‘Water. The soul of the Earth. The giver of life. Chemically a compound, essentially the element of existence.
Water is described in textbooks as ‘a transparent, tasteless, odourless and nearly colourless chemical substance’, but that is a purely scientific and narrow minded approach, though now it is not much more than that. Once, water was so much more than that.
Water used to make up 71% of the surface of the Earth. However, less than 5% of that was drinkable, and most of that 5% was stuck in ice sheets on the poles or in glaciers.
We have been quite ruthless, using water in any way we like. We have wasted water, used it in factories, polluted the rivers, thrown plastics in the ocean, we have been careless. It’s true, that when people have too much, they use too much, and waste even more.’
Mr Clocks stared out of his window, looking at the barren, parched, drought-stricken landscape before him. Even cacti did not grow in that land any more. He was talking to anyone who would be eager enough to hear him.
‘Once we used to take it for granted that the water cycle will keep on replenishing the water supply for us. When we realised that that was not happening, we expected water reservoirs and perennial rivers to serve the purpose, as rain still came as ‘rain’ from the sky, though had become highly occasional.’
He turned to look at the pictures on the wall, and continued talking to his surroundings.
‘Of course, we never saw what was coming next. It was a simple flowchart, really. We polluted the atmosphere, and the polluted atmosphere in turn polluted the rain. Soon, pure acid was falling from the sky.’
Mr Clocks flinched, as he remembered once how he had experienced such acid rain. The acid had burned through his clothes, and scarred his entire right arm. He looked at it and grimaced. His thoughts went back to the far worse thing that had happened…
∼ ∼ ∼
‘Hurry darling, it’s getting cloudy!’ said Mr Clocks to his wife. They had gone on a visit to the countryside. The country side was no longer the lush green meadows, scattered huts, farms, fields – no, it had changed. Ever since the first shower of acid, countrysides had been steadily turning a sad tone of brown. Trees had withered, and crops had all started failing.
‘Coming in a minute!’ said Mrs Clocks, standing across the field. She wanted to experience every moment of the countryside. Of what was remaining, anyway. She had a feeling this would be their last visit to the ‘countryside’.
‘Darling, come on!’
And suddenly, it had started. The acid. Falling relentlessly and mercilessly from the sky. Mrs Clocks had no umbrella, was dressed modestly. On top of all that, she made a huge mistake. She looked up skywards.
Mrs Clocks was blind the very next moment. The acid burned her eyes. She blundered around, getting burned further. By the time Mr Clocks raced across the field and reached her, it was too late…
∼ ∼ ∼
Mr Clocks was jolted back to the present by a blinding flash and a sound like that of a bomb. Ever since rain had become acid, the sound of thunder had curiously increased. It was deafening now.
‘It was nearly too late already, but humans are humans. They thought they could change it all.’
Through the window he looked at the sky, which was purple throughout the day. With the clouds now, the purple had deepened.
”Ocean water filters is the key!’ they said. Foolish humans. By the time even a working prototype was created, all the smaller bodies of water had either dried up or turned to dilute, but harmful, acids. Factories were being shut down, but it was all too late. It was tough to even reach the ocean. Moreover, the filters failed. People were confined to their homes.’
He looked at a picture of the Amazon, which he had taken from an aeroplane when he was a boy.
‘The forests started disappearing; it burned out. Marine animals had long since perished; if any were left, they were left to die. Humans cared only about saving themselves.’
Sighing, he went to the living room. The all-time news screen, which was installed on the wall of every house, flickered on and started showing the latest news report. When the report was important enough, this screen could turn on automatically.
‘The Nuclear Research Facility of the World(NURFAW) is on the brink of a huge breakthrough!’ the host of the news show said excitedly. ‘They will soon be able to artificially synthesize water!’
‘The newest one,’ muttered Mr Clocks. ‘How do these foolish humans still believe they can survive the wrath of Mother Nature?’
The news report was now showing a person who was explaining what was going on at the NURFAW. Mr Clocks went back to his recollections.
‘Soon, forests had come close to deserts. The human society was at a loss. No scientific breakthrough was coming remotely close to providing a complete solution. Then, what was bound to happen started happening.’
Mr Clocks uttered the next word with a sad sigh. ‘War.’
When the rains had become acid and the rivers had stopped flowing, mankind had turned to Water Wars. There had been 5 Water Wars, and as is usually the case, no one benfitted from these Wars. The Water Wars was much like the Crusades, but much worse. Rivers started flowing again, but this time, they were rivers of blood.
‘There used to be an organization named United Nations,’ said Mr Clocks,’ and they tried their best to stop the Wars. Alas, nothing can stop what is bound to happen.’
His thoughts went back to the dreadful morning when it had been raining yet again….
∼ ∼ ∼
‘I’m in the army! I must go in defense of my country!’ said his son.
‘Son, this war is futile. It will only succeed in bringing further sorrow. We need water, not war. The war cannot help-‘
‘I don’t care what the war can or will do. I just know that I have sworn to protect my country, and I am bound to do so. I must and will go!’
‘You will not,’ said Mr Clocks, beginning to get agitated now.
‘I will!’ said his son.
The argument continued for long. In the end, Mr Clocks, extremely agitated, said in a cold voice, ‘If you must, then you must. But this war is foolish, and will not help mankind in any way, and I am ashamed that you being my son will take part in it.’
His son stormed out of the house.
Mr Clocks only saw half of his son again, draped in a cerecloth. The other half, they told him, had blown up with a bomb.
∼ ∼ ∼
He went to the refrigerator, where he had stored the last pint of pure water he had left.
‘Here’s to the soul of the Earth; may it rest in peace,’ said he, as he drunk the last drop as the drunkard would drink the last drop of alcohol he ever got, and retired to his bed.
∼ ∼ ∼
‘It’s failed! They’ve failed!’ wailed the reporter. The last drop of water had been used up.