The curtains yielded flowers, white, yellow and red but anything beyond those drapes only had barren brown to offer.
The earth is cracked and dry with no rain to heal. Sometimes lush green is a temporary illusion. It has been three years since it last rained. Children of my family have shrunken with bones stuck out and eyes bereaved of moisture.
The ladies walk miles everyday for the water. It was the worst drought of the decade. And I still think I’m lucky for none in my family have ever complained about it. But today my oldest daughter came in with a face that spoke of drained energy, ailments and dreaded life I pushed them into.
“Father, can’t we leave this place and go find a job in the city?” She pondered.
“And what skill do we have to survive there, my dear? I know how to yield, plough and gather weeds. Nothing beyond it.
“Mother and I can weave,” She sighed and picked up the clothes for cleaning the floor.
I took her near me, she was merely ten, her deep brown eyes had lost the moisture to even cry. Her dusty hairs weaved a story of strong winds and dusty land. Her darkened shrivelled skin made me wonder if she had grown older than she is.
” Where shall we live then, my dear. We have no relatives who would help us. There is no land in the city to plough, only tarred roads and plenty of vehicles. But there, it rains!”
We both knew that we understood life beyond it offers us the chance to realize. But I had to instill the lost faith in her. We were waiting, waiting too long for the last rain. It would make them believe again. Of miracles and life and the moisture in the eyes.
My beloved wife prayed day and night while I stared into the vast skies. And one day, there was a new sparkle in my family’s eyes. A sparkle that was lost. I hurried outside to see if it rained. No, but my family said they heard of a rumor. The rain god had asked for a sacrifice or so the village priest said.
I was taken aback. A sacrifice? For the rain. Pitying their false hopes. It was a social evil.
“Whom are they to sacrifice? A chicken, a goat or a sheep?” I asked her as I munched over the last morsel of rice and potato curry.
“That is to be decided tomorrow, at the panchayat” She smiled.
I felt something fishy. An urge to move out of the village occurred. Later that evening another rumor spread. The family that the gods decided for the sacrifice was ours. It seemed so that we had sinned. The gods came in the dream of the village head-priest. Both our families were rivals from decades.
I had to leave. It was time. I packed the rugged clothes, picked up my three year old son, woke up my wife and my two daughters. They were all in musky in their sleep. We fled that night.
I had set my own home on fire when I left and put in some bones of the goat that I had sacrificed.
Now that the sacrifice was done, not of my child but of the whole family in their eyes. I fled to the city, where superstitions and sacrifice were dormant. There we made a living. My girls weaved while I helped in construction.
Now, over the years, my first daughter is an activist against all these superstitious beliefs and she stages street plays in many villages. My second daughter whom I spent more time with opened her own classes of organic farming to the city folks. My son helps me in the market, selling seeds and pesticides. My wife was the change.
She met an activist when we fled to the city, and since then, she tried educating my kids, not on the various subjects of physics and mathematics but on what is essentially required to sustain and enrich lives. I fell in love with her again for I had never come across her beautiful and brave mind.
The last rain did occur in my village. It has rained since then, sometimes like a wrath, sometimes soft on the petal. Today my family are returning. My daughters with their powerful voices to change minds and my son’s tactic to a better agriculture will save us. Finally I hold my wife’s hand, she smiled beckoning my thoughts. And I knew, for an instance that I have won in Life:)
That one activist changed the way we live and how we perceive our lives else we would have been weaving on roads or spent my old-age being a mason on construction sites. She was barely seventeen and she worked for the society. Hoping to meet her again, the one who inspired my daughters to fight, the one who filled my wife to stand as our biggest support. Let her live in peace!