The sun's hot rays scorched the parched earth.
Maniam stared unseeingly at the
withered dying plants, looking but not seeing. Months of hard work had gone down
the drain. The vegetable patches were starved of water, the land was strangely
Even the animals were quiet, having lost the desire to make even the
slightest noise, exhausted to the bone by the
Such a climatic catastrophe had never appeared in all the years that Maniam
first ventured into vegetable planting. Together with his best friend, Ah Seng
who happened to be his schoolmate, they applied their academic qualifications in
the field of agriculture and business to farming. Nature was there for the
taking - to be man's partner in bounteous returns.
The first two years were difficult times. However, they managed to make ends
meet and they enjoyed the great outdoors. Besides they were their own bosses,
being equal partners. In addition, they were not interested in making millions,
they did not want the stress of the rat race, neither the thought of making
millions for others and being paid pittance.
They worked when they liked, and they had fun when they liked.
It was the third year when things started picking up. Profits came, slowly but
surely. With the current fad of healthy living, where the health fanatics ate
more greens, Maniam and Seng were delirious with great expectations. Nature was
kind and merciful.
Alas, their happiness was short-lived. The weather became erratic. Some days it
rained that the plants were flooded out. Some days, it burnt until the plants
were parched and dried. It was a nightmare but the situation was under control.
They could still plant, they could still harvest, the farm was still surviving
and fortunately, there were the profits.
Then, the drought had to descend with all its fury on the
vandalized land. It had not rained for months. The lakes and
rivers had dried up, the reservoirs were almost empty. Water rationing was in
Seng applied his engineering skills to extract water from the thirsty earth. He
did whatever was humanely and scientifically possible but it seemed as though
the elements had deserted him.
Maniam tried to use all his business contacts to get financing and buyers but
they too were facing financial setbacks.
Somehow, by a quirk of nature, the hot days turned cooler and the rains came.
The rain fronts seemed to have come from nowhere and the air was dense with
moisture. Maniam and Seng were relieved but their relief was cut short.
The rains were different from the rains of the past. It did not rain to please
mankind, it rained to please no one, not even the elements. Earlier, just a year
ago, they had to contend with heat, sun and drought, now they had to be enemies
with water. It rained and rained.
The whole land turned into raging swirling waters of mass destruction. The
dramatic change was beyond imagination. One minute it was scorching hot, the
next second, it was a Waterworld. The waters showed no mercy. Maniam and Seng
had an instant swimming pool.
Seng and Maniam could only look at each other. Twelve months ago, they had the
sun for company, this time, they had the water as their enemy. It was fun to
have them in small doses but when they were in excess, they were monstrous
agents of destruction.
The two friends decided to allow nature to reign supreme again as they resigned
themselves to the fury of nature one more time.