(I meant to post this before leaving for Delhi last week – oops!)
Chikhul is marathi for ‘mud’. It is a wonderful word for two reasons: one, for its phonetic fun – kind of like ‘chuckle’ or ‘chicken’. Two, because my learning this word means that there is mud, and mud means that there is rain.
Khup chikhul would actually be more accurate. This past week, it has down poured everyday, absolutely saturating the ground with water, creating streams and rivers and plentiful puddles where there were once bare riverbeds and collections of dirt and dust. Hence, mud. I have been going into the villages each morning with members of the Mobile Health Team to conduct my HIV/AIDS research, and it has been incredible to witness such a change in the landscape and day-to-day life of the people. Never (in my three months here) have I seen flooded fields, women washing clothes in a communal body of water, or so many women and girls carrying water back to their homes via big aluminum tins balanced nonchalantly on their heads. Today our vehicle got stuck in the mud and we had to get out and push it back on the road.
I’ve never truly valued rain. I’ve enjoyed a good rain run, been awed by the magnificence of a thunderstorm, and loved staying cozy in my bed listening to the sound of raindrops, but I’ve never appreciated the vitality rain ensures. I haven’t had to; I have never lived somewhere where I cannot get clean, fresh, abundant, hot (or cold) water with the turn of a faucet. For Jamkhed block, however, where so many families depend on agriculture for their livelihood and where drought has plagued the land for the past two years, rains like these are invigorating. It is a wonderful change to see.