Once Upon a Time
upon a time, drought sucked a village of its precious commodity.
The monsoonís failure dried up all the ponds. While the men folk
lay toiling gloomily in their fields under the scorching sun, the
women folk walked miles across dusty roads to fill their earthen
pots. The crops in the field began to wilt and die and so did the
village cattle. Left free to go in search of non-existent fodder
and quench their thirst in such arid terrains, the village cows
withered away every ounce of their muscles before dropping down
exhausted. Whatever life left of the living skeletons with ribs
jutting out of their skin was taken away by the scavengers circling
in the sky. The sight of their animalís eye still blinking while
the vultures kept tearing into the flesh, reminded the villagers
of their own dreadful future without water.
With parched throat, eyes and lips, the villagers turned to their
last hopeful resort, the village shaman. Being the most informed
and educated of them all, he called for a meeting among the village
elders to find a solution to the crisis. The whole village was summoned
under the banyan tree that lay in the middle of the village to hear
their decision. From crawling toddlers to walking-stick ridden aged
ones, everyone came scowling and fighting to occupy a space under
the banyanís shade. Amidst the chaos, the shaman announced- a well
that was required to be built to save the village. He also went
on to mark the spot in the outskirts of the village where they would
commence to dig.
The next morning
before the sun peeked out of its horizon, the men folk set
forward with hopeful aspiration, armed with pickaxes and spades.
Even the women and children turned up to haul the earth out
of the ground, and share the burden of work. Some sang songs
of the future prosperity that lay ahead. The chorus lines
were joined in by one and all.
As the sun rose, the songs in the air began to fade, but not
their undying sprits. They continued to dig. When it started
to show its full blown strength, only the sounds of pickaxes
hitting the ground was heard. As shadows grew shorter during
midday, sprits dwindled. They men folks took turns of rests
to fight off the exhaustion while the women folks prepared
pots of rice gruel to satisfy the hunger and thirst.
And so it went on. Past noon, the time of the day temperature
peaks, energy started to drain; the weak ones started to give
up while strong willed ones were on the verge of doing the
Slowly one by
one, each hauled themselves out of the hole they had dug to
no avail, but one man kept digging. Neither had his enthusiasm
drained, nor had his energy. Although he looked puny, he possessed
the strength of an elephant. The men on the top finally called
out to him to give up on the endeavor as it served no purpose,
but he shut their voices of discouragement and kept on with
As he dug he felt the ground beneath him become damper and
softer. Taking it as a positive omen, he strove harder. He
felt like a man reaching for the treasure that lay underneath.
All the veins in his body felt he was closer to something
that was waiting to be unleashed. The dampness gave away to
wetness and out of it sprang water. As the relentless determined
diggerís voice cried out in joy, out came a huge slithering
snake from the spot that he had struck treasure. Gripping
his legs with its tail, it coiled around his body, taking
him by complete surprise.
It was only when he
felt his ribs cracking did his call of joy turn to cry for help
before his face drowned into the snakeís mouth. What the men from
outside saw when they peeped into the hole after hearing the distress
call, was the remains of his bare foot legs disappearing into the
monster. They remained dumbstruck and helpless even as they saw
the frame of a man passing through the passage of the snake. Only
after the predator returned back into the oblivion it came from
with its prey, did the men start refilling the hole. None of them
took any rest for this time around.
After a few days, the rains arrived, filling up the ponds and saving
the villagers, but none failed to recollect the well they dug and
refilled. Years later, the rains failed again. As some villagers
contemplated on reopening the well, little children started disappearing
from their cradles. Ah well, thatís another story altogether that
begins just like this one. Once upon a timeÖ
I am an aspiring writer who has a Biotechnology degree, a six month
stint at journalism and is currently doing research in Bangalore.
My passion is to entertain readers with my writing.