Wake up at 7, get ready by 8, eat breakfast and leave for work by 9.
Monday to Friday.
Week after week.
This was my life in Mumbai for the first two years of working in the PR industry. I am sure a lot of people would relate themselves with this schedule and find it monotonous, sometimes even difficult. The long wait for the weekend sustains our life for the rest of the week. I would have continued with this thought for probably the rest of my life until I joined India Fellow.
As a part of our training here, we were supposed to visit a village and just observe our surroundings without asking questions. Now imagine someone like me, who has never been to a village before. I was ready to talk and question the people I would meet. But I’m all for following rules. A little nervous and a lot excited, I embarked on a day long trip to Brahmano ki Hunder.
It is a small quaint village in the outskirts of Udaipur city. I had obviously thought of how dirty, small and unorganized villages are, and had imagined kuccha pucca houses with one small door each, cattle all around. My first few steps in the village shattered all my fictional thoughts. There were beautiful, well constructed houses with intricate designs of traditional art forms on every door. Massive farms surrounded the entire village. As I had reached early in the morning, I could see people cleaning their houses and working on fields.
Most of them were taking their cows out of the house just like we take our dogs for a walk. I was so amused to witness all of this that I craved for more. While walking along the narrow roads, I was met with a warm stare. My urge to ask questions was over powered by a sense of familiarity in their eyes. Wearing a colorful yellow and green sari with a pallu on her head, Kesar didi was a tall, slim lady with a soothing smile. She welcomed me with the traditional ‘Khamma Ghani’ and brought a hand woven dari for me to sit on.
I reminded myself the purpose and resisted my quest to start interrogating her. She immediately started asking me all the whys, hows, whats and wheres. I was glad that she had so much to talk about. Kesar didi was the head of the anganwadi at the village. She would come there everyday and encouraged other mothers to send their children to the center. If they wouldn’t come, she would bring all the eligible ones from the village to the anganwadi all by herself. That was her level of commitment.
Earlier, I had a perception that people in villages must be disinterested in availing the government schemes or be a part of public programs. But meeting with Kesar didi and other villagers was instrumental in making me rethink that notion.
After chatting for a while, she insisted on visiting her farm. I gladly moved along with her. Passing through trees, flowers, birds flocking and goats grazing, we reached her farm after a good 10 minute stroll. It was incredibly amazing. Kesar didi started to explain everything to me and I was as eager as a child. It was a big farm with maize and peanut cultivation. To my surprise, it was her who looked after that land all by herself.
A 20-year old young lady who is married, has two children, manages an aanganwadi, is responsible for all the household work and even this farm. Even after all this, she reflected a calm demeanor. I think that’s where lies her power and strength which in itself was a lesson for me.
Kesar didi was inspiring. In fact, not just her but even other women of the community whose story I haven’t narrated here. Without leading a conversation, I learnt so much from them. Until now, it was only in articles and stories that I had read of ordinary yet motivating women. Having met them, I felt overwhelmed. As a takeaway, I’ll definitely try and imbibe one quality in me, that of living life to the fullest in spite of the hardships.