Stench from a dirty canal and a young girl’s dream

Villagers in the Muslim colony in Sayedpur village are worried as the canal is getting polluted with each passing day and they don’t know who to complain; but none of it has dampened the spirit of young Rozina

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Puja Bhattacharjee | November 10, 2012



The Sayedpur village, located on NH 60, is divided into two colonies. The Muslims inhabit the larger colony which comprises 16 houses. The rest is occupied by mudis (the grocers). Upon entering the Muslim colony, my eyes fall on a canal by the side of the narrow path which leads to the village. This canal is of much importance to the villagers. Children are seen sitting on the stone steps of the canal with fish hooks in their hands. Villagers use the canal for bathing and washing purposes. But during my recent visit to the village, a local resident complained to me about how the sewers of some local houses which flow directly into the canal were polluting it. When I asked her why villagers never complained to the local representative, she expressed despair as the same person was responsible for dirtying the canal also.

A woman tells me people here use canal water for drinking purposes when taps go dead. This piece of information makes me nauseous. I picture the woman negotiating around excreta to collect some clean drinking water.

As I enter the village, I hear loud music blaring from loudspeakers around and get to know it is Eid. I feel I should talk to people who are dirtying the canal and try to find out a solution. But I can’t as I have already seen their eyes prying on my movements as I go around villagers talking about their problems. They seem a little hostile and I don’t want to spoil the festive mood.

Among those who have gathered around me is Rozina, a class 11th student. She invites me to her hut. Inside Rozina’s hut, it is quiet except for the occasional screams of children playing outside. She tells me this year the family has piped down the celebrations as two close relatives passed away. Then she serves me some vermicelli cooked in milk, a typical Eid delicacy. Still recovering from the shock and disgust of the canal situation, I find it hard to eat it. But for the fear of being rude, I dig into my plate and gulp down every bit of it.

As I make my way back to my accomodation, Rozina surreptitiously walks to me and asks me if she can have my phone number. “I really like you and want to be your friend,” she says. I give her my number. The next day she rings me up and we have a short conversation. I sincerely wish that she becomes a teacher some day which is her dream (she told me on Eid). I hope I will be able to inspire her and make her think beyond the four walls of her little hut and the narrow lanes of Sayedpur.

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