Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The only river...

The man stood there, in the arid land of the Deccan, with thorn bushes scattered in the entire flat valley. His eyes shone as bright as the perpendicular Sun above. His thick grey beard made him look very aged, contrary to what the eyes told.

The hot air made his cloth flutter around him violently.

He started walking towards the settlement that lay beyond the dry riverbed.

A Safari pulled up somewhere in the large dustbowl. Its white now all khaki, the dark windows still rolled up. Two people climbed out.

“Darn hot it is; this is an oven man”

“We start say, about there, near those rocks. That seems like the smack middle of the river”

The two are carrying some instruments. They seem scientific, both the men and their equipments.

“You know, as I think of this, it seems like a big waste of my adult life. This, here, is a place which is baking in the sun as we walk. It is May for God’s sake. Do you see anything around us? This is like Mars, only worse cause we are not astronauts, and that makes it so uncool!

The older of the two hasn’t spoken a word yet. He is analyzing the riverbed.

The river, when it was blessed to be aqueous a long time ago, flowed in all its grandeur, two hundred meters wide here. The valley now was the river then.
The smoothened rocks were a testament to the furious waters that once noised around the river bend. On this May afternoon, everything was quiet, apart from an occasional Kite as it searched for an odd snake or two.

It seemed as if history suffered from the Alzimer’s disease, forgetting about this magnificent river as each year passed. The river started losing its scale, and no one knew why. The rains were there each year, so there was no dearth of water. Still the waters reduced from the bank, year after year. Folks moved away from her, blaming the decay on the powers Above; the fertile riverbank became many sandlots. She was left alone to her fate, and one day, she just vanished.

“Set up that thing over here and start taking readings”. The older one finally broke his silence.

“I want to be exact this time. We’ll need to tread along at least a hundred meters, from here”, he pointed out a spot to the younger one.

“Did you say hundred?”

“Yes I did. That’s just the beginning. The earth here is soft. This is the best spot to catch her. We’ll concentrate all our efforts here, say a stretch of two kilometers along the river.”

They got busy with their task as the Sun began the journey to the other end of the sky.

“She was looking for some solace I guess. At least it seems like that to a mere mortal like me”

They look up to see the man standing there.

“How long were you observing us?”

The man smiles, “Since your were a child”

“That’s a good one.”

“Aren’t you a little lost here? The other pilgrims usually take the bridge to cross the bank, don’t they?”

The man smiles again.
“So any success with your endeavor?”

“How do you even know what are we up to here?”

“Oh I know, so very well. You are trying to see if this is where she is resting. You are trying to hear her playful sounds through the earth. That’s what I know”

“So you know she is here? How old are you?” asked the older scientist, wiping off the sweat on his forehead, a little bewildered.

“Age is what one goes investigating about a man whose words seem too right for his attire”

“That would make a pretty neat status message” the younger one was enjoying this visit now

“Tell us more”

“This is all; around you, what you see, this is the present. She is down there. Let her be in peace”

“If she is indeed flowing below our feet, then she would solve a lot of issues. Do you see a single flowering plant for miles around you? This land needs water in abundance. This was once a farmland…it could well be the same again”

“She went under because she was tired, long tired of carrying all the filth that the World offered, that’s all it had to offer. She went away; now she is in a different world, a world of her own. “

“She will be the only pure thing left when this world erodes away; she will water the parched earth when the harsh seasons have wiped away all the greenery and hope from this planet. Save her for that…she is the future hope of this very predictable and dark present”.

The man started walking away, leaving his words hung in the dry air like dark balloons.

The two kept looking at him till he was gone. They looked at each other and got back to their task.

“The heat must have got him” The younger one opined.

The older one looked again in the direction in which the man had gone.

“I guess it did. It made him see the future”.