Bringing food to the table
Balvihar December 2020
Sambu was distracted by the squeals of laughter. He left his trail of thoughts and came down to the present.
His eyes lit up when he saw in the direction from where the squeals were coming from. His 2 year old son was chasing butterflies in the field and running behind him enjoying the whole experience was Sambu’s wife Raji.
“ How happy she looks, after a long time.”
It had been almost 7 months now that Sambu, his wife and child had moved into his parent’s home in their ancestral village.
Her face glowed with happiness and he was about to call out if he could join them in chasing butterflies when his mobile phone rang.
It was his friend Arun.
“ Hey Sambu, what are you doing?”
” My son is chasing butterflies and I am thinking of joining him.” Sambu managed to smile.
” Ha.. how lucky? Me, my wife and 2 kids continue to be holed up in this tiny apartment in the city trying not to stamp each other’s foot. Butterflies, squirrels.. what life man?” Arun sighed and continued.
Arun had been Sambu’s neighbour in the city where they worked together in the same factory.
The lockdown had not been very good for Arun and Sambu’s career.
Sambu was a software engineer and he was one of those whose job took a toll when the lockdown set in. The company could not afford to pay anymore and many of them including Sambu had to leave.
Arun was in the accounts department and he had offered to take a pay cut instead of a lay-off. The company continued to use Arun’s services in more than one department to make up for the reduced headcount.
Sambu was very lucky to find someone like Arun who always had a good word for him and only positive things to share.
” Maybe I should have stayed back in the city and tried for another job while sending Raji here to the village” Sambu had told Arun before shifting to the village.
Arun, who saw things differently, had told him, ” Why don’t you use this opportunity to spend some time with your family in the village. Just think of it, 3 generations living in one house. Everyone doesn’t get to experience that Sambu. Go for it.” Arun had suggested.
And it had worked out very well.
Sambu’s grandad had been a teacher in the village’s school and when Sambu was born, he was determined that Sambu would get the best education and learn to work with computers, an opportunity that was unheard of in those times. In fact when Sambu became the first engineer in their village, there had been a huge celebration.
” My grandson is an engineer in the city” His grandparents would proudly tell everyone they met.
Arun had been right. It was indeed very nice to be with the family.
However there was something that Sambu always wanted to ask his dad and he had never found the courage. That afternoon, he however decided to know and spoke up.
” Appa, why is that you did not take up any other job and chose to be a farmer instead? Thatha told me that you were offered the teacher’s post when he retired. You passed it over to your younger brother? How could you make a clear decision? I am still struggling not knowing what to do next.”
Sambu’s dad who was a man of few words, quoted an ancient saying in Tamil
” Mezhi Selvam Kozhai Padathu” meaning that “The wealth of those who plough the land will never decrease”
Sambu’s face brightened up. That one sentence was the answer to all his questions.
” I am coming with you to work in the fields from tomorrow, ” Sambu told his dad.