Wednesday, 23 April 2014

May we be forgiven for not understanding ...

After Eashwaramma's chikunguniya attack, she used to be on daily painkiller injections and tablets.  I would ask her not to abuse herself thus, and to just stay on the ayurvedic medicines which would rebuild health. She would patiently answer me saying that if she could rest at home she would certianly do that, but she has to graze her wow, cut fodder for it ... and she cannot put her foot down without the support of those injections and tablets ... I fell silent.

Another time, with the inanity and stupidity (and arrogance ?) of the privileged and educated, I tried advising her to sell away the cow which she was in no shape to care for ... and that somehow we would help with expenses that singly bringing up two orphaned grandchildren entailed.

She again explained patiently, that is she ever needed a loan from a local moneylender, if she had a cow she would be seen as loanworthy - as she could sell milk and repay the loan.

The value and purpose of a cow to someone whose only asset in the world is that ... how could I, sitting in my ivory tower, even begin to realize 

Under the S.C. houseing scheme she had got a room sanctioned. But it was incomplete. For a long while, I kept telling her to repair her hut and manage ... and asked her why should she waste money on a cement room. Then one day I had gone with her down a stream to collect some medicinal roots. It was a long walk ... en route she stopped to collect a huge headload of firewood also. We came back quite tired and I, tired, went home to rest ... and I discovered that she had immediately gone off with her cow to graze it and get fodder. Evening I saw her blowing on a damp stove outside to get the fire going, and it was only smoking, smoking ... I had so long been firmly telling her that our job was only to help her with the food and education of the children, and her health needs. Not helping her live in a concrete room ... In the face of reality, ideology collapses ...

A friend gave her some money to finish the room, and she moved in, with a makeshift door ...But though she had a good roof now, she was still cooking outside because the smoke would blacken the walls. She wished to raise the walls outside and roof it so that that can be a cooking space ... I kept asking her to cook inside ... and then i realized the value that a rooms walls have, when that is your only asset in the world. You cannot let those walls blacken.


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