The Same Water

Monday, March 21, 2016 Sania Tahir 0 Comments Category : ,

He stood there, barehanded by the side of muddy rushing water washing vigorously on all sides. Water in such amount and with such rage had never been seen anybody in the living generation. 
And truly, no one would ever want to witness such colossal devastation that he had to. 

His feet, bare and black, were half submerged in melting mud, and he was on the brink of breaking free from this safe haven to the gathering water. He wore a shalwar kameez, completely drenched in water and dirt, which was there on his body too. His head was covered by a brownish white cloth, something that ought to have been white but flood didn’t spare it, just like the hearts of millions of individuals that were permanently stained.

His face was so silent, lifeless that it might have carved in a stone. His stony black eyes had a glint of wet in the corner which stood there as still as himself. 

It was a yellow dusk, unusually quiet for a scene like this. The sky had at last exposed its true vastness, a never ending boundless bit of space that was once considered a shade, a roof and a friend. No trees, no birds; life and signs of life were missing except for him who was just as alive as a mountain. There was just the murderous water, a weeping sky and a dying sun to watch him in his disbelief.

In front of his was the dead city that had, until a week ago, a lot more than just water to it. 

He had his life trodden over in the place he loved by something as harmless as water.

 Water is life, its reason and necessity.
It was the same water that bathed over his tiny self forty years ago when he was born from mother’s bloody womb. It was the same water that relieved him from crying in infancy. 

When his father had lost in legs in an accident and could no longer work, water was all they had to them. A vision that resembled a nightmare, flashed by his eyes. A dark house, an old man on the bed, four little kids on the cushions, all crying except for himself, a woman-puffy eyed- telling them to wait a little bit more…Huh!! Wait?! That’s what they had been doing for three days; she put luke warm water in to the bowls with a few drops of lemon juice. The greedy, desperate kids drank it imagining in their minds the taste of everything they loved. 

Water… wasn’t it the same water that was their savior in those days? He was speechless eyeing the unmeasured depth of water in the same dead way.

It was the same water that got him money, when he used to wash car windows at signals, sell bottled water at bus stops and brought water to teachers at school. 
It was water that enabled him to save his siblings, his mother and father from starving to painful death. 
It was this water that was a source that got him a chance to study. 

He gazed at the spot where he remembered his school to be. The kind principal who got him a scholarship from an NGO was one person he held at a place where his father was. Those were the days when he didn't get tired, and had never even desired to relax.

It was himself, books and his part time job, now a waiter for an ice cream parlour. He did a different one on the weekends, that went for the sake of his siblings’ education; another water job. He worked for a company that made water purifiers and whole two days ran around the city, to fix the costumer problems. 

The stillness suddenly was broken by a white bolt on a purple background and for the first time showed some signs of life. He gazed up at the sky, his best friend ever, with whom he shared all his secrets. 

In the starless nights of his childhood, he lay on his bed outside and when the breaths around him evened, he spoke out. Every joy, every sorrow, the desires and fantasies, his stories, his problems, his successes and his failures had all been the lullaby for the sky. The sky, his silent partner, was the best friend that encouraged him with the dawn, soothed him with dusk and followed him like the sun.

The pang of his friendship, the broken cord, hit a terrible note and his helpless eyes searched for the same companion, he had spent his life with. Alas! The best friend, with all his weaknesses, had now become his worst enemy. Despair and hopelessness was all it gave to him!

The rain was now falling with its full potential, and the force his sculptured body exerted to stand where he was, had become deficient.Water could not stand there without attracting attention. The murky depths of fierce aqua told the story of the deception it gave him.

It was the same water that got his two sisters in medical college, wasn’t it? 
That he had graduated, although late, was due to the money made by advertising mineral water at the railway stations. 
All he had seen and been through was coming to him in tiny pieces of memory glass. He was standing on a busy railway platform at night, selling the water on a small stand beside one of the benches.

A racking noise was coming closer, and ultimately deafening everybody in near vicinity but the noise went unnoticed by everyone except for a few infants and a stray dog. Although he could see them protest against those hurtful noise, their voices were drowned by the noise far huger than their own. 

Somehow life always presents you with joy in small packets wrapped in a meter long sadness. Although you see the happiness waiting to be embraced, sadness submerges, dissolves it all. And all that is left is you, despair and buried, unopened gift of joy.

It felt like the Dooms Day when the passengers fought among themselves while getting out and into the train. 
He shouted continuously in a croaky voice over the crowd, to sell his water. Several people came by, bought water irregularly and the frequency decreasing by time. 
When there were no more than 20 individuals on the platform, a woman, burqa-clad, came over to him. 
Quite unusually, he paid a significant amount of attention to her. 
She bought the water and when he was giving her the change, something happened…

All he could see of her face were her eyes, hazel eyes with long lashes and that was all it took. The infinitesimally small fraction of second made his heart flip. 
A wave of shock ran into her eyes too, and as fast as it happened, she turned away to leave. This was first time he had met her.
Would she meet again? He didn’t know…
Did she feel the same? He didn’t care…
 What if she never came across him again?

He was so happy with the skip of happiness that would lead a joyous life forever with that.

A pressure that came now unstopped by the trees hurled him on to the death, craving in the water to catch him. But he was already dead; his beating heart didn’t have the rhythm and enthusiasm of life any more. His right hand had the only possession he was left with; a wedding ring. There was no reason for it now, not that there was any reason for his own existence either. Death doesn’t knock!!

He stood there, to stand forever just like the dreams and hopes he built. 
The speck of memory comparable to his plight now, came back; the day his mother died. 
He was 26 then, his father long dead and his mother now dead. That day it rained too and a red storm raged the city. Once again the sky shared his grief. A person who had never been imagined to die was now buried in mud. He was there in the grave yard in front of his mother’s grave, for an immeasurable amount of time. But then he realized he had to go home. Like always, life moved on.

His hazel eyed fantasy had now become his reality, his soul mate. Funny, how the nature works. From a stranger at the platform to getting married, he could not believe his sheer luck. His wife was the daughter of his second great aunt and his mother had already asked her hand for him when they had first met.

It was all water again and the night moved on speedily where he was standing still under the rain. 

His mind drifted over the broken incomplete parts of memories; his sister’s wedding, his brother’s passing out, his own convocation, the birth of his son and so many small but valuable recollections. He remembered the time when he was thirty five. He didn’t have his own house, just a rental. His wife wished aloud several times that May God bless us with a house so beautiful that it may attract envy of everyone.

The inflation and his limited pay never allowed him to stretch beyond the groceries and clothes for years but that year was different. He had received news of such magnitude that it would change their lives.

Their claim for land was finally being granted by the government. When he was handed the papers, everything took up pace. He sold the land, bought a plot and started the construction of their dream house. It hadn’t been easy though, a time came when he ran out of money then his wife sold her jewellery for the sake of her home. Two years later, they lived in a beautiful and blissful house in a wealthy part of the city, where their kids went to play in the parks on their bicycles every evening and they themselves joined clubs and gyms.

And over here, empty handed he grimaced over his fate. All was gone now. His ears were ringing with the deafening shrieks of his kids drowning with the home they loved. His wife had died a day before by the crashed ceiling.

He had no idea why he was the only one chosen to survive in the city? Why was he the only one who had to bear all his life the pain of the destruction? He didn’t know and neither did he want to know. Because heart or no heart, he was dead now.
It was the same water that built him, fed him and kept him alive; now it was the same water that dissolved him, deprived him and killed him. And his sky wasn’t his anymore; it was the rain’s sky.