When I Met Tulsi In A Parallel World

by | Sep 5, 2018

“Let me make roti and rabadi for you”, said Tulsi.

All at once, my image of an Indian village was crushed. I had always thought of villages as places deprived of clean drinking water, hygiene, well- connected roads, good schools and chemists. In my mind, all of rural India had kaccha houses with cattle and kaccha roads with infrequent power supply. The list was endless but what struck me the most was the fact that I had never visualized people living in these villages. Now when I think of Tulsi’s hospitality, I get goose bumps.

Tulsi, a young woman in Kavita village of Udaipur changed my perception of rural India. I had gotten used to our sophisticated culture in cities, where soft drinks and cold coffee are some of the ways to welcome friends, where even a knock at the door induces an unknown fear, where we meet people out of formality than willingness. And here she was, uttering those words – Atithi Devo Bhavah.

I was ignorant to think that this maxim is not alive in India anymore. Inviting a complete stranger to your home, offering them food, and talking to them as if you knew them since years – all this was beyond me. I realized the difference between a ‘guest’, one who bothers us with one’s presence and an atithi, the most awaited one.

Embracing such selfless hospitality was something I couldn’t do. If I was in Tulsi’s place, I wouldn’t have entertained any stranger in my home. The way I was brought up was totally different where I was instructed to interact only with family members and close relatives, to not be friendly with anyone else, to donate money in temples but not help people on streets.

Here, I had fallen in love with the fragrance of damp soil and unexpected greetings from people I had never seen before. I started asking myself the core difference between a city from where I came and a village I was visiting. Was it just about the people and landscape?

Far from hustle and bustle of Udaipur, Tulsi was least bothered with who was winning the elections or what were the new products in market. She only wanted roti, kapda, makaan, and had a ray of hope in her eyes. She may have also thought if I will be able to take her out of her troubles but I came back with an unforgettable experience of receiving honest smiles, meeting ingenuous hearts and a guilt of not being able to keep myself in Tulsi’s shoes. She taught the underlying difference between “Do you need something” and “Wait! I will make something for you”.

At the end of the day, I found myself reflecting on the question we had discussed a while back, “Why should we care for the poor?” and realized that when somebody is so selfless in spite of their circumstances, I can’t stop thinking about them. How can one leave them behind and head towards a developed nation when they may still be waiting. Why choose between a village and a city? Can’t we all be in the same nest?

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