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The Experience Of Food, The Labour Of Cleaning

10/09/2016 11:39 AM IST | Updated 13/09/2016 3:45 PM IST
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Girl putting plant in pot, cropped

When planting garlic, take the pod and place it gently in loose soil so that the pointy end faces upward. Garlic can also be planted with fenugreek seeds. One must be sure, however, to mix the soil, to shuffle the raised lines of dirt into an even, damp bed.

There are lessons in living, lessons I learn by doing, not just reading. Like how big the arbi plant is, its giant leaves resembling the floating pods of the lotus plant. One leaf on its succulent stem rolls tightly upon itself. When washed and cooked with onions and jeera, it's delicious. Living on a farm, food becomes a big part of life. Not just eating it, but preparing it, thinking about the meal that transpired and the meal to come. Here, food is experienced, also protected.

I celebrated my adulthood by abdicating responsibility for what I considered were menial tasks. Hard work is hard work; I wish I did more of it.

Cucumbers dangle high on their tree, one fruit coloured an autumn orange, another a minty green. Ever watchful, I hurl a stone at a bird who flaps near the biggest kakdi. Here, they are my competition. Beautiful as they are, I show no mercy, hurling another stone. They're a stubborn bunch, these birds. With their brown plumage and a white fuzz mullet pierced by a coal-black beak, they even look like ruffians.

There is isolation here, the kind that calms, but the internet ensures I am connected to life beyond the hills. From the essential (how to cook daliya without burning milk) to the mundane, the world is still around. I choose to live in a pocket of it, but my fingers still reach, my mind still expands.

I sweep, I mop, I rinse, I dry. I didn't always, relying not so long ago on others more willing, through love or money or selflessness or obligation, to do my dirty work for me, because I could afford to outsource it. Labour, when done as an act of responsibility, is never dirty. It is also never noble. It just is. I think I knew that as a child, when parents chided me for the mess I'd create. Growing older, I developed a sense of entitlement. I was an adult and therefore, no one could tell me what to do anymore. So I celebrated my adulthood by abdicating responsibility for what I considered were menial tasks. Hard work is hard work; I wish I did more of it.

Memento Mori by Pablo Bartholomew

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