By Ulrike Reinhard:
Hi, my name is Ramkesh. I am in class 4 and I am 10 years old. I have one younger brother and four elder sisters. I wake up at 5 am in the morning; I freshen up, and fill water buckets. I head to Janwaar Castle skatepark carrying my skateboard, notebook and a pen. First, we learn English in the bamboo house, then we do skateboarding, play with a frisbee and later learn to play football. I go home around 10 am to have breakfast. So, I go home to have breakfast and afterwards help my mother with household work. We collect the leaves of a tree called tendu. The leaves of tendu are used to roll beedis. Also, it bears a fruit which we villagers eat. After making bundles of tendu leaves, there is a house in our village where my mother and I take them. The person there puts it into our account in a notebook through which we get to know how much money we earn per collection. From this house, the leaves are taken to Panna. When it turns into a large sum of money in the notebook; either we buy basic necessities or we waive off our previous debts. Some money is deposited in our bank account as well.
Housework is done and it is time for me to roam around in the village. There are some mango trees I use my Gulel (slingshot) to pick mangoes from. Then I cherish their taste. Sometimes, I play chiranga (marbles) with other kids. Almost half the day passes by doing all this and it is time to head home to have lunch. I eat lunch at 2 am. Around 4 am, it is time to hit Janwaar Castle again and practise some new tricks. Exhausted and full of sweat, I go back home, make my bed, and lie down.
Meals for breakfast and lunch are mostly the same every day. We eat basic food like lentils, seasonal vegetable curry, and rice. Not a lot of fancy food. For dinner, most of the time my grandfather hunts down birds like Titar when he takes our goats to the jungle. We eat wild pigs as well. If he is not lucky enough to get something from the jungle, we eat the same rice, lentils, etc. During weekends, we eat chicken sometimes. I used to drink milk when we had cows but now we don’t. Actually, we can’t afford it anymore. My father met with an accident once when he was going to Panna on his tractor and since then, he has been confined to the bed. We have consulted many doctors and have tried many expensive medicines but nothing has helped him get out of bed.
I like skateboarding and I want to continue it further. In the beginning, I used to see other kids showing off their new tricks. Everybody was getting into the new buzz and was ahead of me. Slowly and steadily, I gained confidence that I could do it! I wore pads and put my foot on the board for the first time. My philosophy is simple: “Conquer your fear or your fear will conquer you.” I have no fear. I can do a drop in from anywhere. You present me a challenge and I will do it!
Photos: Vicky Roy