– Moumita Adhikary
Villages at border areas of are governed by Panchayat till date. India has many. A village is Khadibari. There are a few alike around too. People here are mostly Santhals. Santhals are diminishing tribe living today within geographies and earning their living not beyond their border of business, not sure why. Santhals are black in colour, part of Scheduled Tribe and OBC in India. Villages have clean mud roads, well-built mud huts, some local made brick constructions too and people closest to their true cores of their tribe.
Through almost last three decades, areas of development have not changed much specially for children in such village. Apart from the facts that children now get at least one time meal a day, clothes to wear, freedom to go to places though with permission of their guardian(s).
One most remarkable improvement, small girls doesn’t go out to sell local made things like puffed rice, fish, garden grown vegetables, etc to door to door at nearby housing areas like they used to do almost two decades earlier. Many a time they used to walk long for selling such items with few of their friends or ancestoral female generations at their homes. Many of them used to buy products of their need and choice like cosmetics viz. Nail polish, lipstick, hair band, etc, clothes, junk jewellery, etc. In few year, they used to be equipped enough along with their families to meet dowry demands of their groom viz. Brass pots, bi-cycle, wrist watch, garments, gold chains, etc. for wedding and would get married off. That was time when they used to be happy that way, and this is only the half-truth. Another part of the truth was that they used to dream of kind of life to life the way all who used to live in which houses they used to sell their local village products. By the year, unusually their dreams changed little. May be a reason why those small and big dreams came true by the time.
It’s a different joy when a small girl rides bi-cycle in her village on her own the way she wishes for. Whether or not in school, she is flexible enough to mix up with people who may look different at her own will.
Panchayat being the only authority in such a village, the local governance of such places are very conservative. It is yet to be working for any Non-Government organisations to work there and we respect their values however no denial to any scope of improvement. History is aware of time when nothing could happen there without approval from Panchayat, little has changed today – well, please do not read it like Panchayat are culprits. Panchayats were liberal and flexible enough to help see a day when a small girl rides bi-cycle freely in their village.
Bore wells serve as source of water which increases manual effort to get water for use. Good part is, there are almost no wells in the village reducing chunces of death by sinking in well water like in many other villages or their former counter parts. Pumping out water out of a bore well and/or carrying it is a form of physical activity that is practised everyday. Kids and teens of every home take part in such activity rigorously almost everyday as it is the only source of drinking water in those areas.
Child labour is a menace till date, was the same time back. This context is yet to be taken care of any non-government organisations in these areas for reasons not sure. Children are often found to carry basket full on their bi-cycle to sell. However, the positive side is that most of them attend village schools as well.
It is good to interact with children however they are shy. Possibly as shy as anyone of us with variable frequency. Children relax on Machan made up of bamboo.
Noble men are portrayed on tree barks.
After more than 150 year of famous plays written in literature on shoe discovery, there is a basic need of footwear in these areas today.
Nutrition still remains an essential factor. Every child matters.
I wondered as I saw a child looking at me casually posing like a supermodel. Talent is often not just learnt. May be a supermodel tomorrow.
Children are seen with bold posture.
That’s how a pitcher is carried often unless placing it over the head.
They play and that’s how they have a happy childhood.
Another child labour.
Women mostly grow up, marry and live too often in same village or nearby. They wear saree little above ankle length and are often used to carry water pitchers over their head on top of a binded cloth and remains mostly busy doing major part of household chores and work for part time income as well.
A once in a while visitor like me could see the village. Could think hell and heaven on changes or not in those areas. However, the fact is without permission of local authority no development or other work can be started there. I could rather write anything else however, writing for the sake of not sure why, may be a scope to find out scope of work there.
Number of school goers have increased, with few of them flexible to talk to strangers. However, shy faces on a photograph make me feel little guilty of taking a picture though with consent. Another part of me doesn’t feel guilty as I shy few time when I take my pictures, am sure it is same with many.