Why are farm labourers so dumb? Don’t know of others but mine is surely one. Mangal dropped out school, when he moved to sixth standardand English was introduced as one of the subject. Unable to differentiate between words like ‘table’ or ‘chair’ and to avoid being punished by his English teacher he stopped going to school. Ever since then he has not “seen the face of the school” just like his brothers, who too dropped out because of Mr. English. His parents, tribals and unlettered did not pursue the matter with their school dropout sons. All three now make a living either working as farm labourers or as daily wagers at factories or construction sites. Mangal is 20 and married to Sanjana who believes that Fair & Lovely will make her fair one day. His elder brothers are also married and have kids.
I have around 100-odd fruit and flower trees which Mangal waters every alternate day, uproots the vegetation which come up occasionally, sprays the plant once a fortnight etc. In a day he works for not more than three hours and rests remainder of the day.
Time and again, in fact it is now around two years now, I have been trying to impress on him to grow vegetables on the vacant spaces between the trees. I have brought seeds of vegetables like cucumber, okra, pumpkin, radish, snake gourd, bottle gourd and several others. He did plant them and then forgot to water them leading them to die.
I have tried to drill in his mind that growing vegetables is good for all of us. Moreso for him because he could make some money selling whatever is left to the locals. Every third day he travels all the way to Badlapur station to pick up vegetables spending Rs 30 in commuting to an fro. Buying vegetables, when nothing is below Rs 50, is making a hole in his wallet is beyond him.