Following on from my views on how the village view my employees and their effort at trying to get a local to be my man on the spot, my place in the scheme of things is still a little unnerving to them, as I have still not permanently settled there. They always see me arrive in the dead of night and then leaving with a full load of produce days later, implying I am taking it to Colombo, and so take me for a person from there.
They therefore automatically assume that I am a man of means, reinforced by my having employees. I am therefore fair game when it comes to borrowing requests, and I often get a line of people wanting to borrow from me, at very high interest rates. They don’t believe me when I say I don’t have any to lend them, and in some instances get quite annoyed especially when they get wind that I have lent to some kith or kin of theirs.
I walk a tightrope in trying not to upset my neighbors, when I refuse some and grant others. They all are related to one another by blood or marriage, so people know what everyone is about even though there are disputes amongst them, namely of relatives falling out over property issues. The fact that they live next to each other does not help.
Each one comes to tell tales to me about the other, some true and others false and tying to work out who is trustworthy is very difficult. It is not easy to be one of them, as much as I would like, but when I come across their very bad habits, I sometimes prefer to keep to myself concentrating just on the work on hand, and minimizing my interaction to that which is necessary. There is one point that stands out, namely jealousy if they perceive I am particularly friendly with one, they try to break that friendship.
I simply want honest and dependable persons and those who can give me advice about the area and farming techniques. I would like to get to know my neighbors in an unthreatening and neighborly way. I find it is very difficult to do this. There always appears to be a hidden agenda.
The full extent of the welcome, will not be apparent for a while, but I see them treating me in ways that would benefit them. That is human nature but making assumptions about me that are untrue which I cannot refute because they do not believe is the one area that distances me from being able to be more sociable with them.