This is a conversation I overheard the other day:

It is so difficult to find people to climb coconut trees these days.

Indeed. They ARE difficult to come by.

Besides they ask for the moon as remuneration.

Times are really tough for those of us who have coconut trees in our compounds.

Oh yeah! We let their children get educated and look where we are. What else can we expect?!

Yes, they have moved on to other better job options while we suffer for lack of labor to pluck coconuts.

Did you feel something was terribly wrong while reading the above exchange? I did when I heard it first hand. The sense of upper class entitlement seemed too loud and clear to my ears. We and they, the ‘they’ here those whose existence involved serving the ‘we’.

For those of you who are not aware of the intricacies involved: people who climb coconut trees belong to a caste considered lower, and were denied education in the past. And here were people lamenting the fact that the present generation was abandoning coconut-tree climbing as a profession for better options.

Tell me, who wouldn’t? If the opportunity presented itself, wouldn’t you and I? In fact, won’t we create opportunities if none presented themselves voluntarily? Isn’t it natural for each one of us, anyone, whoever we are, to want to better ourselves in every which way possible? Why should we grudge one set of people that betterment, and on what basis?

Can we really expect a section of the population to remain where they were just so another section can have their needs met without a hitch? In this case, coconuts plucked. In other cases shoes repaired, or toilets cleaned. Is it right to expect so? And what’s with the we “let” their children get educated? That’s the part that stung me most on hearing it.

Does education belong to any particular group that we talk of ‘letting’ others get educated as if it were some magnanimous gesture on our part? Why is it birthright to some and to others a charity conferred? When exactly is such attitude going to disappear forever? Will it ever?

Questions! Questions! Questions!

For me the answers are clear. Everyone has the right to education, look for better options and move to wherever they want to in life. In the meantime let’s hope technology will find us an easier way to pluck coconuts.

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NaBloPoMo November 2014
©Shail Mohan 2014