Babli entered the kitchen. Her mother was at the usual spot beside the modest kerosene stove, cooking.
Babli went near her mother, cleared the spot on the ground where she wanted to sit. After she was satisfied she had cleaned the spot, she sat down beside her mother, looking at her fingers.
Her mother knew Babli had come to talk. It was her usual practice to come,sit beside her silently, think of a way to talk and then start the flow of words.
The eight year old had been looking at her fingers since five minutes.
“Ma”,she called out to her mother,at last.
Her mother responded by looking at her daughter.
She took the pallu of her saree into her left hand, wiped the face of Babli, smiled at her.
“What is it beta?”,she asked.
“Why do we stay in a village?”,she asked.
“Because your father works here. We are farmers and we have to grow crops in our fields”,she replied.
There was another period of silence,before Babli spoke out again.
“Ma, when Sapna didi came to our school yesterday, she told me about the city. Why can’t we go to the city? Why don’t you and papa work in a factory there?”
Her mother stopped making the roti as she turned to look at Babli.
“What do you want to say Babli?”,she asked.
“You know what Sapna didi told me? She is educated and knows more than us. She said that they have toilets in the city. They don’t defecate in the open! She was surprised when i told her every morning we have to go to far off fields just to defecate. She told me that they have a toilet at home and at the schools as well”,Babli said.
“Is it? When did she tell you all this? People living in cities have privileges beta”,she replied.
“But you know, i hate that we don’t have toilets. At night i get scared to go out alone. I am scared at the sight of creepy lizards and snakes which i always find in the fields. Today morning, remember I was with you and Swamy was having a hearty laugh, when he saw me behind the bush. I was embarrassed. Sapna didi came to our school, to educate us.She even told me that the frequent fevers that i get, must be because of the lack of toilets. She said that, bad health is the result of lack of hygiene. It seems the fields where the people defecate are breeding grounds for bacteria. Didi is intelligent. Let us shift to the city,ma!”,Babli pleaded.
“Hmm, how can we shift to the city just for the sake of toilets?”, her mother asked.
Babli sat silent for a few minutes before running out of the kitchen, only to return with Sapna didi after sometime.
“Sapna didi. Please tell my ma what you told me yesterday about toilets”,Babli demanded.
Sapna didi, then talked to Babli’s mother about building a toilet for themselves.
“They give you much required privacy. They save time, you don’t have to go to far off fields or lonely spots. Your health and hygiene will improve.The fields will be clean,no pollution of land or water. Constructing a toilet is an investment better than going to a doctor each month. It will also be helpful for Babli,once she comes of age. Think about it. You don’t have to worry about Babli’s safety, when she goes alone for defecation.No need to go to a city, construct a toilet for yourself,here in your own house,in your own village,” Sapna replied.
“Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013, which aims to provide sanitaion that benefits the local community and to stimulate the local economy.The Toilet Academy makes toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. Their effort has resulted in bringing the change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and they have an aim to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation”,Sapna told Babli and her mother.
“We will construct a toilet if not for us,at least for Babli!”,her mother replied.
1. Participate in the “You click,Domex contributes” initiative. Follow the link which is a click away.
You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.
2. This post is specifically written for the Domex, #ToiletforBabli initiative.
3. I suddenly remembered a scene from Slumdog Millionaire , so let me add, slums in cities are not in any way better than villages. Sometimes they are worse!