I stand on the shores of the Seti River in Doti. A woman passes me by with a sandbag balanced by a strap across her head. She wears a red sari and gold jewelry in her nose and ears. She looks familiar, I know I’ve seen her face before. Prakash turns to me and asks, do you recognize her?
A little further downstream, I am lead to a man’s home in a mostly Dalit settlement. The path is narrow and slippery. On the front steps of his clay hut, his sons lay straw mats. The man call us prabha and malik, referring to us as gods and lords. As I sit, Prakash turns to me and asks, do you recognize him?
I know the woman with the gold jewelry and the man who calls me god from Devin Greenleaf’s photographs and blogs. Devin visited Doti last year as the AP fellow. His pictures were the first images I saw of the Nepal I was to visit this summer. I am astonished those images and stories are alive before me. To find these particular individuals in a region like this is incredible. They don’t even have electricity here.
When Devin came last summer, the woman was hammering rocks by the shore of the Seti River. She made 15 rupees a day, almost 7 dollars a month. Today, she hauls bags of sand more than two kilometers along the river from 6 in the morning until 7 at night. She’s not sure what the sand will be used for, she says with a shrug. Maybe buildings, maybe a bridge. She does make almost 100 rupees a day now, though her knees and back hurt more.
The woman’s fifteen-year-old daughter, who Devin had found out was attending school last year, is now married. Her mother thinks this is best for her, even though she had to drop out of school. He is a good boy, after all.
Phagire, the old man, plays the drums for us. His music is to give energy to laborers during the harvest season. Like most in the settlement, he doesn’t work for money, only grains. This year there were two deaths in the settlement, so he could not play the drums during the harvest season as tradition dictates. I walk back through the narrow and slippery path with his loud and constant pounding in my ears.
Posted By Therkelsen
Posted Jul 31st, 2008