The chenchus of Kurnool district

The Chenchus
PS; Read them from other sources adn ofcourse my earlier post.

I was on my documentary film trip as I have already written here. I was given a tight schedule but artists and media people are seldom punctual (No hurt intended speaking plain facts and for myself). We reached Gokavaram in the late of the night 25th april 2007. I was talking to my unit with a lot of pride that Seva Bharathi is working in a very deprived area where the need for such work is worth a million dollars (shud I call it Pounds / Euros the monetary value is high).

And When I reached there was this man Mallikarjuna sarma with his usual smile and welcome a warm one after a tiring 9 day travel and shoots. The team was going on a self imposed moratorium of beer and alcohol (except for a brief toddy sip only once) and they requested me for a relaxation (as if I have imposed something). That was their way of saying thank you to Seva Bharathi. The crew was so much impressed by the work (remember the child a first generation literate Narendra comming out in flying colors as a doctor and his parrents’ feelings). I said go ahead if you feel like and take care you dont fall in the eyes of the children and that will spoil the atmosphere. Poor chaps they walked over 5 kms and took a sip each of the already stocked beers and slowly walked back.

Comming back to the original plot the next day was a shoot so I said lights off by 10:00 pm and early in the morning we were awake by 4:00 am and on road by 5:00 am. Our first stop was Pedda cheruvu. Like all civilisations fl;ourish on water sources Chenchus built a huge hamlet of 65 houses al thatched huts (there were buildings that were dilapidated and broken know the reason the chenchus are afraid what if the roof collapses and breaks their heads.. Dont u understand what faith they have oin the govt that mercifully built them the houses without a request and need). The road was a swinging left right doli for us and by the time we reached the 12 km stretch and the hamlet we were holding our breaths, and thats how seva bharathi’s Mobile dispensary travels there every week. After a brief relaxation and small chat we went on shoot.

The first was a old man venkataiah who had a 22 cm X 19 cm wound reddish in colour and oozing strange liquids on his thigh spreading to his back buttocks. The doctor explained, this is the result of an RMP (Rural medical practitioner, only source unskilled little trained) using untidy unsterilised injections and syringes. ANd went on in medical terminologies which I seldom understood but I still see the old man limping and the liquid oozing, God who cares. When Seva Bharathi took over the medical aid for this Primitive tribal group it was like very difficult and women would never allow an examination even by a female doctor, despite curable gynic problems. The volunteer vasudeva reddy was begging and pleading the doctors convincing the tribals and doubling as a pharmacist all at the same time.

Then came a 17 year old girl laxmi who is married and has a child who has TB now. Ofcourse now its cured and mother and child are happy. Chenchus go for a marraige as soon as 13 years. They have a very good free and wonderful marraige. ANd wondering about TB I was all questions nad the doctor replied they are alcoholics. Once they take up drinking they go on dance and song and ofcourse drink for atleast 3 days. Earlier it used to be the IPPA SARA (toddy from a forest fruit, a healthy one) and as the so called cultured being started encroaching their cultural space the illegal arrack toddy took over and sqeezed them of their money health and ofcourse gifted them with TB.

The story took a turn when the Govt officials tried to reach them. As I have described the route u cant call it a road its all rocks. The officials wanted to bring themm out and used the divide and rule trick from their colonial masters and blamed some superstitious black magic on a few and some ran away from the hamlet others survived but not too long they too left leaving some 15 huts or so.

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