14 June, 2021

School Is A Dry Lesson In Life

When drought forces parents to seek work in cities, children become the water-bearers

Piryanka fetches water in Malegaon village, Parbhani district.
Photograph by Amit Haralkar
School Is A Dry Lesson In Life


Priyanka Chavan is barely nine, studies in Std III and when we catch up with her, has no time to talk as she purses her lips and rushes with a plastic kalshi full of water from the tanker to the family’s one-room, patched mud house. She rushes back and forth and makes several trips. Curiously, Malegaon village, where she lives, is close to Yeldari dam, the second largest in Marath­wada. The beautiful Purna river spreads over a vast expanse and is quite soothing to our urban eyes, though people say the water level is way too low.

Priyanka settles to talk, chirpily and full of confidence, only after she has ensured that in the absence of her grandmother, who has gone to the market, she has stored as much water as she could. Her parents have been away for several months now, working as daily-wagers near Pune. But her aunt is here after her delivery, taking care of a month-old infant.

“It’s okay. I can do this. I only get irritated when I get pushed around because I am small. Sometimes, I get bored of walking to...

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