Peasant Autonomy
go to the previous page     Nederlands     go to the next page
Story 92

A village in Maharashtra, India – 1937

Happy years

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Anant Rohankar)


It is harvest time, and it is sunny; Radha, a peasant woman about forty years old, feels happy. She is sitting on the ox-cart, on top of the jowar, the local grain; she has put one arm around the neck of her youngest son Birju, and the other around the neck of her oldest, Ramu. It is a good harvest. Like always the awful moneylender will confiscate three-quarters of the harvest, but from the remainder they will manage to survive this year.

Radha has had setbacks in her life. She was happily married with a nice, sturdy, cheerful husband. But her mother-in-law had borrowed 500 rupees from the village moneylender for the wedding party. It had been a splendid party, which the villagers talked about for a long time. But the debt hung like a millstone around their necks.
In the poor years Radha and her family had been very hungry. She has lost two of her children. To survive, her husband and she cleared a piece of fallow land. That was hard work, because the land was full of rocks. While removing a big rock, her husband was crushed, and lost both his arms. He couldn't bear to be dependant, and one night he disappeared. She has never seen him again.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Rohit Gowaikar)


Smiling, Radha looks at her two sons. How hard they work. Soon it will become time to look for brides for them. The moneylender has taken everything away from her, when from time to time she went to him to borrow some extra money to buy food, when the children were too hungry. And once her house was destroyed by a flood. But look now, ever since both her sons have grown up, she has slowly but surely recovered. Now she has a new house, a plough, two beautiful white bullocks, and enough to eat. The only thing lacking is her husband. Daily she prays that he at long last will return, like she has seen in a dream. She still misses him every day.


Mother India (1957) is an impressive movie from the Indian director Mehboob Khan about village life: the hard work on the land, the crop failures and the exploitation, but also the good years, the happiness and the solidarity.

Go to:
= the next page: The fox ghost - Gaomi District, Shandong Province, China – 1937, story 93.
= the Table of contents, story 92.