The Ravenous Flames


The first time, I became the Branch Manager of Damoh (MP) branch. I had a new zeal with a burning desire to do something good, something different, not only for the bank, but also for the community.

My branch had been allotted 16 villages, but the branch had no motorcycle. So on Sundays, I used to borrow the bike from the nearby rural Sadguva branch to visit villages with an employee of my branch.

One of the allocated villages was Riyana, which was adopted by my branch. We had expanded the areas of financing in addition to the community service in that village.

Under the Jeevan Dhara Scheme of the state government, wells were made available to tribals, who used to break stones for their livelihood. The cost of one well was Rs 12500, but it was dug on the farmland of a tribal person, free of cost.

Banks were supposed to give a pump to such tribal people for irrigating land as loans under IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Programme). I had also financed around thirty of them.

At that time a pump used to cost around Rs10,000. Being in the tribal category, they used to get a subsidy of 50 % on the loan amount from the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) and 25 % from the Antyavasai Committee for tribals.

Thus the actual loan amount was Rs 2500 only per person. But due to my attachment to the village and my faith in its people, I was sure that even a loan of Rs 2500 would never turn bad (NPA).

But the wells were drilled at too shallow a depth by the government agency. All failed and went dry subsequently. The pumps became worthless for them, as there was no scope of even renting out those pumps in that village.

They went back for stone breaking. About ten months after the loan was disbursed, a farmer from Riyana informed me that Chinta Gond had sold his pump. I could not believe it, as I had immense faith in them.

The next time when I went to the village, Chinta Gond was seen going somewhere. I asked him to stop, but he said he would come and went away. My suspicion grew stronger.

I had moved forward a little, when he came back. Without batting an eyelid, I asked whether he had sold the pump. When he denied, I asked him to show me.

He immediately took me to his hut and removed the sack, under which the pump was intact. I asked him why he had then run away.

I couldn’t forget his answer till date. He said, “Sir, my family has been hungry for the last two days with nothing to eat. I had gone to Chhabile Singh to borrow one kilogram of any food grain.”

Chhabile Singh was a prosperous farmer. I had given a tractor loan to him. When I asked him about this, he repeated literally the same thing what Chinta Gond had stated. My eyes got moistened.

While coming back, I was wondering if anyone should be surprised, if at all, the bread of faith goes up in the ravenous flames.

–Kaushal Kishore

17 Comments

  1. I had to read this a few times over to absorb it fully. It’s interesting how when we interfere with the best of intentions we can often do more damage than good… at least so it can seem, when people with less integrity fulfill the plans at least (not digging the wells deep enough)! But your faith in the villagers was warranted and justified in the end, if I understood right… yes? That last line is a wow, don’t think I’ve heard that before.
    It’s good to read your stories, Kishore. 🙏💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lia, for such a wonderful comment and compliments. Your understanding is perfectly what I wanted to convey. The government’s intentions are always good, but implementation part is lacking. This case is just one example. I still cherish those memories and sometimes get sentimental too, but that’s the part of life. Thanks again 🙏🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw wonderful. :)) I’m so glad I understood it then. By the way seeing the image now showing the bread, I believe I understand the last line now – at first I wondered if it meant that faith is consumed by flames, but now noticing the image, I am thinking it means that flames cause the bread to leaven — i.e. “bread of faith *rises* in [spite of] the ravenous flames” — but I guess it could mean both! One negative, one positive, equally true at different times? Well you really got me to think. :)) Thanks for the kind reply, and have a lovely day. :))

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I really appreciate your vision, Lia, that you can think and interpret both ways. I’m impressed. Here the context was negative. What I meant was that the faith I had in the villagers may turn into bread to go up in flames of their extreme hunger. Thank you for taking time to analyse it in a creative way. Have a wonderful weekend 🎉💐

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah. Yes, I get it now. Thanks for explaining. Very painful indeed. Terrible to suffer from hunger like that, and for you to witness it as well. Difficult to discuss at all… and yet, this brings awareness. Having someone caring like you observe the situation, acknowledge it and hopefully find out from them directly what best could serve them next must be encouraging as well. Thanks again, and kudos for all you do to help. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too. :)) 🙏🌷🌻

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wonderful reflections on your part, Lia. The gist of my experience with such unprivileged people and hunger is that I learnt humility to a great extent. Thanks a lot, once again.🙏💐

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the post KK. It helped me to understand the good community there.
    When I started The Gondwanaland, it was inspired by the ancient supercontinent. So, no one has seen it. I was planning to write a book in which I was going to tell the stories of the Gondwanaland through my imagination.

    But I need a base to start the story and because I belong to a tribal community, I’ve already read of gond culture in MP board books. Then I thought I should narrate the story of good people. I read some articles and found their story is older than any other community in India.

    I respect people. And I’m a first Indian citizen than anything else. I fear the “politicization” of the issue, therefore I am not starting it.

    I think the Gondwanaland should be limited to super continent theory. I’m using the name because I can story about it. What do you think?

    Like

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