The chinos were almost ready for harvest, the busiest time for Kenhre and her family. She just entered her sitting room after a long bath. I love working in the fields, but it is nice to wash it all away at the end of the day, she thought looking out the window over her ancestral estate. The dwindling family farmlands of the western districts of Defom Prefecture, some of which made her family fortune, are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Her chinos and other fruits and vegetables are highly sought after throughout Defom’s farming districts and recently even beyond. She prided herself on producing low yield, high quality produce. She admitted it was not what the bursting metropolis demanded; there were the Garden Towers for cheap mass-produced food, where there was a lot more money to be made. But she knew there would always be enough demand for quality.
Kenhre had been running her produce farms on her own ever since her husband died 4 years ago. Thankfully, she and her husband had a good business sense and built her family’s small chinos business into a major supplier of “landed produce” with large landholdings throughout central Velnis district. Because of this and her connectedness to the land and people of the farming districts, she has become an influential player in local affairs. Over the years she has become affectionately known as the Widow of Velnis.
Despite her wealth and increasing age, she still personally worked in the fields, gaining great respect from her workers and the regular farming folk in the still relatively “rural” western districts of Defom. The Defom’s prefectural government has even taken notice lately, but not exactly in the same way as her fellow farmers.
“What does he want now?” Kenhre asked after being notified by her eldest son that Nison Hori, the prefectural agricultural councilor, has stopped by for another ‘visit’. Unlike his mother, Kinse did not work in the fields and she never liked the way his hands remained so soft and ‘privileged’.
“Probably the same as what he wanted the last three other times,” Kinse said.
“I’m not going to move my farms into those horrendous ‘Garden Towers’ blighting the city skyline,” Kenhre said, “no matter how much money the government offers me.”
“I’m not sure we can compete with the cheaper produce grown in those towers anymore, mother,” Kinse said with a noticeable apprehension in saying such a thing in front of her. Widow of Velnis, along with her notoriety as being a hero of the common folk, was an opinionated woman who made anyone going against her beliefs or wishes think twice about verbalizing them.
“I don’t care how much those ‘factories’ produce, the quality is barely edible. I will not leave the lands my family and your father and I have worked so hard to make productive.” Her face was reddening; a warning to Kinse to change the trajectory of the conversation.
“Maybe he has heard that you are trying to organize the landed farmers in the district and further a field,” Kinse said.
“Probably. I have made no secret of it.” She finally sat down fussing over her black-scarlet dress, exuding confidence in the nonchalant gesture. “Pretty soon our Union will be a strong enough united front that the Hud Ker herself will have no choice but to listen to us.”
“But mother,” pleaded Kinse, “There is no stopping the city’s growth. Land is becoming extremely rare. The prefecture will have the entire Confederation behind them sooner or later.” Sweat was streaming down his cheeks. “I don't think a band of farmers on the periphery of the Confederation will be much threat to the power elite in Karkasum Bigaj.”
“Son,” Kenhre stayed poised and calm, combing her knee-length hair with her calloused fingers. “You are giving me serious second thoughts about leaving all this, “ she pointed those work-hardened hands around the grand sitting room and out towards the windows, “to you after I retire or die.”
“It is more than just the chonis and the value of the land. It’s our culture, our way of life. You should take pride in being a member of one of the last landed farming families in the metropolis; and most of us are located in just a handful of districts here in Defom. They must be preserved.”
Kinse noticed his mother’s hands tensing up, gathering material inside their palms. He hated when she went on one of her tirades.
“The Hud Ker should also take pride in having such an important cultural heritage within her prefecture’s borders. I’m sure I can get the farmers up in Kiradyn and down in Osaiv and Birnivet into the Union. We may even get recognition as a Neo-culture. That will automatically preserve our lands.”
Mother, I am just being realistic. The Confederation is never going to recognize us rural farmers as a Neo-culture. Our lands are just too valuable. Plus, they have dramatically slowed down the institution of additional New-cultures.” Kinse started pacing back and forth, also clenching his hands.
“We don’t have time to get into this now. Show Hori in now please.” She remained sitting smoothing out her dress and folding her hands at the center of her lap ready to receive her guest.
Kinse re-entered with the visitors. “Mother, you know Hori.” Kenhre nodded in acknowledgement and looked to Hori’s left to his companion, her eyes betraying her false calm. A tall blonde woman around the same age as herself.
“And this you may also know, Her Excellency Hud Ker Keri Nilex Fim.”