Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The personal search

In my youth i used to be angry. At seeing much richness side-by-side with poverty. Richness itself seemed wrong. My own belonging to the privileged class was a matter of self abnegation.

Then there was the routine path ... engineering studies, the working of a couple of years, the resignation to do work which would address the poor. A year of groping in the dark, and feeling completely lost and alone - and then a newspaper article about the dam on Narmada, the vast submergence and the struggle. I wrote to Medha from the newspaper address, and I got a postcard promptly from her suggesting I come to Baroda and that there is so much to do. I took a train ... and there life opened out, as there were so many people who had quit their jobs, and made such involvement their life's agenda. In solidarity there is much comfort. 

After two years there I decided i should settle down in a village, and work from that base on issues of village self-sufficiency, swadeshi ... From there I went to the village which became our home. A village of gentle people, and entry made easy by Naren and Uma, much beloved by the people, who introduced me as their friend, relative and other things. Mentored and befriended by them things fell in place. My husband Nagesh also came 'looking for a village to live and work in', after similarly studying, working and resigning. Naren and Uma were one of the 'villages' wher work was going on - organic farming, dalit issues, farmer's issues, land reforms, swadeshi. They did not wish to have an NGO, but chose to work as members of the community. All ideas were in sync.

The dream was Gandhian - to live in a village, earn a local income, live as one of the people, and from there initiate changes ... a few things happenned, many did not. But a beauty unfolded. I used to teach the children. We were doing some organic farming. I practised a little ayurveda. We tried to discuss various issues in the village. We took up afforestation with the people under JFM. We made some mistakes, we made some about turns. But what I got from the village was infinitely more than what I gave ... i rediscovered india, and dharmam and goodness.

There was anger in youth. Now even that anger is there only sometimes when I see gross insensitivity in the face of suffering. but then the words of my neighbours echo in my ears, "It is our duty to act, having taken the birth of a human". "It is our dharmam we have to follow". "What another does is his karmam". " What we do is because of the thought that god gives us. Without that thought we can do nothing." All these were eashwaramma's words when one day we went to the santa together, a half hour walk.

There is a long long way for me to go. To work towards the generosity of the village people who live in dharmam and can give away rice saying that god will provide for the next day, if he wishes to.  There is need for tireless work.

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