A seed bank
Dindigul, Tamil Nadu
Dindigul, Tamil Nadu
Pradeep is in process of leaving his IT industry job to move back to his native village and trace back his family tradition rooted in farming. In the hard times of water shortage in his native when most farmers had quit practicing, he started farming with reduced water consumption techniques like drip irrigation and converted his farmlands into multi-crop yielding fields. He believes that every farmer should have a reserve where he stores seeds for next season than being dependent on the public seed banks. Thannal has taken up this initiative of a seed bank to contribute to the efforts of Pradeep to demonstrate a system of farming made feasible by effective utilisation of resources from nature.
She walked amongst the seeds which lay waiting for the touch of water. She caressed and
felt the throbbing of hope in each seed. What hope was there for them under this parched
soil? Her eyes became moist. Only the hot dusty wind circled around to watch her sadness. If
they would only sprout with her tears, she looked at the sun and murmured. Moving aside
that dusty breeze, a scooter came there and stopped. Two people- a man and a woman
stepped forward. The lady took a pull of water from her bottle and poured the rest on the
dried up Mandara (Bauhinia) plant near the wayside.
Him: Who are you child? How did you reach this deserted place?
Lakshmi: My name is Lakshmi. I came when these seeds called me.
Him: Seeds? Where? I don’t see any.
Lakshmi: How can you see the seeds? Are they not all asleep?
Him: Then how did you hear them call?
Lakshmi: Because I know the language of the seeds. Hundreds of seeds are weeping under
this parched land where you are standing. The residents of this land have abandoned them
due to lack of water. How did you come here?
Lady: What this child says must be true. Haven’t I always said that I hear the disturbing
voice of weeping in my dreams?
Lakshmi: Perhaps this sister too must be knowing the language of the seeds. Do you have
any water with you?
Lady: Oh. We have only three bottles of water. What use will they be?
Lakshmi: That wont be a problem. These seeds are not like men. They use each drop of
water that they receive with utmost care. They are always thankful to it. When this water is
over, we can bring more water from afar.
Lakshmi took a thimbleful of water in her hand, kissed it and sprinkled it into the soil. The
whole field sprouted with her gesture.
“How is this possible”? they asked in amazement.
Lakshmi: I will tell you. But before that, let me tell you a story. Long ago in this field there
lived a goddess of the forest. It was the birds, animals, the vines and the flowers together that
prepared a house for this beautiful goddess. The goddess used to wander all over the forest
stepping her feet on the flowers. But one day, all the vines stooped and withered and no
flowers bloomed in them. She understood that the reason for this was the check dams built by
man that blocked all the streams in that region. With each passing day, more and more plants
withered. On seeing the sadness of the plants, the goddess also burst into tears and wept with
them. But she did not forsake them and leave. Within a few days, with the last of the
greenery, the goddess also fell dead. It was this goddess that you freed from the curse.
On hearing Lakshmi’s story, the man and the woman stood speechless.
Lakshmi: Do you know how many numerous stories are waiting to sprout from this soil?
Lady: I want to hear all those stories.
Him: Let us build a house for these seeds. When they sleep there peacefully, you can sit close
by and hear their stories.
Lakshmi: It is indeed a very good idea. I will teach you both the language of the seeds.
Lady: Will these seeds understand what I am saying?
Lakshmi: These seeds have been passed from generations to generations, infused with the
energy from the bosom of mothers and from the sweat of the hands of the labourers, and from
the stories that have told. So, they can understand our language. However, we have forgotten
their language because we have learnt many new things but have forgotten our soil. Only the
natural seeds which know our genetic build-up can understand our language. Even if we
forget them, they lovingly become food for us, and like a memory, fill our organs with love
Handing them a handful of seeds, and humming a song, she mingled into the greenery.
Translated into English from Malayalam by Obed Ebenezer. S