“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Each one of us, at some point of time, experience certain situations that change our attitude towards life. For me, there was one such incident that totally changed me from the inside out...
While pursuing a post graduate diploma in journalism, I was required to undertake a week-long trip to 'cover deprivation'. All of us students were divided into several groups and sent to various parts of India that were socially and economically backward or faced some troubling issues. Upon our return, we were all expected to file news reports or feature stories based on what we witnessed during our field trip.
I was part of the group that was sent to Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. The trip was a life-changing experience for me. My sheltered upbringing did not prepare me for the harsh realities of life that I faced during those seven days.
The very first night when we reached the place, I was in for a shock. We had to stay at a shack with a thatched roof; the accommodation provided by an NGO settlement in the area. The shack had no furniture or any items inside. There were no proper walls; just some barbed wire meshed together on a small cement ramp. There were no beds or mattresses and we were just provided blankets to sleep on the ground. Electricity was available only for two hours every evening and that too in the form of two dimly lit lamps that hung from the ceiling and a few charging points for our mobiles and laptops. There were just three common bathrooms and toilets for a group of 25 of us and these were located at a little distance outside our shack. Our shack was located in an isolated part of the settlement These places did not have running water and we were expected to fill buckets beforehand at a single tap provided at the entrance. Moreover, the settlement was just a couple of huts built in the middle of a thriving forest that was once an arid wasteland. We had used jeeps to travel from the nearest railway station to the national highway
and then taken a detour off the main road. It was only after nearly an
hour's drive in the mud road, in complete darkness, that we had reached the settlement.
Though my classmates and I were warned that we would have to
rough it out during the trip, we did not expect it to be so literal!
That night, I couldn't sleep as there were scores of insects and bedbugs around and I thought I heard some leaves rustling outside the hut at around 3:00 am. Everyone else was asleep and I felt terrified, not daring to investigate. That moment I felt so furious that we were being subjected to all of that inconvenience.
But in the next seven days, my attitude had undergone a transformation...
(to be continued)