“I've lost half my brotherhood in this village and I fear losing a few more at this rate,” cried Ram Manohar as he headed back home.
(The reporter made another attempt to assure him of 'some' hope.)
“You just can't!” he exclaimed. “Droughts, debts, threats from moneylenders, and inability to meet their family's needs, drove most of them toward suicide.”
“Agricultural schemes and subsidies are mere words on paper; we've not had a sight of either till date,” he laughed and continued his walk.
“For in every known face I see, lies my hope.”.
The sun was about to set. The path he was wobbling on seemed to be the most difficult one though he knew it since he took his first step. He fought every day to feed hungry mouths but little did he know that this hunger, 'hunger of flesh', would some day snatch his lifeline from him, his 14-year-old daughter.
He was carrying a little clay pot. “Baba, bury my ashes under our favourite tree," said the little girl before closing her eyes forever.
His heartbeat quickened as he walked barefoot towards his destination. The countless moments he spent watching the school from the window of his little hut replayed in his mind. The books, the words, the magical world of knowledge always attracted him. Poverty didn’t scare him then. He was sure destiny would someday fulfil his dream. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he reached the doorstep of his destination. A few minutes later, he swept his dreams along with the dirt in the school. .
He was surrounded by life, yet his heart is a barren desert his mind void, stagnant and numb. This same path which led him to his house, which tickled his heart, filled it with love for his 1-year-old son. The same path which bought him sadness and now the numbness. He parted with the happiness when he lost his little one; he parted with the pain that followed. All that he is left with in this life is the inability to feel anything. The smile vanished, the tears vanished. The numbness continues!.
He was content. All the noise and struggle was left behind in the city. This is what he enjoyed the most. Family, Farming and Home. Five years in the city, living with 10 other men and eating one meal a day had aged him by three times. He smiled as he walked through the field, revisiting countless childhood memories. This was Home..
As he walked past the paddy field, Raju felt a human touch on his feet. He was returning from the release of his first novel on untouchable slaves. He realised, it was the place where the feudal Janmis buried his grandfather alive. He was a dissenting untouchable slave. Stories of his bravery abounded in his family. Raju could not breathe for a second. A cracked foot soaked in clay flew away from his gaze. A frozen touch crept into his conscience and he fell down. Lying half unconscious on the field, he saw his illiterate ancestors reading his novel! .
We're born with a multilayered cocoon surrounding us. Every attribute such as gender, caste, ancestry and economic status form those layers, he thought as he was treading through his farm during the irrigation. As we run through life these layers are rattled and they shatter. The weak are shattered easily but the tough take a lot of hard work. Some are broken by the rough path we follow, some by the running water, some by the flowing wind. Alas! The process of growth is so rewarding, it wouldn't have been possible to view such colours through the layers..
When he was little, he looked upon the parched lands, cracked and broken, that his father had left him. Unfamiliar with farming and what it took, he ceaselessly toiled, day after day, year after year.
And now, admiring the lush greenery as far as the eye can see, he walks with a spring in his step.
Despite his soles being cracked and broken..
“You need to change. All of you. You are so wrong!”
He walked out in a fit of rage. He felt nobody understood him.
Minutes turned to hours, hours to days. He kept walking. He stopped only to grab a bite and rest.
In his struggles, he lost his slippers, phone and money.
As he lost his possessions, he gained his mind.
“Nobody is wrong,” his inner voice finally spoke. “They too have their opinion. We need to accept each other as we are.”
“That’s it.” He decided to return home.
He had changed..
"One fine morning, they said the farmer is now owner of the land. Suddenly, he had an asset on his balance sheet, but no capital to support it. So they gave him loans. Come bad monsoons; he fails. A good one; he gets failed by the middleman. They offer him loan waivers, he fails further. Earlier, the risk was mine. Now he takes it upon himself. He is good in farming, not risk-management."
His parting words, "I have filled your pocket enough for this month's issue. It's the villagers' turn now".
The ex-zameendar continues to cater to farmer's interests. .