Thursday, 29 May 2014

Against all odds

When Rediappa was going to Pakala, the auto took a toss and rolled down the bund. His hand was fractured, and the right thumb has no mobility even now. For a man depending on labouring for a living, it can be devastating. He is not devastated. He got sheep and started grazeing them instead. Similarly Annasamy’s son Devarajulu took his thigh bone fracture in his stride, and when unable to do hard labour any more moved to a city to work as a security guard leaving his family behind in the village and visiting on weekends. Krishaiah’s son Devarajulu with his amputated leg, wears a plastic leg and cycles merrily.

When Rediappa sunk a bore and did not strike water, it was a loss of forty thousand rupees. Savings vanished, and huge debts remained. When Shobakka’s pregnant cow died suddenly the loss was similar. Annaswamy had a similar loss when his cow lost footing and tumbled into the well and died. With this kind of loss, they see their entire savings and assets get lost. But they face it, grieve, and start afresh. There is no concept of self pity or of getting depressed.

When the worst happens also they have a sense of perspective. When Krishnanna fell from the coconut tree when he went to labour to harvest coconuts, he hurt his back badly. When I went to see him in bed, he said, “My time was good that I survived.’ About Rediappa, his wife Nagarajakka says the same thing. That because the time was auspicious, he survived the fall.

Muneshwari’s husband, Darkilaiyna, is a drunkard and the family rests on her frail shoulders. But she moves on carrying the burden lightly. Eashwaramma lives in poverty, her only son has been murdered by his wife, and with frail health she has to singly bring up his two children. She does it with more than complete commitment and affection. When someone tells her that these children will be her support in old age, she realistically assesses that the children may one day leave her and go away to her daughter-in-law, but that she has to do what her duty is. 

Children have the same attitude. Children who have had epileptic fits are not allowed to swim. Long happy summer afternoons are spent in the wells, but as other children go by past them and call out, they say openly that they cannot come as they have had ‘vaayu’ attacks, and busy themselves with some other pastime. When Sivarani was studying in Tirupathi , sharing a room with other better off girls, she had to bluntly tell them that she could not shop like them and that her father has to labour hard to even pay the fees. Children face facts and move on.

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