Acknowledging Ruth Prawer (Jhabvala)
When Celia went away with the Nawab, Toni went to find Vandan in Punjab.
2 February Arriving in Lakhpur Sahni. Not at all what I expected. Tired and am still on English time. Toni left a note to say she’s found Vandan and that I can find them in the basmati fields, the “queen of fragrance”, the “fragrant earth” that Varis Shah made into poetry in her Heer Ranjha. May the rumors be untrue.
5 February Vandan is Indian, Indian, Indian. Nothing is as I hoped but everything as I feared. There are no rumors. Instead, suicides, suicides, everywhere. Monsanto thugs rip out native basmati by the roots. Patents enforced at gunpoint. Misery everywhere. Vandan’s organizing wives and daughters. What’s to become of the indigenous?
16 February Vandan missing for three days. Toni and I bury two farmers and their families. Gunshots daily. Armed collectors demand payments, burn down houses, farms, barns, livestock.
17 February They put a bullet in the middle of her head. Real lead, not GMO.
~ Stephen J. Bergstrom