Voice of Water Folks
By Nandita Bose
Little Champa my sister was excited.
“Elder brother! Dada! It’s going to rain”.
I was trying to finish my work – piling the green chillies onto the basket.
“There are no clouds. Why do you talk of rain?”
But Champa would not be silenced. Her guru – the old man who lived in the hut, had told her many secrets of Mother Nature. It’s true. She knew many things that even I, her elder brother, did not know. Champa went on excitedly.
Dada! The Chataks are flying. They have come in droves. Can you not hear them cry?”
Looking up I saw the birds – hundreds of them crying piteously. Champa took my hand.
“Dada! Let us go to Gurudev. He will tell you the story of the Chatak. I love hearing the story again and again. Take a handful of our green chillies. We will give it to Gurudev as pronami-thanks.”
And so as dusk fell, sitting at the feet of the wise sage we, together with other little ones of our village, heard about the little bird – the Chatak – the voice of the water folks.
“Once there was a little boy who was very naughty. Jamua was the only child of his widowed mother; she never scolded him but she worked very hard. She was very poor. One day she became very ill working toiling in the fields far from the village. She cried out for water. She dragged herself to the village pond. But her son did not heed. He kept on playing and playing. She called out to him for water. She did not have the strength to go down the steps of the pond and drink the water. Jamua heard her cry but did not bother. He went on playing. He went on playing. She went on crying for water. She fell down the steps of the pond. She fell into the pond. She drowned and died.
When finally Jamua understood and realized what had happened he was so shocked that he did not even cry. He withdrew into a silence that none could break. When the flames of the pyre took the body of his mother he walked off; none knew where he went to. He walked and walked until he reached the hills inside a deep forest. There he saw a gushing waterfall. Suddenly the ice inside him cracked and he broke into tears.
The tears would not stop. He began to cry to God. God must give water to his mother. God must help him to give water to his mother. The trees, the birds and animals heard his piteous ceaseless cry but they could do nothing. After some time God sent two of His birds – Kaga the white crow and Pechu the white owl.
Kaga-crow spoke first. “Jamua! Crying like this will not help. God cannot hear you. He lives high up there beyond the snowy mountains and the clouds.”
“How can I go there? I have no wings.”
Pechu-owl now took a white feather from her wing and touched the boy. Instantly Jamua became a bird. He became a Chatak. He flew towards God crying for water.
Pechu-owl and Kaga-crow flew along. When Jamua-chatak grew tired and rested on a hilltop Pechu hopped near him.
Chatak was distraught. “I am crying and crying up there. Even then God is not listening to me.”
Pechu soothed him “You have been a naughty boy. Now you must be a good boy and then God will listen to you?’
“What must I do?”
“You must FEEL how so many others feel when they do not get water – when water is taken away from them. Look down. Let us fly and look down.”
Chatak saw below hundreds of ponds being filled up and rivers getting choked with everything foul and evil by foul and evil people.
And from the depths of the drying water-bodies cried hundreds of water creatures – frogs, fishes, snails and snakes. They cried for water. They wanted to live. Life is another name for water.
Chatak understood. He called out to them and they all became chatak birds lending their voices to that of Jamua-chatak. They cried for others dying in drying ponds and streams down there. The chatak bird became the voice of the thirsty ones – the ambassador of those whose homes were being take away from them by wicked Man.
Then God relented and ordered Indra the rain-god to send down water. Indra ordered his subjects, the clouds to send down rain. The chataks drank and drank the water as it fell from the heavens.
Indra said “Oh Chatak birds you can drink only when it rains – remember only when it rains you will be able to drink water – only when it rains. While you drink those down there will be blessed too.”
Pechu explained “So you see – you are both punished and rewarded for your good and bad deeds. Until and unless it rains you will not have water to drink.”
“But my mother?” asked Jamua-chatak.
“Look down – she has been born anew in the village and when you give up your winged body you will be born as her son and be dutiful and loyal to your Ma and Mother Nature henceforth”.
And so it happened.
THE END- Total nr. of readings: 230 Copyright © The author  All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.
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