‘Soil beneath the feet — kindling imagination’, placed behind the Martyr's Wall, was a space to kindle and foster poetic perceptions of agriculture among children, initiating a process of nurturing a culture of agriculture in the landscape of hearts. We had four one-day workshops as part of this, conducted by Subha Joseph (Journalist), Manu Jose (Theatre), Vinoy Thomas (Creative writing), and Vishnu and Natasha Sharma (New Media). ‘The Soil beneath the feet’ and ‘Custodians of Seeds’ in the back and front of Martyr’s Wall symbolically served as an act of affirmation and reclamation of life. Healing the wounds of the farmers as well as that of the Earth.
A boy of twelve from a small town in Kasaragod district came into a provision shop and asked for 100 gram of cashew nuts, some cloves and cardamom. Seeing the 100 rupee note in the boy’s hand the shop keeper told him the cashews alone would cost Rs.80/-. “In that case, please give me a small quantity of each,” the boy said. Soon the boy raised a doubt about how and where the cashews were produced. Aby, a young farmer who was standing next to the boy, asked him if he had ever noticed a fruit with a seed hanging in the trees in a plot of land next to his house. The boy said, “Yes.” Aby said that if he cut open that seed, he would find this nut. But the boy thought it was a lie, a joke. He believed the nut was produced in a factory. These days, even in middle and lower middle class families, stories of this kind are not rare. Among children we find an ignorance of the produce of the earth that sustains our bodies, our health, and our life, at the same time a keen interest in and knowledge of the details of many media-popularized subjects.
It is almost absurd: what is alienated and abstracted have come to feel immediate and real for us, dishonoring the real processes that sustain our life. We think only a true engagement with soil and the ones who work with it and help sustain our bodies can allow all other works that we do today to become whole and complete.