Gokul squatted next to his field, wearing a dirty lungi and a torn vest. This summer had been a harsh one but there was still some hope for the late monsoon rains.
He’d worked in the fields since he was old enough to sprinkle seeds, walking beside his father as he ploughed the Sarpanch’s fields. With the money borrowed from a neighbouring village’s zamindar and his bride’s dowry, he’d purchased a plot of land soon after his father’s death.
Their village always prayed for grey skies and dark clouds, for a bountiful harvest before each monsoon season. A fair would be organised at the market square and the landlords, creditors and other babus (officials) would sponsor the feast. But for the last two years, God’s wrath had brought draught upon all the nearby villages. The govt had sent some aid under their latest scheme, the men wearing coat-pants had announced at their panchayat meeting. But it hadn’t even lasted a month.
His eldest son, working at a dockyard in the big city, had sent some cash that had just about managed to tide them over till the winter; when the factory two-towns over took on additional workers. But the last year saw a slump in economy, according to Master-ji (the village school teacher) and finding work that was enough for their family of six had been difficult. Even blessed with a newborn son couldn’t stop his descent into a pit of despair.
Everyday, as his wife would go to offer prayers at the temple of the Goddess, he would scoff. If the Gods were merciful, Dinkar wouldn’t have had to drink pesticide, would he? Yet Sheetal’s prayers were answered, when that moustached fellow had arrived with the offer. He’d thought hard, negotiated even harder; and not only did he pay off his debts but also managed some savings, for this year’s stock. Bidding farewell to his daughter had been difficult; as surprised as he was when he’d ascertained that even her dark skin could fetch such a high price.
But he was afraid of the another draught. He didn’t think they could survive another year of exhausted days and hungry nights.
Chewing on a piece of gutka, Gokul watched as the inky overcast sky announced the arrival of monsoon. As the first drop of rain fell on his crinkled and coarse skin, he felt his lips twitch upwards. Could the darkness above finally dispel some from his life?
This is written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. The theme was ‘Darkness’.