Sunday, March 6, 2016



Dhanu’sDhanu’s village
Today all the relatives have come to Dhanu’s house to celebrate Dushera. They have come with their luggage in their bullockcarts. Dhanu’s father is the eldest in the family.

So all the festivals are celebrated at their house. Dhanu’s mother (aai ), mother’s brother’s wife (mami ) and father’s brother’s wife (kaki ) are busy making puranpoli (sweet rotis made from jaggery and gram).

Alongwith this a spicy kadi dish is also made. The day passes in laughing and chatting. But by evening everyone’s mood changes. The women and children begin to pack their luggage.

The men sit down with the mukadam (agent who lends money) for the meeting. The mukadam gives the details of the loan taken by each family.

Then the talks for the next few months begin. The mukadam explains to the villagers in which areas they would go for the next six months. He also gives them some money as loan, for their expenses. Ever since Dhanu remembers, this has been the routine.

Families like Dhanu’s work on the lands of big farmers till Dushera, before the rainy season. Many other families also work on such lands. They earn just enough money to keep them going through these months.

But how to manage the remaining six months, when there is no rain, and no work in the fields? So, everyone borrows mone from the mukadam. To pay back this money, they have to work for the mukadam. Mukadam is an agent for sugarcane factories. He helps them to find work in sugarcane fields.

In the next few months, Dhanu, his parents, his kaka (father’s brother) and his two elder children, his mama, mami and their two daughters, and forty-fifty other families from the village will stay away from home.

In these six months, Dhanu and many children like him will not be able to go to school. Dhanu’s old grandmother, aunt who cannot see, and two-month old cousin sister would stay back in the village.

In other homes too the old and the ill people stay behind. Dhanu misses his grandmother a lot. Dhanu always keeps wondering  who will take care of his grandmother! But, what can Dhanu do?

After Dushera:
The caravan of these families would now settle near the sugarcane fields and sugar factories. For six months they would stay in their huts made of dry sugarcane and its leaves.

The men will get up early in the morning and go to cut sugarcanes in the fields. The women and children tie the bundles of sugarcane. Then the bundles are taken to the sugar factory.

Dhanu often goes with his father. Sometimes, they spend nights outside the factory on bullock-carts. There, Dhanu plays with the bullocks and wanders around.

At the factory, Dhanu’s father gets the sugarcane weighed and takes a receipt (a note to say how much sugarcane they have given). They show this receipt to the agent who then keeps an account of their loan.

The agent also gives them some money for the next week’s expenses. Then Dhanu’s aai and mami take thechildren to the nearby village market, to buy atta (flour) and oil for the next week.

Sometimes mami buys laddoos or some sweets for the children. She also buys pencils, an eraser and a notebook for Dhanu. After all he is mami’s favorite! But Dhanu won’t be using these for six months, because he won’t be going to school.

Mami wants Dhanu to study and become somebody in life. She does not want Dhanu to move around with his family like this. mama and mami tell Dhanu’s parents, “Next time when we leave our village after Dushera we will leave Dhanu with his dadi and chachi.

He will go to school like the other children in the village. He should continue
his studies. He should study further and become somebody.”



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