The sound of the rain pounding heavily on the roof grew deafeningly loud. There was no respite from the downpour in the last two days. I noticed the waters gushing down from the slopes above and rushing into the plantation uprooting everything in its path. These were ominous signs of a tragedy impending on us. My skin twitched with fear.
Vasantha’s face emerged out of the window; her eyes widened searchingly in the stark darkness. ‘Manju -,’ she cried aloud. I responded with the same intensity. Ranga and Vicky also wailed in panic, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. Yet another enormous tree lost its footing in the soil and crashed onto the veranda. Amma pulled back Vasantha and surveyed the damage caused to the farmhouse. She cowered in trepidation.
I heard tremulous voices from inside the house.
‘When will the rescue boats arrive?’
‘I hope they can reach us by morning.’
‘What about all our belongings?’
‘We have to let go of everything, Akka – if we have to survive.’
‘Varada river is in full spate. Our entire taluk has become an island. We cannot stay here longer.’
‘We will take along with us whatever we can.’ Amma said in desperation.
Five years ago. Vasantha was playing beside the forest stream, away from the sight of her unsuspecting mother and slipped into the rapids. I leapt over the rocks and dashed towards her, clutched onto her tiny skirt and dragged her out. Amma acknowledged she owed Vasantha’s life to me. ‘You saved her,’ she patted me affectionately, and got me home – ‘We are family, Manjunatha.’
Vasantha was elated. ‘Meet Manju,’ she introduced me to Ranga and Vicky who wagged their tails in delight.. ‘Boys! Let us all play together,’ she announced. I gave my cutest puppy smile. That was the day I started to believe in an everlasting bonding.
Now the morning sun ushered in a new day, but the swirling waters started to rise steadily around us, touching our knees. The foul smell made me retch. We pushed ourselves into the highest corner of the outhouse, almost at the edge of the cliff. A sudden landslide could precipitate our death.
‘The boats are here. Come on fast.’ I heard Appa shout.
‘It is all our mistake -’
‘We don’t have time for this. Jump in. Quick,’ goaded another voice.
The entire family got in, trunks and boxes were thrown in, all and sundry squeezed into the cramped space.
‘Everyone here?’ Appa enquired.
‘Where is Manju? Ranga? Vicky?’
‘There is no more room, Vasantha. We will come back and get them later.’
Amma’s words shattered my heart. How could she leave us behind? Stranded in the ravaged slopes, cold and hungry; were we abandoned till the end? The deluge washed away all my hopes and trust. Like the Ghats, mindlessly destroyed by humans, our lives didn’t matter too.
I stared at the distancing boat with forlorn eyes.
‘We are family.’ The words echoed in my head. Were we?
This is an entry for #TheLie #Five00-8, a room8 writing event –in 500 words.
Check out the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/room8/thelie
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