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Story Of The Jungle

I was starving when I set out to find the answer to which I could have done at my room with my laptop. But at this point of my life, it seemed more important to find it out myself because I believe in what I see. I wanted to get some hands on experience on the issue of hygiene / sanitation in the rural India.

The nearest rural village I could reach was Badi. Yes its a different place with people speaking different languages. And here I am speaking “thoda thoda hindi” all the time. I started walking with only 50 Rs in my pocket (The reason for which I will explain in my next blog). On my way, a man was kind enough to give me ride to Badi on his old Chetak. He dropped me on the top of a hill where I got the clear and complete view of the village, a village where farmers live. I saw some women with their cattle grazing on the fields. I somehow managed to greet her with my poor grip on Hindi and tried to ask them whether they have a toilet in their house. They replied by nodding their heads in way which means “NO” where I am from. They weren’t willing to tell me their names when I asked them.

I moved to the next place which is in the middle of a large field where there were some small houses. I asked them the same set of questions and I came to know that none of those houses have toilets in it, but they all wanted to have one. Mehend Singh, who lives in one of those houses said that it is the inefficiency of the local government to provide them money for that. When I asked them how they fulfill their “nature’s call”, the only word everyone repeated was “jungle me”. They all were farmers who grew “Ghehu”. I kept on moving through the village until I found a set of houses where they all had toilets. I was glad to hear that and was going to change my stereotype. But I didn’t know that I already crossed the boundaries of the village which I intended to go to. I stopped there and looked around. The only landmark I could see was the “Neemach Mata” temple and I changed my direction towards it.

I was so confident about my finding until this thoughts came into my mind. What if their head nodding meant YES? what if they all got funding from the government and used it for other purposes? What if they didn’t want to tell the truth to a complete stranger who doesn’t belong to their village?

Sreeram Rajagopalan

2016 fellow, placed with CMS Vatavaran, Delhi as part of his fellowship. He says "i am a jovial person with an altruistic mindset and find true joy in music, photography and writing. It is in my nature to love, learn, to help and spread smiles."

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