As we enter into the old, remote areas of Ganeshpura village along side the fields of rice and black grams which are swinging in the light breeze that is blowing. Very fare from the hectic, melancholy, mundane life of city, away from the crowd and pollution, we are welcomed to a hut made of sand and broken pieces of bricks but pukka by girl of 16 years of age Meena, full of life and joy. She is physically challenged as she got paralytic attack at the age of 5 years. But apart from a life so bleak, so darkened by physical restraints, she lights it up with her 2500 watts smile, her gleeful spirit. She and her mother gesture us to come inside but we sat out side as the house was too small for our group of five. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. We all are students of B.Sc. B. Ed I year from the Regional Institute of Education, Bhopal. We have a subject called Working with community in which we have to get the information on village people and tell you about us too for which we will be awarded 50 marks. So we will like to gather some information from you. Would you oblige us with it?
Ans. Oh! Why not? Start up.
Q. We heard about you daughter suffering from polio. Did you not get her to the vaccination centre (interrupts in between)?
Ans. She had been administered with polio drops and all the vaccination which come to the village school. And let me tell you she is not suffering from polio.
Q. How do you know she is having polio? What disease she have?
Ans. We took her to Vidisha Hospital where the doctors told us she is suffering from polio, they advised us to take Meena to Bhopal. We took her to Bhopal. The doctors were not attentive and not quite sure what the disease was but was sure it wasn’t polio. They dispatched the matter in a hush-hush manner. They gave us medicine and got away with us. Since then she hasn’t benefited from the medicine. God only knows what will happen. (Sighs)
Q. Which hospital in Bhopal she was referred to? What did it cost you?
Ans. It costed us 1000 to 2000 during her clinical examination in the Hamidia hospital at Bhopal.
Q. Can you tell us about the beginning, the initiation of this?
Ans. She was very small about 5 years old when her body started to become very numb and tight and she could not move her limbs at all and was paralyzed. We took her to doctor. After some time her body became normal but the attack left her left leg unusable and futile. Look at it how thin her leg is! You should look at it Meena (she calls out to her daughter and tells her to stand up.)
Q. No need. It would pain her.
Ans. It doesn’t hurt her now. Back then, it used to hurt her. (She stood up with a thick lathi by her side. She was quite comfortable with it.)
Q. Now moving away from it, what is she doing now in terms of education?
Ans. She is preparing for her X. She failed in it a year before. (Meena interrupts in between to say something.)
Meena: My parents are very good. They are providing for my education though I failed. No other parents in the village are educating their girl child. I am very lucky. My sister is in VIII and one brother in Vii and the other is 14 years old and not studying. lie doesn’t want to study since he too failed.
Q. What are the food items you take in your meal?
Ans. Everything from potato to tomato, onion, guards, brinjal and all the stuff.
Q. Do you take a balanced diet?
Ans. Yes! Everything — rice, chapatti, vegetables, pulses all.
Q. Don’t you take spinach or any other green leafy vegetable?
Ans. Of course, we take spinach, methi (fenugreek leaves), bathua etc.
Q. Do any member of your family has any kind of problems in terms of health? Any serious ailment suffering from a long time? Any other member has?
Ans. No. Just Meena. Rest is OK.
Q. How many times a day you take meals?
Ans. 3 times a day. One at 9a.m.in the morning, lunch at 2p.m.and dinner at 9p.m.
Q. Have other children of yours been given all the vaccines that is given to children under Govt. schemes?
Ans. Yes, all.
Q. Malaria is a common disease here. What do you do to prevent it?
Ans. We use mosquito net in the house.
Q. We have been at the school, we read out the list of food items provided in the daily meal. Is it provided in reality or simply written to show to the authority?
Ans. Every thing is provided in the school.
Q. Are you satisfied with the facilities provided in the village? With the system, the Sarpanch, the Panchayat?
Ans. Ahem. No because the Sarpanch is not fulfilling his duties. He promised toilets in every house hold, to make roads in the village and also some medication and help to Meena but didn’t do so.
Q. How is the process of electing the Sarpanch? You must be participating in it. Is it not?
Ans. Yeah. The election takes place. People vote from 5 villages that are Basenagar, Ganeshpura, Amachar, Udaygiri and Kharnbaba. But once the Sarpanch is elected who cares? He just develops the village, the constituency from which he is. The C.M. of this state has some land in the Basenagar but still there is no development.
Q. Does this house belong to you?
Ans. Yes. But the land on which our house is standing is Govt.’s. When there will construction or widening of road, our house will have to be removed.
Q. What are property do you have?
Ans. Just one field of rice. No animals, vehicles nothing. We also have one shop of toffees.
Q. What is monthly income that comes to you?
Ans. Rs. 1000/-only.
Q. Is it enough for your family for one month?
Ans. Some times it is not enough. But all the same we have to adjust in our limit.
Q. Where do you take water from?
Ans. From the Govt. hand pumps available in the vicinity of our house.
Q. Do you observe simple but important things like cleanliness, sanitation, washing your hands before eating, washing dirty clothes regularly?
Ans. We care a lot about these.
Q. Where do you go for the toilets? Don’t you have your personal toilets?
Ans. No, not personal toilets but we go to end of the village. We were promised the toilets but see we haven’t got any.
Q. Thank you for the interview.
Ans. Oh! It’s ok.