• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 09
Image by

He Couldn’t Resist

He stood straight, wiped his brow with his dirty palm, leaned back, and pointed his sickle at the horizon. “That is bad,” he said, “very bad.”

It was my favourite part of the day: watching the sun’s soft rays dance over the swaying millet. For a fleeting moment, I forgot the aching in my bones. Before me was the promise that soon my body would be free from the torture of the farm, my belly filled with mother’s cooking, and my ears soothed by her fantastic stories.

Farming with my father was how I spent my weekends. My friends spent theirs in carpentry and electronic workshops. They were being prepared for a changing future in our village: only the old men and married women stayed on the farm. But father would have none of that.

“This is how I feed him,” he said to his friend who wanted to teach me tailoring. “He should also contribute to it.”

I thought he was punishing me for staging a mutiny by accepting the scholarship to study at the Government college. He was a practical man. He wouldn’t stop me from getting an education, but he insisted on raising like his father raised him: with back-breaking labour.

“But, baa mi, this is the most beautiful part of the day. Can’t you see it?“

I infused as much exasperation into my voice as possible without asking for a smack on the neck. I kept my eyes on the sun, and wiped away a stray tear.

“Yes I can,” he replied. “But, that something is beautiful doesn’t make it inherently good.”


He Couldn’t Resist

“Hmmm…” I shut my eyes and swayed with the millet. He started to explain.

“Let me tell you about this particular type of sun. It is bad because when a farmer sees it, the allure gives him the impetus to continue working. It fools him into working harder, longer, until darkness crashes on him suddenly and it is too late to return to his wife’s mat. One must learn to resist beautiful things.”

He dropped the sickle, put his arms behind his head, and yawned.

“We should start going,” he said.

I tell that story to my children now when they come home with beautiful things. What I do not tell them is that my father collapsed and died on the field. On the day he died, the sunset was beautiful. He couldn’t resist its allure.