If you’ve got the internet bandwidth to read this, i’m taking the liberty to presume that you’re an educated, urban individual with at least a little bit of free time.
I’m also presuming that you’ve thought about living in the idyllic life of a ruskin bond story at least at some point of time.
I guess I can’t blame you for that. Most people, when they see the words Indian and Village, in the same sentence, automatically create in their heads images of abject poverty and hardworking resilience. And like most ignorant cityfolk, they presume that life in rural India must be “oh, so simple” – away from the corrupting influence of technology and all this modern disconnect. Because in a world of binomial equations, these guys think city life is complex.
But have you ever asked yourself what life’s like when it’s not in a city? Honestly, if you think living in urbanization is complex, you got another think coming. Because the only things that ought to be synonymous with countryside are complications.
These complications come in all shapes, species and sizes. On a scale of one to ten -where one is first world problems ( what, no wifi? ) and ten is the worst of first world problems ( what do you mean, there’s wifi but i can’t have the password ? ) Most are somewhere around 60 ,like the IQ of the man who tried to exchange his wife for cattle. True story.
Ramchandar was a laborer who worked at our farm, and like all Bengali men in his locality, had recently gotten married to an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh. she’d gotten some impressive dowry from her folks, and while she made hot, flat chapatis in her brand new electric roti maker outside their cow dung hut, life was going, as they white folks said in the 60’s – hunky dory . That is, until the day that she ran away from home.
Now, most people reading this are probably thinking – He didn’t try to barter her, stupid. She ran away because she was unhappy in their marriage. It’s about chemistry, not economics.
To those people, i say, ha! so ye think, ye peasants.
Even I, with my penchant for gossip, wouldn’t accuse a man without any evidence of such a crime. but the seasoned stalker in me couldn’t rest until i knew the whole truth and nothing but the truth about this runaway bride who sacrificed her roti maker for the distaste of her man, and that’s why, when i discovered that she had come looking for a job as a cook in my roti maker less house , I asked her what was up ( actually, i eavesdropped on my mom talking to her, but that’s irrelevant) . She said that he wanted a cow to milk and had been asking her to marry another person because that dude’s tribe gave money to the family of the bride. Naturally, she could, after a few months, run away from her new husband and come back to him, and they’d all be winners if that happened, specially the new guy- he would know well enough to take the dowry next time instead of giving it.
Apparently that was when, disillusioned by the world of men, his wife decided to move out with her roti maker and make a life for herself in the residential wing of our farm. Here, she warned all the ladies against Ramchander’s charms saying he was nothing but a gold digger, and succeeded in having him beaten up by her brothers. he started to steer clear of human beings Very soon, though, planting season arrived.
And when both of them were employed by the same person ( my dad ) to plant rice , everyone expected to see some nice soap-opera-style drama. But then, nothing happened.
I mean, except the plantation. which was pretty great *cheers if you had some of our basmati, guys* because as it turned out, rural life (or any life) rarely unfolds according to a complex yet well defined plot. It definitely skimps on punchlines. ( although Ramchander may say it has a lot of lines with punches) ; And even though it has its moments of hilarity, it’s like Stephen King’s “monster behind the door”. Too much build up, to fizzle out in the end.
If you ever think you’re in the mood to go to a north Indian village for the sake of renunciation, i’d urge you to go to goa instead. The farm life isn’t for the weak hearted, and my dad doesn’t have too many jobs to offer these days.
The writer is a farm kid living in the city. she wants to tell stories because it’s unbelievable how crazy stuff can get when you’re in the heart of rural india. She speaks of herself in third person to sound cool . you can probably tell she’s a loser.