Beginnings

I went again to Hassan this week. We were twelve this time and we spent all our time in the hotel—except two hours—making plans. We went to the factory-site for two hours, saw the construction, and strolled on our land. We went down to the edge to the river: two ribbons under the dilapidated bridge fused to a sloughy green before our land. We didn't stand there for long. I have spoken often about the river with my colleagues and they were looking forward to seeing it. But they were in good spirits and had fun all the same: they brought down mangoes with stone and stick, and pulled out some unripe jack-fruit to take home for curry. We went up to the lake which is dry in spite of last week's rains. Our neighbors who farm the acres next to ours came out of their tile-roof home and asked questions without being inquisitive. Their cattle stood about us on the bund-road, and some crossed the bund and went down to the lake-water. The neighbors told us the lake is leaking through the bund and they were sure the government would in time fix it.

The sun was now diffused by clouds and level with the distant tip of the straight road which rises steadily from the bund. The construction-workers started for home, and walked without looking tired. My colleagues had brought sweets for them which they took silently, and expressed thanks only with a slight shift of lines on their face. A half-moon shone above, and looked vain, his light working only for himself. Our contractor has brought his labor from Bangalore, and he recruits from the village when he is short of hands—Sujaya was astonished at the beauty of some of those women. I saw them too: they are tall, they have high cheeks, large bones, they appear healthy, and they have a pleasing gait. They speak easily with the men.

A cart has appeared on the high corner selling tobacco and pan-masala. A deep trench is ready on our boundary for a high wall to stand. A micro-economy has sent out its baby roots.

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