By Pravin Trivedi
Everyone’s journey through this planet is a one-time event. One day you slide down your mother’s legs, empty handed, screaming your lungs. If you are not screaming then one of the medical staff, if they are there, slaps your rear end to ensure you cough and spit and seek food with your open mouth, trembling lips. You drink your mother’s milk and sleep. That goes on for a few short years and before you know it growing up envelops you and carries you thru this world.
You are given one chance to leave your mark. Where you want to make it and how you want to be remembered is up to you. Most make themselves the number one with I want, I have. They continue to make money, buy property, widen their power and influence. They compare themselves with their siblings, life partner and coworkers in a materialistic way.
A few see the stuff they have amassed as important but see the more important goal is to use it to help others less fortunate than themselves.
The year was 1951. The month was June. The time was 2 p.m. Siesta for some, especially the young ones. There was no indication of an impending monsoon and it looked like there would be no rain for the third year in Balwa, Gujarat. There are only three seasons in India. Winter, summer and the rainy reason, monsoon. When it rained, there was not a dry spot anywhere. Not on the road, not in the fields, not even in the house. But where was the monsoon this year? You could hear the earth crackle and bake in the sun. This happened with predictable monotonous regularity every five years.
The heat was oppressive, nearly one hundred degrees, with barely a whispering wind. The little boy was looking out of the living room window holding the metal bars that were close enough so that he would not fall out. It was a second-floor room and the slight breeze was welcome. But it was very warm, more like the desert wind called ‘loo’.
“Move Gauri move.”
The sound of a stick hitting parched skin covered bones could be heard. With it the plaintive sound of a cow bellowing moo. The cow had no energy to move. Yet the farmer behind her and his son in front, pulling the neck yoke, tried to move the beast one foot at a time.
“Why are they beating the cow? It is so cruel,” the boy asked his father.
“You get down from there right now,” his mother shouted running towards him. “You will fall down and kill yourself one of these days.”
“You worry too much about your son,” father told her. “He is nimble and careful. His hands can do creative things. He may end up as an artist, musician or even a surgeon when he grows up.”
“You should see him doing things when he thinks you are not around,” a little girl quipped entering the room to see what the commotion was about.
“Tattle tale,” the boy shot back.
“Go do your homework, both of you,” mom said dismissing the children.
The boy was persistent.
“But why were they beating the poor cow?” he wanted to know.
“We have had two years with no rain. The monsoons are late again this year. The farmer cannot afford grass or water for his cows. If he can get her to the next village there is a rich man who will keep her with the other animals he has gathered until things improve,” father explained.
“That man has more than a hundred animals like Gauri that he feeds and provides shelter and water. When the rains come, the poor farmer will get his cattle back,” father continued answering the son.
“But there is water in other parts of India, only we are suffering here,” thought the little boy. At bedtime, he kept tossing and turning. He could not rest nor sleep until he could figure out what should be done. Art or music was not important. A belly full of hay and water was what was needed for the animals.