A Curse : The Flood
It was past midnight when Atul heard the patter of raindrops on the roof of his house. His heart started beating fast. He thought to himself, “Please God not anymore. Have some mercy on us. We are poor people. What have we done to offend you that you are pouring your anger upon us in the form of this rain”. Just as he was thinking all this he heard his widowed mother screaming, “ Atul, Atul it’s raining heavily go to the cowshed and help Pokhili and Runjun. They are bellowing at the top of their voice. Must be scared of the rain and storm. Bring them inside in the verandah”. Atul got up immediately and rushed outside. It was raining “cats and dogs” outside and their poor buffaloes were scared. After covering them comfortably in the verandah he stood there for a minute, and revert back to some old memories. He missed his little sister and his father who died of malaria five years back. Every year flood would be accompanied by malaria, famine and other such epidemics causing loss of innumerable lives. He wished and prayed that at least this year God should spare them. Just as he was busy in thinking all of this his younger brother Biju called him saying, “ Brother, come inside it’s raining heavily. Close the doors lest water might come inside the house. Try to sleep”. Atul went inside closing the door and got on his bed to sleep while it started raining heavily.
The next morning around 4.30-5 am when he woke up he could see his slippers swimming in his room. He got up with a start and could see muddy water all over his room and his house. Few of the things were floating and some were already drowned. The water was somewhat just a little down their beds. Almost everything was spoiled with the muddy water rice, vegetables and whatnot. Pokhili and Runjun too were underwater up to their body. Atul called, “ Biju, mother wake up quickly and see what has happened. We would be needing to vacate our house soon.” Saying so he already started taking a few essentials with him. Within a few minutes, his mother and brother was ready as well. They also took their buffaloes along. While Runjun looked fine Pokhili was already looking pale and sick.
When they reached the main road they could only see muddy water everywhere. From a distance, they could also see groups of people coming out of their house for a dry place. Travelling a mile or so they finally reached the high school building which was located at a higher place and was not yet affected by the flood while the rain was unstoppable. It kept pouring down again and again. Within a span of fewer than five days, the villagers could witness a horrible flood in the whole area. There was a scarcity of food, medicines and all the basic needs of life. Atul’s whole family like many other villagers were staying in the schoolhouse for a week now. Pokhili also succumbed to death as she couldn’t withstand these hard times Runjun was somehow thriving on.
After a few days, the villagers received Government help but it was not enough. There was a scarcity of food, there was no proper hygiene making the poor villagers sick and infected by so many diseases. They had lost their homes, there loved ones and also their hope of a better tomorrow.
Atul had promised marriage to Kakoli by this year. But now there are no whereabouts of her or her family. He had tried calling her a number of times but since the phone lines we’re jammed there was no news. Biju his brother came to him and said, “ Dada( brother) mother doesn’t seem to look alright . She is feverish and also looks very pale. I am scared and hoping she doesn’t have malaria. Already we had lost our father and sister because of it now I don’t want to lose mother and you. Please do something”. Saying so he started weeping. Atul was deeply pained seeing his younger brother cry like a little child. He had no words to console. He just said, “ Stable yourself Biju. Mother should not see you in this way. She will be broken as she loves you so much. Don’t worry soon everything will be alright. Have courage and patience. I will take you and mother with me to the town this time. Go and take care of your mother and yourself now”.
Atul worked as a salesman in the nearby town. He used to travel every day. Now, since there was nothing left he decided to shift to the town and take his brother and mother along to save them. He discussed this with his mother who said, “ How can I leave the village, our house and go? Your father and sister’s soul is still here. I can feel them every second and you want me to leave this and go. No, never. What will happen to our paddy fields and our fruit orchards. Who will take care of them?” Atul angrily replied, “ Nothing is left mother. They are all drowned and destroyed. I don’t want you and Biju to die now after father and Geeta. I won’t be able to tolerate it. You agree to it or not you and Biju are coming with me. We will rent a house and stay in the town. I have a little savings but it will not be enough therefore I am selling Runjun to the Gaonburha (headmen) of the village tomorrow and we all will be leaving after two days otherwise I would lose my job. Forgive me mother but I have to do this there is no other way”. Saying so he went out while his mother and brother wept bitterly admist the ever pouring raindrops.
© 2020 Jusmi Saikia