It was 5:30 am. The morning sun had just risen, painting the sky a deep vermillion and a beautiful stroke of blue and pink stretched across. He stepped out and the first ray of sunshine hit his face. Warm and bright, it brought hope. But hope wasn’t enough to fix his reality. In contrast to the infinite beauty above, the land before him was parched and freckled with a few rice crops, the only ones that had survived. He trudged back home as he did every single morning, unsure of what to do next. Several people had suggested moving to the city and finding a new job, but this was the only way of life he knew.
Sure, they were a little tight on money, but they were happy right? A small house, but one full of love. He could see it. As he walked in, he heard his children playing upstairs. They were oblivious to their financial crisis, still trusting their father’s promise that they would go to school one day. His wife brought him his breakfast, something she had managed to put together even though they had no money to buy food. She reassured him that everything would be okay and she went to say her daily prayers. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The image of his happy family was shrouded by the looming danger from money lenders, starvation and poverty. Empty words, broken promises and unfulfilled prayers were all he could see behind the smiles of his family.
He glanced at a small cupboard behind the door. In it were his tools, dusty and forgotten, their purpose in life unfulfilled. He thought about his father’s undying passion for farming. Of course, it was easier back then, they didn’t have so many problems. Whenever he accompanied his father out into the field, there was only one thing he’d say. “Believe in yourself, and believe in the land”. With a sudden will, he grabbed his hoe and sickle and ran out into the farm. He had to do this. He’d heard about the farmers protesting in Delhi but the government wasn’t going to give them the miracle they needed. The hours grew longer and the day got hotter as he worked in the field, tending to every sign of life he could see. A bead of sweat trickled down the arch of his eyebrows, furrowed in worry and deep concentration. The heat of the sun scorched his back, but desperation made him work through the day. He needed to produce enough harvest to pay back his loans, so he toiled away, the occasional bird chirping his only company. As the sun set over his field, he walked back home. The clouds were scattered over the canvas of the sky and the bright scarlet slowly darkened to an indigo. It was as breath-taking as it was in the morning, and his field, just as lifeless. He hung his head in despair as he entered the door; the threshold crossed to a place for unattainable dreams. Over the past month several farmers from his village had committed suicide, and he’d heard that a few families in the village had received compensation for the deaths; a sum of money just enough to cover the debt but at a heavy price. There was only one thing left to do.
It was 5:30 am. The village woke up to her frenzied scream. They gathered around the house and watched in silence as he was buried in the very land that took his life. As his wife looked up at the sky, she realised the morning sun would never rise again.
They say that everything has a story. Behind every plate of food you eat is most likely the heart wrenching story of a farmer.
“Neat freak, drama queen, pluviophile who’s not afraid to make her voice heard”