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You meet a farmer many times in a day

You meet a farmer
many times in a day
through many meals,
eaten alone or shared,
enjoyed at the table,
in front of the TV,
or sitting on the ground.

You meet a farmer
in every grain of rice you pick up,
in every roti or bread you break,
in every fruit or vegetable,
in the salads you make,
in the cakes you bake.
In the roasted corn in the street,
In the warm groundnuts on a wintry day,
In the yellow bananas
hanging by the small cigarette shop,
In the greens on the road
sold by the frail old lady,
In the vegetable vendor who pushes his cart,
In the smart van that comes
to deliver your organic fare,
or the cotton clothes you flaunt and wear.

You meet a farmer many times over in a day,
without ever meeting him or her,
without knowing their names,
their gender or their state.

You meet a farmer many times in a day,
without ever getting into a field,
without ever worrying about a rainless sky,
or treading the parched earth,
or facing the stench of a pesticide,
without worrying about the price they pay
for you to enjoy your plate.

You meet a farmer many times in a day,
by the crowded markets and the noisy bazaars,
by the laden vehicles that ply at dawn,

You meet a farmer many times in a day,
and with unseeing eyes that do not see them,
you pick at your food,
dumping it finally into the segregated waste,
careful about your diet,
while reading up on the latest fad
to control your increasing girth.

You meet a farmer many times over,
without ever seeing them.

And, yet now when the invisible become visible,
and you meet the farmer many times in a day,
in the news, online, in all the places you seek to escape,
you suddenly see that they are men and women,
careworn from the sun and the wind,
calloused hands, grey hair,
with a love for the land and heart so big
and you realise,
that clicks can order food,
but there is a missing click in your heart,
in the coldness of your being
that has not seen the warm earth for a long time,
that has never look at a dry sky
and worried along with a farmer

...and suddenly your eyes well up...
And, like an abandoned child lost in a fair
that suddenly finds its parents,
you rush, rush into the welcoming arms,
warm hands that enfold you,
that have always fed you,
dry and dusty from toil,
and all your city smartness falls away,
and shoulder to shoulder,
man and woman,
child and animal,
machine and weather
you realise must all come together
in singing praise of the abundant earth,
coming home to the gratitude
that finally the earth has food for all
and should not be in the the hands tightly held by a fe.

And, the heavens above shall pour its blessing
that finally a plate of food in your hand
is more than just a meeting with a farmer online
purchased with a mere click or flick of the finger.

You are finally home to the sacredness of food,
to the magic of life
and you are the missing link
that has finally clicked into place.

- Srividya Srinivasan (24/12/2020)
   Picture Courtesy - Ritu Raj Konwar

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