Rural living is meant to be simple.
The people breathe clean air, eat clean food, sleep well and deeply, cluster under trees on moonlit and starlit nights philosophizing or sitting in silence.
And underneath all that apparent simplicity,
Rural India is a disturbingly and simply confusing paradox.

The people want better but they don’t want to be better.
They labour hard but they don’t want to make their lives easier.
The women (as all women do) have lots to say – ideas aplenty – but they would rather not act upon them.
The men are encouraging about what their wives make and create at home to kill time but are resistant to share it with the world –
An intention that could actually bring them an income, recognition and thereby, self-respect and a sense of security.

Human society is complex in more places than it is not.
Complexity simply comes with the territory of being human.
But here, it is confounding in a rather frustrating way.
One sees potential, lying latent, waiting to be explored and emancipated and then one meets resistance of the most archaic kind.
It’s the oldest backstory in the world: Gender, Caste and Community.

There is talent, in multiple spheres.
There has just never been a place to exhibit it.
The ones that can haven’t really been around to take notice and provide it the platform it deserves.

We, the more complicated city-dwellers might be to blame,
For being too swept up in our lives and minds to go foraging deep into the backcountry for everything it possesses in abundance – all we have allowed to remain unacknowledged.

And then there’s the argument that Rural India doesn’t want better because it doesn’t know better.
The women don’t know how much their work, their Arts and Crafts, their creations could appeal to the world outside.
They’ve never known a way of life or had aspirations outside of caring for their homes and families.
The men are unaware just how instrumental their wives and daughters can be in reversing their economic conditions for the better or uplifting them, in general.
The people can’t envisage how building a cohesive environment, beyond the confines of biases and discrimination, can benefit the entire village ecosystem and economy.

Simple living doesn’t have to ignore potential.
It doesn’t have to set aside a person or a set of people and deem them inferior.

What’s meant to be simple should remain so.
But some evolution won’t hurt.
There has to be a way of preserving their peace, maintaining their quality of life, recognizing skill sets and channelizing them into fulfilling as well as lucrative paths.
And there has to be a way of getting them all to do it together.

Rural India is a resourceful place, after all.
They can use all that natural light and living to find a better route!



(This piece belongs to a series called ‘THE RURAL DISPATCH’ on the network.)
(The pulse of this piece was captured in Artwork by Aditi Khandelwal.)



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