The Accidental Farmers
It wasn’t too long ago that I was used to spending most of my days sitting in a glass-encased office in buzzing Delhi, editing books on a huge iMac. The only bit of outdoors that I was familiar with then was the colony park where I walked around aimlessly in circles. A far cry from my parent’s farm and orchard in the mountains, where I grew up. But, that’s life, isn’t it?
Two years later, my husband, Stephen, and I suddenly found ourselves packing up and moving back to the farm. We always thought about moving back to the mountains, but in a distant, romantic kind of way. My dad’s sudden demise changed everything. All of a sudden, the farm, the workers and the legalities of the land were our responsibilities.
My dad loved the mountains, and planted and nurtured a beautiful forest, plantations and orchards for most of his days. I spent all my school and college holidays on the farm, walking with my dad up and down the mountain, learning how to graft trees and dig out potatoes and planting trees which would soon grow much taller than me.
Even so, I now wish I had paid more attention to all that he told me. I remember how my dad would try to get me out of bed early in the morning to see the jungli moorgis and the barking deer, but I was a consistent late riser.
I remember fighting the forest fires alongside him one year when they came right into the farm. I’ll never forget the adrenaline rush trying to beat that fire down, irrespective of the thorns and stinging smoke. But most of all, I shared my dad’s pain and anguish to see the destruction that was left behind.
Another two years down the line, I still am unsure of what varieties of pears and apples we grow here, which sarkaari offices we need to visit for various permissions, and what seed needs to be sown when. We might not have learnt enough about farming from my dad. But, we’ve definitely inherited his passion and love for the mountains, for the wildlife that calls our forest its home, and for all the thousands of trees and herbs that he planted and we get to look after and enjoy.