I’ve never done fieldwork, but I have worked in a field.
It was last year when I flew to my hometown. It had been more than a decade since I had last been there. I felt a little nervous, almost shy. Until the rugged roads and green landscape welcomed me like an old friend.
As I made my way to the village, I encountered relatives I had never met. My uncle and aunt explained the relationship as we walked past the fields.
“You see him? He’s your grandfather’s brother’s son. Oh, her? She’s your great-grandmother’s brother’s daughter.”
Everyone in the village was somehow related to me.
‘Amazing, I have a village of relatives,’ I thought.
The next day, I went to help out in the field. The wheat was as long as a bean and slightly painful to harvest. What was even more painful was milling them by hand. The grains had to be beaten hard against the ground.
After less than an hour, I ended up becoming an observer. I watched in amazement at everyone’s physique and strength as they toiled away.
In the evening, everyone gathered around to eat. Everyone kept offering me food; if I refused, they wondered out loud if it wasn’t good. So I ate and ate and ate.
And as the night approached, relatives swarmed in one by one offering me more food, this time to take home.
I left with a light heart and a heavy bag.
In the few days I had spent there, the villagers had touched every corner of my being.
And I was no longer an island; I had finally found a place I could call home.