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The Rain That Never Came

The sweet-smelling dust of a scorching May evening settled in front of Daya’s house. The blistering sun had dipped down beneath the horizon, the salmon sky sporting a canopy of faint grey clouds which never rained. As the darkness spread its veil over the land, the clouds seemed to be devoured into the night, replaced by a sprinkle of stars. The clouds brought with them, a little spark of hope- a hope that led farmers like Daya to believe that it would rain that night. When it didn’t, they felt their hearts wrenched out till it shed the last drop of blood. This type of hope was dangerous, for it brought them happy dreams and later pushed them into the dungeons of delusion.

 That evening was no different.

 Daya sat in front of his house, on top of the weak bamboo fence that had cost him a small fortune.

When his old father had passed away, the land in front of their dingy hut had been passed on to him. With high hopes and brimming dreams, he had taken out his broken bicycle with the bent wheel frame and leather-less seat and rode to the marketplace where he had brought five fences to cover either side of his land.

 On his way back from the marketplace, he had stopped at the moneylender Govind ji’s house and asked him for a little bit of money to buy the seeds and the fertilizers. When the scrawny, greedy man with a bald head had hesitated, Daya had told him about the piece of fertile land he had inherited and how it would reap the gold. With eyes on the little land, the moneylender had given some money to Daya.

 It was strange how things had suddenly started favouring him. He had money. He had the land. He had the spirits. And he had a bundle of hopes that he was going to make it big. Perhaps, they might appoint him as a member of the Farmer’s Association in their little town of Kaman. For a man who had spent almost half of his life doing odd jobs on another person’s land, even six feet of earth meant a lot to him.

 That very evening, the rains had come lashing down on the little village, quenching the thirst of the parched soil. The rain had drenched the flamboyant trees and their leaves had turned a shade brighter. Little saplings were awoken from their slumber and they greeted the silver sheets of rain as it crashed deafeningly on the thatched roof of Daya’s hut. In a matter of few minutes, the sky had gone from an eloquent blue to an ominous shade of gravel grey.

 Daya and his wife had sat in a corner of their little hut, escaping the dripping droplets of rain. As occasional flashes of lightning lit up the dark sky, Daya had felt a uncontainable joy at the pit of his heart. Oh, how he would plant the radishes and carrots and potatoes in this little land! Oh, how generous were the lords to bring them a spell of showers in early summer! It certainly meant something good, didn’t it? Daya’s poor human heart exploited his hopes with richer thoughts.

 Daya had tilled his land with viral enthusiasm, singing songs in merry stupor and buying his wife a brocaded silk saree from the market. When his wife had complained, he had asked her not to worry for they were going to be rich! Such were his hopes that it drove him into a frenzy.

 Each night he had gone to sleep, smelling the rain that lingered in the air and the canopy of stars in the desert night sky.

 However, only the smell of rain had lingered. It never came down in a glorious downpour. It never kissed his land and never brought it back to life. It doused off all his dreams, zoning them out into oblivion.

 How he had waited for the rain! How he had waited for his hopes to come back!

 Two dry months.

 And it hadn’t rained.

 The last traces of summer wind waltzed past him, creeping into his lonely house where his pale wife lay, bathed in the glorious light of the evening that trickled in through the little windows. The same saree, that  Daya had given her months ago, was wrapped around her in a careless fashion, rough knots of her unwashed, dark hair drowning into the creases of the fabric.

 The sound of a little bird rose and fell with the wind, the wispy clouds clearing from the sky to make way for the stars.

 The chilly desert air had taken its toll, but it did nothing to the restless, thirsty throats of the couple who hadn’t eaten for a week. The land in front of their house had cracked open. The little saplings that Daya had planted had withered away, leaving no trace behind.

 A faint light from the lantern flickered inside his house and smelling the scent of the burnt wick and the smoked glass, Daya turned around to see the same, obliterated by the rapidly darkening night. The darkness of the moment devoured his sanity, transforming him into a madman.

 Everything had started chalking his doom.

 When he had visited the mukhiya the other day, he had waved Daya off. At a time when drought had taken over the land, there was very little anyone could do for anybody.

 The greedy, heartless moneylender had come to his house, demanding him to return the money. Poor Daya could only give him the brass utensils and a pair of bronze bangles that belonged to his wife. Although the man had his eyes set on the piece of land, he left, knowing that the land wouldn’t be of any use as the drought had set in.

 There was nothing left in the house. Only two pitchers of clear water stayed in a desolate corner of the house, staring at the agony of the helpless couple.

 Daya jumped off the fence and started making his way inside his little abode. The tatters, he wore were unwashed, and covered with freckles of dirt and his bony chest glistened as the low light of the lantern hit him. His wife sat leaning against the mud wall, her hand on her head, wondering if they were suffering because of some sin they had committed in their previous lives.

Oh, the heartbreaking explanations we resort to!

 The things that had seemed to be going so well had instantly stopped, driving their ripened dreams into an unfathomable dead-end. Life was a brute, wasn’t it? And so was the restless human heart that held on to the withering thread of hope, thinking that one day or the other, radiance shall come through the pain.

 Daya staggered down beside his wife, crawling up to the bed and leaning against it. Staring at the faint darkness that was interrupted by the light from the night sky, he let out a hollow laugh.

 “It will rain!” he cried in feverish excitement. “We will grow everything on our land! We will be rich! Everyone will look up to us!”

 A slight sob escaped his wife’s lips.

 On a dull, summer night, when the moon was high up in the sky, a blissful cry erupted from somewhere, the breeze carrying its echoes into forgettable corners of the land.

 From nowhere, the air became thick with moisture, the rain-laden breeze calling out to the people of the land. A clammy haze of rain spread across the land, hiding the moon and the stars somewhere behind their drapes.

