…change

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We discovered a neat narrow road from Magge to Hassan with no pot-holes in it. Mid-way en route, from a high bridge, we saw a Western-style building in ruin, and many cattle on a wide landscape. We walked over to the building and met a lone man grazing cattle for their owners.

He spoke of years ago when this building—a church—was alive, of thousands of people who lived in the village that existed then, of a convent-school near the church,  of orchards, and

of the great inundation when Gorur Dam began its work; he told us people died. He spoke the story in many repetitions and suddenly, without changing expression, he turned eloquent and went to a high pitch and charged that crores died when water came over. Again and again he charged that crores died when water came. His aged voice grew intense and his speech was a strain on all of his frail frame, but he wouldn't stop so we had to leave. I thought he might ask for money for coffee but he didn't and I felt a tinge of shame at my thought.

When rain takes hold end of June, the church and all that expanse will again be drowned.

I've not verified that deaths occurred; a crore is ten million, and if any died the old man's count is garbled and exaggerated by imagination and remembrances of a tumultuous event. But I saw the awesome power of Government—that in some circumstances they can arrive at my door and ask me to leave my home because they'll flood it.

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Church at Magge, which drowns when water rises in the Gorur Reservoir

Church at Magge, which drowns when water rises in the Gorur Reservoir