Beside The River, Safe From The Rain

Graphic by Anirudh Bhattacharya

The Twilight games of the kids filled the air, one can hear their laughter, energetic shouts as well as see their mothers gather and talk about their daily struggles of passing life. There was this playground that occasionally appeared during the driest summers that we had when the heavy river dried up a bit. A small patch of land, which in a blink of an eye turned green, with lush grass. It still had these small stream-like fragments which were crossable because the water was only ankle-deep. And, there was this breeze that carried the stench of the river up in your nose, every passing minute. The small streams were filled with small fishes, small crabs, even the river pebbles that were scattered mercilessly across the playground.

The kids were curious and would sometimes ask random questions about random things to their mothers. The mothers would joke about their trivial lives and fate and how their fishing was more like “feeding the fishes”, rather than the actual real fishing. The kids would run around in giggles causing mischief, or playing games in the dusk. The village was a boring old village with age-old traditional ways. The Summer, in itself, was an extraordinary event being that there was rain all year round. It would downpour not just cats and dogs but also donkeys. The Skies have always been dark and gloomy with rain pouring down on us, all day. The people in the village would have these huge and great wooden umbrellas, which would protect them from heavy storms. The umbrellas were more than just umbrellas you have the more wealthy and respectable the family. Older men used to strut around with these umbrellas which at times matched the colour of the clothes. Rarely, any women would come out because of these heavy rains. Most of the days in the village are dark and gloomy because of the ongoing and never-ending downpour. That’s why the kids were so bored, and waiting for the rains to go away, so that they could come out of their place.

Our village could not do simple little things like having a bonfire during a cold night, sleeping outside at night, drying the clothes outside after cleaning the clothes etc. The celebrations are also indoors, luckily we have a few large auditoriums in the village where most of the village marriages are held, so are other ceremonies like funerals. Even the local Hindus had an indoor crematorium, poor people had the river, floods were common too. The river had eaten up more lives than ever, people had drowned or had been forcefully drowned in it. Most of them were women, killed for family honour. Their souls never realized their death, kept living on with the children they had created as haunted playgrounds.

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