A Dry Inheritance

The dry skies didn't shed a tear witnessing the apathy of my children. Sleep was a distant dream. 'Mai, grass too would do.' The eldest of the three begged.  'Do we have water? I promise I won't ask for more.' The girl was growing and learning to compromise. The baby tried to lift my blouse in search of his feed. What would the shrivelled breasts offer him? 'There must be two nuts in your Baba's box. Take one each.' Of what use was a dead husband's paan box now? Two pair of pale eyes shone, and the tottering feet reached the box. Treasure box left in inheritance.  'It feels better.' One could finish the nut.  'Yucks!' The girl threw away the food, only to be picked up by her brother. 'Foolish girl, how can you waste!?' I could see a fight was about to spring up. 'Come here, my darlings. Maybe tomorrow, we will find something to eat. Let me tell you a story.' The bony masses dropped to my feet.  'Once upon a time, a tiny seed nestled in the womb of our Vidharba. Round, smooth, shiny coat, and an exuberant desire to grow. The seed waited for the rain god to shower his choicest blessings on her.' 'The seed was a girl! Then they would kill her.'  'Shhh...not all parents abandon their girls. Some raise them to be like you.' 'Mai, for the entire day, she keeps listening to the villagers' idle talk.' The boy had a way of reprimanding his sister. 'One day. Two days. Three days. Months passed, but no blessing. The womb cracked, but not the seed.' The baby kicked and grumbled in my lap. The voice had dried up in her throat.  'Pani, Mai.' The girl was distracted. The story had to reach its climax before the girl felt desperate. Ignoring her agony, I continued, 'The seed prayed for it was carrying hope in her belly. It prayed and...' My cough took over, but I couldn't afford water. I continued, swallowing the bout with my stringy saliva. 'One day, the sky shed a tear. A drop of water kissed the lifeless earth.' The tired eyes twinkled. 'Water, Mai!' The boy smacked his lips while the girl drooled. 'Water droplets fell from the overwhelmed sky. Close your eyes. Feel the raindrops glide down your cheeks.' Happy smiles illuminated their faces.  'Pure, glistening diamonds falling from the sky. It rained and...' The cough was playing a spoilsport. 'I know the story from here.' My boy was growing to share my story, and take it forward. 'The seed drank to her heart's content. Out jumped the green hope.' His eyes shut to the present, but appreciating the future.  'I will harvest that hope and cook a meal.' 'Wait, a farmer must first give and then eat. How come you forgot Baba's ways?' My coughing had stopped. Yet, the chest was swollen with pride. The children had inherited more than the box from their dead father.     Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!