Sunday, April 26, 2009

Drops of Joy


The land was barren, with few signs of civilization in sight. The roads were roads uneven, dusty, with a few lifeless trees lined on the sides, providing absolutely no shade whatsoever. Isolated mud houses lay scattered across the otherwise empty land, with parched paths leading their way.

Sultanpur, wasn't a beautiful picture that monsoon. The summer had been hottest ever, dull and dry; with the sun piercing through the skin of the humans and the cattle alike. Oh, how they had waited for the rains to arrive. The otherwise full Barna Reservoir too, had gone dry. The whether was definitely being harsh on them.

Abdul sat with his legs folded under the banyan tree, sweat trickled down from his head, which was boiling under his turban, up to his brows. He fiercely rubbed it away,
"Baarish aane ka nam nahi leti, aur yeh tapti dhoop toh humien maar he degi, aise main hum kisan log kya kare? Fasal toh waise bhi sadd rahi hain, ab toh hamari guy aur bhaisien hi mar rahi hain... aise main sarkar ko paisa kaha se de hum?"

A few people voices agreed with him, as the sarpanch looked angrily. Shadab Mohammed had been the village head for donkeys years, but never had he witnessed this kind of outrage and grief in his dear hometown. His anger was the outcome of his grief and helplessness. He had tried to reason with the government authorities, but it was futile. "Woh harami logo ko kya pata gareebi, lachari aur bebasi kya hain!" he'd curse them everytime they'd let him down. He was angry, dejected, upset, helpless, everything but what this season would have otherwise made him feel like. Never before had he seen this happen to his people. A farmer killed himself in the fear of debt and because of the ever increasing pressure from the government, while another had already lost his cattle. The air was hot, more from the anger and rage, than the sun.

That night when Abdul returned home, Shabnam, his 7 year old daughter was waiting for him, her eyes filled with hope, her birthday was coming and she was expecting a gift from beloved abba, she knew he'd get her something from the bada sheher! Shabnam walked up to her abba with a glass of water tightly clutched between her palms.

"Abba, aap jab sheher jaaoge tab mere liye ek accha sa taufah lekar aana...", she said with bursting enthusiasm. "Mere janamdin aa raha hain nah!"

Not knowing what to say, Abdul looked at his wife, hoping she could help him out. He hated breaking his daughter's heart, but in the current scenario he could barely manage to earn enough to suffice for their daily roti. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't fulfill his beloved daughter's wish.

Nazia, his wife looked at him, her eyes clearly sensing the pain her husband's going through. She quietly looked at her husband, she tried to say something, but choked on her words. She ran into the kitchen, her dupatta covering her face, as she shed silent tears.

Just then Shabnam entered the room, she guessed something was amiss. She pulled her ammi's hand and said, "ammi, koi bat nahi, agar abba ke paas paise nahi toh jaane do, mujhe kuch nahi chahiye".

Nazia looked at her little daughter, tears swelling in her eyes. She pulls her daughter close to her, holding her tightly. If only the monsoon had arrived on time she thought.

Abdul was on one of his regular visits to Bhopal. He had come along with Shadab bhai and a few other villagers. They had to meet the sarkari babus in order to seek some relief for the farmers. With less than a hundred rupees in the pocket of his worn out pants, he and the others were determined to put an end to their misery.

"Hum kya kar sakate hain, sab toh upar bhaithe huye logo ke haath main hain"
Said a certain Mr. Very Fat Dubey. If anyone ever needed proof that corruption exists, his pot belly itself would prove the point. His half bald head shone under the tube light, while beetle leaf juice trickled down the corner of his mouth. Throughout their conversation he would make frequent references and gestures, clearly showing that he expected a big fat bribe.

Disheartened and angry, they left the office for the bus station. That's when Abdul's eyes fell on a toy shop, a beautiful doll was kept on the mantle. Almost instantly Shabnam's face flashed across his eyes. He looked at it, tempted to buy it for his daughter, and then put his hand in his pocket, knowing that buying it would mean spending that little spare money he had with him for rougher days. Hesitatingly he walked up to the shop, and before thinking any more he bought it. "Jo hoga, so hoga", he said to himself. That night when he reached home, it was way past midnight. Shabnam was already asleep. He quietly kept the doll beside her and went off to sleep.

Next morning Abdul was woken up by the sound of Shabnam yelling with joy, he drowsily opened his eyes, expecting to see his daughter playing with the doll, but what he saw was like a dream, a miracle, a blessing. He saw Shabnam standing in the courtyard, her hands stretched out, as drops of joy fell from the sky drenching her in happiness!