It has been a rather harsh summer. The earth is parched. We hear that wells are drying. We now get restricted water supply at fixed timings. Three hours in the morning and three in the evening. Summers in Vidarbha were always killing. But this year has been unbearable.
The yellow tinges to the green leaves on all the plants tell the story more vividly. They are no longer glistening and bright. The growing bottlebrush in my garden is now burnt a sorry brown. I watched with wonder a few months ago, when the inflorescences appeared on the mango tree and then turned into hundreds of small green mangoes. Where are they now? Some shrivelled specimens remain. The bael fruit on the trees are now a ripe yellow. A carpet of fruit, several broken out of their shells, lies below the tree, raising a stench. The lush green banana trees outside my bedroom window now have yellow and torn leaves. It is such a sorry sight. I wish I had a giant hose pipe which could give the thirsty earth, a long quenching shower.
The birds are braver. The bulbuls and babblers sing at the break of dawn. But afternoons are cruel for them, as they cluster under shrubs in my lawn. I no longer see the sight of babblers enjoying a shower under the water sprinkler. This year the langurs are quiet too. I’m wondering how they are coping. Previously they had learnt to open the garden tap and drink from the hose. The mothers would ensure that each of their young ones had their fill of water one by one. This year, there is no water in those taps.
Early at dawn I shuffle to the kitchen and switch on the gas. The raised temperatures cause me to flare into a temper. Mornings are supposed to be calm and cool. Here they are hot and fiery. Cooking in a sweaty kitchen is a curse to be endured. By the time I reach my workplace, my brains are fried under the sweltering breeze emerging from the rickety water cooler. I stare at the computer screen trying to be efficient, but the mind refuses to focus. They have blocked Facebook too. Else I could look longingly at pictures of snowy peaks in Switzerland or Shimla from the posts of my friends and pretend it was cooler here. Whatsapp wars over probable election outcomes are hotter. I wish 23rd May came and went sooner so that everyone finally relaxes. The puffing and panting journalists need some fresh air too.
When I get back from work, instead of swaying in the breeze, the orange flowers of the gulmohur look morose and wilted. The solitary kingfisher, whose favourite haunt its branches were, is missing again.
Will the rains be here soon- I wonder. But then I remember the lakhs of trees chopped beside the highways on the way to Nagpur. While I drove through the outskirts of Bor sanctuary last week, I saw that rampant tree felling has resulted in forests no longer looking like forests. There are just acres and acres of arid earth. Maybe, we deserve this every bit. Karma catches up sooner than you expect.