23 June, 2021

A Home By The Rugged Valley

The sick can find help, children have a tomorrow and trees are not felled for fuel

A Home By The Rugged Valley
Heaven is a place on earth. Kedarnath Banerjee is convinced. "I don’t know if there’s a heaven after death, but it’s most certainly here." In 1983 when he first set foot in Chharba village, in the Sahaspur area 35 km from Dehradun, he was smitten by the scenic beauty. He intended to build his summer retreat in the area. But gradually, he confronted the ground realities—there was no electricity, no toilets or tube wells and no jobs. And then finally, he was dragged out of his complacency.

It’s still very vivid, says Kedarnath as he recalls—one day, a man came begging for money on the pretext that his child was sick. Kedarnath didn’t believe him. Obviously the money was for his daily bottle and the child’s illness was the perfect ploy to elicit sympathy, he thought. He scolded the man off. But that quiet voice within prompted him to visit the man’s house. What if his son was really ill...? What he saw there changed his life—there, amid the buffaloes, was a 10-year-old boy, Bittu, lying on the ground frothing. Kedarnath had to do something. Bittu had...

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