Sunday, November 12, 2017
Encounter With My Faded Past
In November 2017, I spent a few days in our ancestral village, Dasbidyadharpur (Satyabadi, Puri, Odisha), where we still own some land. It must be a few decades since I spent more than a day at a time there. It is a deeply rural place, both in terms of infrastructure and cultural setting. Most of the villagers recognised me as the grandson of so-and-so and the son of so-and-so. It was an encounter with my faded past. People there uphold a form of life that is rooted in centuries of tradition, which seemed to have been undermined variously by the new developments in post-independence India. In the few days I lived there, everyone was eager to share with me their personal stories of triumph and tragedy. These stories gave me a feel for the complications of being a paddy farmer in India today. But the village air was clean and the nights were starry. Around the village, vast paddy fields laden with paddy kernels rolled out far into the horizon. The experience led me to imagine some kind of a retreat there, where people from different contexts could come to engage in activities and conversations with the villagers, to enhance mutual understanding and envision new futures.