No Place for Us

This is a story about Jatryabhai. He was forced to leave his village Khedi, because a dam was coming up nearby. All the villagers were forcibly evacuated.

They were given land far away from their ancestral village. The new village Sinduri was situated on barren and rocky land. They were given very small houses with tin roofs. Life in the new village was like life in hell.

A Slum Dweller

After that, Jatrya shifts to Mumbai in the hope of a better life for him and his family. But life in Mumbai is very difficult. They have to live in makeshift shanties. All the family members have to work long hours in order to meet their ends.

Displacement from one’s roots can be quite painful. Starting life afresh in a new environment can be highly difficult. More often than not, survival is at stake.



Think and Tell

Question 1: Jatrya felt alone, even in a crowd of people. Have you ever felt like this?

Answer: Yes, it happens sometime. For example, I feel alone when I have to wait for train for many hours.

Question 2: Imagine how it feels to leave one’s own place and go far away to live in a new place?

Answer: It must be difficult to start life at an unknown place.

Question 3: Why do you think families like that of Jatrya’s are coming to big cities?

Answer: Such people come to big cities to look for better opportunities. They want to earn more. They want to give good education to their children. They want to improve their life.

Question 4: Have you seen any children (in your school or neighbourhood) who also go to work?

Answer: A few boys of my age from the nearby slum work at various grocery stores in the neighbourhood.

Question 5: What kind of work do they do? Why do they have to work?

Answer: These boys take orders from customers and give them different items.

Tell

Question 1: In Khedi village what all did children learn?

Answer: Children in Khedi village learn many things from their elders. They learnt to dance and sing. They learnt to play flute and dhol. They learnt to make pots of clay. They learnt to imitate the sound of birds.

Question 2: What do you learn from your elders?

Answer: I learnt drawing and painting from my father.

Question 3: Jatrya learnt so many things in Khedi. How many of those would be useful for him in Mumbai?

Answer: None of the skills would be useful for him in Mumbai.

Question 4: Do you hear the sounds of birds every day? Which ones?

Answer: I hear the sound of only one bird every day, and they are hoarse sounding crows.

Question 5: Can you imitate the sound of any bird? Show how.

Answer: Yes, I can imitate the sound of a crow.

Question 6: What are some of the sounds that you hear every day, but the people of Khedi may not be hearing?

Answer: Every day, I hear the sound of trucks, buses, rickshaws and cars. I hear the sounds of horns of these vehicles. I am sure people of Khedi may not be hearing these sounds.

Question 7: Have you experienced silence? When and where?

Answer: Once, I had been to a holiday resort in Uttarakhand. It was really silent and serene place.

Discuss and Tell

Question 1: Many people in Jatrya’s village did not agree to move away from their land and forest. Why? They had to leave even though they didn’t want to. Why?

Answer: People of Jatrya’s village had been living there for many generations. They did not like to be removed from their roots. So, they did not agree to move away from their land and forest. They had to leave because of pressure from police and government.

Question 2: In Khedi, how many people were there in Jatrya’s family? When he thought about his family who all came to his mind?

Answer: Jatrya was living with his parents and some other elders. He also thought about the family of his future. He thought about his wife and children, after getting married.

Question 3: Who all come to your mind when you think about your family?

Answer: My family is composed of my parents, me and my sister.

Question 4: Have you heard of people who don’t want to be moved from their old place? Talk about them.

Answer: Sometimes, I read news about people protesting against removal of their slums.

Question 5: Do you know some people who have never been to school? Do you also know of any place where there is no school?

Answer: The maid who comes to my house for cleaning and mopping has never been to school. She says that there is no school in her village.

Imagine

Question 1: Think of the kinds of difficulties people have to face where a dam is being built.

Answer: When a dam is built, a vast tract of land comes under its catchment area. People from that area have to be evacuated. Plants and animals of catchment area are destroyed. It results in great loss of flora and fauna.

Question 2: Draw a picture of Khedi village and a picture of Jatrya’s dream village. Discuss the differences between them. Also look at the pictures your friends have drawn.

Answer: Do It Yourself


Write

Question 1: Was Sinduri like the village of Jatrya’s dreams?

Answer: Sinduri was entirely different from the village of Jatrya’s dreams.

Question 2: What difference did he find between Sinduri and his dream village?

Answer: Jatrya’s village Khedi was full of greenery and wild creatures. Houses had roofs made of straw. Roads were made of clay. There was a river nearby. It was a cozy environment.

Sinduri was on rocky land. There was no tree. Road was made of coal tar. It became so hot that walking on the road became difficult. Houses were very small. Tin roofs made the houses as hot as oven.

Question 3: Have you ever been to anyone’s house as an unwanted guest? How did you feel?

Answer: Once, I went to a new neighbour’s house to attend a birthday party. None of the children sitting there were known to me. So, I felt like an unwanted guest. I felt awful.

Question 4: What all does your family do, when you have guest at home for a few days?

Answer: We take good care of our guests. My father buys sweets and fish for them. My mother cooks tasty dishes. We give them a comfy room to stay.

Think

Question 1: What had Jatryabhai thought while moving to Mumbai? Did he find Mumbai as he had imagined?

Answer: Jatryabhai thought of a better life while moving to Mumbai. But life at Mumbai was difficult. For poor people, finding a roof on the head is nearly impossible in Mumbai. Day to day survival is tough.

Question 2: What kind of school do you think Jatrya’s children would be going to in Mumbai?

Answer: I think, Jatrya’s children must be going to government schools, because such schools are free for everyone.


Find Out and Write

Question 1: Do you know of any family that has come to your town after having moved out of their place? Talk to them and find out:

(a) From where have they come? Why did they have to come here?

Answer: There is a slum across the road. A new high-rise building is under construction nearby. The construction workers live in that slum. My father says that all of them have come from Bengal.

(b) What kind of place did they live in there? How do they find this new place compared to the old one?

Answer: They lived in a remote village somewhere in the eastern part of West Bengal. There are thick grooves of bamboo all around. There are many rivulets in the area. People of that village catch fish and grow paddy. They find their new place unfit for human beings.

(c) Is their language and way of living any different from that of the people here? In what ways?

Answer: They speak Bengali among themselves. They speak rudimentary Hindi. Sometimes, I find it difficult to understand their Hindi. They eat rice all the time, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At my house, we eat different items, like chapatti, paratha, bread, omlette, etc.

(d) Learn some words from their language and write them in your notebook.

Answer: Water is called Jal (pronounced as Jol) in Bengali. Red chilli is called Lonka.

(e) Do they know how make some things that you cannot make? What?

Answer: One of the boys showed me beautiful pouches made from colourful threads. I want to learn to weave such pouches from him.

(f) Have you ever read or heard of a city slum being removed? How do you feel about this?

Answer: Recently, there was news of a slum in Noida being removed. I saw horrible photos of rubble of huts and shanties. People were trying to recover their belongings from the rubble. I felt very bad.

(g) People also shift from one place to another when they get transferred in their jobs? How do they feel then?

Answer: Three years ago, one of my classmates came from Ranchi to Delhi. His father works for a Bank. He was transfferred. Now, I have heard that they are now going to Agra because of another transfer. I will miss my friend. He must be feeling the same way.



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