Tirol Village: A Walk In The Fields.
It is said that every story has two sides, and somewhere in the between we need to find the truth, thereby with this notion, we, the fellows from the India Fellow program were sent to different villages across south-Rajasthan to sensitize us to social issues and to analyze their execution and the level of effectiveness. Tirol is a village located in Gogunda block of Udaipur district in Rajasthan. After reaching Tirol, we met *Hari ji, who was our facilitator for the rest of the 2 days. There I observed that the majority of the people had mud houses which were deprived of proper toilets. Rajasthan faces the problem of lack of water in most of its districts, so people in Tirol were dependent on the products of their own field only for 4 months in a year, rest of the months people used to temporarily move to the city with the aspiration of earning a better livelihood.
As I was walking down the fields, I interacted with different women of the village who shared with me about their day-to-day lifestyle and culture of the society. After returning from the field visit, I saw *Neha (Hari Ji’s younger sister) sitting in a corner, lost in her own world and making chaas (maize corn cooked in the buttermilk) for the whole family. I asked her, “Are you fine?”, to that, she replied, “Seeing you unmarried and well-educated at this age, gives me immense happiness. I got married at the age of 15 to the person whose sister was getting married to my brother. It’s like I didn’t want to, but I had to due to the exchange deal in the family. All this happened in so much of rush that my parents didn’t have time to check the background of my husband and we got married within one week. Now the situation is I have left my in-laws’ house as he used to abuse me and my child and today I am left with nothing. I wanted to study but now I just take care of my child and the house.”
At that moment I recollected all the conversations which I had with the women in this village and it gave me an insight that it could be seen that there was a wave of domination by men in their society in terms of getting a proper education or be it in terms of marriage practices. For most of the women in the rural village, self-sustainability and self-independence from the family and societal pressures are like having a dream. This is not just the story of Neha, but all those women who have been burning their desires, dreams, and hopes as they are chained to the cultural and societal norms of the village.
Despite listening to all the hardships, the best image that has been with me for these two days was the moment when we were leaving, when we told our host that we would like to pay him something for the food and shelter he had provided. I had assumed, mistakenly that Hari ji was doing everything for us knowing the fact that he will be getting paid for it. But when the moment actually dawned, the reaction of Hari ji and his family was the opposite; they had no idea about this. This got me thinking about all their actions over the two days, the love, and care with which they fed us, gave us a place to sleep, made our days comfortable, without expecting anything in return. This family, despite all their difficult conditions, were much more selfless, loving and caring than anyone I had met in a city, including myself.
I felt grateful for all the blessings I had received as a person, and more importantly to this situation, which taught me something new. I was also, in this moment, even more, encouraged to set out on the path I had crafted for myself. I hope that everyone who reads this will think beyond what they earlier thought about villages – the single stories of poverty and deprivation, and think and imbibe values of welcoming strangers, being caring and loving and selfless. I will definitely try to do this from here on.
*Names changed to protect identity