Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Reflecting on A Story

A few years back, I was trying to set up my farm on the outskirts of Bangalore. The process was difficult, and at times traumatizing because of intense hostilities by the locals to an outsider, especially a woman, in their territory. It was then that a friend told me his story.

Many years earlier, he was part of a similar 'return to land' experiment. He lived alone on this land, making a home, going about his life. At this time, this piece of property came under intense land dispute with many parties claiming ownership, or a previously inherited stake in it. Things got ugly. One evening, when my friend was alone at home, he heard villagers clamor outside. He knew instinctively that trouble was brewing. He went outside and saw a few men carrying shot guns, with aggressive stance, challenging attitudes. My friend smiled at them, welcomed them inside, and offered coffee. He suggested that they should sit down and discuss any problems the villagers had. Soon, the guns were leaning against a wall, and people talking. Later, my friend invited the whole village for evening tea, snacks, to get to know each other, and establish a relationship. The issue over land dispute got eventually resolved, and now a community lives on that farm, in harmony with the villages around.

Recently, I have been reflecting a great deal about the recent attacks on women in Bangalore, Karnataka, and I remembered this story. I was wondering what I would do if attacked by a bunch of goons. Either I could lash out, yell, scream,try to escape, call for help, create a ruckus. Or I could, turn towards them, with a smile, ask them what they wanted, and offer to discuss it over coffee?? Will I be able to do that - have no fear, no anger? Will I be able to be such that I am no victim, therefore they become no aggressors?? Will I be able to turn around, and smile, with my heart, my eyes, my being, a gentle smile of honesty and ease - my friends smile? no you, no me, no boundaries - just human beings trying to relate? Will I take that first step?

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