Walking Against the Wind – Story of Valuram Gameti

by Prakash Gupta

Fearlessly, in search of wisdom and knowledge he travels almost 12 kms daily to go to school. Ignoring the thistles, pebbles and thorny bushes laden here and there he goes to school every day. Valuram is studying in class 10.  He is one of the brave ones who chose to study unlike other children of his age in the community.  Yes, studying indeed is a challenge for the people living in his community, simply because school is far away from his home. The 6 kms distance is not a straight road but rather, includes climbing a hill and walking on a road full of thistles and pebbles.

Valuram’s commitment to study can be seen from the fact that he scored the highest marks during class VIII and the state government has given him a laptop as a gift for the achievement. Unfortunately, he could not use the laptop because his village has no electricity. This is a fact for a number of students like Valuram, who, for this reason have sold their laptops to other people in the city for a small amount. But Valuram didn’t sell his laptop. His mother told us that though they were willing to sell the laptop the teacher of the school wouldn’t let them do so.

The path from Valuram’s house to his school
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To know the scenario of the place better, we went along with him. It took nearly an hour and a half to reach the place where he resides – Sanghon ka Vera, a tribal hamlet which falls under Gogunda block of Udaipur district.  Sanghon ka Vera is in a valley with nearly 40 families. Till date, there is no electricity and water supply in that region.

Valuram belongs to the Bhil tribe. The Bhil tribe has very low literacy rate. In fact, Valuram’s mother never went to school and his father gave up studies after finishing class V. He has 4 siblings – 2 brothers and 2 sisters. His parents are sending all of them to school. Being the eldest son of his family, he is struggling hard to achieve what none in his hamlet has ever achieved yet.

His father is a tailor in the city. He travels 50Kms daily to the city to earn some money which is just sufficient to feed his family. But his parents wish to make all 5 of their children (including the girls) to study to the level that they wish to study. His mother said, “His father won’t let poverty break the momentum of his child”.

Almost all the people accept the situation as it is. The major source of livelihood is either meager work in nearby village shops or subsistence agriculture. Even in agriculture, the major chunk of the population is dependent solely on kharif crops, as the rabi crops need abundance of irrigation. The secondary occupation is livestock rearing. They have animals like goats, camels, etc. which they sell only in adverse situations to get immediate monetary assistance. Further, ‘Sanghon ka vera’ is totally cut off from government initiated welfare plans and policies.

Poverty sometimes acts as a monster which takes its toll and the worst sufferer and the softest target is always a child’s future. While we can’t generalize, it does appear as if this boy has something outstanding in him – the natural gift of perseverance, patience and extraordinary confidence. He talks less and listens more. His silence, however, brings to mind the truth in Binoy Acharya’s words “sometimes, we need to learn from people’s silence”. Though the path Valuram has chosen might seem humble to create even a ripple in the vast sea of the outside world, he is confidently preparing himself to fly high and break the shackles of all difficulties.

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