The moral delimma of the landowner

March 24, 2015

Devising a vocabulary to describe the relationship between the landowner and the landless is like devising a vocabulary for sex. There are of course the correct compendium of Latin names, but most people I imagine would rather invent euphemisms….only because they to be able to describe the pathos of the relationship better.

I must admit when I first ventured into commercial farming. My knowledge of the timeless relationship between the landowning aristocracy and the landless can at best be described as ranging from scanty to piecemeal. In truth, there was no reason for me to draw the distinction between the landowning class and the landless – there existed no compelling reason for me to contrast, distinguish nor draw any manner of comparisons to delineate these two classes in the perhaps the same mood of ambivalence that accounts for why causal wine drinkers never see to correlate vintage with years like cognoscenti’s ….not that I was even remotely conscious that such a social strata existed. My attitude then could now be best described as happily ambivalent….naive….ignorant…bordering on possibly the intellectually negligent. The only reason that accounts for describing my omission in such grave terms of indictment may have something to do with the idea…I never once had any reason to doubt the world was suitably fair. I had no reason to draw the contrary assumption when it came to agriculture…call it what you may a throw back of my city life…a ghost from my previous life before my reincarnation as a farmer.

As I turned the wheel of life. Eventually I became acutely aware of this dichotomy between the landowning class and the landless to such a refined point of understanding that one could even say….I was able to supply any explanation under the sun by simply citing it as the one and only causal chain that accounted for virtually every social aberration that transpired in the kampung.

It’s the very reason why when the landowner speaks to the landless – the latter can only lower his eyes in supplication and shift around uneasily. The mood can at best be described as climatic. Everything it seemed converged on the hub of this one dichotomy…the indolence of the landless…to the finality of their acceptance that nothing could possibly change even should they avail themselves to industry and iron willed work ethic…nothing would or could ever change…the landowner would always come out tops!

For many years I refused to accept the notion that I belonged to the landowning class – my rebellion or should I say ideological diaspora consisted of a militant refusal to associate myself with the landowning classes. Neither did I take to their ways…instead I nurtured the belief….I was an exile who had nothing in common with this class who I regarded with utter contempt…I resented their life of mindless dissipation which to the best of knowledge comprised of devising ever more inventive ways to accelerate their decay…ours was a relationship based on irreconcilable ideological differences that marked us out as not only diseparate….but different.

But life is indeed cruel. I say this as a man who seeks the sanctuary of intellectualism to hold himself out as different only to realise he’s not so different after all from the very class that he wishes to distance himself from. I can’t explain whether it was one solitary event or even a series of decisions that managed to convince me that I was never at all so different from that other class to qualify as different.

From the moment when that terrible realisation dawned on me – life could nor was it ever fair, it took root imperceptibly like some evil weed squeezing out everything that I had once believed in.

I am convinced it’s was a gradual process of decline like a bridge rusting infinitesimally away…a debilitating disease of the conscience that probably belongs to the periphery of life that no one ever notices…that perceptive no man’s land of elevator music, fire exit signs and humming vacuum cleaners early in the morning. Hardly the stuff one ever notices….but somewhere in it all that which I once resented with all my power had permeated my very soul…canaled the way I made sense of the known world even….transformed the very way I saw the world…till I could only see the world like all other landowners.

I don’t know what ever happened to that other man who once believed in the idea of fairness – from time to time I still see him in the twilight of the shadows….a bumbling figure with his wide eyed grin….but it last just a feeling moment and all that remains is the hard granite faced man.

How I wonder did it come to this?

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