Vol. 11


The Pathway

c. 1950; Lodidhalanka, Andhra Pradesh, India

This story goes back to my grandfather’s childhood in Lodidhalanka, a small hamlet near the southeastern coast of Andhra Pradesh, India.

My grandfather was the youngest of eight children. His mother was illiterate, but his father could read and write. His family owned immense fertile farmland. The elder siblings worked on the farm to help their father, while the younger three brothers were sent to school to acquire an education. Sometimes the younger brothers would help out with some small chores, too.

The toughest struggle my grandfather went through was not at school itself, but getting there. He would walk with his brothers for a total of six and one-half miles in the morning and six and one-half miles back in the evening, the reason being that his village was too small to have a school. He walked mostly through rice paddy fields. There was no paved road back then, only small pathways.

But his struggles did not end there. On his way to the school, there was an irrigation canal coming directly from the River Krishna. He had to cross this canal to get to the school. It was usually very shallow, but during the monsoons,1 the canal would become surprisingly deep. In order to cross it and remain dry, my grandfather and my great-uncles would take off their clothes and place them with their books on top of their heads and walk across the canal, with the cold river water up to their necks. In these conditions, my grandfather almost drowned once, but to his luck, one of his uncles was working in a field nearby and saved him.

Despite his struggles, my grandfather also had a lot of fun on his way to school. Due to flooding after harsh storms, the fish from the river would get stuck in nets in small creeks. They would jump about, rippling the water. My grandfather desired to take them home, but he didn’t have any small baskets to contain them, so he would make a basket from leaves of nearby palm trees and carry them home. His mother would then cook fish curry for the family.

My grandfather is now 65, and is retired after successfully completing his career as a mechanical engineer. He still remembers his childhood days with pleasure. Though I have never been to Lodidhalanka, I imagine it is as beautiful as it was when my grandfather roamed its vast green fields.

Jaithra Mallipeddi; Missouri, USA


1. Monsoons are seasonal winds that blow off the Indian Ocean between June and September, bringing heavy rains.



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