This crop of humble origins begins its genesis as fluff around the seeds of the cotton plant, held in a brown casing to keep it secure. This “fluff” of humble origins and grass-roots appeal, has been the stuff of legend. Its references are found in ancient Indian scriptures dating it back to over 2,000 BC. Its revolutionary zeal stood proudly revealed during India’s independence struggle as it became a vehicle and an idiom for the Swadeshi movement when Mahatma Gandhi called for a boycott of all Colonial goods and imported yarn. He led tens of millions of people with the simple, patient turning of the Spinning wheel and they followed his example, to weave the cloth they would wear as a symbol of National pride and resistance against British oppression.
Growing-up in free India, we had no such struggles. There was no wheel to spin; only yarns of the verbal kind! We used Cotton everyday in every which way. It lit the glowing ritual diya for that extra-special joy of commencing prayer. It was always at-hand to wipe wounds with, or to be worn as tops, skirts, draped sarees and more. All enjoyed its comfort in pillows and all furnishings at home, rugs, curtains, sheets, towels. And yes, it was a lifesaver in wiping-off mascara. I knew about it well. I’d simply never met with the legend in person.
The time had come to make acquaintance with the land and people who’ve accepted me into their fold and given us a place to put down roots again. To this end, I travelled across 445 miles of the State of Karnataka from Bengaluru to Navalgund and then another 200 miles out and about. On arriving at these fields mid-afternoon, I felt compelled to stop, get-out of the car and walk out into the endless fields of green, dotted with white smiley faces of “fluff”. They overwhelmed me with their simple stoicism and lightness of being.
This rendezvous had to be acknowledged and their story, simply had to be shared. That right degree of heat from the sun, the dark fertile soil and flowing waters, produced in a delicate, pristine white Cotton ball, the potent force that not so long ago, gave the land and its people freedom. Some legends simply are. Respect.