It had been over two years now… The parched land had become as usual a part of the village as the unsympathetic crimson sky that shone on its emaciated residents, as though glaring furiously for an unknown felony. Not a trace of green could be seen within the farthest of far sights. Water had become an indulgence, so much so that, every drop of it tasted of a strange guilt.
They must have been four years of age when the last drops of water had touched the soils to never reappear from the horizon again. Some of them remembered only faintly how the then compassionate sky used to drench the village in the fluid that was a priced possession of only handfuls now. These kids stayed together, to be separated only in the nights, when they had to reluctantly go to their respective dwellings.
Their days were spent gauging the length and breadth of the village aimlessly. Call it the supremacy of human frame or mere biological adaptation, but these kids never tired of this unprolific little quest for Eldorado which they gleefully set upon day after day despite the pitiless Sun above them. The fervor of the children for this nonsensical and tiring activity puzzled the elders but they were too busy arranging for the essential little for survival to bother any more than seldom rebukes and exasperated shrugs.
Every thorn that punctured the little feet was plucked out to study at a close range. Blood was wiped off the feet, pain forgotten and the course changed. Every shrub they came across was scrutinized intently. Every stunted, wilted dead leaf was kept securely as a valuable specimen for further delving. Sometimes when the skinny bodies of the little warriors gave way to pain and fatigue, they rested a while on the cankered surface beneath the sweltering sky, talking about the next course of action in the meantime.
Ask these undersized angels, what it was that they were seeking, and they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. They knew no other way of living. They knew no way to escape or what it was that was to be escaped. They just knew that they had to do something, for they thought it was only through doing something, anything that things could change. What it was that had to be changed, our little travelers found hard to point.
Time, they say, heals all. But this adage too had failed the villagers like all their scanty sources of succor. It was about time they let go of their pursuit unconcluded, and set off for a new place. The arrangements were made, and it was the last day in the village that had been home for all of their lives.
The kids set off like everyday on what they knew was the last of their so many painful albeit pleasurable expeditions in their homeland. There seemed to be a hurry today, that had been absent in the past. They had a lot to do, a lot to plan. Tomorrow, there will be a new place waiting to be discovered…
Life changes course all the time… but its essence hardly, if at all, changes…