Green Shoots II

Green Shoots II – Reformed By The Rod

I am a carpenter. Lack of work opportunities in my village has forced me to take up jobs outside the village. Up till a few months ago, my daily routine was to join my friends on the outskirts of our village, Ramasipur, to play cards in the evening after a hard day’s work in the city.

It all looked good initially. On some days, I would return home with a ‘good win’. But gradually, things started deteriorating. I wasn’t lucky every day. I started losing and to cope with the losses, I found refuge in cheap country liquor.

My debts (in the game) started increasing and I started to lose most of my earnings to gambling and alcohol. Family quarrels became a norm. On several occasions, my wife went to her parental home along with the children. I brought her back every time with promises which I knew I would not be able to keep.
One evening, when we were busy gambling and enjoying alcohol, my wife, along with the Green Gang attacked us with wooden staffs.

It was a bolt from the blue and we had no choice but to run for our lives. These attacks became more frequent in the days that followed. We changed our location every time, but my wife had deputed one of my sons to spy on me and inform her about our whereabouts.

More and more wives joined the gang, leaving us exhausted and clueless. We tried different locations in the neighbouring villages but to no avail. The Green Gang had managed to mobilise women from the neighbouring villages as well.

Finally, about three-four months ago, I decided to quit gambling and alcohol. I was fed up of this cat and mouse chase. Some of my friends like Ramji and Girdhar also joined me. We collectively pledged in front of the gang and our family members that we will not dabble in gabling or alcohol ever again. Initially, it was difficult.

I used to be irritable, wasn’t able to sleep well, and had lost interest in work. But gradually I came to terms with my new life. Now, I am completely cured – a new man altogether.
Now, all of us collectively go to the city for work and come back home on time. Things at home have also improved.

I am able to spend quality time with my wife and children. We (the rehabilitated men) now, help the Green Gang in its cause. We gather at the local tea shop and try to convince others to shun the addiction of gambling and alcohol.

Green Shoots III

Green Shoots III – ‘We Rooted Out Domestic Violence’

I am a farmer, so is my husband. Our two sons work as daily wage laborers in Varanasi. Our family is a big one –with 12 members, which includes my grandchildren and daughters-in-law. For the past several years, the women of my household (and majorly of every household in the village) have been following a particular routine. Every day, we work in the farms, toil all day at home, take care of the children and then end the day with a violent spat with our drunk husbands. I decided to put an end to this. Everyday beatings cannot be a way of life.

About six months ago, I came to know about the Green Gang operating in the neighboring village of Ramasipur. I met Geeta, the leader of the gang, and shared my woes. She promised help and visited our village the next day. Since, most of the men in our village have been chronically hooked to gambling and alcohol, she did not take long to convince women to form a Green Gang here in Deora.

The Green Gang is a movement of women vigilante, who have taken it upon themselves to fight domestic violence. And the root cause of domestic violence in most villages of Uttar Pradesh is addiction to alcohol and gambling. Every evening, without fail, my husband and my son joined the gamblers at our village adda and lose all their money.

Whatever little was left, was given to us -women -which was just not enough to run the household. Domestic violence was a daily routine, irrespective of whether they won or lost at gambling. If they won, they used that money to consume more liquor and create a scene. If they lost, they abused us and beat us up if we asked for money to run the household.

With help from Geeta, the Green Gang in our village started work soon. In no time, things started to look up. Wearing green saris, we raided the addas, and chased the drunkards away. We even involved the police. Occasionally the police arrested some of the men, kept them in the lock-up overnight and released them after a stern warning.

At the village temple, many young men are made to take an oath that they will not touch alcohol or a pack of cards ever. The movement is growing. Now even my grandsons and granddaughters accompany the Green Gang on holidays and reach out to other children and urge them to ask their fathers and uncles to keep away from alcohol and gambling. I am positive that in the next few months, we will be able to uproot this malice entirely from our village.

Now my husband and my sons have shunned alcohol. They are handing over a good amount of money to us. These days, every evening I go around the village and try and educate the youth about the hazards of alcoholism and gambling. As the senior-most ‘Amma’ (motherly figure), it is my duty to do so. Deora is changing and I am optimistic that we have better things in store.