Dry Water to Quench a Wet Fire-2
The river was pretty lean in the morning. It is swollen, –is swelling relentlessly.
Oh, my God. She stands there, hands clasped over her breast, stunned. Water, muddy brown, ever rising , ever shrieking ,waves breaking over waves. Swift, fascinating like the bicycle race, white caps swirling in the wind like wads of cotton. It’s cold. The sun is gone. Gone behind the hill, cowering in a corner, the Lord of the skies, smeared with filth, looking like a ripe palm fruit, cut open.
How to fetch water, how at all, to descend into the river? She fastens the free end of the saree around her waist, and gets ready to step down into the water. Drink this water ? Yuck. Shitty,ochre red. My God. Barbed clumps, broken branches, fallen leaves, logs, all rolling, afloat, God knows from where, Hopefully nothing to worry, not yet, perhaps. Men are around. How many? She counts. Seven in all- like sturdy giants from Africa. Like logs of blackwood,they are getting into the stream, bringing ashore, diverse flotsam, logs, ropes, vines, clump, what not. What else for, but to burn them as firewood. Damn them hardy souls, they seem to have no fear, delving far into the raging torrent. Alamelu stood transfixed , at these sturdy men striving together, in tandem, as though to a regular beat , without a care, in the roaring river. Strong biceps, thighs, well defined muscles. Astonishing the way they work together like one. So beautiful to look at. Forget about their faces. The bodies so fascinating, Are they really just flesh and bones? No, they must be steel rods , bent and shaped while red hot , like they do crowbars. She lifts the brass pot from her head , places it on the ground and looks at her own shoulders. No, they are not so. They are guys, after all. Roughhewn. I am not so. Perhaps I like them for this very reason . Venkanna is not so, I feel. No, I haven’t seen him working hard like this . must see him , sometime in this condition. No, no, – – shouldn’t think of him in this vein. Mom hasn’t returned yet. She turns around . People are running frantically in the distance, like wasps, rather like those bitten by wasps.
She moves a few steps towards the bank. ” Don’t go that way. Aren’t you afraid? Want to lose your life, go home?”, cried out one of the black guys.
“Are you blind ? Can’t you see? It’s flooding. Run. Bloody fool.”, scolded the black guy.
She is not frightened. Nice to sit there, listening to the roar of the river, the froth flying out magically, and the diverting sight of the strong thighs of these black guys.
They chide her again.
Alimelu begins to walk towards her house, saluting the river. Mother Ganga. Not much of traffic this way, generally.. It’s about three miles away from the town. But this evening , unusually, she finds people, carts, bicycles and cars , lots of them rushing towards the town. She too begins to walk briskly…