It’s funny, I’ve grown up on the field, a daughter of mud, rubber, turf and soil without a care in the world how the ground came into being, how it stays the way it does, for me to bounce – ball, feet and (in the event of a casualty) bottom on it.
Well here’s the proverbial truth: A ground is not built in a day. Although it’s pretty much been there all along. Before you or anyone else you know was around. Left unattended, it turns into a cache for rocks and roots and other nondescript litter that’s found a snug place to settle.
When you do want to turn that ground into a playing field, it is this cache that becomes your biggest encumbrance. Clearing it is a laborious mission. As you excavate root, rock and trash, you’re basically ransacking the ground before you have to put it neatly, smoothly, evenly back together.
It may well be of note that this ransacking might also leave deep depressions at places. With trenches – big or small – there’s always the fear of a flood. In order to ensure this is an all-weather arena, you’ve got to refill every pothole with soft soil or sand so that your ground can stand the test of a downpour – seasonal or unseasonal.
If your intended play field happens to be located in Rural India, the game feels like it’s over long before it begins to be played on the field.
The tractors aren’t coming to level the ravaged ground. If they come, they aren’t sticking around for as long as they should, to finish the job.
Labour is cheap. But you will find yourself see-sawing, up and down a morality scale, to establish just how ethical it is to have labourers clearing the ground, manually, under the heat of a merciless, mid-day Sun.
Labour is also limited in supply, at the moment. They’re all away farming, harvesting cotton – the biggest crop of the season.
How “on earth” do you put the ground back together, without resources – man-made and human?!
Of the many lessons rural living has taught me, volunteerism is one. In keeping with that spirit, just when I thought I’ll get my hands dirty, teaming up with the scattering of labourers who have been kind enough to come clear the ground of its mess and fill in all its cavities, I hear a tractor in the distance – a shovel at its helm; another at the rear. As it comes into full view, I see wheels so gigantic, they’d beat boulders to powder.
If this one’s here for us, the journey from ground to field can’t be so far flung after all!
(This piece belongs to a series titled, “The Rural Dispatch”, on the network.)
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