I wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.

- Lily Tomlin

After months of pursuing the village heads, we finally managed to piece together all that we had been contemplating.

Some time ago, while walking down the dusty tracks winding down a hill toward the lake, I stumbled upon a building so small that it seemed quite insignificant. Perched on a hillock of the lower gradient of the mountains, it overlooks the lake from about half a kilometer. Upon a closer look, I realised that it was the Gram Panchayat Ghar for the village of Mehra gaon where I lived. It was locked. It had one room on the ground floor and one on the second, along with a toilet. The place aroused my curiosity as it seemed deserted and locked for a while.

I later found out that it was not in use due to the pandemic. A science and math teacher who works with children from the village had access to the panchayat room and they occasionally used it as a facility to help children to study during the pandemic, as the school was quite far. Even when the school would open up, sometimes, the parents were reluctant in sending them. I was curious to know more and see what it looked like. We agreed upon a day when sir decided to take out some time for us to see what the place looked like.

We only managed the meet up a couple of weekends hence. I was eagerly waiting at the little facility when sir rode down on his scooter to the place. He came in with a log book register to make an entry about access to the place. He greeted us gaily while unfastening the rusted metal locked on the latch. He opened the rooms and ushered us in. The rooms from the interior seemed even smaller than I had expected from the outdoors with weathered and old furniture chaotically strewn across the room floor. Some were broken and malfunctioning too. There were color coded ration cards for people segment into above and below poverty line groups. A few registers on the shelf of the metal book rack lay foul and tangled with fibrous flimsy cobwebs. The rain had percolated through the damp walls. Treaded a few steps around leaving imprints on the dust covered floor.

Then we walked up to the upper level, which had a smaller room. Sir proudly pointed out the toilet right next to the room as he looked up from his log book register. I saw him as he logged in the date, his handwriting expectionaly consistent and beautiful. Perhaps the only specimen of consistency I had found yet in my visit today.

A small terrace overlooked the room on the second level, sharply contrasting from the closed, damp and foul smelling rooms.

I wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.

Back home when we were still talking about the place we had visited, i thought out loud why somebody doesn't do something about that, only to hear from my introspective voice to realise that the somebody could be me.

Could it really be?

I constantly pinged my father the next few days if there was something I could really do. We finally got the number of the teacher and contacted him duly about the possibilities. By then, I had swarms of ideas swirling in my mind.

I created a reel video of the gram ghar with an appeal to help us refurbish the place. Slowly and steadily, we were contacted by people willing to contribute and donate. From money to various things like books, stationary, small tables and chairs. I decided to channelise the contributions more systematically by creating a list of things we preferred to receive after discussing with the teacher and few other children.

It has been three weeks eversince. We finally managed to spend our Sunday and put together all that we had received so far and thoroughly cleaned up the place. We organised the books into sections namely English, Maths, EVS, Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Art and Craft, in neat age wise gradation in the racks and labelled the racks. We set up the tables and chairs in neat rows overlooking a blackboard. The lovely little gram panchayat has started looking and I will post you in this space how it shapes further.

Until next time!

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