"Do any of you go to work?" we ask the children. The question makes the smiles vanish from their faces in an instant. Murmurs of "no" and immediate head-shaking goes around the dingy classroom in Kondamudusupallam Ambedkar Nagar village, in rural Andhra Pradesh. There's a quick exchange of glances among the boys and girls, and, as if on cue, they all hang their heads in silence. But 13-year-old Meghna looks at us, and giggles.
As my jeep tumbles along the incredibly bumpy mud road to Palukur village in Kandukur, Andhra Pradesh, I am surprised to see that the villages look quite normal. In my head, drought-affected villages looked like deserts. Palukur itself features dusty, scattered vegetation, cows and buffaloes roaming around, and a clutter of small, clean houses. The villages in Prakasam district--the worst affected in the state--bear more internal wounds than external.