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Water Wars

Vidhathri Mysore

A cold, chilly breeze started. The fledgling slowly opened its eyes, looking for its mother; starving. The eagle had gone to hunt for food.

It was still dark; Cold and damp. The warm rays of the sun hadn’t yet hit the small village. Somewhere in each house, lay families huddled together, to keep away the cold, deep in slumber.

The cock began its early morning song; Disrupting people, stirring them ever so slightly; Louder and louder the cock sang; Irritated, people slowly started waking up.

The still of the village was no more. Farmers began their daily morning chores; Children were made to wake up, to get dressed and go to the village school; Tractors roared to life; Shutters opened; The village, in a matter of a few hours came alive, so much so, one could hear the hum and throb of the village from afar. This was the beauty- one little cock making the entire village come to life.

When you saw the village from a distance, you couldn’t notice anything. It was all the same; Normal routine, everyday chores.

The eagle came back with an assortment of food, to feed its little ones. Each animal that lived in this village, knew its uniqueness. Every living creature knew the art of survival here. Oh no, do not get me wrong. Food was aplenty. Nay. It was something else that made this village unique, that set it apart form the rest – There was no water. How are they alive? You may wonder. And here are some key facts, before I continue with the rest of the story:

  1. There are no water bodies nearby.

  2. Underground water is not there, not even a drop.

  3. There are no water pumps.

  4. No wells.

  5. Only rain. That too, scanty.

It was going to happen. At 1 o’ clock, the village would go into chaos. So much chaos, at least one person died every time. That was how bad the situation was.

Five kilometres away it was first heard. The rumbling and heaving – the slow-paced approach towards the village. The eagle could see it. Thank the gods for the amazing sight she had. Pretty much like a HD television with a brilliant display. It went, soaring into the sky, with a coconut husk in its talons. And it soon locked its sight on this big, huge, massive animal. The only animal that carried water. So much water, that it could quench the thirst of the whole village. It dove. A magnificent dive at that. Very majestic. It perched itself at the back of the animal.

Did the animal fight back? Did it realize that the eagle had firmly held onto it?

Pretty soon, the eagle got its water, enough of it for the day, and flew away. Once it reached its tree, its home, it safely stored the coconut husk, and perched on the branch of the tree, finally able to rest.

The ears of a shopkeeper perked. He could hear it – the only source of water coming in a distance. A slow-paced, growl-like sound.

What was this abnormal animal? Or am I just spouting nonsense? No – this big, voluminous ‘animal’ was nothing but a water tanker. So obviously, when the eagle perched on its behind, the tanker didn’t know. I mean how could it? It is a non-living thing. The pipes from the tanker constantly trickled with water. A waste, no doubt, but not really. This was how other birds and animals got a chance to peacefully drink, collect and store water, before the humans did.

As soon as it was a mere few meters away, exactly at 1 PM, everyone left whatever they were doing and rushed to get their matkas and buckets and containers. They had to be there before anyone else. It was cut-throat competition. The tanker finally came to a stop and before the engine could shut-off, children had already climbed over the tanker, trying to get hold of a pipe to thrown down to his/her family, whoever was waiting down with the matka, so they could fill the water fast and get out of that rush.

Again, don’t get me wrong. There are stories to both sides of the scene. The ‘art’ of throwing the pipes in such a way that only your family would get them, is not as easy as it sounds, considering the masses of people. No. it is very hard, challenging and requires a lot of skill. And what about the person standing in the stampede-like crowd, waiting for the pipe to come his way? Not an easy task. There are slim to none chances that an unexperienced person could get the pipe successfully. But not these villagers. They have had years and years of experience. And they get the job done pretty easily.

Image Credits: Hindustan Times

Like a swarm of ants; But today was different. A 14-year old boy, while trying to climb the tanker, fell down, getting stuck between the tires. No one saw. No one cared. The water was more important at that moment, you see. After all the masses of people cleared, the father, who was looking for his son, saw the dead body lying near the wheels of the tanker – almost unrecognizable, save for his clothes; a piece of mush. A terrible sight. A terrible day. A terrible loss. But what could the parents do? This was not the first death that had taken place because of this situation. The only possible thing they could do was – mourn. Mourn in silence. Because who could they go to? Who would resurrect their son?

Now, as readers living in, if not posh, then at least comfortable homes, with at least the basic necessities to sustain life, can you imagine living a life like this?

Sigh. Unfortunately, this is the sorry state of affairs in our country. And this village, a real village in one of the mega-states in our country, is just one amongst many where the only source of daily water is through tankers. Hundreds of men, women and children lose their lives like this. What did they do to get such sad deaths?

You all talk so much, debate so much about the “future third world ‘water’ war” but little do any of you realise that in small and large numbers, this has already begun. The fight for water, the fight unto death, has already started, my friends. And not now. Not in 2020. No. it started years ago.

This real-life incident? It happened some eight odd years ago in a small village in the Beed district in Maharashtra. And how many of us know about this tragedy? At the same time, ironically, how many of us know about how Sridevi died? The ratio is quite saddening.

What is the use of government schemes and policies? People keep dying. Can we hold the government accountable? Can the parents of the 14-year old boy go to the government seeking some kind of remedy? People are helpless. The masses of voiceless people in our country, they do not have any remedy that the government provides, no way to even raise their complaints. Here is the deal. Nothing we do is going to change any of this, unless that something is radical and revolutionary. So instead of waiting for ‘someone else’ to take actions, it is high time we started taking matters into our own hands. Knowing everything going on, we need to come forward and try defeat the wrongs happening because what we have ignored so far can still be made right. Acting RIGHT NOW is the only way that our actions so far could be overlooked, if not forgiven. As the old saying goes, “ignorance is bliss”, in this case, ignorance is most definitely not bliss, for if we don’t change the situation we are in now, then as a society or even as a single community, we are not moving forward, in fact, we are moving further back from the whole process of development in its entirety. Need I remind you, remind you all, development is a very inclusive word, one of which includes human rights and the very idea of how precious lives are.

That way one boy would not have lost his life. One family need not mourn. And one household need not fight for water.

Vidhathri Mysore is a law student at CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore. She takes a keen interest in matters pertaining to human rights, animal welfare, political sciences and the field of technology. Since a young girl, she has always been good at analyzing various situations, writing articles and debating. As an aspiring lawyer, she wants to grow up to be part of a global community that takes efforts to help people all across the world and also works to reinstate our nature and it’s ecosystem. Her forte is using different forms of art to express her thoughts and opinions, hoping to make a small difference in the way society thinks, to make them more open-minded and aware of all the various changes that take place in our community.