A Special World

Supriya Ambwani

© Copyright 2011 by  Supriya Ambwani 


Family living near Rajaji National Forest.

Amongst modern-day hedonism, autonomy and peaceful coexistence pleasantly shock one’s disillusioned senses. A mere trek in the forest which lines Rajaji National Park revealed a small, yet peaceful and content rural family. The family has created a tiny village on a mountain in Uttarakhand. The fifteen-or-so adult members live in separate rooms constructed on both sides of a dirt track with their spouses and children. However, all of them mingle freely. They move in and out of each other’s rooms casually, yet with vestiges of respect for privacy. The dozen children were scattered around the few square feet the village occupied.

The friendly and excited villagers showed us around their humble dwelling. The stone houses had low ceilings and doors barely big enough for Professor Flitwick to walk through. This is their effective, cheap and eco-friendly central heating system. Surprisingly, a solar panel provided electricity to the houses- just enough for a few light bulbs and a television.

The walls on the outside had been painted intricately, presumably by the women. The women were, atypically for a rural Indian community, educated and liberated. They were dressed in fuss-free clothes, and didn’t hide their heads in ‘shame’ before the men folk.

The children posed all over their home for our intrigued cameras. All of them attend school religiously. Moreover, those kids are tough; one doesn’t see any of the spoilt brats one is, unfortunately, accustomed to. A little girl tripped while running and fell on her stomach. Her mother watched impassively as she got up and dusted herself off. The kid didn’t even whimper.

A sprightly old man, around seventy years young, showed us around. He was so surefooted that I gaped in awe as he skipped down a side of the mountain to look closely at a flower growing among the wild grass. He spoke to us proudly about his village, and their simple yet content lives.

Finally, we met a young man dressed in jeans and sneakers- a typical young urban man. However, impressively, he had cut open all the intangible ropes binding him down and managed to gain admission to a college in Dehradun where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Chemistry, Biology and Zoology. Every day, he piously makes the long trek to the main road which is nearly 20 kilometres away, then boards a bus for Dehradun. His dedication is marvellous, and humbling.

The harmonic existence of those officially poor, yet innately happy, people with nature rang true a quote by Frederick Keonig: “We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

And thus, we walked away from that little village, that miniscule serene island in the midst of a drowning world, with hearts leaden with foreboding.

Supriya says, "Writing is my legal drug."

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