Tuesday, December 29, 2020


Parkash Kaur mixes dry hay with cow dung and pats the cow dung cakes on the small plot opposite to her home. Two days later she turns these upside down, the flat side in the direction of afternoon sun. It is early summer and a few days later the cakes are dry. She carefully organizes these dry cakes in a circle in one corner of that little plot. She lays a second and a third layer above these. Then she gets busy with fresh cow dung and hay and fills her plot with cakes again. Two months later the circular pile has turned into a few feet high dome. Just in time before the monsoon arrives. She gets the cover she has prepared by stitching empty plastic bags of fertilizer and ties it over the pile. This should take care of her winter cooking.

Sukhdev Singh gets an axe and a saw. The overnight storm has broken some of the branches of few eucalyptus trees, and some of jamun and guava trees. He chops these down, brings them into the haveli. The wood will dry over the rest of the summer, just in time to feed the fire for Bebe to make saag in December.

And as Albert Camus walks these miles of resistance, in these townships of tractor-trolleys, he finds that summer once again. “In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.”

Parkash Kaur is here. Sukhdev Singh is here. In the middle of winter, they are here with thousands, carrying with them, carrying within them, their invincible summers.




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Sukhdev Singh is milking a buffalo when I call him. We are speaking after a long gap. His voice carries the same cheerful energy I remember....