The rickshaw driver bringing us to Alka Mishra stops at the entrance and points at the water still flowing through the alley. He is unwilling to take us further so we stop and set up our distribution site here. The children, who seem to appear from nowhere, receive their meals, and are sent back to their communities. These children are our messengers, letting the communities know where we are located. Gradually mothers, children and older boys begin to arrive, most wading through the waters that we had not been able to pass through. Each receives enough food packets for their families. Some bring dirty plastic bags, some wrap the meals in their dupattas, some carry them in their hands taking the hot meals back to their families.
Next, we return to Bhagwanpur, which is on the opposite side of the river to Chandmari. In contrast to Chandmari, it is still very damp and muddy here, the tightly packed buildings not allowing the sunlight to reach the ground. The water here too has receded, but the mud is everywhere. Children happily play in this mud as we pass calling out ‘hello, hello’ and asking ‘from where?’. We reach our distribution point and the children begin to noisily crowd around, eager to see what is happening and eager for the dinner meals. The Asmita ladies organize the children for a photo and the distributions begin. Older children help the younger ones to make sure they are fed. Adults make sure the children held by their parents receive food.
We wait, making sure all the children being gathered by their siblings and friends have received their share, and then, begin offering meals to the parents. As we are leaving an old man shuffles up to us. He is extremely thin and his body bent. He walks with the aid of a stick taller than his bent body. He moves his hand to his mouth repeatedly asking for food, but we have none left to give. He is too late. And then one of the women whose children has also received food walks up to him and selflessly offers her precious meal. His eyes light up in gratitude as he presses the bag to his forehead in reverence, before turning and shuffling back up the alley.