I heard the cry: plaintive, pitiable wail of a lost and frightened child.
It was one of those usual days, when the sun flared like a fiery blaze of a gem in the water filled sky.
Feeling not for the first time- the immense weight of duty settling upon me.
This would have been daunting if I had not sensed an equally great strength and a will to survive helping to burden.
I was an aid worker yet the aid they needed – I had none.
Like vermins crawling from the cracks and crevices they emerged, hesitantly at first, but with increasing boldness. Hobbling, scuttling dragging deformed limbs, they scrambled in to the square.
My mouth went dry and I fought to swallow the clot of sand that suddenly clogged my throat. One could sense that they were famished by hunger and aflame by thirst but a hidden more mysterious side to these simple people became clear in the sunny blaze, a side that had experienced the soul destroying effects of poverty yet some how survived, living and breathing the hope that is now burdened upon my shoulders.
Peering at me was easily the ugliest man I had ever seen: small-faces, gross in every feature, his long nose ending in a fleshy hook, and his mouth , the wide thick-lipped cleft of a frog, and cracks at all sight.
Ears like jug handles protruded from under a thick pelt of white wispy hair…like handy floss which floated over his head rather than resting there, and large wide spaced eyes bulged balefully from beneath a single ridge of wispy brow. He held my gaze for the tiniest of fractions yet enough for me to subconsciously sense that he saw me.
He slowly stepped forward…
‘Water’ he uttered the word cautiously as if it might hurt his tongue.
My pulse beat in my temples like the sound of an African dance that persisted at a steady yet uneasy tempo, which unnerved me, and filled me with dull alarm, while my heart palpited , lumping awkwardly in my chest as though it was a rock. I felt his blood warming in the furious scorch of the sun.
The skin on the back of neck sizzled and burnt, and I wondered “Why had god brought such pain and fury” thinking aloud he replied….
“Son we are the lucky ones…we have you to thank.” His words touched a guilty nerve in my conscience and I squirmed.
The silence seemed appresive almost like a ….
Physical force, chocking off all sound…
“I’m so ….”
“what I mean is …well…I’m….
“ the water…we couldn’t bring it!” I exclaimed with icy clarity.
His eyes flicked to me then away towards the shattered people,
I felt my stomach tighten in apprehension.
Trembling with rage, he swallowed hard, and long, then glared murderously at me, yet what he murmured at me I will never forget…..
“But” he sadly spoke.
“but…you promised” he finally announced almost bursting out loud, yet a tear slowly ran down his rough face yet before it evaporated it carved a path a lonely tear carving the signature of my failure to these people.
Whispers hissed through the crowd, people fell to their hands and knees.
The ball of worms that was now my stomach revolved every second causing this feeling of dizziness.
I knew that to them water was the essential spirit of the family, it was their life in a song, and a lamp which guides their steps along the path of destiny, yet they trusted me to provide it.
In fact to them I was a ray of light , I was a wave upon the sea, I was hot blood flowing in their hearts, yet to myself I was a failure!
I thought that if I listened- if we all listened very hard we might hear the single drip of this vibration. Sometimes I imagined that I did hear it-like the echo of a forgotten song which lingered just beyond the threshold of hearing, yet this time it was different I could hear it , I could truly hear it!
...my stomach tightened and my mouth filled with bile, I gagged and chocked…
because before me the sky ripped open, black swirls of cloud, unseen seconds ago now filled the sky, a gaping mouth of twisting cloud gashed open, pelting us hard in the faces with drops of pure glorious drops of water, reminding me of an ice cold shower after a jog down the park, pure heaven.
Eyes transfixed at this scene of hundreds of people with hands wide open and eyes shut just appreciating life and savouring this moment that was truly a blessing from god, I now no longer felt the immense weight of duty but admired this moment.
I heard the scream of the same child as before, I spun around thinking what could cause such a shriek, my questions where answered with her sparkling eyes of joy and then the sound of her laughter bubbled up as from a fountain for peace and happiness was restored to this nation famished by hunger and aflame by thirst.
Author Comments: I feel that there is deeper symbolism to this story and I shall let the readers explore that rather than me telling you.
But this story was inspired by the fact that I see man kind slowly destroying its slef and that most of the poverty in the world is due to us…humans.
So I began to write about a theme: poverty, which seems soul destroying yet those villagers never gave up hope and in the end it was faith and hope which lead to the rain fall. Although this rain was not man made but, mysterious and unexplainable by science in other words me showing that god had a part, yet the most important factor was the fact that this aid worker goes back to tell the people that the water he promised had not arrived ( perhaps it was intercepted by highwaymen and wasted...again mankind creating suffering.) thus he had the courage to end the false hope the villagers may have had which in fact lead to the blessing.
Thanks for reading; I would love to hear your comments.
And what ever you face in life …have hope.