Betrayal of their soil and becoming migrants | Milaap

Betrayal of their soil and becoming migrants

     For me, the very sound of the word “village” bring back memories of lush green fields, moving like waves in tune with the monsoon breeze, the ingenuous smile of farmers toiling hard and the kids swimming happily in the large wells dug for irrigation. My idea of a village was that of a Utopian sphere where everything is perfect, everyone is happy and vice unknown. But not so long did I come to ascertain that these things are not true or maybe, not the same anymore.  After I met a migrant family during my visit to Srirangam, I realized that the ideal place I thought it was once is no longer the same.

                                                                  Camping among the innumerable bricks
     They were a group of three to four families camped in an area, away from the city and also away from the rest of the people.  These families once owned acres of land that gave them healthy yield every time they sowed.  Farming was their life and it never betrayed them in giving profit, comfort, and happiness. Things were good and life was pleasant, until one day they had to abandon their land and migrate to Srirangam for a living due to drought.  
     In recent times, the villages in Tamilnadu are enduring drought and due to this, the farmers are pushed out of their peaceful hamlets to cities and towns, in search of a better living. Most of these farmers choose occupations that are new to them, with no first-hand experiences.  They end up being migrants and when it comes to other jobs they lack skills. There are instances where they are exploited by their new masters as most of them are uneducated. The younger generation of these families moves to other states for jobs that give decent pay while the rest of the members go for brick making or construction works in nearby districts.
                                                                      His hope begins with a smile!

    “We come from a village in the district of Perambalur. Our family made a living out of agriculture before but don’t know who cursed our land and its soil, it stopped raining and all the crops died. There was hope and we managed to sow again but monsoon failed us more than thrice. The whole savings we had was put to redeem our dying crops and we ended up paupers”, says one of the members of the family while molding the clay into bricks.
     The whole space was spread with neatly arranged bricks put to dry. There was also a heap of freshly mixed clay waiting to get its desired shape and the burnt red ones ready to help someone built the house of their dreams. These families over here took up brick-making and they have been doing it for two years now. His wife joined us in our conversation and said, “The pay is less in this occupation. We have to make a thousand bricks per day to receive a daily wage of Rs.400. We have to blend the soil with water, mold it into correct shapes, dry them under the sun and then burn them using firewoods. Achieving the daily target is so difficult and we have to wake up early and start working till evening to meet the required numbers”.

                                                  On the process of moulding and counting their dreams

      Her and her husband’s only wish is to make enough money to dig a well or a bore well near their land and continue doing farming, even if it is in small scale like planting vegetables. It would cost them like one to one and a half lakhs to dig a well and they are toiling hard to save enough and get back to their own village. The couple has four children, three girls, and a boy, and they have married off all their three daughters. His son is yet to marry and he is helping them in this brick making job. These families wake up early each day, mold their dreams into bricks and work under the merciless sun hoping that they will go back to their village, dig a well one day and live a normal life among their own fields.  

     Talking to them showed me the stark reality of the present situation of farming and how these agrarian communities are pushed off from their places, ending up as migrants. The place that I once believed to be an abode of happiness and green pastures is slowly deteriorating due to various reasons, from climate change to improper farming techniques. Even though there is rapid growth in Agro science, technology and people promoting organic culture in various forms, there are still farmers who end up becoming migrants or losing their life due to drought. Like the family over here, who have hopes of saving a huge amount and getting back to their own land, there still lies enormous hope on the re-birth of sustainable agriculture and saving the farming community from getting extinct.