Map For The Darkness
We bought some candles during our visit to the market, to drive away the darkness that engulfed us on our first night in Dhenuki. When we woke up in the morning it felt like that we have woken at some place completely unknown.
During the time I stayed in Dhenuki we got electricity for only about four to five hours a day. This duration was further divided into time slots of about half an hour to an hour and a half at max. Also, even if there was electricity, the voltage was very low. Though people in Dhenuki mentioned that they receive electricity for around at least eighteen hours a day normally, but that was not what we experienced.
When we talked to them on the issue of electricity, they mentioned that they started receiving electricity around three years back. Though from a little more research and talking to a few more people we were made aware of the fact that electricity in Dhenuki technically came five years back in around 2012. The power house is right there in the village of Dhenuki but the meters and billing procedure started around the mid of 2013 and finally, by the beginning of 2 014, they started getting the power to their houses. Dhenuki is located in the Panapur block of the Saran District and is further divided into 8 tolas. Saran district is a part of Phase two of the Rural Electrification Project of the Bihar Government under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) and RE state plans.
Dhenuki doesn’t have any street lights and it becomes difficult to navigate at night. Every house in Dhenuki has lanterns and battery operated torches to help them overcome the darkness. People in Dhenuki every night carry these torches with them and when there is no electricity they use the torches to guide them home as the darkness is thick and unforgiving. There is no other source of light at night. The problems for women increase even more. Standing in the sweltering heat of humid summer night and cooking in the darkness with only a lantern as the source of light. Another problem that arises is, that many houses still practice open defecation and hence, at night when there is no light something as simple as going to the outdoors becomes a task.
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”
We have had few discussions about the need for street lights in Dhenuki. However, the issue in installing street lights powered by electricity is the lack of electricity. Solar lights can be used, as all year round Dhenuki receives a good amount of sunlight. In fact, 2-3 houses in the village have installed solar panels and have electricity all day. Though it is important to know darkness to value the light.