martibai quickened her pace as the sun started setting in Lalitpur, and the birds gave the last call before dusk. Balancing a pail on her waist and a mud pot on her head, she just hoped against hope that her husband too was late from his shift. She usually wouldn’t be this late but some unforeseen circumstances had delayed her trip to the closest well – a couple of kilometres from her home.
There would be no washing of utensils, no cooking and perhaps no water to drink in her house if Imartibai hadn’t made that trip but to her husband, what mattered was that his wife returned late.
That night, the then 32-year-old endured a brutal beating from her husband – all because she hadn’t reached home on time.
But Bundelkhand is a water-deprived region. Year after year, the villagers have to walk long distances to reach a well that gets shallower by the day. The 13 districts of Bundelkhand that stretch across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have scorching skies and parched lands in common.