Clear, blue skies with a searing sun had become a regularity in Kumarappan’s life. As he squatted on his paddy field thinking about the recent jolts he had experienced, the pain of failure was slowly setting in.
Kumarappan was a farmer, he was never meant to be anything else. With dutiful diligence, he had followed his ancestors’ footsteps in taking up the family profession. The love that he cultivated in his heart for his land, the soil it contained and the crop it heralded was unsurpassed. He had a vision when he was young…it became his mission as he grew. The vision was to own a piece of land. And own he did. He became the first person in his family to harvest rice on his own land. But all that seemed decades ago. ‘What is the use of being a good farmer if you are a failure at becoming a good father?’ he thought. Frustration was the only feeling he had, when he thought about Kannappan, his only son.
At the age of 6, the age when he had started to farm, his son had shown not even the slightest inclination towards it. Tinkering with the tools, tweaking the plough and repairing the cycle seemed to interest him more. Not taking this aspect seriously was a big mistake on the part of Kumarappan. When, at the age of 16, Kannappan announced that he was going to pursue diploma in mechanical engineering, it was the first dent to his fatherhood. Self pride withheld him from stopping his son’s career plans, which flummoxed him in whichever respect he tried to see it. How could he have not fallen in love with Mother Nature after having lived with it for so long? What more values were there which these beautiful greeneries couldn’t teach? The earth beneath you taught you patience; the soil it held taught you the virtues of filtering, the good from the bad, be it impurities or even people. The harvest on the whole taught you the value of hard work. Even with all these lessons staring right at his face, Kannappan had failed to grasp them. Kumarappan was abashed at the idea of his son venturing off to some city leaving their family tradition hanging in the balance. But he remained stoic and continued his passion-farming- with silent vigour.
It was about a decade later that he received a bigger jolt, in the form of his son’s Marriage. Marriage was something which Kumarappan once again related to the maturity of a crop. When the seedlings are first planted in the nursery, they grow into small shrubs which have no value as such. It is when these shrubs are plucked and replanted in the harvest field that they mature into a crop giving sizeable yield of paddy. Similarly, when a girl grows up in her own house, the significant title of womanhood is not attached to her. It is only when she marries and enters her husband’s home that she blossoms into a woman, bearing the burden of the family synonymous with the way mother earth bears the burden of its children. But when his son made a lettered account of his supposed ‘love’ in the city and his plans of marrying the girl and settling there itself, Kumarappan knew that he had made some serious mistakes as a father. He also knew that it was too late to correct them. Not only was his son breaking the family tradition of marrying inside the clan, but he was also putting a barricade to his father’s wishes of being a family again. Ever since his wife’s death, Kumarappan had longed for the day when his son would marry a girl inside the clan and get settled in their village itself, aiding him in the fields and raising a healthy family. That day would remain a dream, he thought sadly.
Compared to all these jolts, this season’s monsoon or, to be specific, the lack of it landed him the biggest jolt. Rain had never been his friend all these years, but it had never been a fiend either. He had managed to reap a decent harvest every year so far, at least a yield that would cover his loan interests and mortgages. But, this year was different from any of the previous ones. The scorching intensity of the sun combined with the staunch indifference of the rain was proving to be a disaster. It was October and there were no signs of rain. The water table was just a table, with no water to spare. Hence the bore pump he had installed in his field failed to produce any water for irrigation. The pride he placed on his land and his abilities as a farmer abstained him from offering himself to work on other peoples’ fields for money.
’30 days…’ thought Kumarappan pensively. Only 30 days were left for harvest. His crop was already bearing a yellowish tinge. The miniscule supply of water he got from the government was of no use. The field, which should have been flooded with water at this point of time, was almost dry. He would have no other option but to sell his land if his harvest failed this season. He would rather die, for his life was in the land. He would be a soul-less wanderer without it. His eyes swept over his beloved field. He longed to see the silent gushing of water through nooks and crevices in the field, energizing the soil, filling the crop with life and fuelling his heart with hope. But all he could see was an arid piece of terrain with almost lifeless crop.
The pain of failure seemed to expand in his chest. His son’s negligence towards farming coupled with his negligence towards his father…the fact that he would never be able to play with his grand children on his own field…the incessant absence of rain…the eventuality of selling his land. All these demons filled his heart with excruciating pain.
It happened like an explosion…all the built up infliction seemed to tear his chest spraying its fragments to the surroundings. As he lay on the field clutching his chest, his eyes looked up into the vast expanse of sky. It had become a murky grey. The last vision his eyes saw was that of a pearl like drop making its way towards him.
As the final vapour of breath left his body, the first drops of rain hit the scorched field sending up vapours of repressed heat…repressed sorrow…repressed dreams…