple in these parts. Life is about existence and survival. Period. Modi- Yogi- Bhogi be damned.
I salute these resilient people, who make up our hinterland. India lies in its villages, so said Mahatma Gandhi. And truly, these people make up the actual India. Living under ( and literally making a living under) the blazing sun and amidst the swirling dust ,is no mean achievement.
Jai Ho , people of Jharkhand!
( Taken on NH-33 with my trusted Lumia 730, and digitally altered to black and white. Images are a little blurred, but decipherable I hope )