I heard the sound of wood being cut (to which I am sensitised), and went to the Hippo Rock to find two boys from Gundiyapattu, cutting some “villeri”, as bold as brass.

I started shouting at them -thieves… how can you just come into our land?… what if someone came into your land?…-, and they said that “they” had told them to cut some “villeri” (which is a shrub that grows to tree-height, and is used for making pandals, other temporary shelters, and “heat shields” for young saplings). “They” were, of course, the adults of the village.

More upsetting was the fact that one of the boys was Rajkumar, who we know very well. He has come here many times for “tuitions” which were actually sessions in drawing, painting and drama. His father is Kumar, one of our neighbours and friends.

Our land cannot be fenced with barbed wire: For one, it would be too expensive; moreover fences can be breached. For another, we are averse to a psychological barrier between “us” and “them”. So, we have a lantana fence around our land, like the villagers have around theirs, which is of course easily breached.

We have handled the issue of trespassing for grazing and wood-cutting by using various methods: Outright rants and threats (“I am coming down now with a ‘kathi'”), curses (our first curse actually worked, much to our surprise, and our reputation in this regard, kept the grazers away for a while), tying up errant goats and cows, and, over the years, a developing of relations with the neighbours, the villages etc.

Now the pressures are mounting. The forest is in retreat with more and more land coming under the plough. More roads also mean easier access to timber for contractors colluding with corrupt forest officials.With no “commons” to speak of, our land is an easy target where wood, grass and medicinal plants are easily available.

How does one respond? There is no point shaming Rajkumar for the sins of his elders. There is no point ranting at Kumar for “using Rajkumar’ : the situation is too complex to lay the blame solely on Kumar. On the other hand, if one does nothing, then such incidents will surely proliferate.

Any answers, anyone?

5 Responses to “Hackers”

  1. Madhu Says:

    Lovely water color of the Villeri maram. Sonati’s I guess?

  2. Water of Life | Thekambattu Says:

    […] Alas! A once common tree is now available only on our land or far away in the forest. […]

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    […] (though of late we have had a relentless stream of kids who actually come and ask for Guavas), Firewood, Timber wood, the land itself by pushing […]

  4. Hackers 2.0 | Thekambattu Says:

    […] come we didn’t hear the sound of the hacking? Sonati and I (and the boys to some extent) are so “tuned-in” to that sound that we […]

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    […] had a relentless stream of kids who actually come and ask for Guavas. The squirrels don’t ask), Firewood, Timber wood, the land itself by pushing […]

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