In the middle of a paddy field is Gopalan's house. Ex-panchayat president and an ardent nature lover, Gopalan has become an icon for the Mukkam municipality with his new home. Rather than levelling the paddy field to build his home, he dug a pond in the middle of the field, concrete pillars within, on top of which he constructed a slab and upon the slab, stands his new house.
The 66-year-old was born in Manassery, a small village in Kerala's Mukkam municipality, Kozhikode district. Both his parents were into farming and cultivated local variants of vegetables and tubers in their land. They were also into cattle farming and paddy cultivation.
Gopalan got the paddy field measuring ten cents as his ancestral property. All he had was this land to live but he didn't want to destroy it and build a home. "I wanted a system which combines the stream, the house, the field, the lake and the grove in perfect harmony. We are destroying all that our ancestors have left for us to live in. This is an attempt to revive the farming tradition that we are losing," he says.
Gopalan, like the neighbouring farmers, has discontinued paddy cultivation. A believer in organic farming, he is cultivating several species of fruits and vegetables in his field. He intermittently also cultivates medicinal plants such as the dasapushpam. The manure is prepared with the dung of his four rare breed Vechur cows. The small brick house is surrounded by various species of trees including mangoes, wild mangoes, fig and bamboo.
"We should always keep in mind that what we are enjoying today is the leftovers of our forefathers and we should use the land and nature in such a way that we have enough to give to our children," adds Gopalan. An admirer of Gandhi, he hopes that his life would be a message for generations to come.
(This story is edited by Anan Ashraf)