September 20, 2017

Early this morning while walking my lands. I came across two thin monkeys sitting on the wire between an obsese monkey, they made the number 101. Shortly after that one of my harvesters handed me the tonnage for yesterday’s yield, 10.1 tons. At mid day it rained, checked the level of precipitation…10.1 millimetres of rain. On the long walk back to the plantation house I came across two men haggling over the number of banana trees delivered. The tall one insisted it was 127. The other mentioned some other number I can’t seem to recall. But I remember just before I passed beyond earshot…the number 101 was mentioned. During lunch read an article on the internet about George Orwell. Again 101 came out again this time it was mentioned as a scary number of a room. Took an afternoon nap that lasted about 101 minutes. Phoned up the vendor that is supposed to deliver the new seedlings and was told there would be a shortfall of 80 trees. Later on the figure changed and if one adds it to the figure earlier in the day it all comes up to 101. Passed a land for sale, asked owner how much. He mentioned 120. But his better half gave me a look of hesitation and mentioned for you….101 only. Left a coffee mug on the only table in my room. When I lifted it up, it formed the number 0 with a stain between the fork and spoon and all read 101.

Now this number is stuck like superglue in my head. I see it everywhere. What the hell does it mean?


‘If you ask the question – why do bad things happen to good people? Then you will probably see your life unfolding in terms of good and bad, happy and sad, light and darkness. But we all know life isn’t any where as dogmatic and clear cut as that, that’s to say nothing is truly ever bad even if it seems that way. Neither is good always good either. A man forgets his passport just when he’s about to check it. Maybe he losted it somewhere between house and airport. Whatever. He misses his flight. He kicks himself as it’s an important conference that can either make or break his fledging career. Later on he finds out that plane he was supposed to board crashed and burnt with no survivors.

Do you see how chimeric the distinction between good and bad really is? I guess what I am trying to say is life shouldn’t be experienced in terms of what has the capacity to make us happy or sad only. Instead it should be regarded philosophically as an unfolding series of events which all have to come together to produce the final outcome. Take the case of my first plot of land when I first dived into commercial farming – it’s hardly ideal land for oil palm. Too hilly. Water too high. Bone dry during the dry season and a veritable hazard during the rainy season with plenty of landslides to boot.

But one eventually learns to see and even appreciate things that no one ever does when trying to make the best out of a lousy situation. I am for example a subject matter expert on drainage. I can open vast tracks of land and even plan the drainage right down to exactly calculate how many feet the water will rise or fall under a given set of conditions. Can even roll dirt between my index finger and thumb and bring it to my nose and tell you precisely give or take a couple of millimetres whether your land would be inundated with water or dry under this or that conditions. Have even experimented with drains that are so big. You can even fit a double bus without too much trouble into them. That’s because I cut my teeth farming on hilly land that everyone once said was impossible to grow anything on.

I am very sensitive to light and shadows. I am acutely sensitive to the imperceptible arch of the sun during the course of a day. I can walk into a room and tell you that at this time. The sun will flood or recede in. The temperature will rise and fall etc. A thousand fractional minutiae on everything there is to know about how the sun archs indolently during its rise and fall. Again such knowledge can only be acquired by farmers who are accustomed to growing in high peaks and deep valleys.

It’s all about making the bad less bad and shaping the good to be better than good I guess. That at least is how I’ve always seen the unfolding process of life.

Recently. I brought down trees and cleared vast tracts of land to replant more trees. Many people didn’t understand. How could they. It was done expertly. Professionally like one of those mafia hit man who always seems to find the mark. Truth is it was a stroll in the park. Never once broke out in cold sweat. Not even when I had only the sliver of a narrow passage of only 23 dry days. Closed it up so nice with even a handsome bow.

Many people can’t seem to understand. All they see is a very experienced planter who knows his stuff so well. You best not talk nonsense in his presence. He’s cool as ice.

Yes I don’t imagine they will ever see a man who once struggled with so very little to make ends meet. No. I don’t suppose they can ever make out the man who once shivered like a rabbit, as he nurtures whatever courage he can muster to make the best of whatever little has been dished out to him by fate and providence – all they really see is the great planter.

Take my advice. Never take a set back so hard that you even look up pleadingly to the heavens and ask why? Suck it all in. Make the best of it. Even if you have to walk all alone and everyone laughs at you. Even if it’s heavy, carry it and smile. Because one day, it will come full circle. One day it will all add right up and the magic numbers will just line nicely. You see it is very simple – you can’t have the good times without the bad. It’s really one of the same reality. As without it, you wouldn’t really be where you are today.

Nothing can break you. You are so bullet proof. Breathe……

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