Monday, February 15, 2016

Where Time Stands Still

Three generations of women with their children
Only a few kilometres from a diversion, as you move towards G D Goenka World University, on Sohna Road, Gurgaon, Haryana, you drive into a rough road that takes you inside villages, in the midst of wheat and mustard fields, with the Aravali mountains watching over. You might want to stop for a cup of tea and a little chat, but alas, there are no shops of that nature. So you drive deep till you arrive at a little space, with a cemented house, touching shoulders with rich farm houses, which are permanently unoccupied. But the rustic, house of the farmer, is large and spacious and houses, buffaloes, cats and dogs, robust men and hard working women.

The daily work begins at 3.30 am, while the rest of the world sleeps, the entire household is up and about, feeding the buffaloes and milking them. Indeed, by 6 am, the milk is transported to the city of Gurgaon, for the consumers, who prefer fresh milk instead of the packaged Mother Diary milk, available across Haryana. The day, ends only at 10 pm, after another round of milking the cow at 3.30 pm and then taking the milk once again to sell in Gurgaon, where, the glass faced corporate buildings, stare at each other, broken occasionally by off-white, well-designed houses, where people live, with only potted plants.

However, the Haryana government in its wisdom thinks that villagers, farmers, who need their sleep at night, must still have power in their muscles and just at bedtime, it diverts water and electricity to be used for watering the fields, where wheat, mustard and other vegetables grow.  From 10 pm to 4 am, this goes on. The farmers have a philosophy by which they live; accept what is available and use it to fulfill your needs. Hence, the entire household, in turns, stays awake to water the fields.

The social fabric of the people, sees, men and women slog alike, with some rest, in between. Indeed, the labour output between the sexes, is almost at par. But, don’t think, dear reader, that men and women share equal power. No, when the men are visible, the women in the household are not. They hide inside the kitchen, their rooms but no sooner the men are out of sight, they come centre stage, joyous and chatty as ever. Remember, these women are in purdah, and their voices are not heard. They are the ones, who are given in child marriage, to old men and boys, youth and uneducated alike, because, child marriage, still prevails, in these societies, in full view and knowledge of the police and politicians. We also know that the community is rigid, and caste is so deeply ingrained in their minds, that should a girl and a boy, dare to marry outside the caste, the entire village will stand and support, honourkilling.

And, even as you sign them off as gone case, and may even shun to drink milk, chhach and curd, made by rough, proletariat hands that have slogged from 4 to 6 am to produce the milk that will be at your breakfast table, or be a part of your morning coffee, in pockets, you find, in the midst of a society stuck in time, a spiritual guru, who is well-versed in Vedanta, the philosophy, most cherished by many in India and the world – the philosophy that rests on a simple fact, that the world is unreal, like the dreamer and the dream, which no matter how real, when dreaming, ceases to exist, when the dreamer wakes up. Likewise, the world is an illusion, like a dream, which ceases to be, once one attains Knowledge, or Samadhi.

Juxtaposed, against each other, stilled in time, extremes co-exist in villages in Haryana, where, atrocities against women, thrive, while, on the other hand so does the highest philosophy called Vedanta. Although, yet again, no matter what, she would never be allowed to go to an ashram, all by herself, without her husband, brother, father or the rest of the women folk in the family tagging along.
How much longer will it take, for society to burn the chains that bind it to the past? Will the law enforcing agencies, politicians and men ensure that there is no window that looks out towards a clear blue sky?

Will the dreamer, never wake up?

To view the pictures CLICK HERE

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