There he was, sitting on the bank of the canal by his field, and gazing indefinitely to the red horizon as the dry winds flew across the land touching his barren body. He would come there everyday at the dusk and sit in solitude just to escape the pain and misfortunes of his daily life. It gave him a feeling of peace and comfort. He would recall chirping of the birds on the trees nearby , the sound of water as it passed by in the canal to a long adventurous journey ,the music of the grains of the crop dancing to the rhythm of the wind and the majestic and beautiful sky that had no limits. The sky was there but everything else has changed. The tree which gave shelter to the birds and passers-by were now just a piece of wood standing there without life, the canal was dried to its core and he saw no birds around except for the eagles and crows sometimes.
He would come there every day and longed for the things that he had loved and enjoyed throughout his life. Mother Nature is angry at us, he thought. They have not received a drop of rainfall for over a year. Everything was barren, the lands were dry and hard like a rock. He always wanted to be a traveler, wandering here and there across the length and breadth of the land, meeting new people and learning new things. But life had different plans for him. He was happy in that too. He had every reason to be. He was a sturdy young man with well built body and appealing black eyes. He was married to a beautiful girl when he was 15, by 17, had his first baby girl. She was like a blessing of Goddess Lakshmi. He was full of confidence and zeal. He started working on his father’s land. Soon his family had new additions, another girl and a boy. He was working hard. His life was perfect. He had everything a man can dream of and ask for.
But good days are like the high tides in the ocean. They do not last long. Soon the tragedy struck. It was the month of June. Every farmer was ready for the plantation of the crops. Everybody was waiting for the sky to turn black and pour life on earth. But it seems the sky was adamant. There was no plantation for the season. The next season followed in a similar manner. He had no money. He mortgaged his land to the Seth in order to obtain capital for plantation of Rabi crops. But the crops failed due to the lack of irrigation. The worst times were yet to come. He had nothing left in his life except his children, his wife and a small piece of land by the canal. He had lost all of his paternal lands to the moneylender. He and his family were living on loan and in the humblest lifestyle possible. Economic hardship and personal loathing was eating him away. His health was declining rapidly. He was always feeling low and weary. Dark circles around his eyes and wrinkles had blotted his face.
The village looked like an abandoned habitat with no life and happiness. He had seen it all in these passing years. He had seen his friends losing to the life. He had seen once happy and thriving families break down like a piece of glass. He had seen all the shades of human nature and behavior.
One day late in night his son woke him. He said he was hungry and asked Girija to get him some. Girija tried to trick him into sleeping but after repetitive demand by his son for food, he got up and went to the kitchen. He looked everywhere for something to eat but was unable to find anything except for some spices.Something snapped inside him. He sat down in the corner in the dark room and tears followed. He thought, I have failed my life. I have failed as a farmer; I have failed as a father. Which farmer does not have food in his kitchen, which father is unable to feed his hungry little son. But he could not afford more than that from his wage as a daily laborer. He didn’t have the strength to go in the room and face his son.
The sun was below the horizon and the sky was colored like the canvas of a painter in red and yellow. The breeze was warm but calm and soothing. He picked up the soil from the ground. He said to himself, ‘It has seen it all. It has been there for eternity. It has seen the floods and it has seen the droughts. Every grain of this soil tells a story. It is the strongest of us all. It gives life. Why can’t we all be as strong as the sand?’
All his life he had done nothing wrong, nothing evil. He has grown food with his sweat and blood for others. He had worked hard in blazing sun and chilling cold. Yet he cannot provide his family three meals a day, he cannot provide his family basic amenities. He had become a liability to the society and his family. He cannot find any work to support his household. He and his family had to struggle for every penny. His wife and children had to work as maids to earn money. His dreams and desires were crushed under the cruel hand of nemesis.
He saw the parched tree and thought, he was also like the tree. He had nothing to offer to this world and his family any more. He was standing all alone with nowhere to go.All these things which gave meaning to his life now appeared soulless to him. A numbness channeled down his spine and clutched his consciousness. The hardship of life has made him into a casket of mere bones and flesh. He stood there in the middle of ghastly stretch, in immense dilemma. He was unable to decide between his inner calling and his inevitability. Suddenly a calm took over him. He closed his eyes and the flash of all the lovely and cherished moments came to him. He was always a fine farmer and always loved his work. This gave him a satisfaction not felt for a long time.
That evening he united his soul with the universe.
He got defeated by the evil tricks of the fate but he stood strong and steady with all the dignity even in the lap of death.
He will not see another spring or monsoon. He will not plough his land again. But he will die a farmer with dignity and an eternal bond with the soil and earth. For the land was his temple and it will be his death bed. The wind will celebrate his life. The grains of soil will cherish their brief but intimate relationship. The clouds will weep on his struggle, sacrifice and demise and give life to thousands and thousands.