‘Appa, look, the water is receding,’ cried Balu desperately.
Ranganna rushed to Balu’s side and peeped into the well. His body convulsed in fear at the unimaginable sight – the walls of the well opened as large gaping mouths and swallowed the water in voracious gulps. The Earth within, made loud belching sounds that terrified him. He forgot all about searching for his missing wife.
‘The lakes are drying fast, Anna,’ a villager came running towards Ranganna.
‘How are we to sow seeds in our fields today?’ ‘There is no water in our homes.’
Several voices wailed in despair. Struck by horror, villagers gathered at the well, beseeching their Sarpanch for help.
However, Ranganna grew increasingly distressed about his commercial dealings with the rapacious mafia whose water tankers would arrive soon, to suck out water from the lakes and fill their enormous containers to quench the thirst of urban dwellers nearby. What is this weird phenomenon, grieved Ranganna.
‘Almost – bottom of the pit,’ cried Balu drawing his father’s attention. As Earth, the ravenous beast, nearly emptied the well, the lifeless body of a woman came into sight. ‘Amma!’ exclaimed Balu. Ranganna stared at Vasudha, regarded by everyone as the most beautiful woman, like Mother Earth herself.
‘It will consume you one day if you continue with your avarice,’ she had warned her husband the previous night. ‘Stop those tankers from coming here and stealing our water.’
Ranganna was too blinded by the lucre. He slapped her hard.
‘You will not find me anymore if you abuse me.’
‘Go away,’ shouted Ranganna.
Vasudha walked out of the house and disappeared into the darkness. He thought she would return next morning. But Mother Earth had embraced her child in its arms – ‘They should realise our worth, albeit, for a day.’
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