Deepa is a freelance researcher and journalist. She writes and makes documentaries and videos.
The Day, Breaking
Reminiscences in Solitude
After years of communication over-kill as a media professional, when I came back to reside at my ancestral home, with no immediate plans for future, I rediscovered solitude. The trees that canopied my childhood memories were still there. Nothing had changed much. The silence that surrounded the lush green homestead had the same fragrance of green moss and tree barks.
A Routine Day in the Countryside
There is a method to silence and solitude. When one wakes up early in the morning, one can experience another world, the world of the birds and beetles. These musically noisy people clamor around you as if they are pushing a wheel barrow along a steep village road and they are humming to get it done with ease and in too much a hurry. Then, as the sunlight turns from misty grey to silver, a bright yet distant silence dawns; this is the first silence of the day. It will catch you unawares with a profound listlessness. The first response will be to escape it and dive into the rush of the every day pandemonium. Only if you can get deep into it, will you be able to be still and let it settle inside you.
Once you are in agreement with the silence, you can explore a bit around and find the newborns of the day- a half open blossom here, a wild bush showing off a luxuriously red new shoot, a seed in the ground opening its tiny eyes! Afternoons offer an entirely different kind of reverie. There is a sleepy silence everywhere if you are living in a country side. There will be less wind. Everything will seem to stand motionless, as if like a child shouted ‘statue’ amidst a noisy course of play and all the children froze and stood rooted to the ground, as required by the rules of the game. How often adults imitate children! The afternoon stillness will soon pass and the streets would again become noisy- bikes speeding, children going home after school hours, buses and cars arriving and people returning from work.
I started growing ginger, turmeric, bananas, and vegetables in small patches of land amidst the amazing biodiversity of an agrarian ecosystem. They were real islands of happiness for me in the exuberant wilderness. My mobile phone has internet connection and I still receive hundreds of Whatsapp and Facebook notifications daily. I give them a leisurely glance now and then and I am surprised most of them demand from me nothing more than a leaf-through kind of attention. Very few friends visit me here as I am geographically far off from all of them. Most of them live in the cities.
We Are Not the Sole Inheritors of Earth
Have you ever tried reading a book walking under a tree and with your favorite music playing in the back ground in low volume? You can do even better by climbing a tree, finding a reclining position on a sprawling branch, and then reading your book in the company of occasional visitors from the kingdom of wings and claws. They will teach you new lessons of nature as you keep observing.
I reared goats. To watch them graze and eat is the best relaxation exercise I have ever known. They smell every leaf, decide if it is worth eating and only then start chewing. Once they decide upon a leaf, the fate of the entire plant is sealed. Another peculiar habit of theirs is to keep intact the nearby edible leaves for later and try to eat the ones far off first. So most of the time they graze, they go exploring further and further instead of keeping near a bush that has tasty leaves.
Rediscovering Nature and Oneself
Farming is an activity that requires patience and a solid belief in the balance of nature. Though one can do group farming, basically it is a solitary profession. Agro-forestry combined with organic farming can transform a piece of land into a treasure trove of nature’s wonders if one has ears and eyes to behold them. It enriches you as a human being as well. It teaches you how everything on earth is interconnected. How every fallen leaf has a purpose and the ugliest insect can fit perfectly into the beauty of natural biological correlations, get revealed to you amidst the mundane tasks of planting a sapling, sowing or applying manure, if you pay attention.
Spend at least one year farming to get rid of the fatigue of the day to day rush, if you can. You will be a changed individual in quality and in wisdom.
© 2018 Deepa