The land I want is the land you want - to give up.
As it was customary, the women – about ten of us and more joining the “meeting” each passing minute – were sitting cross-legged on the floor of the tiny, two-room home, while the four men sat on the only bed. While the Indian monsoon made its presence felt outside, we talked about a program (in which the attendees participate), that enhances the productivity of small family-run farms in rural Maharashtra, through technical assistance and training in agricultural techniques.
The usual conversation took place – When did you start farming? Has the program helped you? Have you seen a difference in your crops? And then I asked, “If money weren’t an issue, would you continue farming?” The women looked at each other as if to say, Is she for real? and said, “No, we do this because it’s the only thing we can do.”
As the gathering ended and we slowly stepped outside to tour the wormy-compost bins, the cattle pens, and the rabbit cages, a sense of camaraderie overcame me. If empowerment is about having a choice, then neither that woman nor I are any closer to it – she toils in her farm dreaming of a “better” future, while propped against my desk, I dream about tomatoes, and dirt, and sheep.
If we could relate about nothing else, we could relate about this: our disenchantment about our own lives in relation to land. In a way, land brought us together – her dislike of, and my want for it.