It was one of those days when you are grateful for everything that you have and also, understand the stark differences in the perceived reality and the actual reality. It was a long journey through the lush green mountains to reach Upla Thuriya, one of the villages that fall under the Kherwara block of Udaipur district. The village was situated amidst these very mountains and ponds. This made me question the validity of the single story of Rajasthan that I believed until now. Upla Thuriya was home to about 200 people and everybody seemed to be living harmoniously with each other.
The house that we were to live for 2 days in, was a well-cemented two-storey building. One temple of Lord Mahadev overlooked the house. It was a typical Rajasthani household with the women of the house wearing ghagras and men with the pagadi. This particular family included an elderly couple along with their two sons and their wives; out of which one of them had two kids. The day we arrived at the village, the daughter of the elderly couple had come home to see off her brother who was leaving for Kuwait. Somehow, going to Kuwait was a common thing in Upla Thuriya and the neighboring villages around. Barring the women, old people and children, the men of the village usually went off to Kuwait to earn their bread. When asked why, the responses were that Kuwait paid its laborers better than its Indian counterparts and hence preferred Kuwait over India.
With a lot of apprehension, we finally made it to this house. Since the welcome wasn’t particularly warm, our apprehensions doubled. Later, as the tea was being served we realized that the culprit was the initial shock and hesitancy that caused us to contemplate so much. I was thrilled by the idea of open toilets but to my surprise, there was a well-constructed toilet and a bathroom in almost all households. Either they were being used or under construction, but every house understood the concept of sauchalaya.
While sitting in the courtyard of the house, there were a lot of unspoken conversations between the family and us ranging from
“Who are these people?”
“How do we approach them?”
“Where are they coming from?”
“What a pretty attire!”
The ice finally broke when the daughter asked me about my giganormous nose pin. Somehow while explaining how I landed up with this nose pin, all the women of the house joined in chorus and asked me to remove the nose pin. The daughter, *Anusha and the second daughter-in-law, *Savitri narrated their life stories but one could observe the contrasting nature of their personalities as they did so. While one was frustrated and believed that there was no point in holding onto anything, the other one still believed that things could get better. This is something I fail to comprehend. How long can one hold onto something? What is that point or rather when does the breaking point come?
Anusha spoke with resentment. She had not continued her education after primary school and openly blamed her parents for that. She even blamed her parents for getting her married. Anusha was strongly convinced that she is in this for life and only death will liberate her. At the same time, Savitri who had come into the family only 3 months ago, believed that things would change. She was married to the second son. Savitri was also continuing her education after marriage. Unfortunately, she never had the time to go to college because she was either farming or cooking for the family.
“With a cut on her hand, she went through with her daily chores.
Glistening eyes with dreams to fulfill, she wore colorful attire.
As she narrated her story, Savitri held on to the faith that would set her free.”
Both of them spoke about how fortunate I am to have got such a comfortable and a cushioned life. This bothered me. Why are we not grateful enough? Why do we crib in spite of leading a life where we have a say in everything? But, I don’t know. Everybody has their own struggles and there is no classcism in pain or struggle. Pain is pain and struggle is struggle. There is nothing in between, all or none.
We all have our demons that we need to fight and sometimes, if the demon is too overpowering, it is completely alright to just live with it. You know why, because at the end you just want to seek refuge in something that makes you feel better.
*Names changed to protect identity