Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

184. Concern

Another day.
Another journey.

A roadside village.
As usual, I am late.
My work always gets delayed - because during discussions one point follows another.
They all are important points and we keep on discussing them.
That causes the delay.

However, I am not worried about this delay in reaching.
Because there is no meeting.
We are visiting two-thee households.
Recently our team has collected a specific data.
My job is to verify the information by visiting some number of  household.
A job easy from one point of view and difficult from another point of view.

The motorbike leading our car stops. The car too stops.
Two more persons are waiting for us.
We greet each other.
They walk in one direction, I follow.
It is afternoon time. Some people are sitting leisurely in the village, they watch us.
Some children are following us.
Women are watching from doors and windows.

We reach one house. I have to bend down to enter the house through that smallish door.
"Madam, this is a widow headed household," my colleague informs.

One of the aspects I am closely monitoring (the survey) is the data related to women.
Whether all women are women covered, whether women faced any difficulties during the survey, the importance of their participation in the process of finalizing the data ... I want to talk about all these points. So I am meeting women's Self Help Groups and also women headed households.

We enter.
A red colored carpet is waiting for us. It is so clean that it must be brand new.
"Sorry, we are late. We made you wait for us...." I start the dialogue.
"No problem. Please, come. Sit down, this carpet is for you .." the woman to my left welcomes me and my team.

That woman might be around 45.
In her left lap is a young girl sitting shyly. She must be just two years.
On her right side is another child, younger than the girl.
Another woman is holding the hand of the young boy. The woman looks young.
There is another woman sitting by the side of the young woman, her hand is on the back of the young woman as if to support her. She might be around 50.

I glance at the house. One room; bricks held together with cement, the tin roof.
A small cloth partition probably makes some space for cooking.
The family seems to be very poor as there is hardly anything in the house.
I turn back to the women.

They all look very tired.
Another glance tells me that they are not just tired but as if they are  weary of pain.
Suddenly the young woman starts crying.
Both the older women, sitting by her two sides are trying to console her.
In a flash I realize that all these three women with whom I am sitting are widows.

We talk.
The young woman has lost her husband in a road accident ten days ago.
What happened?
Motorbike accident.
Who was driving the bike?
Don't know.
By the time the family received the information, the young man had died.
Did they file police complaint?
Where was he working?
They don't know the details.

The young woman is about 18-20 years.
She never went to school. She lost her father at a very young age, her mother had to work and she had to take care of her younger brother.

This young brother - about 10 or 12 years.He goes to school.
He is sitting in the corner without smile or without any expression.
The young woman has two children - a two year daughter and a younger son.

The woman sitting to the left is Mother in Law. She too is a widow.
Another young boy sitting there is 10 year old - who is the son of the sister in law (of the young widow). This boy's parents have passed away.

That means in this household there are three women - all illiterate and widow; two young boys studying in fifth or sixth standard and two very young children.

Do they own land?
How much?
Don't know. Maybe half an acre.
Irrigation facility?
No, rainfed.
Who looks after the crops?
The young man - who had died in accident.
What do you cultivate?
Oh! Less than enough.

Any other income source?
Do you have any papers?
Ration card?
Any death certificate?
Anyone knows sewing?

The mother of young widow tells me that she goes to work - some roadside work - to earn.
Does she have any papers?
Aadhar card?
BPL card?
It was there earlier, but their names were removed from the BPL list.
When? Why? How?
Don't know.
Anyone in Self Help Group?

Any relatives in the village?
Some relatives are in the nearby villages, they had come when the young man passed away.
However, they had to return to their village as they all are daily wage workers.

I am speechless.
I ask one of the accompanying government workers to find out possibilities whether at least one of these women can immediately receive Widow Pension.
He writes details in his notebook.
Will these women get any benefit of the government scheme?
I don't want to generate false hopes.

What do I do?
How do I console them when I know that words are not enough.

What will they eat?
How will they live?
The two boys go to school, but when will they grow enough to earn?
Will the existing education system allow them to earn degree or certificate?
Until then, how will the family survive?
What can I do for them?
And how many more such families are there?

We are leaving.
The young widow says, "Sister, I want to add one more name in the list (that was given in the survey."
I am startled. I keep quiet.
"I am carrying a baby, Can I write his name now?" she pleads.

Her concern is not over yet.
That will keep her burning until she is alive.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

183. Celebrations

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 33; the thirty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'Celebrations'
They were coming one by one.
Everybody tried to hide the anxiety. However, the process of hiding revealed their emotions more than they themselves would have expected.

“Everybody here?” asked Nanda, knowing that one was still missing.
“Wait for Bachchan, see he is there, waiting for the signal,” Haveli pleaded.

They all waited for Bachchan – a five year boy.
Bachchan came running to them with great joy.

“Let us go behind the school, there would be nobody,” Khan gave a sort of order and everybody followed.
They were all smiles and walked silently behind the big building everybody called school. Many children came to that building every day. However, today the building carried a deserted look.
They huddled together, the taller pulling the shorter, the elders holding hands of youngsters. Everybody had something in one hand and they were trying to hide it from others.

“Ok, now all close eyes.” Nanda  said.
“I won’t” protested Kandya.
Khan put his right hand on Kandya’s head. “Nobody will take your treasure,” said Khan and everybody laughed loudly.

“I will say Ram, Seeta, Hanuman three times. Until then everybody keeps eyes closed. Third time when I say Hanuman, we open our hands and show our gifts to all ….” Nanda was the Didi of the group.

They all waited. Nanda gave the instructions. They opened their eyes and showed their treasure to others.

Nanda had a half torn box with three pieces of Laddu. Khan had found some crackers. Haveli had a box of Chiwda. Bachchan was luckier – he had received a ten rupee note. Kandya was amused by his gift – a packet of wafers with only two pieces in it.  Nani had received Bakarwadi. They enthusiastically watched all the gifts.

“Let us celebrate”, said Bachchan and everybody laughed. They ate whatever was available.
“What next?” asked Mintu.

“Now, we will move to that bigger signal, where more than four roads join and there are more cars on that road. Only people in car give gifts, remember,” Khan shared his experience.

“So, we will celebrate again?” Bachchan asked with all innocence.
“Boy, for one week, we will continue to celebrate, don’t worry,” Nanda assured him.

They moved towards the next signal.
The kids ignored and deserted by their parents, harassed by the police, snubbed by the car owners….
The kids half hungry, abused physically and verbally…
The kids with torn clothes and without bath for days …
The kids fighting with each other to catch attention of the commuters on the road…
They too celebrate Deepavalee ….in their own way.

The celebrations will continue for a while.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: BLOGGER NAME, Participation Count: XX