"My cow has just given birth in the afternoon! You can't leave now! Wait!", Manju, a strong built woman in her late thirties, practically prostrates herself on the bonnet of my car. I moan. After a terribly demanding day at the bank, I have little emotional capacity for drama, I think to myself.
I get out, trying to negotiate how I would take part in festivities tomorrow since it was already dark and I have an hour of drive on roads that barely exist.
She looks bewildered. I stop speaking mid sentence. Two years and three months of knowing the village and I am still unlearning a lot of things. My experience tells me I have misunderstood yet another fairly obvious social protocol.
Her boy of 8 yells from somewhere behind, waving a red thermos as he sprints towards us. "Milk!", he pants, "Milk, take!" He thrusts the thermos so deep into my belly that I stagger and lean on Manju's shoulder for support.
"It is enough for five people. Don't waste it. Milk from a cow that has just birthed is very precious and healthy." She takes the liberty of pinching my forearm as she judges me, "You city people all swollen from outside but got nothing inside."
She drags away her son who is now blissfully lost in exploring his artistic potential on the canvas of fine sand that covers my car every evening.
I blink. The thermos in my hand feels heavy. I find myself in prayer, as I sweep my eyes through this village. I hear temple bells echoing off in the distance and I jerk back to the anxious thought of dark skies and long drive.
I am invited to stay over by atleast half a dozen homes as I speed past their thatched houses. I reach the fields and it is hard to see if the little lights are cattle eyes reflecting my headlight or tiny lamps. I see fire burning in one of the fields and I slow down. Dasrath recognizes me and runs out to scream, "What a great Moong harvest this year! We are just thanking Mother Earth for her blessings, wait, I'll get you a sackfull." I sigh. A sackfull of Moong, in a drought stricken desert village. I honk and gesture how I'm in a hurry. I was never good at Math. Especially ratio proportions. This village teaches me new lessons in the subject. Somehow, the lesser you have, the more you give. The more you give, the more you have?!
I find myself in prayer again.