11 April 2008

Prospect of an exciting trip

Water had always been a problem in the village. Because of the government guidelines, the local water-board authorities allowed water supply to each village in the taluk for only a couple of hours, that too two days a week. It was more of a routine chore for the people in the village to collect water (in vessels with different shapes and colours!) for the remaining days of the week. For the villagers, this was a way of life...

Though Shankar lived in a joint family, his grandpa usually took up this routine task. He would always go along with his grandpa and stand in the long queues in front of the government tap across the road. He loved the colourful sight! He would look at all the people standing in the queue in front of him and wonder as to why people braved the hot sun for a couple of buckets of water. At least he never had any problems in getting water. Whenever he wanted some, he'd just cry out loud and his mother would get him a nice cup of water, even buttermilk sometimes! He didn't like milk much though...

There was an hand-pump which tapped the underground water, but this was almost 10 Kms from the village. There were hardly any buses to get there and walking there in the burning sun was out of question. To get water from the hand-pump was an expensive proposition and was rarely used by the villagers.

It was the middle of the week. Even at noon, the market was bustling with activity. Shankar had come with his two elder cousins and grandpa to buy the vegetables for the coming week. There were vendors selling water and ice-gola (a type of ice candy which people of all age groups and especially kids relish!). Shankar wanted an ice gola at any cost and threw up a rant till his grandpa gave in. He was half way through eating it when he noticed that a it was melting away. He began to wonder as to how the drops were formed from solid ice. He stopped eating the gola and watched the rest of it melt away!

Shankar returned from the market. His mom told grandpa that there was hardly any water left at home and would not last more than a day. Even the govt supply could not be relied upon. There had been rumours going on in the village that the neighboring villages were receiving water only once in ten days.

Grandpa decided to get water all the way from the hand-pump. He took one of Shankar's cousins and was about to set out on the moped. Shankar loved moped rides and definitely did not want to miss this one. Grandpa was definitely not in a mood to tolerate more bad behaviour from Shankar, so he decided to take Shankar along.

Finally, they got going.