The beauty of a simple life
Goa’s green fields are breathtaking and exceptionally beautiful during the monsoons, not only because of the vivid colour the rains bring about but also because the sight of men and women working in the fields with the crop of the season is a symbol of simplicity, hard work and resilience. Café shares their storiesDolcy D’Cruz As kids, we often hear stories from our grandparents, about the life and times of yore, when they toiled away in the lush green fields, cleaning, ploughing, sowing and reaping fresh vegetables and grain. They were all rigorous yet fulfilling tasks. And it was those very jobs that kept the older generation strong and healthy. Goans lived a self sufficient life with basic food necessities like rice, wheat, tomatoes, onions and vegetables all growing around the house itself. They had no worries for the increase in prices in the vegetable market and they could rely on the vegetables to be nutritious. There are still villagers in Goa who live the simple life and are self sufficient with their produce through the year. Salvação Bella Fernandes from Saligao is over 75 years old and prefers working in the field rather than relaxing at home. She works throughout the year and single-handedly tends to the fields. “Originally from Salvador do Mundo, she was married in Saligao and has been working in the fields since her childhood. As it’s paddy season now, she has already started the cultivation of the crop,” says Edwin D’Souza, her son-in-law. Before the rains, she cleaned the fields by uprooting the weeds. After the season of paddy, she will be growing vegetables like ladyfinger, brinjal and tomato. Earlier, Salvação and her husband, late Reginaldo, used to work together in the fields. Even though he was a seamen, the income from the fields was an additional advantage. Mother of a son and daughter, she tends to four fields using all traditional means. “One farmer from Saligao uses his bullock cart to plough the fields for her and then she takes over, from sowing to harvesting. She’s in the field from 7:30am to 11am before returning back home,” says Edwin. The harvest is enough for the family. If there is excess of produce, they sell it at the wholesale market in Mapusa. It’s the same for Fatima Oliveira from Sangolda who, along with her husband, Marcelino (Cajie), has been waiting for the heavenly showers. “July is the month for cultivating paddy. We have already ploughed the fields with machines and were waiting for the rains to carry on with our work. After the fields are harvested by the month of December, I grow groundnuts in half the field and ‘alsande’ (black eyed beans) in the other. Once those are harvested, they I grow chillies, tomatoes and brinjals in the same patch,” says Fatima, who has been farming for the last ten years. The work doesn’t stop there. The groundnuts are peeled and ground to produce oil, which is used as cooking oil in the Oliveira household, while the ‘alsande’ are put to dry for seven sunny days so that the skin of the stalk breaks off and the seeds are naturally dried. They are spread on a ‘dhali’ (bamboo mat) and walked upon or beaten with a stick, collected and then stored for consumption. In the village of Pirna in Bardez taluka, the women of the village have great unity. Instead of each one working in their own fields and hiring help, they have teamed up to make the work easier on everyone, making the laborious job, a fun and laughter session. Ashwariya Pednekar is one of the women who can be seen walking enthusiastically to the fields in the mornings and afternoons. “In May, we clean the fields so that they are ready for ploughing by June. First the paddy seeds are planted and after 22 days, ‘torvo’, the healthy rice saplings, are removed and grown in another field. They are then harvested after three months, mostly by October,” says Ashwariya. They are in the fields from 9am to 1pm and then in the afternoon from 3pm to 7pm. After working for two days in one person’s field, they move on to another person’s field, completing everyone’s farms in the group. Besides, self consumption, the excess produce is sold to the fish vendors who move from door to door in the village itself.
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