I know money is going to be a major hindrance. In our land we have plantain trees. Interestingly plantain tree is the only tree where all its parts are used. Not only this, if you cut a bigger tree, another one will grow up in the same place. Unless one removes the tube below the earth, the plantain tree will continue to grow and will continue to yield. The stem of plantain tree is very good for health. It has the capacity to dissolve kidney stones. Banana fruits are so good for health and couple of fruits makes a complete filling. Leaves are used as plate. The outer stem of a plantain tree is used to carry those who are injured in fire accidents. Every part of the tree is used for different purpose. It is a selfless, soft and gentle tree. The growth of banana trees is often compared to one’s lineage like grandfather, father, son, etc. If one banana tree had yielded fruits, it is cut off and another tree grows without any human intervention.
I know that four of my plantain trees would have ripe fruits shortly. Fruits should be allowed to ripe in the tree itself. It is not advisable to cut the fruits before natural ripening. Such fruits will lose original taste and secondly will also partially lose their nutrient factors. Cutting the fruits before ripening is like performing a C-section instead of natural delivery. Performing C-sections for the convenience of the doctors is one of the worst sins, for which there are no remedial measures available, as they play with God’s exclusive act. I know a merchant, who regularly buys all the yields of my land. He is a nice guy and he procures yields from people like us and sells them to another person near the town. He gives me twenty five bucks for a bunch of banana and sells to the merchant in the town at thirty five bucks. The merchant in turn sells to a wholesaler who has several trucks shunting between major cities and this place and makes a profit of twenty bucks. The wholesaler buys at fifty five bucks from the merchant and sells to retailers at ninety bucks. Retailer sells one banana fruit for five bucks. A bunch normally consists of seventy fruits. One bunch which I sell at twenty five bucks is finally sold at five bucks per fruit. I used to wonder why the growers are not selling directly to the consumers. Every intermediary makes money except the farmer who really works hard to make his money and the consumer who struggles to meet both ends meet. If both of them are directly linked, consumer could save a lot of money and the farmer can make more money. Only hard work should be rewarded. He can invest this money to build infrastructure of the nation. People are not willing to think. If you think logically, you cannot make money. I feel sad only for the farmer and the consumer. The intermediaries simply make their money without hard work.
Providentially, the guy came next morning. I sold four bunches banana and collected one hundred bucks from him, went to the nearby town and purchased small quantities of cement, sand, paint, etc. The whole thing cost me eighty five bucks with only fifteen bucks left for me to return to my place. I procured all the materials, placed in a gunny bag and returned home. My mother looked at the gunny bag and of course did not ask any questions. For the first time, there was a mysterious happiness in me. May be because, I have not done anything seriously like this before. I have decided to renovate the temple and the idol of Ganapati, beginning tomorrow. I slept well that night. When I woke up, the sun was ready to rise. Normally, I would have taken my bath by this time. I saw my mother preparing food for the day. I could notice her ageing process. She does not walk without any hold. She knows that we do not have money to get treatment. I always thought that rich and poor should not live together, as the poor is bound to develop inferiority complex. She told me several times that I should not admit her in a hospital if she becomes sick. My father also died at home. I am seriously concerned about her. I am not in the habit of asking for favours from God. I always believe that God knows what to give and when. For the first time, I prayed to God to give my mother, a good health. Without my knowing, tears rolled down my cheeks. There are several firsts happening to me this time. I could realize that there is some subtle change happening within. There is always a sort of inexplicable happiness within.
Probably I should have woken up much earlier than my usual time of waking up. If I decide to wake up early, I tell my mind that I should get up at a particular time. I will get up exactly at that time which I have told my mind. I tested the capacity of my mind several times. When I tell my mind that Jimmy should not accompany me to the river for bath, he will not come with me. When I tell my mind that yoga teacher should not be there on a particular day, he will not be there, when I go to his place. With such experiments, I found that mind can do wonders, provided it is trained properly. I always keep my mind calm. Occasionally some thoughts might come and go, but they do not bother me. At times I used to feel for my disinterest in studies. However, I am not too concerned with my food. When I am hungry, I go the Cauvery River and drink water. Water is the best source not only to quench thirst, but also satiating your hunger. It is the best medicine to keep the body clean, healthy and trim.
After having my bath, I walked towards the Ganapati temple along with all the materials that I had procured yesterday. I was very upset that the temple has escaped my attention all these days. I looked at Ganapati, seated pathetically inside the temple. He remained uncared for with cobweb and dirt around him. When I looked at him with concern, I had a feeling that he smiled at me. My mother had told me lots of stories about Ganapati. He removes all obstacles and hence he is worshiped before starting any activities. Even other gods are worshipped only after worshipping him. He is called elephant god. There is a story about his elephant face. There was a fight between Ganapati and Shiva and in the fight Ganapati’s head was chopped off. At the request of his mother Parvati, his father Shiva fixed an elephant’s head. There are other stories also about his elephant head.
I felt ashamed for having ignored the temple. I cannot compare myself with other boys around, as they go to school in the next village. None of them speak to me or play with me. They all believe that I am uncultured, uneducated rustic boy. But I know most of these boys by name. They do not even take bath, get up late and go to school in a hurry. They do not have the knowledge I have gained over the years. I am of the opinion that education is nothing to do with one’s knowledge. I know that I am clean and tidy than these boys. Even the best of men with a lot of self-confidence sometimes are hurt when they are snubbed. I sorted out all things and prepared for painting the outer wall. I scrapped the outer wall and gave a first coat. The temple looked better now. I wanted to paint inside the temple. But the idol of Ganapati is there and if I paint, the paint could fall on him and his half black colour could become half white. I went to my home and collected old dhotis of my father and covered Ganapati idol and began painting inside. When I finished, the outer wall had absorbed all the paint. I repainted both the outer wall and inner wall again. Now the temple looked very bright. When I finished, it was time for my lunch. I make it a point to have my lunch with my mother after my father’s death. We cannot afford to have good meals on all days. It depends upon what we get from our land. I grow almost all vegetables for our use. I sell the surplus and keep cash for emergency. My main cultivation is paddy. When it is harvested, I keep couple of gunny bags of paddy for our use and sell the rest. I do not spend anything on myself. When I returned, I saw mother waiting for me outside our house and looked at me surprisingly. She could be wondering why I began painting the temple walls.
(to be continued)