When it rains #WordsMatter

“Sssh, go back to sleep,” Bheema shushed the baby in the middle of the night. It was hot and humid and she felt equally uncomfortable squashed between the children. She was wondering when it would rain.

“Aji, it’s hot,” whined the three year old. “I can’t sleep.”

“Sssh. You’ll wake the others. ”

“But I can’t sleep,” he insisted.” Why can’t we get a fan?”

“We don’t need a fan. It will get cooler when it rains,” she reassured her little grandson.

He shut his eyes and snuggled closer. She felt him wriggle against her bony chest before going back to sleep.

Bheema sighed. It was a rough night following a rough week. They were getting the fields ready for the paddy planting. She had worked alongside her husband making the bunds to hold in the water. Then they prepared the soil making it squishy and squelchy to hold in the seedlings.

And now that the planting was done, all they had to do was wait for the rain. The heavy pelting rain that made the paddy grow.

But it was a week now since planting was over. Yet there was no sign of the rain. The young seedlings had begun to wilt. If it didn’t rain soon they would have to re-plant or worse still, face the prospect of drought.

Day after day the village baked in the hot unyielding sun.  The few clouds that hovered over the village miraculously vanished by nightfall. Every morning the villagers looked upwards hoping that it would rain.  But the sun just shone stronger, determined to dry out the last drop of moisture in the earth below.

That day, in fact, the village had a meeting to discuss what they would do if the rains failed this year. It turned out to be quite a raucous meeting with everyone putting his two penny bit. Bhika, the oldest man in the village who had seen many monsoons fail said that Jari Mari, the village goddess was hungry and wanted the blood of a rooster. In fact, he had already identified Barki’s rooster, a proud specimen of fowl that strutted vainly outside her hut crowing loudly at all hours of the day. Lots of villagers hated the rooster and would have loved to see him dead, but not Barki. He was her pride and joy. There was a lot of discussion over that and eventually, the sarpanch had to intervene. She told them to wait for another week. Then all hell broke loose. each one had an opinion and voiced it. But no decision was taken. Finally, they all left the sarpanch’s house. Exhausted and disheartened.

Bheema put out her hand to check on the other grandchildren sleeping beside her on the rough cow-dung floor. Luckily they were fast asleep. On the only bed in the small room, her husband Ladku tossed fitfully, uncomfortable in the stuffy little room.

She knew what he was feeling. It had been a hard year for them. Their older son had just got a job after two years of waiting and was already facing the possibility of a layoff. Their younger one was still in college. He refused to take a job in the fields and wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a school teacher. ” I want to get a nice Government job,” he told his father each time he suggested he take a job, ” if I get a job in the education department, I will get a pension after twenty years. And I will also get healthcare benefits for me and my family.” Ladku was not convinced. He did not trust the government.

How could you trust a Government that passed a crazy law that prohibited Adivasis from selling their land? And how could But how could you earn money from a land which had no irrigation? How could they fill their granaries with rice that lasted the whole year long, when they had no means to grow crops?

And to add to his problem, his married daughter Nutan had returned home with three more mouths to feed! It was bad enough that she was widowed at just twenty but what was worse was the way the in-laws refused to look after her and her children.

Bheema waited for the baby to relax and quietly got out from under the thin sheet and went to Ladku. Touching him gently she signalled for him to get up and step outside. It was a long time since the two of them had slipped out for their mid-night tête a tête.

Slowly and carefully making their way outside the mud hut, Ladku and Bheema crouched in the small sit out. The trees were still under a starlit sky. The odd bat flew around but the rest of the village was asleep. A hundred miles outside of Mumbai, the largest and most modern metropolis of India was this tiny little Adivasi village with twenty houses, strangely stuck in a time warp. It looked the same as it did for decades. Unchanged.  A group of huts made with rough bamboo walls and plastered over with red earth.

Ladku and Bheema sat in companionable silence.  They were married for so long that they could communicate without words. She looked at his rheumy eyes. The cataract was getting ripe and soon he could get it operated at the local hospital. But just now there were more pressing things to think about. The rain or rather the lack of it.

He lit his homemade bidi and looked up at the sky.  The red glow glinted in the dark and Ladku could see no sign of rain.

“Will you get a fan?”

When it rains“, he said, “I promise I will get a fan.  I’ll also get my cataract done”pre-empting her next question.

He took in a deep drag and looked away in despair. This year would be a tough one.

Suddenly there was a slight rustle of leaves as a breeze cooled the air. There was a darkening of the sky and the scurrying of dogs.   Ladku looked up hopefully as the smell of wet earth suddenly assailed his nostrils. Holding his breath in disbelief, too scared to voice his thoughts, he held on to Bheema’s hand. There was a flash of light followed by a rumble of thunder and finally the first drops of rain that spattered on the tiled roof.

Husband and wife sat still, too scared to move. To scared to breathe even.

They were worried that the spell would break and the rain would stop. But it didn’t. There was one drop and the next and the next and the next.

It finally rained that night.

 

For those who don’t know

Adivasi is the original settler of the land.

