Outline: How I happened to visit a village- it was a typical village- the drawbacks of village life – its attractions – compensations.
Two of my classmates hail from a village in Maharashtra. Last year they invited me to spend some of my summer holidays with them. I accepted the invitation and stayed with them for a week. It was my first experience of village life, and it was most delightful and educative.
I believe that my friends’ village is representative of rural India, where 75 percent of the Indian population lives. It is backward in several respects; yet it has benefited from the not so recent Five- year plans and community projects. It has a primary school, a dispensary, and it is connected with a railway station by a motorable road. Hence, in describing my impressions of this village, I am recording my response to rural India which represents the real India.
Life in this village seemed to be drab, monotonous and tagnant. I felt intellectually starved, as there were no books and the daily newspaper came in the evening. Nor were there places of entertainment like clubs, cinema-houses, and decent restaurants. Several localities and roads were dusty and unclean. I was appalled at the poverty of many of the villagers who constantly borrowed money from the local money- lenders at an exorbitant rate of interest. They lived in mud- houses which were dimly lit by oil- lamps after evening, as the village had no electricity yet. I realised that our much – flaunted rural uplift programmes had little actual impact on village life. Too weak and ignorant to raise a voice of protest, the villagers had resigned themselves to their fate. I remembered the lines from Grey chill penury repressed their noble rage And froze the genial current of their soul.
But there were redeeming features- compensations. Here we were free from what Mathew Arnold calls “this strange disease of modern life” –the sick hurry, the hustle and bustle, and the tension and anxiety of city life. You did not have to make frantic efforts to catch the train or stand in a long queue to board a bus. You were not jammed in over-crowded suburban trains and jostled by milling crowds on railway platforms. There was no noise made by cars, lorries, and factories. Outside the village the air was pure and the landscape beautiful. Fields of wheat and paddy stretched endlessly enclosed on the horizon by green wavy hills. A river flows through the village and we spend our evenings on wide sandy bank, chatting or playing games. I felt refreshed by an intimate contact with nature.
The villagers-most them were farmers-were industrious, and fundamentally honest and religious. For all their lack of education and sophistication, they had a native shrewdness and wisdom and the traditional culture of India. Anyway, I felt the village with the conviction that rural development should be given the higher priority in India.