Sabuj Mia pulls while his wife Lalbhanu Begum holds the plough on the 10 decimals of land lent to them by an NGO. Even with no cattle to pull the plough, this ultra poor farmer of monga-prone Gaibandha is happy. Photo: Star
How much do we really need to be happy?
"A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?"- this was all that Albert Einstein thought one would require for one's happiness.
If Einstein seemed to have asked for too much, then just look at Gaibandha's Sabuj Mia who pulls a plough while his wife holds steady the handle of the ploughshare furrowing the hard surface of a little piece of land. And yet he feels he is happy.
Sabuj, for whom managing three square meals for his four-member family a day is a colossal challenge, cannot afford a pair of bullocks and thus, he and his wife have to go through this awfully strenuous ordeal for their livelihood. And yet they have no complaint.
"Why should I complain? I am on working on my land. It is better than selling my labour to others," said Sabuj Mia standing on the aisle of his 10-decimal piece of land at Sarderpara under Fulchhari upazila of the monga-prone northern district of Gaibandha.
"I cannot afford to buy bullocks. Neither can I hire a tiller. How can I rent a ploughing machine when I cannot even maintain my family?" said the 45-year-old farmer in an almost worn-out lungi and a tattered shirt.
Sabuj Mia, a landless farmer, used to live by selling the only thing he could sell -- his labour.
However, during the last monsoon and after the Aman crop harvesting in November, he hardly found any work. With low demand for labourers like him, he was mostly out of a job and found it extremely hard to provide for his family.
Moreover, he had to borrow Tk 30,000 for his daughter's marriage last year and he was yet to repay the loan.
Amid such tremendous hardships, he saw a silver lining when a local NGO, SKS Foundation, came forward and provided him with the 10-decimal piece of land for five years for free and a hand operated tube-well for irrigation last year.
Now Sabuj Mia and his wife Lalbhanu Begum are preparing the piece of land for Boro farming. After the Boro harvest, they plan to grow vegetables and then go for Aman crops.
This is how they are dreaming of overcoming the chronic poverty that has been plaguing their life for years.
"We hope our worst days will soon be over," Lalbhanu said while wiping her sweating face with the corner of her ragged sari.
Lalbhanu, who too used to work as a day labourer in the harvesting seasons, feels she has nothing to be ashamed of regarding what she is doing.
"I am not ashamed at all. We would sell labour to others anyway. Rather, we are happy that now we are working on our own land," she said with a flicker of a smile on her poverty-stricken face.