Sarpanch is the village head man who is elected to represent his people.

Bidi is a rolled-up tobacco leaf cigarette.


I am participating in a monthly blog hop hosted by Corinne, Shalini and Parul at The Frangipani Creative.

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I received this tag from Holly Jehangiri who blogs at A Fresh Perspective It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Vinita who blogs at Void Thoughts. There are 42 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 6, 7, 8 September 2019. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised! 

Because words do matter.

Ciao,

Image for Unishta

 

 

Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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40 Responses

  1. Debbie D. says:

    A fascinating, sad glimpse into a different culture! I felt so sorry for that family. 🙁 Sleeping on a cow dung floor must be dreadful.
    Debbie D. recently posted…TEN YEARS ALREADY?! AS THE BLOG TURNS!My Profile

    • Unishta says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Things have improved in the villages though. And contrary to what you may think cow dung floors are antiseptic and do not smell .

  2. Lata Sunil says:

    Wow Sunita. I am reading your fiction for the first time. It’s so good. You must write more.

  3. Shalzmojo says:

    Your story has all the drama from our current news trends. .I could relate to this on so many levels. Its damn sad that the plight of farmers and adivasis in our country is going from bad to worse. There is a new report saying that soon there will be less food on the planet as more and more farmer are taking up alternate vocations.

    Loved the way you have crafted this tale- kept me hooked till the end!

  4. Lovely words. Drought and famine can be really bad for both the crop and the farmers. Each one look at the rain in a different way. For some, it is welcoming while some may not like it. But a farmer always welcomes it with open arms. #WordsMatter

  5. Leo says:

    A wonderful tale indeed. The emotions of the characters were so palpable. Loved it. 😊
    Leo recently posted…When it rains… #WordsMatterMy Profile

  6. Vinitha says:

    The struggle felt too real through your narration, Sunita. You write stories beautifully. I am glad that it rained and the family can sleep well now. <3

  7. Esha M Dutta says:

    Loved your short story, Sunita! Very well crafted and the characters were so absolutely real. Reflects the issues and the concerns of our times. You MUST write more fiction, Sunita.
    Esha M Dutta recently posted…When It Rains | #WordsMatterMy Profile

  8. Anagha Yatin says:

    Heartwarming tale that took me on a roller coaster ride of despair and hope! Your portrayal of characters and background setting was so subtle and fine that I got instantly transported near the close quarters of the protagonists.
    Wonderful story Sunita

  9. What a lovely story of the rain being expectantly awaited.When rains fulfill wishes,its special.The struggles you right about are real.

  10. Kala Ravi says:

    Sunita, that was a great bit of story-telling there, you literally had me spell-bound! Brilliant visual narration and the characters were so well-etched out! We need more fiction from you!

  11. Shalini says:

    I was so engrossed from the word go. Beautiful piece of work and what an amazing take on the prompt!
    Thanks for joining theWords Matter blog hop. Hope you have fun 🙂
    Shalini recently posted…When it Rains…My Profile

  12. Obsessivemom says:

    Oh I absolutely loved it. Even though I sort of guessed the ending, your description kept me hooked. The small touches made it all so real – the cowdung floor, the rooster, down to the bidi. I loved how you described the relationship between the old couple – that’s just how it is after years and years of being together – the ease, the comfort, the shared worry. Lovely.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Chai and a book with a dash of nostalgia #WordsMatterMy Profile

  13. It was a nice piece. It brought out the agony and pain of the old couple well enough. I felt relieved by the ending when it rained atlas because for some reason I have been only coming across by sad twisted endings.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…To take or not to take a rainy day off #WordsMatterMy Profile

  14. Suha Vijay says:

    Its such a sad truth that you have depicted in your story Sunitha. It touched my heart. The small touches here and there rendered life to the story. Like the cowdung floor and the rooster
    Suha Vijay recently posted…When to admit your child into Montessori School?My Profile

  15. Rajlakshmi says:

    Fabulous storytelling! You described the struggle of a farmer in times of late monsoon so well. It reminded of the stories I used to read in school. The kind of life depicted in stories by Munshi Prem Chand.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…Diabolical | Haibun #WordsMatterMy Profile

  16. Excellent Narration Unishta. winderful take on the prompt.

  17. This was so beautifully narrated. Every turn of your story telling was wonderful. Loved the ending too. Somehow, it reminded of the movie, Lagaan. Yes, rain is that way. It is just so sad that for so many of us, it is a matter of ruin when it doesn’t rain.

  18. Being a farmer myself I can totally relate to the expectation of rain during the season. It has become so erratic these days though. Interesting set up and story, Would love to read more of your fiction
    Menaka Bharathi recently posted…5 Ways To Maintain A Healthy Gut This Rainy SeasonMy Profile

  19. Shilpa Garg says:

    This made for such an engaging and interesting read, Sunita. Loved the imagery your words painted.
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…40 Seconds of Action #WorldSuicidePreventionDayMy Profile

  20. This was really good! You have a way with words! I could feel the angst and the relief in the story! Do write more fiction!

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