Thursday, June 5, 2014

I lied to Rubeena

And I wish I hadn't. I didn't know then, that I was lying to her.

This was in Chaubari, where I was interviewing people about the state of the Ramganga.

Rubeena was in the middle of harvesting cucumbers from her fields in the middle of the river. She, along with most of the other people from her village, plant the bed of the river when the waterlevels are low. This  silty soil, with a good source of water just below, is ideal for melons, cucurbits, and gourds. They have been doing this for generations. And pitiful though the profits are, Rubeena and her fellow-farmers do not know of any other means of income. There is the farming, and a little labour in the off season.

And now there is a barrage coming up just downstream.

Rubeena had heard rumours that the barrage meant that they would be displaced, their lands flooded, their villages evicted. Not so, I told her.  The barrage is only for protective irrigation during the Kharif- the monsoon crop. Once the monsoon is over, the water will be let out and you will be able to farm as usual.
Rubeena's children
Turns out, that is not the case. I spoke to the engineer who had designed this and he said that my assumption was only half correct. Yes, this was intended only for Kharif, but there would be some impounding throughout the year. I protested, spoke about the farmers in that place. 'Change happens' he said. And then he added that awful phrase- 'It is the price of progress.'

The problem here is that the landed farmers of a far-off district are progressing while people like Rubeena pay the price.

1 comment:

nadi said...

She writes so well , I though , even as I gulped back what would have been a tear.

But how can i call this good writing? Any writing?

Your life, the way you look at it, the way you see people.

and Rubeena's life.