Neither would the condescending sulks of the junior members nor the fluctuating mercury of the seasonal turns be able to modulate the steadfast mindset of the oldest yet contrastingly fittest member in our family from doing what he loved doing for ages. The inconceivable zeal of my grandfather towards farming traces its roots to my great grandfather’s allegiance to ancestral land who had handed over the reins to his son to cultivate the clan’s legacy.
Be it family or friends, whoever dared to guilt-trip grandfather’s conscience into selling even a fraction was, by default, subjected to his scathing lecture over such money-grubbing shortcuts. The clichéd yet substantive remark would always hang on his lips: A mother can’t be sold at any cost nor can she be divided proportionally among her children.
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In his own words, his unrequited love for fields and farming significantly helped him offset the double whammy of entering into a new life post retirement besides losing his partner. Farming tools and implements are his best friends that aided him in living his belief that one who ploughed himself reaped a good harvest. My grandfather would derive utmost pleasure in working the land manually loosening and turning the soil with a plough cutting uniform grooves in the earth before sowing every seed apiece painstakingly into parallel furrowed beds.
A precious moment of childhood often comes rushing to the mind as to how he would tightly harness me in the foolproof lock of his arms and legs encouraging me to urge the pair of yoked oxen forward with a series of high-pitched incoherent shrilling whistles, stuttering shouts, or with even quirky slangs of amusing nature. His handsome pension would often irk his coeval peers into finding logics behind his avoidable sweat and labour yet he would carry on unaffectedly, caring a toss for the whirlpool of deterring pessimism spinning around him.
To discern the subtle transition in the slow and gradual grading of the crops, especially the changing shade of the wheat from green to golden, has always been one of his favourite spectacles, not to miss, feeling the undulating ripples in the tips of the maize as the wafts of soft gentle breeze drifts through them.
Refusing to get the aid of a combine-harvesting machine that fuelled sedentary life, his veined hands to our absolute awe would reap the crops with repeated majestic sweeps of a scythe, thresh them thunderously with flails, and garner them with patience followed by separating chaff from grain with a winnowing fan. Even the waste morphs into useful residue with the Midas touch of his hands as it would either go in refilling the mangers of his livestock or used as an organic fuel in the hearth.
Along with the prevailing discrepancies in our political system to address agrarian woes, he never eschews from pinning equal blame on skewed tendencies of the today’s youngsters taking pride in picking the keys of an expensive car over picking an axe or a spade.
What worsened the situation further are the usurping ideologies of the real estate sector gobbling up every inch of land into cutting plots and building skyscrapers to mint quick money at the expense of the fertility of the land.
However, at a personal level, my grandfather is, voluntarily and merrily, bound by an oath to quit farming only after he quits breathing with a lurking suspicion as to whether his posterity against all odds would tend their ancestor’s land as a priceless mother or put it up for sale. firstname.lastname@example.org
The writer is an Amritsar-based professional in the banking sector