Sunday, 27 January 2013

My journey so far


Retrospective narrations of one’s journey can be misleading. Its linear format is inherently deceptive because an ordered layout assumes clarity and purpose, when life itself is often a jumbled back and forth of trial and error. And though it is slightly disconcerting to ‘review’ one’s life at the age of 26, I will try.

The background

Although brought up in the metropolitan bustle that is New Delhi, I have always had a strong connection with my maternal ancestral home of Rasmai (a village in Uttar Pradesh in northern India). Frequent visits to my village nurtured within me a love for nature and my attraction towards a simpler, less materialistic life. In Rasmai there was no TV or telephone, electricity came for a few hours, if at all. In Rasmai we had no restaurants or ice cream vendors, no shops and certainly no Coca Cola. But we did have walls lined with bookshelves, we did have endless paths to take walks on, we did have a spirited canal where we’d fish (unsuccessfully) and we did have a tube well where we’d jump in for a quick bath.

Rasmai, my ancestral village
My childhood was aglow with long walks with my grandfather, a retired forest officer, who passed his wisdom on things ranging from the call of a partridge to how to graft mango saplings. Ever-youthful, and a pioneer in his own right, he indulgently allowed me to shadow him as he experimented; one year it was drip irrigation in the lime orchard, another summer it was wine making, a few winters we kept bees and another year we had a bumper harvest of lettuce, a crop unheard of in rural India at that time. From him I learnt to not shy away from dirtying my hands, ‘from dust unto dust’, he’d demonstrate, plucking out weeds from the fields and allowing them to decompose into manure. I learned how a farmer’s fortunes are dictated by the vagaries of the weather. I learned that to be a woman in rural India is a constant struggle. And I learned that there is wisdom to be found if one is ready to observe and listen.
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