Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 7

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When people speak of the good old days, they speak of delusions. If you were rich, the old days were good. If you were poor and helpless like we were, the old days were the days of despair. Food was scarce, and a lot of work and hard labor yielded little fruit.

 

Your baabaye and I farmed the land in the gorge along the river. We had no tools and supplies, and had to lease them from Aatay Chaman in exchange for the promise of a share of the yield. We worked hard and long in harsh conditions. Upon harvest, Aatay Chaman came over to reap his reward. He claimed one pile for leasing to us his bulls, another one for providing us with the seeds, another one for the tools we had used, and the last one for something else, right in front of our bewildered eyes. He claimed every last bit of grain we had harvested, and left us with nothing. We had nothing to go on. He could not care less. He went into the village to hire laborers to help him carry the grain to his home.

His wife was different. She was kind. She called me over. She picked up many hands full of grain and poured them into my scarf. She said, “take this, run, and hide it somewhere. Don’t tell anyone I gave you this. This will let you feed your children.” And that was all we got for months of laboring.

Those, my child, were the “good old days”.

*Baabaye = Hazaragi for grandfather; old man.
*Aata = Hazaragi for father, i.e. Aatay Chaman: Chaman’s father

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