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T & T Story Writing Contest 2019-20

A City without Water

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It was a fateful day. The freight container was fully secured, thrice locked. It contained The Last Drop of Oceanzong.

World’s largest city Oceanzong was named so because it was surrounded by water bodies and it seemed as if the ocean was always singing to the land—a song of life, of existence. A satellite vision of Oceanzong once had resembled an exotic gem, floating on turquoise waters. The rivers and streams of the land appeared like dexterous artworks that let the turquoise gleam through its surface. The lush green forests and grasslands impregnated life, and the coral reefs of the beach added mesmerising shades and ensured a comfortable climate for life.

But as years passed, many of the rivers vanished beyond trace and others became stagnant and rotten under the greed of its inhabitants. Greenery and life gave way to fire and strife. The song of the ocean was replaced by the cries of the people. Louder than the waves were the cries for ‘water.’ The sea was dull; toxic from the ‘developmental wastes’; lifeless except for the jellyfishes that swarmed like ghosts cheering the onset of Oceanzong’s doom. The seashores were often sighted with the bodies of the commons who took to drinking seawaters to quench their endless thirst. And the leaders of the land were debating, fighting, arguing for the welfare of the commons. Ever since the developmental wave struck the nation, Oceanzong got divided—into two—and then three—when the developments further magnified. The most advanced one-third of the land was ruled by Frowning Frog; the second largest part was under the rule of Daddy Brown, and the remaining one third was under the governance of Druk Mann.

All three rulers were old and hence supposed to be wise and democratic. Frog was the eldest, fairest and richest of the lot; for these reasons and by the very virtue of being elected as the leader of the most economically prosperous region, he presumed that: he knows everything and should never be questioned. He always spoke for his people and his boundaries. To him, the remaining two-thirds of the city almost never existed. His face had more wrinkles than the cracks on entire Oceanzong’s surface, and he always bore a frown.

Daddy Brown too was concerned with his region alone, but he believed pleasing Frog will help him in the long run and hence acted as if he was interested in inclusive welfare. Frog, however, was clever enough to see through and manipulate Brown. After all, they were all working for the welfare of the commons—dying commons. Brown had a funny diction and paused between every single word, so much that before he completes a long sentence, people lost their attention. The only, but strong similarity between these two leaders was their ability to be oblivious to burning facts.

The lone leader who was thoughtful about the wellness of the entire city was Druk Mann. Mann’s government gave importance to the happiness of its residents over productivity or business growth. They were concerned about nature as much as they were about the development of their region. Druk Mann was a leader who wore traditional outfits and bore sustainable policies. But for the same, Mann was always treated like a tribal projecting out of some distant past by the other two.

The three leaders, media, and the people of Oceanzong had always debated the cause for the climatic change, frequent natural calamities, and water scarcity. Nevertheless, the argument of the day was different—Which region is entitled to the last, only thousand gallons of clean, drinkable water of the city?

‘The Last Drop’, as it was popularly known, was the result of a collaborated work. When the entire city was rampaging for clean water, it was Daddy Brown’s brilliant scientists who spotted drinkable water in undergrounds of Druk Mann’s part of the city. Mann arranged the manpower required for the task. The technology and machinery to pump out the water and store it securely were provided by Frog.

However, Mann had foreseen the foul play that would stage as soon as The Last Drop would surface. To ensure fair distribution, he and his men transferred the filled tank to a large container and locked it swiftly. Frog was offended and deployed Brown to steal the keys from Mann. Brown did precisely as directed by Frog, but the moment the latter was in possession of the keys, he deceived his ally. Enraged, Brown wound another chain over the container and locked it. To make up for his lost key, Mann locked the container again. Thus, the box was locked thrice and placed at the border of the three regions. Frog, Brown, and Mann sat near it, and each was followed by a few of their surviving citizens. All the leaders mutually agreed for a peaceful discussion and promised to quench the thirst of their subjects soon.

