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Rural realities

Charred dreams

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08 May '24
3 min read


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Charred dreams, 

Glimpse of unorganized sector in rural area.

Neetu is seventeen and hold her 3 years old toddler son on her waist her protruding belly looks huge and I wonder in horror how she operates in this brick manufacturing unit, her job is to stack up the baked bricks in orderly manner and she carry set of 15 bricks on her head. Her body seems so malnourish and petite it seems impossible how she is surviving the hard work and the chaotic life. She was 12.years old when she eloped with her husband who was 6 years elder to her. They belong to a tiny village near Betul Madhyapradesh. They immediately married and searched for odd jobs to keep themselves alive some labour contractor in Itarsi inform them about The itt bhatta (brick manufacturing unit) located on the outskirts of itarsi town.

The lure was free accommodation and timely payment the bait was tempting hence they joined the Bhatta almost with in a week. Now after few years they are part of Mahuapura a shanty hutment arises in the jungle where some Gond tribal farmer surrender his land on lease for preparing bricks. the owner of the brick manufacturing units give money as debts to small farmers eyeing their acre or two of a land once the farmer who walks in the trap of huge debt which is predominantly taken for drinking eating and self indulgence. The farmer has to succumbed to the atrocious demand for freeing him from the debt the lease is for two to five years mostly after the total exhaustion of the soil the land is left barren as a wasteland no more suitable for agricultural activities. 

Our town got the name Itarsi because it produced massive production of bricks and ropes IE. itaa and rassi. It's a vicious circle of exploitation we have bonded labour we have helpless and addicted farmers we have power mafia of owners middlemen labour contractors. Women children forced into inhumane Labour Day in and Day out. Yet no complaints as they all have somehow accepted the destiny of being exploited they took habits of drinking to escape the reality of the condition they live in. Mahua is a native tree it has grapes like white flowers which taste sweet the labours working in the brick manufacturing units can't have the luxury of expensive alcohol hence they make homemade drink of Mahua and stay inebriated to stay sane to work like animal and to ease the sore body and soul. Women children young and old all alike drink this strong handmade alcohol. These people made lives in the deep dark any ray of hope, change ,help is impossible to reach. It's almost impossible to filter through the acceptance they have for themselves and the coming generations . They are used like animals they breed like animals and they do attack like animals if somebody approach them with ideologies of better life and good change.

Brick manufacturing unit near Mahuapura.

Family of labourers living in at the unit

Silvia Peter 



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Written by Silvia Peter

Thoughtful observer