As I drive around this village, I see how harsh living conditions are. It is visible everywhere- in the fodder grass drying on the trees (I know how much hard work is involved in cutting the grass for cows and then drying it for the winters), in the fields that are worked upon all year round (back breaking work with little return), in the ragged school kids, in the condition of clothes drying on clothes lines, in the mud houses barely holding together, and in the roads that are never more than stones and mud. Life here is hard and harsh.
But as I drive around, I feel my heart uplifting. I love living in this village.
I love the grass drying on the trees. It, to me, is a sign of family values, for no one person can collect so much grass all by herself. Families toil together for months to collect this much grass. It also is a sign of love and care for their precious cows, gentle creatures, who give back as much as they take in.
I love the fields that change color based on what is being sown or harvested. It, to me, is a sign of give and take from the Earth, something I was so far removed from for years. I envy those who touch the Earth so closely and are touched by it. How very blessed they are. And how disconnected are the likes of us!
I love the ragged children. They have none of the goodies that city kids have- no vitamins, no tabs, no TV, no books, no play grounds, no cloying parents to oversee them. Nothing. Yet they have such light in their eyes. And they make me feel so special just because I stop to talk to them or teach them occasionally in school. They make me believe I could make a difference in their lives, and how rare and beautiful is that!
I love the worn out clothes that people wear. On days when I am wrapped in layers to beat the cold, I see young kids and old folks walking around in threadbare sweaters and chappals on their feet. That, to me, is a sign of such wholesome health, because you can survive here in that attire only if you are active all day and hardy as a bull.
I love the mud houses with their rooms in a row, slate roofs and huge aangans. These are the only type of dwelling that merge seamlessly with the mountains and rivers and trees around us. I have always believed that everything nature makes is beautiful and everything man-made is ugly. But mud houses prove me wrong.
I love the unmade broken roads. It is because of them that we slow down and I can look around at these pretty sights in my village. It is them that remind me that we are nothing. Our tar sprayers and road rollers can do whatever they want, but come monsoon, roads will be washed off. We are insignificant against the elements that rule our world here.
That is why I love living here in this village. It makes me at once insignificant and impactful. It makes me feel connected to the source of life. It makes me see as I have never seen before.
And I can't stop looking.
And I can't stop looking.