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A Farmer’s Tale

As I sit and watch the street, I am engulfed by a heaviness. It is so thick and it penetrates my limbs. My eyes, they watch, listlessly. They watch the people hurrying by, hurrying to which end I wonder. I know they are hurrying to get to somewhere. To work perhaps, some hurrying home, some just, hurrying. They walk over the filth, breathe the filth, touch it and taste it as well. Yet they don’t feel it? Or maybe they do. But I see it. I can feel it with my senses, it has entered me now… it has claimed my mind? Perhaps not yet.I look up at the grey skies and I know, they are grey not from rain. The smoke from my beedi rises up and mingles into the grey. I track the smoke with my eyes till it has disappeared. The faded smoke has turned into the grey skies. As I stare above, I cannot help remembering the blue skies under which I was once. I once was, someone. A farmer.

The sky it is not mine. But it is blue. The fields that surround me are green. It is true that they are mine, but are they really mine? Could they have ever been or remain mine? The fields belong to my, my earth. All that I could call mine, is first hers. I plough, I sow, I water and I tend. But I also reap, and I share. I am happy because I am blessed by my earth. She has given me her best, her all. I try not to want too much, but sometimes I think I do keep wanting. Mother will forgive me, wont she? Here come my children now, they seem happy. I see my little Lila, my little one, chasing the butterfly. She runs playfully, full of joy. She is as fresh as the farms themselves. The life that runs within her seems to penetrate every tree, every animal, and every stone and every inch of soil. I lift her softly and look into her bright eyes and I see in them, myself. I see the fields, the skies in her eyes as she playfully tugs at my beard. I leave her and watch her run around the open field. I see her now, running away from me, further and further away. It is getting hazy now and I cannot see clearly anymore. The green of the fields blurring and merging into the blue sky. The colours swirl and mix into an ugly grey.

I realised I am back on the street, in the city. The grey skies looking back at me, cheerlessly. I ask myself why I am here? Why this filth? Where are these people going? Why do they want to live here? Why would anybody want to live in these crowds? This place is filled with filth, corruption, and evil. It is filled with desires that can never be satisfied. What are they looking for? Why do they pray and steal? Why do they laugh and kill? Why must progress be punctuated by violence and sorrow? Once again I asked, why must I build this road?

There was never an answer. I looked down at my still glowing beedi stub and I saw once again, a glimpse. A memory of the red sun as it set over the fields while Lila and I watched. Slowly the light went out. The sun had set. All I could see now were my soiled feel, in torn slippers. I dragged myself out of my dreams and stood up. The road had to be built, it was not mine but its theirs. The people of the city.


Anandi Gandhi is Doctorate Student of Environmental Philosophy at the University of Texas, United States of America. She hails from Pune, India.



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