It has been nearly a year since I wrote anything either on this blog or in the newspapers that I usually write columns for. The energy to write was there, but my intent never did translate into anything concrete. But yesterday changed all this and I want to share the special fodder that my inner self got. It was after a long time I went visiting to Hosahalli to stay there for the night. Enroute, I had a stop over at our Saragur hospital where I found Devi standing by the hospital entrance. She looked aged and her face showed the sadness that she was going thru. Not having seen me for more than a decade, she took some time to recognise me when I called out her name. On recognising me and my voice, she broke down lamenting how long it was since she had seen me. She was there to care for her sick grandchild and suddenly her face glowed with joy, love and affection. Devi was one of our active members of the women’s Self Help Group and was always prompt in saving her princely sum of Rs 2 and attending all meetings of the group. She would walk the nearly 8 kms to the Gramin bank located then at N Begur to remit the savings of her group, week after week without hesitation. Along with Kamala who was married into Devanahadi, they were two strong and dedicated women who made my visit to their colony special with jaggery added black tea and puffed rice. I fondly remembered her battle with tuberculosis and the endless discussions that I had with her about drug compliance and good nutrition.
The stay at our Hosahalli school and the late night interaction with the nearly 300 young medical & dental students who had come visiting from the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal and Karnataka as a part of the Sevankur program was reassuring for more reasons than one. The energy and enthusiasm of these young people, their commitment to give of themselves to the Nation, their compassion and desire to serve in rural areas was heart warming. Swami Vivekananda’s call of a handful of young men and women changing the destiny of the world was resonating in my head as I shared my own journey and the joy that lies ahead when one pursues a life living for others.
To add to my cup of joy, as I just got into the vehicle to leave Hosahalli this morning, Kala and his son Mahadeva rushed in to see me. Kala was someone who shared several joyful and difficult moments with me during the many years that I spent here. Those were the days when I lived at Hosahalli with out electricity or piped water. The only company that I had during the day were the innumerable tribal chieftains living in nearby hadis (as tribal colonies are called), and the elephants, leopards, spotted dear, all kinds of snakes, peacocks and the occasional tiger during the night. Kala came rushing and hugged me and broke down. He too was sad on not having seen me for several years. As always, he had his list of problems that he hoped that I would help resolve. He gently reminded me how I had been ordained a Jenukuruba by Yajamana Masthi (the chieftain popularly known as Hostel Masthi) and how he sat with me explaining the Jenukuruba rituals and lifestyle nearly 3 decades ago. It was all very simple in his mind. Development was not all the jargon that I spend explaining in my classroom or in the seminars that I lecture in. I was a ‘Jenukuruba’ and he was entitled to my assistance. Whether I lived in Hosahalli or in Delhi mattered little to him. And it suddenly hit me too. All the superficiality of existence, all the glitter of positions and all the work I am currently engaged in, pales in significance to the joy of being with these simple people. Their matter of factly existence; linear approach to thinking, talking and acting; their openness and attitude to sharing what little they had; their limited wants and the pure love & affection that they still had for me was and will be something truly special.
I now realise how much the love, reciprocity and giving me the privilege of serving them means to me. This love is the fuel that has been driving me and I am glad that there are still such wonderful indigenous brothers and sisters around. The lessons that we can learn from them is what this world of selfishness, manipulative politicking, petty minded and empty existence needs. And I hope the special relationship that I cherish with these loving indigenous ‘relatives’ of mine will help me navigate through the complex world that I seem to be becoming a part of now.