Once again headed away from the big crowd to a smaller one. We reached Morena. After the long tiring night our breakfast next day was in front of a veterinary clinic where buffaloes were being dragged out of the clinic into the busy road. Every noise on the street seemed to bother them, the vehicles almost butchered the buffaloes.
After having the berais (stuffed pooris), we headed towards the villages. The sky was clear and blue. Morena though famous for its ravines could locate only a few. All I could see was fields of dry mustard plants of which some were being harvested. The bright yellow flowers could be seen nowhere.
The four day training went on, more and more women I met with their sari pallus covering their faces upto their chins. It was a barrier as I could not see them, there was some discomfort as I could not see how their facial expression was to what I spoke. Few women did speak from below the veil and as always it was disheartening as they relentlessly complained about the deteriorating health system.
Every report card prepared as field practice had a red mark which showed poor functioning of the health system at the primary level. My words could not make the woman believe that change was possible but they did claim that the exercise they did was fun.
The second part is the Sidhi story. The thought of Sidhi makes me feel ‘Wow. Far from the maddening crowd.’
Bus journeys is not something I prefer but to reach Sidhi one has to climb that bus. That bus which is usually stuffed with men, women and children and sometimes animals and crops and utensils …all sandwiched. We boarded the bus at the start point so we were lucky to get seats in the bus that too front seats. But…yes but never take a seat next to the door, every slam of it woke me from the sleep as it opened every 15 minutes.
We reached safely with my eardrums intact. This time out five star sweet was in one of the villages called Ghordand in a semi furnished hut. Till the end I could not find the person who committed the sin hence the village name. Evening passed and it was pitch dark outside and no electricity inside. I looked up and suddenly the darkness seemed to fade, it was glittering with infinite stars literally- a real life planetarium moment. Every night thereafter I had to look up not to miss that starry beauty.
Next morning was beautiful too as the sky also seemed bluer. Breakfast was under the sun after which work started. As we walked towards the villages I saw those bright yellow flowers- the mustard field was not yet ready.
All discussions with women had end number of complaints- it was needed. Some delivery experiences were gruesome- delivering with few candles and a lalteen by the side- the stories were sad and scary. It was worsened when some women said that they were slapped and beaten too with a few abusive words. For a moment I thought darkness with family is always better than a stranger.
As discussions went ahead my learning enriched. The tribal music at intervals added flavor to the process.
Four days were over, there were mixed feelings. It was unfair to leave such a serene place yet wanted to return. How different Morena and Sidhi it, one knows it unless one heads towards that less travelled raod.
By Shreeti Shakya, in Sidhi and Morena during 25 February- 6th March 2013