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Village, the river and the ‘second’ visit…

About 40 years ago, this village looked entirely different.

With a population of around twenty thousand or so and with a total house-hold of around four to five hundred, this village had a river flowing by its side, a small river with the name ‘Paaleru’ that looked most of the days calm and thin with ankle-deep water sliding forward silently over the sandy bed beneath.

Fetching water from the pits, specially dug into the sands of the river, was one of the most commonly done activities for both men and women of this village during the mornings and evenings. They depended on the river for quenching their thirst, farming and other daily needs as well.  People used to walk along the sands of the river leisurely, talking to other people, discussing events seriously at times, until they unmindfully completed the ritual of filling the empty containers they brought with them with water and carried them away to their respective homes.

Vast stretches of Sarivi plantations (they used to call it ‘Chauka chettu’ , a tall tree, very tall indeed, it resembles the eucalyptus in its height, only in its height and nothing more, its leaves looked totally different, they don’t look like leaves at all, they looked like green strands, mostly a foot in length,  hanging from the branches… the leaves frequently get dry and the dried leaves which naturally fall down onto the ground are collected and used as a good firewood…even we used to collect heaps of this dried leaves for our ‘Bhogi manta’ …the exact ‘botanical’  name of the variety of this tree  grown in these areas is ‘Casuarina Equestifolia’) adorned the other side of the river.  Unseen paths through these plantations lead to another village, a Km or so away from the other side of the river.  One need not think about the correctness of the path really, accustomed feet never failed to find their way through these plantations and reach the village.

During moonlit nights, the river and the entire landscape surrounding the river appeared clad in silver clothes. One has to be there to experience the beauty of the glitter, the silent feathery flow of the waters of the river and the soothing chill that accompanied the quietly blowing wind, to really believe it. And all this for free, no need to pay anything to any body, no entry fees, no security checks, no fear of any mindless activity around you, no fears of traffic snarls to reach back home. One has to just reach there and be there as long as he or she liked to be there….no one there to disturb you…you are entirely left to yourself….all alone!

Yes, I had been there…countless number of times, often accompanied by one or two of my childhood friends,  relaxed on the sands for a while and returned back home. This happened for years together, until we left the village one day, unmindful of the fact that we were leaving the village forever and things would not allow us to return to the village that easily.

Forty years is a long time.

On my ‘Second’ visit recently, what I saw really sickened me. There was not even the trace of the things once existed. The change and the decay were unimaginable!

4 thoughts on “Village, the river and the ‘second’ visit…

  1. Dear Venkatrao,
    I am surprised to see the content, especially in your telugu blog. How are you getting time to type that much? I think finally you got a right medium to express yourself, for which you used to explore a lot in 80’s and 90’s. I just had a glance through it. When you asked me in July last, there were only 2 posts. I never bothered whether you are continuing or not. But from now onwards, I will make it regular to your blog. Your reading habit of over 30 years dishing out a literary meal. Congrats.
    Mangapathirao.

  2. Dear Mangapathi,

    Thank you for going through the content of both the blogs.
    Content is always there. Transforming the content into a more presentable way and making it qualitatively good is the main thing. Of course, time I am managing and finding somehow.

    Thank you, once again.
    Venkatrao.

  3. Hello, a well-written post: you show a nice level of curiousity and compassion writing about the landscape and life of the village: the river, the way of life, the texture of light. The passage about the Sarivi plantations drew me here actually: if you are curious, I can identify that tree more precisely.

    I’ve wondered about it for years, but only now do I know it for sure: it is a type of Causuarina, and the variety in the plantations of AP, is Casuarina Equestifolia. In fact, I grew up in AP, but then moved to Florida–where it is known as Australian pine. (Introduced there in the 19th c, it is now treated as an invasive–but the specimens in Florida are huge, and I couldn’t recognize them as the Sarivi chettu Sarugaddu I knew in Andhra. Obviously, that’s because the trees in AP are harvested periodically.) Here’s more info if you’re interested.
    http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/sea/Products/AFDbases/AF/asp/SpeciesInfo.asp?SpID=477

    1. Oh, fine, fine! It has been more than a year since I wrote that post
      and it is very heartening to hear about it after such a long time!

      In fact we used to call the tree ‘souka chettu’ (సౌక చెట్టు, చౌక చెట్టు). Its slender thread like leaves when aged out would fall onto the ground and when totally dried without any trace of moisture in it would appear in light brown color (the green would go away) and a collected portion of this material we used to call ‘souka duggu’ (సౌక దుగ్గు). This is a very valuable material during the Sankranti days since this material is used as fuel for ‘bhogi mantalu’ (భోగి మంటలు). All this was a forty years ago, at least as far as I am concerned.

      The beauty that has been lost is not insignificant. The river in the
      shape of a ‘river’ has disappeared. When I saw in my ‘second-visit’ what remained was the remains of a river, like the trail of foot prints of an old and valuable friend, a great humanbeing, who left the world long ago. A big well appeared in the middle of the stream that was not there and from this well pipelines were laid which supply water to every household of the village. Now there is no need for people to carry water from the river, water reaches homes on its own. So the river has more or less become a house to which no one wants to pay any visit any more, it appears no one has any regrets and no one felt any need to dwell on these things either. We were remembering the river for the sake of water, now water itself is made to remember us and visit our homes on its own. That’s it and it has to be accepted.

      The ‘sarivi plantations’ were there but not in the form once they
      looked but here and there in neglected groups. Probably, as the river disappeared, the ‘sarivi plantations’ also might have disappeared, as both have to go hand-in-hand and none would look natural without the other by its side.

      Thanks again for your fine response!!

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