Thursday, April 29, 2010
Banyan Treaty: The story of 'Yes' and 'Think'
Once upon a time there were two individuals one named Yes, and the other named Think. They both lived in a place called a Village, but had little in common. Yes was disciplined, almost cultish and was governed by an esoteric group of people about whom the village knew little.
Yes never sat at the village banyan tree, rather he was always seen in another small settlement away from the village called Walled Street. Here everything was walled and mysterious people shaked hands with each other, without smile.
Yes was not popular as you can understand from his exclusivity and seclusion from the mass, yet he owned the biggest house in the village and brought the first bullock cart. Yes dealt in some paper thing called Money, while the whole village lived on barter system.
When people reaslised Yes has more objects, bigger house and visibly more material than anyone else they asked what is it that makes him different, Yes said it’s the paper thing that gets him the best stuff and explained the inefficiencies in the self-sufficient barter system that has kept the villagers without material gains. The villagers felt very small when Yes used numerous exotic words like ‘streamline’, ‘topline,’ ‘bottomline,’ ‘operating margin’ etc with a peculiar ease which indicated his superiority over the villagers in the art of material acquisition.
Here comes the role of Think in this story, Think was the only villager who didn’t agree with Yes. The village council was convinced with Yes’s view that the closed economy and self sufficiency is restricting the entry of newer, bigger and better things in their life. So the village decided to sell their huge rice stock stored in mud bunkers to outsiders in return of money, which they later used to build large houses, getting bullock carts and every other luxury they could think of. They were paying a charge to all the sad looking, supposedly intelligent and polyglots at the Walled Street settlement.
Walled Street people never cultivated anything in the recent history but knew where to buy and sell things and they build a wall to prevent the outside villages to know about them.
In the mean time Think, dejected by the disapproval from the villagers started staying to himself. He was the only one who saved his share of rice for three years and stayed in the smallest hut. Everyone else had a bigger existence than him in the village. Yes became the richest and bought a boat which he rowed in the lake near the village. Villagers also wanted to board the boat, where Yes started charging them and made more money.
Yes by now owned more exotic things and would charge everyone to use it. The villagers adapted to the culture of being charged for earning the new source of pleasure that Yes brought into the village.
Everyone pitied Think for his foolishness of not selling the grains and living a small and undignified life. But they had little time and interest to sit and talk with Think, by now treated as the Village lunatic.
The villagers were interested in having more paper money than anything else and Yes was their guide. Yes found out all the grains are finished in the village and tilling the land, waiting for rains will take another year. He proposed the villagers to sell their land completely or enter into a ‘strategic alliance’ with people of the Walled Street to ‘reinvent’ opportunities in their farmland which till then was only meant for rice cultivation.
The Walled Street people now pay an annual fee to the villagers and use it for cultivating Opium, considered as the pleasure flowers, using labour services from another village with who they also had strategic alliance.
Money flowed for another few years. Think was the only one who tilled his ahre of rice land and also collected forest produce to save enough food in his mud bunker, yet he remained the ‘poorest’, as Yes defined him in technical terms.
Around this time the Walled street people stopped paying a fee to the villagers and proposed a forced acquisition using army of people from another village with whom they too had strategic alliance. The people of Yes and Think’s village had no option but to lose their lands to the Walled Street people, who till few years living on alms from the village people.
Every villager sold his house and later sold themselves as bonded labours for assisting in Walled Street people in opium cultivation in the fields which used to be their own few days ago.
The only person who survived the entire crisis was Think, who had enough food that he managed to get some money and bought his own securitymen and protected his farm land and even acquired some more in the uncultivated forest area. The Walled Street was keenly watching him but didn’t touch him for they knew Think has the sense of what they are upto and will never be conned.
Now you would want to know what happened to Yes. He was caught and held captive by a group of villagers who now live in the forests nearby after being evicted of their farm by Walled Street owners and are organizing themselves to fight back and cultivate their land once again.
Over a period of time the lands were back to the original villagers after non violent protests in-front of Walled Street and agreeing to the proposal that only Yes will be considered guilty of any in appropriate behavior they think that Walled Street might have done to them.
The villagers agreed under the leadership of Think. Yes was hanged under the Banyan tree and peace and confidence building treaty was signed with Walled Street later taught in history books as the ‘Banayan Treaty.’