Debt of death

You didn’t own the land you worked in, you were just working day and night for money. Your father told you once that the land used to be your family’s but one season, the weather betrayed every farmer and the crops failed. The land failed and so did the family. There wasn’t even enough to provide for the family, let alone selling it at the local market. That season and the next sealed your family’s fate, really. The family was in debt and the land was soon lost.

The person who owned the land wasn’t unkind, he did help out whenever he could but the thing is, that person was long dead. His descendants were not as kind as the original owner nor as considerate. They turned out to be far greedier than your family had thought. Since then you had been working and never getting enough rewards. Owning the land again isn’t even on the horizon anymore. The debts are so much sometimes your father looks bent and broken by it.

You want to help but you also want to study. You want to study how to make the earth better so that your people will never have to face something like that ever again. It is not that farmers aren’t afraid of the hard work, it’s that, they need to have the appropriate amount of returns for the said work. You are forever aware of how bad things are, how your mother hasn’t bought a new saree in over two years, how you have had to mend your older sister’s clothes to fit you. She’s married now and has her own family to worry about. She left from a poor family and married into a slightly less poor family.

That was nothing compared to the dowry paid. Yes, dowry. Even now, in this age, dowry is still a thing, just as unfairness is still a thing. You have seen far too many deaths in your life. Ten farmers from your village have already committed suicide, leaving behind shattered families and no means to earn the money to pay their debts. Yes, debts are crippling but those farmers aren’t thinking of the future of their families, are they? Your father had scolded you for voicing that thought but you still maintain it’s the truth. Those suicides meant nothing if the remaining family had to lose a family member and still for those debts. What was the point?

You go to school, for now. You know there will come a point when you might not be able to, your family simply doesn’t have the money to buy the books and pens and pencils even if the education itself is free. You dread that day and that’s why you have asked your teachers to find out about scholarships, you aren’t the most brilliant of the lot but you are not half bad. Your grades aren’t too bad, if you studied hard, maybe you would get to realise your dream, maybe you would even earn enough to settle the debt.

Maybe your father wouldn’t commit suicide.

A lot of maybes but then, isn’t life full of maybes? Isn’t that how great things happen?

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