“I will not unlock the container unless we ensure fair distribution of the water.” Mann was resolute.

“It was our scientists who had the vision to spot the clean water and we deserve a major ratio of it.” Brown spoke while calmly watching a few of his men die of dehydration.

Soon, Frog attacked with his distinctive frown, “Without my technology, this water would have never seen the light. It’s important that my people live. To ensure the good future of Oceanzong, the developed economy must survive. We and we alone are entitled to The Last Drop.”

“In the first place, water existed in our soil because we respected nature. We always took the best efforts to ensure sustainable development. The future of Oceanzong lies with people who can steer sustainability. Give us our rightful share, we shall give back the rest to your people and even train them to live a harmonious life and rebuild our city.”

“Who wants your donation and training! Look at the tree hugger’s outfit, he doesn’t even have the nerve to uncover his face fully.” Frog frowned and swayed his head like a crow, “We’ll train you to get out of your stupid traditional costume, Mr Mann.”

As Frog continued with his mockery, Brown assured his people, “My mijan. is water. to my nation.”

Meanwhile, three citizens rushed to inform that the last forest of Frog’s region caught fire. Frog brushed it off as a hoax. The men left helpless and eventually succumbed to thirst. Minutes later, a few of Brown’s people ran in seeking a solution to freezing weather of their region. Daddy Brown claimed that it was a ‘natooral. pehenomenon’ and that people felt cold just because they were getting old.  Mann wanted to assist the needy, but for the moment there was no way he would leave The Last Drop with Frog and Brown.

Druk Mann argued that while his region was the only zero-carbon space of the city, Frog and Brown contributed to the drastic climate change and the resultant water scarcity. Brown retorted that neither his people nor he had ever done anything that would adversely affect Oceanzong. He pointed out that it was Frog’s development policies that devastated everyone.

“O! well, Daddy! Your region breathes pollution, your water bodies are faeces in motion, and you say you have not polluted the city.”  He addressed his people, “Believe me, he’s a yuge hypocrite, and the other one—a loser. Believe me, we deserve to survive.”

“Whom are you both addressing? Your commons have parched to death. All of them.” Mann was apologetic.

“So what if they are dead! We too are commons. What say, Brown?”

“Yes. A leader. is elso. a com—”

Before Brown could complete, Frog shot him and took his key.

“The stupid is gone. Now, give me your key.”

“Frog! Your people are dead, mine are still craving for life. Let them live.

“Your last man dies now,” Frog shot one of Mann’s men. “The rest have sold themselves to me.”

One of those men grabbed the key from Mann and gave it to their new leader. With a victorious frown, Frog walked to the container, unlocked all three locks.

But the doors didn’t open.

Sustainable life alone thrives!” The men uttered in chorus and bowed to their leader as the door of the container unlocked from within, and Druk Mann walked out.

“Druk Mann, you cheat!”

“I am not a cheater, Frog. Neither are my men. You deceived your men and the city. Oceanzong’s future lies with the people who love it as a whole, Oceanzong will revive only in the hands of those who understand that a good chunk of our life lies in the trees, oceans, rivers, air, plants, animals and even the insects around us. When each of it dies, we die. And we are so near to that death that none of us can let you frown on our existence.”

“Crap! You may take the water. But, you can never defeat Frowning Frog!” As always, Frog conveniently mistook facts—he took death to be victory—and shot himself.

Druk Mann and his men took control of The Last Drop and went on to rebuild Oceanzong.



Vaishnavi Sanoj

Vaishnavi Sanoj is a post-graduate in English Literature and a qualified teacher. Her poems and articles have been published in prestigious online journals like Muse-India, Indian Rumination; and the daily newspaper, The Hindu. Her books include: SIDEREAL DESTINY, a novel explores the impact of thoughts in our lives; MYSTIC REFLECTIONS, a satirical novella on contemporary ideas of development, equality and spirituality. She is also one of the recipients of NE8X Online Literary Awards 2019.

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