Sometimes the flat
rice fields that surrounded the small village in the heart of India
were flooded so that the palm trees along their embankments were
reflected in the tranquil waters, but now they were so parched and
bare that it seemed as if life could never again spring from them.
For the thirtieth
morning in a row Niranjan stood outside his small hut and looked for
signs of the black, rain heavy clouds that long since should have
raced up out of the south. But as usual the sky was empty; only a
faint haze obscured the horizon, and though the sun had barely
risen, the air was momentarily growing more hot and close.
Prema, walked toward him, coming from the village tank, where she
had bathed in the low water. On one shoulder she carried a large
earthen jar, and across the other, her long black hair hung dripping
wet. He waited for her, watching the dust rise in little puffs
around her bare feet. When she came up to him, she put down her jar
and sitting on a stool dried her hair. Then together they went into
the house to perform the morning worship at their small shrine.