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Where’s All the Water Gone?

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By Savitri Narayanan

It was still early morning but Springs Housing Society was already coming to life. Diligent morning walkers moved around greeting each other with a smile or a nod. Senior citizens at their leisurely pace, young mothers at a quicker pace, their minds on the umpteen tasks to do, a few teenagers jogging in tangible companionship – all moved with purposeful strides. The young men on their bicycles or two wheelers briskly dropped newspapers or milk packets on their customers’ doorsteps while a few headed to the badminton court with their rackets and shuttlecocks.

As usual, some crows and pigeons flew down and took their positions waiting for their morning meal. There were two ladies who routinely scattered food grains on the platform near the bougainvillea.

Watching them turn the corner and approach, a pigeon said, “See how neat and tidy they look!” “Hair still damp from the morning shower,” noted the sparrows.

“Don’t miss the sandalwood paste and the kumkum on their foreheads,” added the mynahs, “Must have done the pooja!”

“Feeding the birds is a tradition; as soon as the food is cooked, they keep aside a share for us,” stated the wise crow. “Many view us as a symbol of their ancestors and make sure some food is kept outdoors daily!”

As the women paused to feed the birds, they chatted among themselves, “Bhabhiji, since last evening there’s no water in the taps, what about you?”

“Our taps are dry too!”

“Thank God! I stored two buckets, enough for the basic needs!”

“Even water tankers aren’t available or too expensive!”

“What’s happening? Where’s the water gone?”

As the women walked away the birds continued the conversation.

“Good question, where has all the water gone?”

“Coming to think of it there’re no more waterbodies around!”

“The stream beyond the health centre has gone dry, only pebbles and rocks left in the mud there!”

“The lake beyond the highway has gone dry too; noticed it last week when I flew over there for the temple festival!”

“What will happen to us? How long can we survive like this?”

In the apartment complex, their source of water was limited. True, the swimming pool was full of clear water but in reality was of no help! There were plenty of regular swimmers including children and their family to keep an eye on them. From morning till late in the evening there were people in and around the pool. Naturally they shoed away the birds!

There was a concrete tub beside the water tank which often contained dirty water or was empty!

The birds’ joy knew no bounds when they stumbled upon the unexpected source of water! In the multistoried buildings some flats had air conditioners installed. From these dripped the condensed droplets which formed into a shallow pool beneath.

“This is our pool, our lake, our pond and our well,” laughed the birds as they hopped around the shallow patch of water and quenched their thirst.

“What will happen if no one puts air conditioners and no water dripped down?”

“What if there’s a power failure?”

“With no water, what will happen to us?”, there was alarm in the mynah’s voice which reflected in all the eyes around.

It was the wise crow who spoke up.

“Friends, look at those little ones,” he said signalling at the children in uniform waiting for their school bus. “They’ll grow up soon and lead the nation; with their learning they’ll find ways to overcome challenges and find solutions!”

Soon the school bus pulled in. The uniformed staff on duty stepped down and supervised as the children boarded and took their seats. The bus drove away.

The parents waved with fondness in their eyes. The birds too flapped their wings showering their blessings on the children.

       (Savitri Narayanan is a
retired educationist at
present in Bangaluru. A mother and grandmother, loves reading, writing and travelling)