It’s been a long day – lots of driving over rough roads – Sikandar’s lawyer friend Nadaf came with us and sat and chatted in the front with Sikandar.
That left me in the quiet of my own space, sitting in the back seat, taking occasional pics out the window and enjoying the passing parade between fields and villages.
Finally about 2.30 we stopped for food at a nondescript looking place that had a table out under a neem tree where the motor bikes parked. It was cool there and the food was excellent!! an amazing lunch.
And then we arrived at Sikandar’s village. We are sitting up in the roof. There are two rooms here one even has a mattress in the bed. I have claimed that one for tonight!! It’s not usually used and in sort of in a store room of farm stuff.
This is a small farming village and right behind the house is a Hindu temple and two doors down is the mosque. So the call to prayer is pretty loud here!
The village sounds now are good. Very few vehicles the occasional motor bike. But all the houses are close together so there is a lot of people noise.
Chit chatting laughing kids noise, people walking past. Oh a tractor just started up. I am sitting on a plastic chair with my feet up on the wall. Sikandar is in his village clothes. A lungi and a t shirt that I bought him in Greece last year proclaiming ‘Athens’ on it with a Greek pattern. He is sitting on the wall chatting to a friend. No clue what they are talking about so it is just quiet noise to me.
The family goat is tied by the front door and is ‘meahing’.. maybe she is a bit hungry?
There is thunder In the distance and a bit of a storm hanging around but no rain here yet. Nice cool breeze though. Guess we will eat something in an hour or so. Hoping for an early night.
And then the rains came. I retreated from the rooftop as the first big drops splattered around me, into the small room built for guests – where Sikandar was to sleep. I took my plastic chair with me – Sikandar also entered with a friend, they talked quietly for some time but the rain began beating on the metal roof with louder and louder insistence.
A storm, lightning, huge thunder and incessant rain – so heavy .. I read my book for some time then suddenly the power went off. As I sat there listening to the downpour, the fury of the weather beating all around me, I thought of the farms we had driven through all afternoon. Of the farmers there ploughing and putting in their seeds and some of them harvesting the early corn and other small crops.. and of Sikandar’s father coming home on his tractor in the afternoon.. he had been seeding – channa – chick peas and wheat. What of those seeds now? Where were they? Washed away.. washed out? What of the coming crop – those tiny seedlings that were poking their heads through – washed away? What of the fertiliser at Rps1500 a bag.. a precious 1500 when you don’t have much – also washed away?
A storm like this is not just a rain storm here .. it is a shift in the balance of economy in just a couple of hours, meaning the difference between a good year and a bad.. a hungry year and a bounteous year.
As I felt the full force of this storm the rain also came to my eyes.. I allowed myself to feel what each farming family in this village must be feeling .. the devastation of the rain. Yes certainly rain is needed, but at this time – too late in the season of the monsoon to have a downpour like this.. the farmers confused in their normal timing of sowing and seeding.. not knowing when to start – when to wait.. the pattern is so changed.
Nature in her natural cycles – should be feeling the downturn of the rains now – what used to be left of the monsoons more gentle, easily absorbed by the land – nurturing to the crops .. not belting down and tearing through the land like a ravaging flood.
But finally it begins to abate.. and it is time to go downstairs to the main living area of the house.. I try to huddle into the back of Sikandar struggling to shelter under a very inadequate umbrella as we go down the steps.. getting my back soaked anyway.
And into the house, where the small goat now nestles in the corner, lucky she is out of the rain .. and Sikandar’s mother and father move around the house, mopping up the flood that has entered through the cracks in the windows.. concerned lest the sacks of grains stored there are wet, shifting them into the middle of the room out of the way of the water streams.. most are safe with only a couple of jute bags with wet patches on the bottom.
and finally dinner..
We sit on the mat .. a plastic version of the older style straw mats.. and his mother brings food.. delicious food she has cooked in the light of a small candle.. two types of vegetables, channa with a green tastiness, and a green veg .. also delicious .. some fried green chillis with salt, chappati, pickle, the taste of home cooked farm food, so good. How did she manifest this feast over the tiny stove in the kitchen – in the almost darkness of the power outage?
We eat and I retreat back up stairs to read and sleep fortunate to find the window by my bed had held the rain back – keeping my bed relatively dry. Then to wake a little disorientated having been dreaming ‘Australia” and finding myself here in this room in an Indian village so far from the pictures of my native home.
And I think on the world and the weather chaos that is happening all over.. the hurricanes and floods and major disasters – and I realise that here too a disaster has just occurred – but who will hear of it? Who will know the hardship that will result in this village from the downpour of last night? The loss of the crops – the shortage of food in the future.. the confusion of the not knowing any more how to trust the patterns of the seasons.
These are the silent places – not shouted out like major events – but disasters just the same… the weather is changing – there is no denying it – ask the farmers in Kotumachagi – they know. They need no scientist to tell them the statistics.. they overnight have become a statistic.