Thursday, June 26, 2008

One Unusual Day

The rainy season started soon after my taking charge of the branch. Suddenly one day in the early hours I found bullock carts going up to the hill while crowds followed it as if it was a procession. I could not understand what it was. In the meantime Mr Raju - my office assistant came to me running and asked me to vacate the house and go along with him. The reason was that there was a Cholera Case in the village and the villagers preferred vacating the village for fear of life. I was holding the first set of safe keys and the clerk in the office was holding the other set. In the meantime the other set of keys were brought to me with an information that the staff were also leaving the village.
Myself and my wife (a pregnant lady) looked after each of our faces and we decided to stay back in the village if necessary alone and take care the property of the bank - no matter what happens. We conveyed our decision to the staff. That one day life in the village was a land mark in our lives - we were all alone in the village amidst all darkness. My wife prepared lantrine much earlier than the routine daily time.
This was the incident that inspired me to use the type writer for drafting the situation and for finding out the possible solutions.
A few days later I asked one of the villagers to open a small shop and retain the basic medicines like Anacin etc for quick use by the villagers and I assured him that I would provide required financial assistance either through the bank or personally. That was the beginning for the reformations.
Water was carried in pots to my house and a major portion of my salary was spent only for procuring water. Initially I requested the Village head to try for putting medicines in the wells to keep the water free from backteria.
I startedmeasuring the distance between the nearest electrical point to the village from the two neighboring district places. I calculated the number of electrical polls needs either side. A detailed draft was prepared and the need for providing electricity was placed before the Rural Electrification Corporation in Delhi and Hyderabad. I wrote that if electricity is provided to the village, it would help the villagers to go for lift irrigation using pumping machines, and the ladies in the village shall have free time which could be used for other income generating positions. Electrical need for pumping protected water to the houses was also stressed in the draft document submitted.
As usual there was no response from REC. In the meantime I geared up people for adult education by providing the books I possessed at that time. A small centre was initiated and gradually people preferred to enter into the so called Library. I started getting news papers from Kavali and the papers used to come to us normally the next day or so. These papers were also placed in the Library for public reading as they could not afford spending any money for News Papers.
The next point was my role responsibility as Bank Manager. I requested the villagers going round each house to open a savings bank account with as little as Rs.5 per account. The response was not encouraging and as such I offered each account holder a passport size photo if an account is opened. I was possessing a Click III camera and it used to give us 12 snaps per reel. The reels were sent for processing and for prints whcih used to come to me after ten days or so. It was a matter of surprise for the villagers to see their photos and it was a point of attraction for all the villagers to come to the bank for opening of the accounts. This photo business costed me heavily on my personal purse but it gave me good results and I could successfully reach the target of Rs.6 lakhs by the year end.
Lot of appreciation letters from the Bank management were received, but there was no occasion for the bank management to knew how the confidence was created in the minds of the public and how an interest for depositing into the bank was created. Lot of money was personally spent, and lot of energy behind the successful reaching of the target.
My wife was sent to a different place since it was delivery time. I used to take my wife for regular check up on my scooter to Tekurpet in Cuddapah District duly crossing the hill and the jungle - carrying all the risk. Dr Rosa Basani was the medical superintendant at a Mission Hospital and she treated my wife. I may have to shed tears even today when I desire to write my bad experiences while travelling on my scooter with a pregnant lady and small kid in the night times through the jungle on the hill.
My daughter Shanthi could not be given any convent education/education at that point of time.
And when my wife left for Pithapuram for delivery, my life journey started as a single individual in the entire house when lantrine etc were to be cleaned every day for night light by me. It was a strange job for me and the cuts to the fingers are still a nightmare.
Scorpians and snakes were commonly seen the house and there were good number of bites for which the villagers used to run to my house with a tribal remedy.


Francis said...

Hello Sir, I am Francis here How are you ! I wish I could see some the photos of Seetharampuram you had taken in those days as you mentioned in the blog. Its my humble request If you have the photos can you please put them on Facebook, I will be happy to see the and would like to save them as well.
Thanks & regards.

pidathala joseph said...

I am Fr. Pidathala Joseph, I am resident of Seetharamapuram, I am proud of my village. It is equal to Swizterland. Today people of Seethramapuram are every nook and corner of the country and ouside India. There good number of games and sports persomnality. Tpday there good doctors, engineers, socialist, politicians etc. Today we second to non to anybody in the district.

pidathala joseph said...

I am born 1962 in Seetharamapuram, I study up to V class in RCM elementary school. Later went to Nellore for High school and college studies. In 1974 I joined in the Seminary to become a Catholic Priest. I studied Philosophy and Theology in St. John's Regional Seminary Hyderabad from 1982 to 1989 December. 24th April 1990 I was Ordained as Priest. I love my Priesthood and encourage good number of students to join in the Seminary. I love Seetharamapuram. The people of Seetharamapuram are simple, kind hearted, and hard working people. They are richly talented in sports and games, cultural activities like singing, dancing, folk dance, kolatam, chekka bhajan, all their professional instruments.

pidathala joseph said...

It is good that all the people of Seetharamapuram to write a nice comment our village. Great village with history and culture.

Aswamedhayaaji said...

My dear Mr Francis,
I would appreciate to meet you and I admire your rising to a great height from a small rural village. My attachment to the village is that I understood the needs of the society only in that village and my journalistic approach; hundreds of economic reforms suggested to the Government of India; my designing COMMON UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTABLE PAPER CURRENCY to University of Economic Sciences, Berlin Germany (now transformed into EURO CURRENCY) are all the contributions out of my struggle for existence and my spending of 27 months of life with you all in huts; agricultural fields; and dust stormed streets; besides very attached whole heartedness of the villagers to accept a outsider as their family member. I remember all that and I still retained my CLICK III camera with which I admired people taking their photographs and giving them free of cost. Ofcourse it was a hectic exercise to get reels (only 12 snaps) and getting the film developed and getting prints out of it many a times from Chennai.
I love to meet you as and when you visit Hyderabad