Come on, let’s not fool ourselves and admit it for once.
Throughout our lives, we keep asking for more. Sometimes silently. Sometimes stridently.
In the prayer room, we pray to the God to give us more happiness. In the board rooms, we outperform ourselves so that we can demand a promotion; a salary hike, a higher designation.
It doesn’t stop at that.
We take our ‘taker’s hands’ everywhere. We want our loved ones to give us more time. As parents, we burden our children with great expectations. As citizens, we require our government to give us a better standard of living. Throughout our lives, we just keep taking, taking and taking.
But there are a few good souls on this planet, who are born with the ‘giver’s hands’ irrespective of their current socio-economical state.
I met one such generous soul while I was visiting Aaliv Maal tribal clan, Dhanoshi.
My Dhanoshi visit was as a volunteer with Yuva Morya – an NGO that helps tribal children from Jawhar district get better educational facilities.
After conducting our workshop, all the volunteers headed to have lunch with the locals. Since it was my first time to volunteer in that village, I chose to take a little detour.
Walking through the narrow lanes, I saw a funny mix of old and new. Though the houses were purely made of mud walls and thatched roofs, the haystacks were cautiously packed with plastic and tarpaulin sheets. While the young girls were frolicking in comfy nightgowns, the older women adhered to their traditional tribal dressing of a blouse and a half-sari.
I was on my way to the farmlands, when I observed two girls following me from a distance, giggling softly. I invited them to accompany me. They gladly accepted the invitation.
Rekha and Anjali, my two young guides took me through the fields of taandul (rice), vari (jungle rice), tur (pigeon peas), jowaar (sorghum) and nagli. While I was familiar with the rest of the names, Nagli intrigued me. I tried to dig deeper and get more information on Nagli, but to no avail. They kept giggling at my ignorance and tried to distract my curious mind by pointing at a Singada plant.
I returned to the camp, and joined the group for lunch. A simple meal of nachnichi bhaakri (ragi roti), usal (cooked sprouts) and loncha (pickle). Pure bliss!
The lunch got us so energised that while on our way back, we decided to halt for a dip in a nearby waterfall. I again sneaked out and strolled around.
As I was passing by a house, a middle aged woman, who was peeling garlics in her front yard invited me in. She belonged to a big family – three brothers and four sisters. I smiled at the ratio, and continued to listen to her chatter. She was lean, yet agile. The way she moved around her house, she could have easily passed off as a woman in her late twenties.
After ten minutes of chit chat, I asked her about Nagli. She laughed and went inside, only to come back with a reddish bhakri in her hand. She warned me not to eat it because it was stale; but allowed me to touch it.
“That’s what I had for lunch today”, I exclaimed.
She explained as if educating a naïve child, “Nagli is nothing but nachni or ragi. Nachni is better known as Nagli, a highly nutritious millet grown in tribal belts like Jawhar.”
She went back and this time came with a bag full of Nagli flour.
I thanked her, but refused to take it without paying anything in cash or kind. She brushed off the idea with her wide eyes and literally forced me to take it home.
She was wearing the most soiled sari and donned the cheapest glass bead jewellery. But at that moment, she was the richest person in the world. She waved at me with her giver’s hands, as I picked up the flour bag packed with her love and kindness, and left with a happy heart to join my friends.