It was to happen sooner or later, I knew. People are unlikely to remain with you forever. But I didn’t expect ‘forever’ to end within 18 months. Mangal, my caretaker left me because he had found a job in the city which gave him an extra Rs 500. Earning that extra meant leaving home at six in the morning, slogging an eight hour shift and returning by seven.
Reasoning that the extra Rs 500 could be easily earned by growing vegetables in my farm didn’t cut ice with Mangal.
Mangal has grown up. When he had come to me he was a bachelor and now he is married. I remember he had given me his wedding card which was Xeroxed. I had then told him that I would not be able to make it and had offered him Rs 500.
A school dropout, he felt that ‘working in a company’, as he put it, gave him a status. Working as a farm labourer, where he was the boss and no one controlled his working hours but for the Sundays when I visited the farm and he made it a point to be present. Who wants to be a farm labour nowadays?
He did water the plants regularly but whether a plant was being attacked by pests or the leaves yellowing he didn’t care to notice. It has happened often that by the time I visited the farm and noticed a plant dying it was too late; as it happened to a mango and a cashew plant which died recently.
Four month long monsoon has led to wild grass and plants occupying my farm which Mangal had assured that he would attend to once the rains are over. But now he has left.
My search for a caretaker has already begun and if I delayed getting one early my farm is at the mercy of the village hooligans who may steal my fence or the cows enter the premises and chew my litchi plant or the Banganpalli I planted recently.