My notes and musings …

“Nature’s terror not rain”

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If it was a normal year, end of July is the time when the rains are just starting up in Sitapur. This year, the rains had started by late May and a steady downpour had resulted in flooded fields and swamped paths around the district. When we reached Sitapur in the last week of July, people were fairly certain that the worst was yet to come, given that the real monsoon months were coming up. Bracing for worse conditions is a coping mechanism that most of us employ and we felt that this might be the case here.

As days rolled on, we realized that indeed the rains were continuing at a steady pace. By 14th July there were reports of flooding in low lying villages and by the 18th parts of Kunwarapur, and some of the other villages that we had visited frequently during our stay earlier in the year, were under water.

Most houses in this part of the land are built of mud and straw roof. They might have one room with a mud roof on wooden rafters within which they store their grains and other valuables. There are some houses with brick walls, but most of these have mud roof on wooden rafters as well. Only a few houses are built of brick & mortar and have concrete roofs. The straw roofs are quite resilient against rain and as long as the water flows off they hold out pretty well. The mud walls though are a different story. One could see lots of grass and small plants growing on the top of the walls. And one by one, the walls began to melt and collapse under the persistent rains even in villages where there was no standing water. Soon, the reports of houses and villages flooding seemed to be far outpaced by reports of collapsed walls, caved in roofs and lost grains.

The day we arrived in Sitapur, Umesh Pandey, a local Bharatiya Kisan Union leader offered to drop us in Mishrikh. He is a local politician with a good sense of humor and a fairly good vocabulory. While driving along the state highway we had noticed that the fields on either side were flooded and very few fields had any standing crops. When asked if the rains this time around was normal, he said, “Bhaisaab, is baar jo ho raha hein, woh barish nahi, prakrutik aatank hein!” (“Dear sir, what we are seeing this year is not rain but nature’s terror”). After about a month in the region and after seeing the lost crops, collapsed walls, lost grains, widespread ill health, severly affected cattle, and a few lost lives, his words seem so true.

Written by Dwiji

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 at 02:22

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