Khowabnama by Akhtaruzzaman Elia (Dream Book 1996)
Elias was a major Bengali fiction writer particularly noted for his subtle sense of humor, realistic use of dialogue and dialect, and for his Marxist commitment to the lower class in both towns and villages in Bangladesh. His last major novel, called Khoabnama (Dream Book), is set in rural Bangladesh during a long historical period spanning several centuries. Some of the major characters in this novel are landless farmers, who still constitute a large segment of the population in Bangladesh. The novel weaves together numerous stories and episodes of struggles, frustrations, hopes, and dreams of these people. What follows is an episode in which the landless farmer Tameez wants to work on the land owned by a large farmer (Abdul Aziz) in an arrangement known as “sharecropping,” which has a long tradition in many countries, and used to be common in the Southern United States. The landed farmer provides the land itself and the landless farmer not only cultivates it and produces crops but also provides seeds and other necessary means of cultivation. When crops are finally produced, the landed farmer receives two thirds of the crop and the landless farmer gets only one. Besides showing how exploitative this system is, the passage also portrays part of a well-known historical struggle of landless farmers against sharecropping.
(The website of Prof Paul Brian)
Contrast the way Tameez is living with the way his ancestors lived as explained in the last paragraph.
Tameez pays a price for his decision. He leaves Khiyar (1) in order to become a sharecropper in his own village. He stomachs all kinds of criticisms. He does not have a cow. He does not have a plow or a yoke or a harrow; nor does he have a single cowrie (2) to buy even a handful of seed. So how can anyone possibly trust his ability to sharecrop? With hands together, however, Tameez desperately prays for a piece of land. He tries to persuade the landowner, Sharafat Mondol, to lease him at least a bit of land. He also tells Mondol that he will be reimbursed for the expenses of cultivation after the harvest.
Tameez’s proposal sounds attractive. It is not that such sharecropping arrangements have not worked in the past. But Sharafat Mondol’s eldest son, Abdul Aziz, is a clever and cautious man. He lives in Joypur where he works as a clerk at an office of land registration. There is perhaps no one in the entire village of Lathidanga who can match his knowledge of matters relating to land. So Abdul Aziz pays in advance only half the prices of cows and other means of production like ploughs, yokes, harrows, and seeds. He whispers to himself, ‘you have nothing yet you want to sharecrop, eh? Well, then, you should simply follow whatever terms and conditions I dictate now.”