Imli, The Girl Farmer
Imli, The Girl Farmer6 mins 181 6 mins 181
'' Imli, where are you? ''. Dukhi or Dukhiram was calling his beloved daughter. Imli was the only child of her parents Dukhi and Fuli. Imli was once lost and then found below a tamarind tree so she was named after the Imli, a tamarind. They wanted to have a son later on. Because in a farming family a son is desired very much. A son can do all the farming work putting himself into hard labour in the hot sunshine. A girl is generally not very welcome due to the dowry and marriage and are considered to be soft and weak. A farmer's life is hard and difficult.
So Dukhi and Fuli wanted a son. But that avenue was shut for the farming couple in this lifetime because during the birth of Imli due to the complications at delivery Fuli had to sacrifice her womb. She barely survived. So Imli became the darling of her parents and they treated her both as a daughter and a son. They gave her so much love as their physical and financial means supported. Imli was however not spoilt and was very obedient. She loved doing any work that her parents wanted her to do. They also ensured not to take undue advantage of Imli's obedience and innocence. Also the people in the village were always on the prowl and kept a watch of all 'unbecoming' activities. Dukhi and Fuli were very much aware of this and so didn't order Imli too much. Village folk liked to keep themselves updated with all the goings on in the other people's families more than their own.
Specially the villagers had to be cautious of the wealthy people. The rich and powerful like Prasad the money lender was always on the alert to deceitfully take over the poor and indebted farmer's land. This way he had overtaken much of the fertile land of the village farmers who were ignorant, gullible and illiterate. Many had to manage big families and with huge overhead expenses, all due to festivals, social commitments and disease and illness. Prasad was always there to help them with easy money on crushing terms and conditions. Also, Prasad was the agricultural middle man or broker who bought all the farmers' produce. He stored them in his silos and godowns which he had many and sold them in the market when the prices were ruling northwards. In return he paid the farmers after many a days of credit and also in sums that were a pittance. As a corollary the average farmer remained in perennial debt all towards Prasad.
But however hard he did try, Prasad could not entrap Dukhi. A benevolent hand was always shielding the diligent Dukhi. Thus
Dukhi was aware of the dangers. He knew he was living in a forest infested with tigers, lions and crocodiles. He had to lead his life very smartly protecting his family all along.
But life is a dynamic process and nothing remains the same forever. Dukhi, though not poor was also not very financially comfortable. But he had a wonderful financial partnership with his wife Fuli and they managed their finances very diligently. He never had been in a situation where he had to borrow. His wife Fuli always managed to save some from her frugal life style. Fuli and Dukhi were always on the same page as far as their expenses were concerned.
But life can never be same forever. Also the cocoon that her parents had created over her, Imli now realised. She had grown now and could understand many things of the world. Her parents had with untiring efforts had managed to educate her although they being near illiterate. They knew the benefits that education can bring to the incumbent. Imli had learnt more or less all the tricks of trade in the life of a farmer. But she had never ploughed a field and nor did her parents allow her to.
But this time her father Dukhi fell gravely ill and would be out of work for many weeks. All along Dukhi had done all the work related to the farm and never engaged any contract labour. Now there was a big question mark on who would plough the field. Fuli was very worried and Dukhi was in a state which was beyond his thinking power.
Imli harnessed the bullocks and took them to the field. She couldn't manage to plough. All day she struggled. Many times she tripped and fell down. But determined as she was, she immediately got up started to do the ploughing again. Slowly word spread around that a girl was ploughing a field. Huge crowd of villagers gathered at the edge of the field, some with curiosity and some with amusement, to have a first time view of the spectacle. No woman had ever taken to plough the field before in their village of Belapur.
Prasad got the news and came running to the house of Dukhi. He chastised Dukhi for letting his daughter plough the field.
Luckily, Dukhi had fallen ill after harvesting the ripe plants of rice and potatoes. Now it was the time to till the fields and keep it ready to sow some other plants depending on the prices the market was commanding for other agricultural produce. The harvested crops had been chafed and sent to the market for payment. So there was lot of comfort for Dukhi. So when he heard that Imli had been ploughing his fields he couldn't hide his pride. He was confident that he would be fully recovered within the time the next seeds are sown.
But Prasad was no one to accept this. He ordered Dukhi to seek help from the local Panchayat because this case was being referred to it.
Very soon the Panchayat was in attendance. Most of the villagers thronged the gathering. Notably the women were there because it was their genre that was at stake. Such situation it's the deep rooted patriarchy that generally comes out in the open. Women wanted to know that if they could get justice for one of their kind. It was routine as usual. The jury body tried to show their neutral face but shamelessly were exposed. Judgement was passed however absurd it may sound. For Imli it was said by the honorable Panchayat body that she could plough the field only after marriage but not before. Because as per the Panchayat male child has the right to be a farmer only and a woman can help her husband in ploughing when he needed her support. In this case Fuli, the wife of Dukhi could help him in ploughing the field. Prasad was smiling quietly feeling victorious. He knew now that he could slowly take control of Dukhi's agricultural land by coercion and tricks.
But Prasad underestimated the power of Imli.
Due to her education, Imli now knew about her rights. She did not cow down. She had befriended a female lawyer on her trip to the city once. So she traced her at the court and to her surprise she found the lawyer recognised her. To the lawyer she told all her problems. Very soon the court arranged a hearing of the case. The panchayat body vs Imli. The court overruled the Panchayat judgement and ordered them to make the situation in the village amiable for Imli to do the farming till her father was fit enough to hold the plough. The court even asked the government agricultural department to give all support to Imli. It was a great victory for Imli and all the womenfolk. The court observed that in a democratic set up any citizen be a man or a woman is free to take up any occupation as per their choice.