Everything is still a dusty brown. The grass is dead, the animals run around looking for something to eat. Not even a trickle in the small river next to the school. The heat is unbearable, going out in the middle of the day a waste of energy and time. The cows have no escape though, trying to find shade, moving from tree to tree. Some moan in frustration. You can’t tell them it’ll be here soon, all the grass they can eat, they don’t understand, they just stare at you with an air of accusation.
All we can do is listen to the radio and watch the television, their maps and forecasts telling us that it’s coming. We stand outside in the evenings watching for clouds in the distance. Hoping that they will bring the relief that we need so desperately. We try to laugh and joke, make the situation seem less serious. We all know though that our livelihoods rest on those clouds coming soon. Now even the dogs sit with us and watch, waiting as eagerly as ourselves.
A child comes running from across the fields, cupping his hand. He holds it out to us as he reaches the porch, opening his hands to show a droplet of water. He’d carried it from the other side of the fields. We all look up at the sky, the clouds floating away, the dark orange sky of dusk appearing again. They are teasing us again, giving us one drop, making us excited and then sticking their tongues out as they move off into the distance to torment someone else.
Morning comes and the sky is blue. The sun blazing down on the already scorched earth, the cattle no longer look at me with accusing eyes, now it’s just resignation. If only they knew it was nature and not me that was condemning them to this slow death. Children no longer play, even in the shade there is no laughter. Hope is gone. The crops we planted in anticipation will soon be worthless. Looking at the brown hills in the distance I wonder who I can blame, who can I get angry with. There is no one, it’s just the way it is.
I resign myself to my bed. There is nothing else that can be done. Watching and waiting is of no use. As I lie there fanning myself there is a cry from outside. I get up to see what it is, the same child from yesterday bringing us some more droplets, the clouds playing their games again. This time he points back as he reaches us and we can see the dark angry clouds coming. Those on the porch had given up looking, they hadn’t noticed them coming. The children laugh and shout with happiness. Even the cow has a glint in his eyes, sniffing the air.
The clouds reach us, the water falling from them. The children running outside to catch it, soaked to the skin but happier than they have ever been. Even my old mother manages to get up out her seat to join them. The cows have stood up, the water washing over their skin, rejuvenating them. The cracks in the ground from the sun are now filled with the contents of the clouds. This time there was no teasing, the wait is finally over and we can go on living.