The story of a village
by Nikitaa Sivaakumar
(Kotagiri, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu, India)
The village of Malgudi was just like any other village in India. Mud walled huts from where smoke swiveled like serpents from the chimney; little children walked barefoot to school till doomsday. These kids weren’t like the kids in the cities. They weren’t like the couch potatoes sitting in front of the television.
Old people gathered to gossip, here. The atmosphere was unpolluted here. Teenagers sat to whoop up a game of cards. This village could be given a certificate and could be stamped as a village of harmony, but for one reason. It was not blessed with rain. Wide expanse of land was covered with sand. Little dry shoots of grass peeped here and there. However, there was only a huge tree in this village. This was in fact considered as the landmark of the village.
People did whatever they could, by their superstitious beliefs to bring rain. They conducted a grand marriage for the donkeys. They prayed to Gods. They conducted sacrifices and ‘yagas’. They even had a belief that the rain was nothing but God’s tears. So, they tried to make God unhappy by not going to the temples so as to make him cry. But all was in vain.
One day, everything grew strange. The sun never shone maliciously and brightly as it always did. The grey clouds blanketed the sky. Little drops of rain dampened the earth. The mud rose to the air. It started to pour cats and dogs. People were overwhelmed with joy. They danced in the rain and spent the whole day in the rain until some of them got flu. The school had declared a holiday for the children to enjoy the rain. The humans’ souls are insatiate.
They wanted more rain.
It poured continually for a whole week. People grew tired of it. The huts weren’t mud walled any more. The became brittle with rain. The huts got submerged in water; the large tree was washed away and lay broken. The villagers started climbing on haystacks and huts to save themselves. The cock and the dog were on it too. The village was unidentifiable. The fickle-minded people cursed the God for giving them plenty of rain. Always “The grass is green on the other side”.
The school children enjoyed a lot because their books had been washed away and their school was no more. But, people had learnt their lesson. They did not cry over spilt milk. They learned to make a living out of it.
Fathers sat on their rooftops and started fishing. Mothers cradled their babies and put them to sleep by placing them in a vessel and putting them in the water-level, rocking them to sleep. Grandparents sat on the tree tops and started a new flooded topic for gossiping. Teenagers made rafts and continued playing cards. All of them attained normalcy and were happy except for the school children. Their school had started again. Their new classroom was a bamboo boat. The villagers protected the broken tree and grew it again.
The village was prospering. The tree was still its landmark. This village became to be known as the “Submerged Malgudi”. People had learnt their lesson and tried their best to retain their normal life.
Now, this village has developed. It has become a tourist spot. The villagers have constructed underwater huts, restaurants, schools and temples. But still, the water-level hasn’t receded and the cock, dogs haven’t got down from their rooftops.