I am not alone in this world .
You are bound to me and I am to you.
I am also bound to the people in my community .
And we are linked to each neighbouring community
Together we form the world
Like oceanic circles , or the rooting branches of the great banyan tree .
We are all bound to each other and to the land.
Therefore , the sweetness you pour into our relationship will nourish my life.
Just as the bitterness I spill will harm your life.
We are under one sky .
We breathe a common air.
We draw water from a common ground.
We eat the produce of the same earth that sustains you and me
We are all the children of Mother Earth
This give and take ties us together in a net of mutuality
This is called Anubandh
Let us acknowledge this bond between us
The world is sustained by the sum of all our correlated actions.
This beautiful piece by Ela Bhatt is on the back cover of her new book , "Anubandh, Building hundred mile communities ", 2015 . I received it on email via my university colleague , when I came back to school after an exhilarating morning of transplanting Ragi.
These words put all our emotions in context. It had been a difficult week planning for the transplantation. We needed more time and we were worried we won't manage with the given timetable. We needed all hands on deck and were worried we will not have all the support we wanted. It had been raining on and off and the ground had some moisture. But we needed to make sure it was wet enough so we could transplant by hand. How do we do it? Will Vasantha get time to water the land a day before? Where will the water come from? Will it rain the day after ? The whatsapp group messages were not flowing fast enough to make decisions. And whatever I read on the internet was not giving me hope. I read up on ecological ways of transplanting and found we had done nothing right! :(
I tried asking around but everyone had more information about transplanting Paddy over Ragi. Do we need to till the land? Do we need to water it first? Everyone had differing opinions and my heart was sinking with each piece of well meaning advice.
A call to the school principal, Banu, the weekend before helped in securing a chunk of time (half a day ) for transplanting. But this small victory came at a cost . That very Wednesday when the school agreed, Laksh, our farming consultant , said he couldn't make it! Oh No! With Laksh away this seemed tougher!
The teachers had a meeting a day before and one of them strongly felt we weren't prepared enough to transplant ; dipping our morale even further. At night when Roshni and I exchanged messages, we were surely nervous . But then we thought, how bad can it be??!! The worst case: we will do it all wrong and the Ragi wouldn't grow. And then we had so many teachers amongst us who were daughters of farmers. Again, how bad could it be?
With this new found courage and hope, I got into the school bus on Wedneday morning. We had divided our duties. We had to get seeds of marigold and beans to inter crop ; we had to pick up the school nursery saplings; , we had to arrange for water and wet the land before hand. We needed a team to pull out the saplings and a team to transplant. We needed a team to make rows and holes in the ground at equal distances. We needed monitors, facilitators and workers. And of course the photographers! ;)
Vasantha had paid a tanker and watered the plots the evening before so the soil was usefully wet. Roshni had invited extra hands- volunteers from parents and we had three extra set of hands. Sreeja , Madhu, and Jalaja were given duties to pull the Ragi saplings out. Sreeja had an interesting rhythm to pull the saplings out and soon little bunches of ragi plants were sitting pretty behind them. Sharief helped in making rows and kids helped him in drawing lines by the garden plough. Ashwini and Vasantha demonstrated and monitored the planting.
It was action from the word "Go". The soil was soft. The spirits were high. And row after row the plots transformed into lines of green proud standing plants.
At some point, Roshni exclaimed to her class: "Alpha, look behind you- look how your plot is shaping up!" All the kids were like worker bees. Busy, bending their bodies close to the land. touching the soil, and walking barefoot around rows. It was a heart touching sight. We were all in it together and were so close to nature, touching it, turning it, patting it, and shrieking every now and then if we spotted a farmer friendly insect!
The clouds covered the sun, the cool wind blew and within 3 hours we had 3 proud plots of Ragi saplings!
Came back to school and found Ragi payasam on the menu :)
Came back home and the skies opened. :)