Monday, March 26, 2007

I remember the times that I used to struggle. Work from dawn to dusk in the unrelenting sun, until time gave the king of the sky a sign to retire. And until the cock crowed the next morning to call the sun back to begin its travel in my portion of the world, I would rest.
Tending to the soil, tending to the crop, tending to the harvest. I was tending to something or the other throughout the day, throughout the month, throughout the year. I knew no respite. But I found comfort in the harsh rays of the sun, the roughness of the soil. My feet eventually got used to the unevenness of the ground that I walked on, so much that, I had a hard time finding my footing on smooth surfaces. My skin was the colour of the soil, and unfortunately unlike the colour of the grain I harvested. I used to look forward to the time that I would have lunch sent to me, to the fields. And the short break that I used to take for water. Of prancing about at dusk, and wishing that dawn took a little longer to break.
Time passed, fortune smiled upon me. I had people working on the same soil that I worked on as a boy, as a youngster. I have a wife, children. A huge house. And I am a person of reckoning in my own small world. I now eat with people fanning me on both sides, men-fridays at my beck and call, nay, I had everything that a man of my beginnings could wish for. But yet I felt a void. I felt there was an emptiness that I could not explain. As days trudged by the feeling grew. It now had a strength of its own, a mind of its own, but I couldn't figure out where it was leading me. What I was supposed to do. I had no idea how to feel complete again.
And then one fine day, much to the consternation of everyone around me, I took to the fields. To work, to be under the blazing sun again, to feel the rough soil beneath my feet, to feel the beads of sweat meandering down their own paths on my skin. I went back home after a short while. I realized what comfort was. Like a drug, it gets you addicted and there is no therapy yet to free yourself from its clutches. Except freedom within you. I drank a lot more water that day than usual. But the feeling remained. The emptiness remained. It was like a vacuum. I returned to the fields the next day. It threw the others off balance, but slowly they got used to my presence around. A few more days passed this way, with me not finding the answer, Frustration gnawed my insides, seemed to corrode me at times, and then retarded to being a gnaw. The next day, I decided to share my food with the farmers who worked with me. Though they were highly hesitant at first, we eventually ate and drank together. And that's where my answer lay. In the pot of water that I consumed. Not mine, but that of the others'. In the pot of water that was not pure by any standards. In the pot that was made of clay, by the neighborhood potter. And it struck me then. I knew what I had been missing all this while. It was nothing actually, but it brought back a rush of memories.
And I realized that the waters of the mountain springs anywhere in the world, or the water freshly made from the sky, nothing would match the taste of the water. The water, the taste of which I had been missing all along. And the gnawing of my insides, which I thought was ceaseless, finally ceased. For the drop of water with the taste of the soil.