CHAPTER 1 – THE VILLAGE
Once, there was a village named Rampur in South India near the foot of the hills. It was a scenic village that was picturesque marked by green paddy fields, thatched huts, livestock, boulders, temples for the devout and a Government school for the children. It was not densely populated and the families lived very close by, knowing each other by name. It would get quite hot during the summer with the sun beating down and the temperature would cool down a bit during the winter providing much needed relief to everyone.
Farming was the main occupation – the villagers grew paddy, wheat, corn and other vegetables on their own farms. The villagers would wake up at early dawn and the men would start driving their sheep and cows to the farm for grazing, planting seeds, ploughing and sorting the crops. The women would get the children dressed to go to school, carry on with their household activities like cooking, washing clothes etc. Come afternoon, the women would carry their lunch to the farm to share with their husbands followed by a short nap. Evenings were spent leisurely, with the men gathering together to talk about amusing incidents and the women gossiping on the verandah having an eye on the playing children. They would retire early to bed after a light dinner. The yearly highlight was the village fair held during the month of August at the large ground with outsiders selling their wares – bangles, jewellery, trinkets, colorful sarees for women and turbans, sticks and dhotis for men. There were carousels, giant wheels, water sports and other playful activities at the fair that the children looked forward to. There were no other exciting, surprising events occurring in the village and the people passed their time content with their routine lives.
CHAPTER 2 – THE DROUGHT
As time went by, the rains grew scarce year over year and the village faced a severe drought crisis. Several yagnas and pujas were held at the temple to appease the rain gods as per the temple priest’s advice but there was no change. The wells in the village soon ran dry and the farmers found it difficult to grow their crops without water, women had to make do with the short supply of water for drinking, cooking, bathing etc. Eventually, the village headman, the highly educated person in the village – a tenth grade passout, called for a meeting to discuss the problem. Several ideas were exchanged at the meeting including disruptive ones such as moving out to a new place where water was in abundance, giving up farming and learning new trades that did not depend on abundant water. Finally, wiser counsel prevailed and the village petitioned the State Government to step in. The Government sympathetic to the village problems laid out a single water supply pipe that drew water from a source far away and installed a tap at a central location for all villagers to use. The villagers were jubilant at having their issue addressed and soon ceased to worry about the water problems that they faced earlier. With water accessible 24×7, they assumed that the water would be available forever and soon began to waste water by letting the tap run for long periods of time for trivial purposes. The little boys in the village used to grab a bucketful each and play by throwing water on each other every day. As you can see, none of them cared.
CHAPTER 3 – THE TAP RUNS DRY
A saint who lived near their village often used to warn them about how precious water is. But the villagers never bothered to listen. The saint quit advising them eventually as he could not make them understand. One day, he called all the children in the village and told them that God would punish them. The children decided to ignore his warnings and mocked him – “Pooh! It will never happen. You are worrying for nothing, old man!” They then ran away to play with the water from the tap again. As time flew, the people in the village started to waste more and more water. One day, a boy named Ram turned the tap on to draw some water – all that could be heard was a long whistle and short burst of air that accompanied it. There was no water. Bewildered, Ram ran all over the village shouting “There is no more water, the tap has run dry!” No one believed him at first. They thought it was probably a temporary issue and waited a few days for the problem to resolve by itself. They approached the Government again who threw up their hands in the air – water was a natural resource and beyond their control.
CHAPTER 4 – LEARNING THEIR LESSON
The villagers realized that it was indeed a serious issue and panicked. The villagers ran from one house to another around the village twenty times shouting to each other on how they were doomed! The dogs howled, the cows mooed and the cats meowed to show that they agreed with the villagers. But whatever the villagers did, the saint remained calm. Soon, the villagers approached the wise saint and begged his forgiveness for not heeding his advice. The saint told them that the God had indeed punished them. However, God would calm down from his anger and would resolve the issue after a few days. All the people were in agony and despair. They were thirsty and regretted their actions – If only they had not wasted water and saved it up for future use, if only they could unwind time to revive themselves! They tried digging new wells but in vain. They were all very tired and hungry – for without water, there were no crops. Without crops, there was no food and no earnings. Weeks passed by and the villagers resigned themselves to their fate. If all this was God’s will, so be it. They began using water judiciously and saving it whenever they could. They had learned their lesson and they would not repeat the same mistake again. It seemed to have appeased the God, for it rained in torrents for days together. The wells in the village soon began to fill up, the water from the tap resumed prodigiously. The villagers rejoiced and welcomed the rains. They offered pujas and offerings to the God at the temple thanking him for showing mercy on them. The saint was carried around the village on men’s shoulders much to his protest. Crops were bountiful and the village soon returned to normalcy. As for wasting water, there was a sign above the water tap “Beware the drought and its lessons. Conserve water and use it wisely for our own livelihood depends on it.”
About the Author:
DEETYA NIGAMANTH, born November 2007, is a fourth grade student at the National Public School, Rajajinagar, Bangalore. Her interests vary from reading, music and traveling. She is a champion of the environment for helping to protect the Earth and its precious resources. This is Deetya’s first short story she wrote to spread the message around the world to conserve water.