Haveri town is not a great looking town, and it’s not very big. If you walk for about 20 minutes in either direction, you have pretty much covered it. There are three main roads, at various angles to each other. In the past, I have taken short cuts into unknown territory, and like magic, I always seem to meet one of these three roads. They are like permanent pebbles on the forest floor. But I don’t spend a lot of time in Haveri town. Most of my travel is in the four taluks that form the Haveri district. And the landscape in these taluks is simply beautiful.
The last time I was here, it was raining. And the scene was verdant green. Just rolls and rolls of it right to the horizon. Now that the rains have dried up along with the corn, there are different colours in the palette now. The eye-searing yellow of the sunflower fields, the dark brown of the depleted corn husks, and the second coming of the lime green rice shoots.
What hasn’t changed is that every time I look outside the bus window, or if I am walking along the edges of a village, my eye has to expand to take in everything: the cottony clouds against the sky blue sky. The rolling hills now dotted with stringy trees, the bare branches etched out against the white-blue sky. The giant blades of the white and orange windmills making music against the horizon.
I don’t always enjoy all aspects of my work. The heart-searing poverty that I am documenting, the social attitudes that prohibit a woman from being fully herself, the yellowing hair of malnourished kids. Some days, I come out of a hut, drenched in wretched guilt and profound helplessness. The world is dark and nothing can be done and it’s all useless anyway. Then, on my way home, I see the blue-black fields rushing to meet the disappearing skyline and I start to breathe again. Long deep breaths. There is beauty in the world. And I live to hope for a better day.