Till the Hill Goes, Kuvarsi

It was a cool and misty morning on my last day of my research visit to Kuvarsi Bhadramal area in Palanpur District. I was waiting at the bus-stop, which was nothing but a road and a little sign saying ‘Kuvarsi'. The sun must have barely begun to rise behind the hills. I could hear the sounds of the village stirring awake in the background. Four or five adivasi(s), the forester's son and two of his friends were waiting for the bus. It was a Saturday and they had a morning school. We gathered some branches, made a fire and sat around it. By now, I was well known to them. They started asking questions about the study we had conducted and about ‘America'. The boys were curious about the school system in America and the adivasi(s) were interested in the agricultural system. It was difficult for me to relate to different contexts. They were intently listening to me as though I were a Brahmin reciting religious scriptures. Every once in a while, one of us would get up to find some more dry branches to keep the fire going. When I got up the second time, the forester's son stopped me and said, "No, you should not get up, because you are the story-teller. I will get the firewood and you carry on with the story." The bus was already forty-five minutes late and another group of adivasi(s) gathered around a small fire some 100 feet away from us. The sun could not yet be seen, but the light had changed considerably. The foggy hills in the early light looked very serene and beautiful. I turned around to warm my cold back. The talaati (the village level revenue Clerk-cum-secretary) came with some hey and wood for our fire and joined the group. who was not very happy with me for making a copy of his land records the other day, The discussion changed to what we were trying to do and what the future might be. One of the adivasis, who obviously did not like the talaati's intrusion, said to me, "Saaheb, there is no way, we the poor, have a chance to change in this birth". We will change when the 'new age' will come". "When will the new age come?" I asked. "I do not know that but do you see that magraa (hill)?" he pointed his lanky hand towards the isolated hill, "Well we will change when there will be no magraa there, instead it will be flat ground", said he. The talaati laughed and said, "He is our poet here, and why, every tribal is a poet just because he is ignorant."At that moment another adivasi said, "I can hear the bus, it should be here soon." I strained my ears but could not hear anything. The boys got up, shook hands with me and said, "We will go home, It is too late to go to the school now." We talked some more and I promised them to see them again someday. The bus came within five minutes. Some got into the bus while others embraced me to bid goodbye. As soon as the bus was in motion the boys waved vigorously and started walking homewards. I am still waiting at the bus stop, pondering "Can we do something?" and that adivasi still believes that before the hill becomes dust, there are no chances for people like them to change…..