I watch the ladies toil away in the organic garden, they stand and walk with a stately aura among themselves. The lilt in their voice when they speak to each other is of a gentle calmness. Their presence in the garden makes them almost a part of it. It is I who is the stranger in their midst. Their workplace is tendered with loving care. Its been over a year that I have seen the garden grow. The ground tilled to form the narrow gullies amongst the plots for the water to flow through. A tiny pile of mud pulled back or forth with a spade to control the water to each tiny area of the garden.
The seasons from the bitter cold to the falling rain and through the intense heat, through it all the garden awakens to a new dawn. A day that’s seen the flowers bloom and the butterflies and bees given free reign. The flitter about from the beautiful jezebel to the damsel fly. The dragonflies come through their migrational path on their way from Africa, several generations later. One smiles at the thought that this beautiful garden is one of many that’s a pit stop for them all on their long journeys.
Whilst a grey hornbill nonchalantly hops about trying to grab a tomato off the vine and gulp it down whole. To the black hooded oriole searching for bugs and the sunbirds hovering gently over the flowers and the whole natural world of pollination is happening there is a mesmerising continuous chirping of the birds happening. Whiles someone said that man is natures worst enemy, there are the chosen few who knowingly or unknowingly toil away to make it a beautiful place.
My travels have been many and never have I felt so much at peace as here in this temporary office at the organic farm at Kings Lodge in Bandhavgarh. And as I sit watch them work through the corner of my eye and their giggles of wonder at my incessant attempts to photograph the many birds and insects on the property it forces me to wonder about their lives and their journeys to make the jungle our home.
These two ladies in particular tell the story of many of the women in these parts or in many of the farming world. The chores of the house have to be done, the pujas done, the cooking of the meal and then they show up at the farms or the garden. The toiling begins and the weather plays no good a friend to them. The dangers that lurk in the undergrowth for their tired minds and bodies are at times not paying attention to the snake searching for the many frogs in the monsoons or unsuspecting birds amongst the flowers or in the paddy fields.
Clad in green or earthy colours they are a simple folk who do not hesitate to show you their world and with amusement while you get your hands dirty learning to pull fully grown radish from the ground. Their simple lives are a lesson in many ways. They give in a way most probably would not understand. I admire their resilience and ponder about those that have and do nothing, thinking that the world is theirs for the asking.