Then came Kali, he gave me a hundred kisses on my cheek, I hugged him and did not let him go. He was excited. He was one of those to whom the school belonged.
I had been waiting on the rope bed for one of my friends to ask for a brick or some mortar. We were constructing a Nubian vault, over the toilets. The arch, to be extruded, was beautiful. We were constructing portions of the much awaited Cuckoo Forest school.
Cuckoo being an NGO, needed help to make this dream come true. And help came, it came from far and wide, from as far as Nagaland and Delhi. The soon to be ‘never forget me’ friends came together to put up the dome form.
We had just started to intern with Jeremie, who had been incessantly guiding the architecture/ construction, for the whole week. Work had started on the 5th of July 2015, under Varun Thautam, another earth conscious architect.
I turned to see into the kitchen, Azhageshwari akka, our superstar, whose kitchen churned out the most amazing meals right from the morning herbal tea, to the fibre rich breakfasts, and full fledged lunches and dinners, complete with fried appalams.
Some volunteers, I had seen in the morning, were collecting firewood for cooking. The bamboo in the forest, rustled as they had moved past me, not knowing my incognito-doing, closeby.
The place had so much life, so much aura. The energies were quite literally flowing from every direction. The people and their stories made me feel minuscule. People were there not only to give a hand at the construction, I understood.
They were of varied professions: Architects, Engineers, IT professionals, farmers, psychologists, journalists, photographers, theatre artists, entrepreneurs, writers, even aspiring cricketers. No two artists had the same story to tell. They all seemed to be exuberantly glowing in their own ways. No two volunteers had the same reason to come.
But all of them had one thing in common. They cared. They valued something. They valued earth.
Earth construction was perhaps the most apt technique. Five brick makers had made 4000 bricks a day, before I had reached the site. Eight volunteers churned out eight wheel barrows of clay mortar, each day, as they got themselves muddy pedicures. The work went on till lunch, and continued after tea. The happy ice-cream man had been having the time of his life, as we all craved, for the frosty sugar, under the flame thrower in the sky.
Indeed, the cuckoo volunteers served a lot of revered love to us. It is this love that has drenched children like Kali in. I felt so small in the company of the mighty mountains, the tall trees, most insignificant when I was shown their huge hearts and ever open minds. I feel I took so much more from cuckoo than I could have ever given.
I paid reverence to the land by sprinkling seeds and spreading life.I felt something very new, something that I can never describe when I removed my sandals that day. The Earth was breathing heavily under me.
By Santosh Shyamsunder, Team Made In Earth
The Cuckoo Forest School brought together 40 volunteers from all over INDIA to build a handmade adobe school at the foothills of Javadhu, Puliyanur village in 10 days. Read more about the project here
Read an article about Cuckoo Forest School in the New Indian Express here