I am a farmer and a 10acre landowner but I earn a living exclusively on what I grow, or buy from other growers, and then transport and sell on to the consumer. Of course I can’t do this on my own, and so I have people who live on my property to help me achieve my production volumes and for whom I pay a living wage. I also provide them housing, produce from my property and electricity free of charge. This imputed benefit if they had to get it on the open market would be Rs7000 a month. I nevertheless, still end up with a negative cash flow at the end of the month as you can see below on 31st January in the summary of my January accounts. I have to bridge this shortfall from assignments, working irregular hours and weekends. In short I work long hours, in multifaceted fields seven days a week to meet the payments including my staff, and in terms of spending money they indulge in the daily kasippu fix, while their families go hungry.
So when a member of my staff who was drunk and turned up around 8.30pm at my door sword in hand and wife in tow, seeking some sort of redress for an implied slight that another man who was at my home had done, I was angry enough to chase him out saying that I had just come home tired. I could not entertain his uncouth behavior. Of course he picked a fight with the other man and it spilt out to the outside. It should have ended there, a brawl between two moonshine (kasippu) inebriated men who would call each other names until both of them fell down and slept on the gravel in a drunken stupor.
The brawl did not end as it should have, as it normally does. An agent provocateur, who was with the sword man called out for imagined help on his mobile phone, and got in a crowd of thugs from two locations of more than 15 people, which included another farmhand who lives outside, the son-in-law of the sword man. They surrounded the farmhouse, and demanded that the person hiding in the house be brought out. It was past ten thirty, and I just switched the lights out and went to sleep, daring those troublemakers to try and make an entry in a good old fashioned western movie sense. All they were able to do was to break the padlock on the farm gate, which I had earlier closed and leave frustrated that they of 15 strength could not fight one person, who thought the better of confrontation in his inebriated state. This is a common problem in the country.
The next morning once daylight broke, we got the true story from the neighbors who heard the commotion, but were afraid to intervene at the time. The wives of these men appear to have egged them on rather than try to subdue their drunken bravado. The truth of their misdemeanors is also gradually emerging. These include plucking coconuts illegally, and selling them. Transporting wood from the property, along with other things such as firewood, and all the old iron to be sold. It has also later transpired that they have used tools from a local mechanic to remove and steal motors and equipment.
I have no option but to push them to leave voluntarily and force them out if they refuse. We have regularly helped them and there have been many occasions when we have saved them from problems of their own making. There comes a time when compassion has its limits and people need to know that they and their families’ fate lie in their hands and no one else. The moral of the story is to help those who help themselves only.