Lukewarm breeze, gently swept the 5000-acre hybrid maize field, swaying the slender crops and glimmering yellow against the evening sky.
Rajesh hopped down from the farm simulator tractor, after coating the last 100 acres of soil with new upgraded government sponsored fertilizer (nitrogen and phosphorus doubled in the sprays).
Last summer, the government had experienced a very serious shortage of crops and their slackish behavior faced heavy criticism from the public.
In a bizarre attempt to calm down the situation, during the budget allocation last year, the ruling party proposed the “Maize field project” investing one fourth of the village economy on agriculture sector. They bought the most fertile piece of land along the banks of the controversial Cauvery river and converted it to a hybrid Maize field.
Over the last decade, blood, disruption and economic instability had been making the headlines over the state affairs. The small village won over the responsibility of the water running through their land after the “Maize field project” was approved by the central agriculture ministry.
This maize field was the most important project the government had invested in both economically and politically, in this state. The field would not only provide food for a minimum ten districts over the south state, also implemented properly, it would be a great source of income for the government. The scheme provided the public with quality maize at cheap prices but no one else could privately sell the maize crop without government consent, essentially making themselves the sole producer of the hybrid crop.
They also cut down the taxes for the districts who bought the crops from the government trying to lure more and more district under the “Maize filed scheme”. The center had implemented this trail run in the south considering the reserves of fertile land, lack of food and the political conflicts in the area. The south a perfect test area for agricultural reforms.
If this worked maybe they could do it all over the country. Invest in farmers, in farm lands, in agriculture and solve the economic crisis.
It was great idea, but also precarious for the quick downfall.
Rajesh, the manager/ head farmer of this farm walked back to his small hut, dragging his brown waist jacket along the fertile sand and finally dumping it to a pile of older jackets.
His pants were plastered to his legs with dirt and sweat. He began peeling down the pants when his wife walked out of the hut. A steady flow of steam squeezed out through the hinges and gaps.
She was cooking their routine brown rice along with some red beans curry.
As the manager of the farm he was given a decent salary, a small hut and daily rice for the family by the government. For looking after the farm he was given about a hundred employees but he was responsible for farm in totality.
Rajesh was completely government sponsored.
Ignoring his wife, Rajesh, turned on the tap and crouched underneath it. The warm water gushed down on his scalp in full force, producing a slapstick noise.
An overall sense of relief as he faced up towards the tap.
His wife, Sukeshini wiped the sweat of her forehead with her faded yellow saree “You are back early; the tractor didn’t give you any trouble today?”
“No, it worked just fine.”
“Yes, as I can recall the tractor has never worked fine for more than a couple days a month. So you have finished the quota for this month” she chuckled.
“Yeah…. yeah I know” he rubbed his armpits and the nape.
“I have told you so many time, to request the resources development to get the tractor repaired and provide you with some more men. It is too much of a burden to you.” Sukeshini asked.
“Yeah……. ok…. I will ask” he said disheartedly.
“Why not, why not, you are a governed employee, you work hard every day for a very small amount compared to the workload you have, the least they can do is replace the old rusted machine”
“I know, but we have a good life now, me and you, we have food on our plates and a place to stay. I don’t want to risk it. We have settled down and we can think of having a child soon. Let’s not worry about the tractor now.”
Sukeshini wasn’t happy with his recessive nature. She shrugged and
“Ok, I will ask the resource team to look at it next week. Ok” he satisfied her.
“Ok” she said.” Now dry your hair quick, you don’t to catch a cold” she said and grabbed the cloth from her shoulders.
Few more refreshing seconds of water and face interaction and finally he turned off the tap.
Sukeshini, was quick to dry her husband. Thoroughly scraped his scalp and handed over it to him. Wiped himself clean.
Tied the wet cloth around his thin waist. They entered their home for their much awaited replenishment.
The sole yellow 250watt bulb lit up their hut. Kitchen, at the right corner and their mattresses at the left. And latrine, they didn’t have one.
Sukeshini, placed the steaming hot pot of rice first, where Rajesh was already seated, just below the light bulb. She got the bean curry and set up the plates.
He served the meal for both of them. Both of them were quick to start digging, separating
After a few more times of the separation, the heat had come down enough to freely tuck into it.
“So, when do they need the supply.” Sukeshini asked.
“By the end of this month, but the resource development has asked me to deliver at least a couple days early, so that they can do a final test on the hybrid before sending it out to the public”
“I though all of the testing was already done.”
“Yes, they have done it but they need to adhere to a few more guidelines and specifications. This initiative hasn’t been planned very well, they have rushed.”
“But the government has to look at all this beforehand and not just before giving it to the public. But I suppose this isn’t something unexpected from them.”
Rajesh agreeing “I know, but this filed, this hybrid, it is more of a political act than an economic one. The government had to do something to stay in power and this field was their strategy, it worked well. Even the investment has been very unsteady throughout, the agriculture ministry has been given only one fourth of the budget allotted.”
“I just hope the public benefits something from this”
“Maybe they will, maybe.” He took a mouthful of the rice and bean.
“I hope so” she said as she let out a small burb.
The steam of the rice boiling had now escaped and a sense of resentment had taken over the room
Rajesh finally let out his frustration, months after taking his job, he wasn’t satisfied but he was bound to it for survival.
“We are just puppets for them, slaves we are. They pay us, put food on our plates and in return we shut our mouths, and simply exist like any other animal. We don’t matter. The government also just like us, work for money. Capitalism has taken over human nature as such, not just the government. Now the officials don’t want to stay in government for power, they stay for the money.”
Sukeshini couldn’t agree less.
He stared at the floor, in trance, his hands resting on his thigh and dripping curry over his legs. He didn’t mind.
“It will all be ok.” Sukeshini went over and hugged her man.
Far away from their hut, on the outskirts of the field, a man slowly crawled his way through the soil, the golden yellow crop brushing his nose. He was a worker of the opposition party, trying to sabotage the enemies project.
His job was simple. To set fire to the field.
He took out his lighter and set fire to a single crop and let nature take care of the rest.