THIN SHEETS OF RAIN
18 year old Indira stared at the blue sky from the window of her house in the small village of Gokarn, in Karnataka. The clear, cloudless sky seemed to have done nothing to lift her receding spirits. In fact it only seemed to frustrate her more. After staring at the sky for some more time, she bit her lip in resignation and resumed her work of knitting, her thoughts in turmoil...............
Indira was the eldest daughter in the family of the Murthy’s, her father being Venkatesh and her mother, Lalita. Venkatesh Murthy was a hard working, honest man who valued every penny he earned. Sadly, the land of his heritage was not big enough. Thus he was able to provide only the essentials to his family. He owed Rs. 2000/- to a moneylender and hoped to pay it off with this season’s crop. A month ago he had been quite optimistic about the output. A month ago he had also realized that Indira had come of age and that she should be married off soon. But lately, his optimism had changed to apprehension as the monsoon did not show any signs of approaching...............
‘Oh, Parmatma! Why isn’t this rain coming?’ was what Indira was thinking while fidgeting with the threads of the blouse. Although nothing had been told to her, she knew that she had come of age and should get married soon. She knew well enough how it would reflect on her family if she stayed unmarried too long. She also knew how much depended on the arrival of the rains. She could easily picture the moneylender taking away the land of her ancestors, could easily picture the humiliation her family would have to face. It was the utter helplessness of the situation that was frustrating her. She got out from the chair and went back to the window thinking, ‘if only there was something that I could do’. The problem was that everything that could be done had already been done. The fields had been ploughed with extreme care, the seeds had been watered with absolute vigilance,the soil had been given the required fertilizers. Everything possible had been done, now all was left to the rain.
Two weeks had passed and there wasn’t a hint of moisture in the air. Now, Indira had taken to praying silently every second of the day.
Three weeks………….A cloud of gloom had come over her house, as her family became increasingly silent while Indira, had lost hope. She had been consoling herself everyday but today her will snapped and tears flowed out of her eyes. She was unable to sit there alone so she wandered here and there in the village. As she passed an old hut, she came across a banyan tree. Her childhood days came like a flash to her ………swinging with the help of the roots of the tree, resting under the shade against the harsh sun of summer, the picnics under the tree with her friends. A lot of happy memories were attached to that tree. But today it did not look right to Indira. There were black clouds patches over it. The aerial roots looked frail and brittle. The tree looked sick. Indira went into the old hut she had passed and called out to the lady who lived there. Soon an old, bent woman came out. She recognized Indira and exclaimed, “My dear child, how beautiful you have grown up to be! Pray child, why do you lessen your beauty by looking so forlorn? Indira looked at the lady and asked, “What has happened to that dear old banyan tree?”
“Is that the source of your sadness? Well, nothing can be done for it now, because soon it is going to die. It has got this rare disease due to which it requires lots of water. I thought the rains would come and relieve it of the disease, but the black clouds aren’t signaling their arrival,” said the old woman.
Indira’s eyes shone with a new resolve and she said,’ I must do whatever I can for that tree.” She went back to her own house, took a huge bucket and drew water out of the well. Actually, the well had very little water but now she was past caring. ‘ Might as well do some good work before the family is ruined’ she thought. She watered the tree religiously for a week and the tree slowly started showing signs of recovering.
A few more days had passed and Indira’s parents were having a sad conversation. “ Lalita, I shall have to give this land to the moneylender,” said Venkatesh Murthy.
“ But isn’t there anything we can do?”
“ No my dear, perhaps the Parmatma wished this to happen. But that’s not all. I have another worry.”
“ Why, what is it?”
“ Have you noticed Indira lately? In spite of all this, she is certainly not looking sad. I hope this is not any new kind of madness.” Saying so he went to the window and looked out. His eyes went wide and he gasped, “Lalita, look………”
A few rooms away, Indira was also looking out of her window. The clouds had turned black. She stood over there in pleasant anticipation, when sure enough, thin sheets of rain fell from the skies and tapped at her windowpane gently. A smile played at her lips, a relieved smile as her belief that ‘ every thing you do comes back to you' strengthened.