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"Will your writing about our village help us get jobs?"

A group of people sat in the shade of a newly painted house. We stopped to get gather some information about Kutkipura, a village about 40 kms from Bhopal.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2009 20:25 IST
Piyusha Chatterjee

A group of people sat in the shade of a newly painted house. We stopped to get gather some information about Kutkipura, a village about 40 kms from Bhopal.

The house wasn’t anything close to palatial but definitely showed some signs of wealth. The men outside, all farmers, were discussing the lack of rains this year in the state and its effects on their crops. Nannu Lal, the head of the family that lived in that house, made us sit on plastic chairs. He then proceeded to introduce us with his family-- his son, grandson and great grandsons. There was no mention of the number of women in the family, forget who they were.

While the great grandsons – two of them—played outside in the baking sun, the 22-year-old grandson pulled a stool close to our chairs. Rajesh Meena was doing his masters from a university in Bhopal. He takes the bus, or sometimes the bike to the city. It surely doesn’t happen very often, even if that meant not attending classes. Meena was of great help. He knew almost every person in that cluster of villages by name and offered to show us around. Clad in a pair of trousers and a half-sleeve shirt, he looked part of the young, mobile-flashing generation.

It was noon by the time we finished talking to people in the village. The sun was glazing in the sky and all we wanted was to get back in the car. He then invited us to have tea at a dhaba nearby – his friends again.

A few more interesting bits about the village over the sweet tea and then he suddenly said: “We don’t get English newspapers here, but may be in Bhopal. But tell me something. Will your writing about our village help us get jobs?”

I was stunned. I didn’t have the courage to tell him, after taking up so much of his time, that it won’t, that it would be forgotten with the day and that his story was the story of so many others in the country. I was just about trying to frame some sentence in my mind that wouldn’t exactly lie or tell him the truth, when he said again: “Will you please do one thing. Carry my picture and say this man needs employment. He has a wife and children to take care of. Else, the only job I will get here is this (he pointed towards an under-construction bridge).”

With an MA in his kitty, Meena perhaps deserves better than a daily wage-labourer’s life. But.... I smiled weakly as I thanked him and headed for the car. On the way back, we dropped him off at his house. The two children were still playing outside on the dusty road.

The thought that struck me at that time was: at their age, children in cities start going to pre-nursery. What future do Meena and his children have?