It was a dark and stormy night. The waves of the river swirled around. It was complete darkness all around. There was an island in the middle of the river where all the people of the village had gathered to protect themselves from the flood. Their homes were destroyed in the flood. All the years of their labour were taken by the flood. It had been a dry year and a drought was expected. All of them, including his mom, had prayed to Lord Indra to give them rain. He had listened and it had rained heavily for two days. Many lives had been destroyed. He stood on the island with all the other people with his hands around his mother. His old mother was crying. Her roots had been strongly embedded in this village. Embedded in the lush green fields, embedded in the sparkling waters of the ponds, embedded in the palm tree behind her house, embedded in every nook and cranny of the village. The flood had washed everything away. Even the strong mango tree beside the river which had been there ever since she was a child, was uprooted. She remembered how she used to play in the fields as a child, how she gossiped with her friends on the way to school. She remembered getting married to his father, a humble labourer. She remembered bearing him in her womb for nine months. She remembered so much in this village. This had been her world. And now….now it was all washed away. The nostalgia was enough to make her cry.
He had his strong arms around his mother. His lips were set in a grim line. He was looking angrily at all the havoc caused by Indra. He had returned two days back after a long gap of sixteen years. Just after he returned, the rains came. The rains came and washed the entire village away. He used to live in the village. He was not happy with the humble income his father earned. He wanted more, much more. He wanted to live a luxurious life. His father wouldn’t let him move to the city whose lights attracted him. His father died an accidental death. After completing all rituals, he left. He left promising his mother that he would return soon. He also promised someone else. He also promised that he would return soon, in six months, to the girl he had loved for five years and who had loved him back, unconditionally. He promised her that as soon as he was settled comfortably in his modern flat, he would bring his mother and her to the city to live with him. He also promised that their marriage would be held in pomp and splendour. He would put up so many lights that it would seem that their marriage was conducted in the day. He showed her dreams of a happy family. Of a small child who would call her “Ma.” She had implicitly believed in his words. And she had waited. Waited for him to return ‘soon’, in six months. Six months turned to a year which turned to six years and which eventually became sixteen years. She kept waiting. He loved her but as soon as he made up his mind to return, something came up. Sometimes there would be a very good investment which he couldn’t trust to be taken care of by his employees. Sometimes his kitchen needed to be upgraded with the latest appliances. Sometimes he wouldn’t get a ticket. Or even if he did get a ticket, he wouldn’t get a return ticket on the date he wanted to return. He kept on making false promises to himself. The thought that she may have moved on never once crossed his mind. He kept on sending money orders to his mother but never wrote a letter. Finally, after sixteen years, he made up his mind. He returned home. As soon as he returned, the floods came. He never got the opportunity of talking to her once. He had asked his mother who said that she was waiting for him. He had been elated. Elated because he was finally going to be reunited with his lady love.
But the floods came.
He had been occupied in getting himself and his mother to safety on the island. On the island he had searched high and low for her but he did not find her. His eyebrows were knitted up in tension and anxiety. He was standing on the edge. Suddenly, he noticed something floating in the water. In the dark, he screwed up his eyes to see what it was. It came nearer with the waves. He could make out that it was a body. As it came nearer he saw that it was her body.
Her long black hair was being washed by the waves. Her beautiful eyes were now forever closed. Her face looked like it had never before.
He screamed and cried and cursed himself.
Running after the material pleasures had made him blind to real happiness.
He now knew wherein lay his happiness.
But it was too late….