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
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 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 same.
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 his work.
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
PRAKASH 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.