The Children of the Nature : Reporting the Ground Reality

Dr. Ksh. Imokanta Singh *

Drought looming : The condition of Paddy field in Thoubal district :: last week of July 2012
Drought looming : The condition of Paddy field in Thoubal district :: last week of July 2012

- Good Morning Everyone -

This is All Lawai Radio, today's first and the only news. Let us hear what a farmer from Bishnupur District has to say:

'They came, they saw, they ASSESSED, they clicked, they adorn the newspaper front pages, and they never came back. The cracked fields are lamenting on their own fate, ditched by the monsoon. What would be the use for cheap fertilizers, if at all, when the throats of the fields are dry?'

There is one commonality between the cracked fields and these inspectors - both of them are waiting for monsoon to come. But for now it is apt to say that the above statement is good enough to sum up the fact that there is draught of ingenuity, timely initiative, action and honesty.

Another farmer from the locality adds yet another fact, 'Whom to blame for? We have been living and will do so by our own. After all we are children of the mother nature.'

Well said, yes, we are. We are autochthons (people born straight from the earth). Meiteis and some tribes of Manipur claim that they are the children of the earth, following their mythologies. Like, Meiteis believe that they originated from the Koubru mountains, Tangkhul and Maos from Makhen (Makel), Zeliangrong from a mythical cave known as Taobhie etc.

Since Stone Age (may be we are still in) we have been living with the nature, extracting the bounty from it so that we can sustain as human beings. Till today i.e. modern scientific age (some want to call it postmodern age, whatever it is it does not affect us) we refuse to be divorced from the laps of the nature. We are meeting our ends finding better alternatives of wooing the nature. This is the basis on which the inspectors try to find their solace.

The children of the monsoon (kumgi nong) are tired of looking up to the sky trying to find some patches of clouds. The clouds are playing a really cruel game of hide and seek. Sometimes they are perched on the western mountains, arousing a slight hope but then they are lost in the thin air, literally. Most of the canals and rivers are thirsty and even tired of being looked at incessantly by the farmers.

Whatever little they had, had already been extracted, using pumping machines, by the bereaved farmers who are panicky of kum kangba. And the big machine located at Loktak Project area for pumping water for irrigation is still sitting idle, may be tired of long long rest. If broken down, whose responsibility it is to put it right, we are not interested in it now.

The whole season has gone and the farmers have not seen even a drop of water supplied through these machines, despite the fact that the there are enough canals and water level of the Loktak lake is reasonably high. They are banking on their own skills.

They are just farmers, not residents of the ivory towers who can fill their stomachs with imported basmati rice and who are never bothered of whether this land produces sufficient food or not as long as there is good harvest in Punjab, Haryana etc. They cannot afford to lose the joy of harvesting the produce of their sweat.

One day, the unthinkable happened. It rained, nay ... poured, without the obvious sign of thunder and lightning, for about one hour and the thirsty canals and rivers were replenished with their quota of water, sorry ... nectar. Smiles, smiles everywhere on the faces of the farmers, forgetting the pangs of waiting. They rushed towards their fields arming with yotpak, thangjou etc. so as to fill their cracked fields, anyhow, with water irrigated from small small passages.

This was when the water war broke out. Who is going to get first and who later? No one and everyone was the compromise. Days and nights they were glued to the flow of the water, braving the mosquitoes and leeches, to see if anybody breached the compromise.

The scene in the night was worth watching when they tended to speak meeker, with no or dim lights in their hands, cloistered in one corner near the water source, not to be discovered by their fellow water hunters. It took time to fill the fields since they were emaciated and moreover the louris were porous. We know if the louris are porous only when field is filled with water.

You can see and hear the farmers and their machines working even at night. The fields are reverberating with the sounds of power tillers (kubotas) and ararara ... titititi ... with sweet drizzles comforting the sweating farmers. Surprisingly, the bullocks and buffaloes have not forgotten the verbal commands of their owners. They follow obediently, ruminating the grass they stealthily grabbed, lest they get the angry whip. Mynahs, swallows and herons have landed to enjoy the delicacies of insects and snails.

What a lovely scene (unfortunately not for the insects) that has not been seen for long. It is race against time for both these birds and the farmers. In this midst the latter should also be calculative enough to select the right variety of paddy. Seeing the remaining time one should go for those which may not reach the winter for harvest.

And another option in hand is what they call pamphen. Since there was not enough water for growing paddy for transplantation, most of them are going for this option when the paddy is sprinkled directly over the whole of the field, after dipping them for one or two nights into water, mostly ponds.

They are doing whatever they can to prove that they are the real children of the Lawai (louda waba), thanks to the enterprising silence of the inspectors, mentioned elsewhere. And there is so much talk on self-sustenance and self-reliance. They are just talks and these farmers are the living examples.

When the job is done (even in between), rest is also compulsory and taking rest without our local syrup is no no for most of these self-reliant farmers, it goes even if the snacks are less. By the way your reporter has just completed pamphen and is proud to be a true son of the nature and is taking rest but without the local syrup.

Thank you for joining me, see you and have a natural day.

* Dr. Ksh. Imokanta Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express and Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on July 27 2012

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