 Tiny drops of rain splattered across the unpaved paths, clearing out the sand and trickling in between the cracks. A few drops trickled into Daya’s house through the thatched roof and landed on their limp bodies. If only they had held on to that hope for a little more.

 The next morning, all the people of the land knew was that, the drought had driven yet another farmer to his death. No one sympathized. They blamed it on fate and they blamed it the sins the poor couple had probably committed in their previous lives. No one blamed the rain. No one blamed the drought. For them, it had become an everyday phenomenon, waking up each day to hear how a couple of farmers had given up. They stared at their abject poverty and prayed it didn’t happen to them.

 It rained for the next few days as well.

 If only Daya was alive to see the same. If only…

The Fault In Our Stories

You might recognize me, provided, you are fairly active in the Improve Your Writing forum on Wattpad. I run around all day long, helping a confused writer or two and managing a group of popular threads in the forum. The reason I do this, that is help the so-called confused writers, is not because I have no life, but, out of pure selflessness because I want the quality of stories to be improved.
Now, I love helping people. Not out of pure generosity, though. I mean, gone are the times when philanthropy was a virtue. Nobody holds the same regard these days. So, I like helping people because I believe it will wash off some of my sins.

Writing is a serious issue. It isn’t some means to gain popularity or create a market base. And it saddens me deeply when I see the quality of some works on popular writing websites.

Stated below are some of the things I highly dislike about Wattpad –

  • Bad Boys And Everything Bad-
One of the most disturbing trends discovered among up and coming writers these days is that most of them blindly follow the trend. If the market demands dystopian stories, online writing websites such as Wattpad are filled with a myriad of stories from the same genre. If bad-boy-falls-in-love-with-a-nerd books are high in demand, majority of writers steer into the same direction.
It is mind-blowing to know some statistics about the type of stories found on Wattpad.
Having been on Wattpad for about two years now, I’ve been an ardent reader on the site. While one can find a treasure-house of breathtaking stories on the site, there are also a few very disturbing novels, without good plots and writing skills, that manage to make it to the so-called Hot lists!
If one carefully goes through the type of stories found on Wattpad, it is seen that bad boy novels and fan fictions cover a major percentage of the number of books available on the site.
Titles range from The-Bad-Boy-Is-My-Neighbour-And-We-Have-A-Romeo-Juliet-Relationship to I-Was-Abused-And-Adopted-By-Harry-Styles-Who-Took-Me-To-His-Home-And-I-Met-The-Entire-Band-And-Fell-In-Love-With-Each-Of-Them!
And that is not all! Topics involving best friend’s brothers, brother’s best friends, rejected by some alpha mate, arranged marriage with some rock star, also stand as the favourite plots used by most writers on the site.
Although, I am a huge fan girl when it comes to bad boy novels and I’ve nothing against clichés, what pisses me off is the poor quality of the stories.
  • Building Your Story –
Certain things about a story irritate me – when the girl kisses some random guy in an elevator and love blossoms; when the nerd discovers the bad boy is her neighbour and it is the very night he jumps into her room! My point, where is the entire slowly-building-your-story concept? Are we so busy feeding an audience that amidst the chaos, we forget the actual essence of writing?
But, that is not all what irks me! It is probably the most disappointing thing to see these stories making it to the top while writers who struggle day and night, editing their stories and building their characters, stay back in the lesser known crowd!
Instead of focusing more on character development and structure of the story, writers pay more attention to the smut scenes in their stories. They describe what their character wears, instead of describing their personality.
An excerpt from one of the stories on the site : “She was wearing a short dress. Purple with golden lines near the borders. It hardly covered her ass and her cleavage was far too exposed. Her blonde hair had highlights and she has straight hair. She wore high heels that made her look 5’9″ when in fact, she was just 5’5″! Her heels were black.”
By this point of time, a serious reader like me, would’ve definitely lost interest. Because, we didn’t even need to know all that stuff! And most importantly, the entire description is bland and sounds like something a primary school kid would describe. Why, they could describe even better!
An excerpt from another one of the stories I’ve read on the site : “The short lavender top did little to keep her warm. Pushing back the strands of her brunette hair, she hugged herself tightly. “Why isn’t he here yet?” she wondered.”
Minimal descriptions, yet very effectively presented. While the latter gives the readers a clear glimpse, the previous description only pisses off serious readers.
However, it is an irony that some books that have gathered over a million views have a quality of writing exactly similar to the former example.
The question that arises here is that, are the writers at fault? Or is it that the readers have bland tastes?
  • Invisible Readers, Discouraged Writers –
As mentioned previously, writing is not small affair, though some books project otherwise. It takes some writers years to complete a single book, another few years to create a fan base and then some more years to see their books receive critical appreciation. It takes a lot of contemplation while writing a book. Writers are always thinking of how to project their ideas in the best possible way. They think twice about every action their character undertakes. They proofread their manuscripts a hundred times and are still not satisfied. In fact, we writers, live in a pretty disturbed world of our own, and surprisingly, we are happy.
The dawn of online publishing and writing sites has greatly changed the writing culture. There was a time when writers used to spend sleepless nights thinking about how well their book would be received by the audience. Today, feedback is just a click away.
New and popular writers are emerging every next minute. While someone is gaining 50k followers on Wattpad, someone’s book is signing a multimillion deal. Apprehensions have been blown away. Papers have been replaced by writing software. It is a maddening revolution.
But somewhere down the road, the revolution isn’t exactly the same as we had predicted.
A major part of stories uploaded online lack definite structures. It seems as if almost everyone is writing to please an audience! While some are going with the flow, some are trying to go against the same and failing at it badly.
I agree, one hundred percent, that feedback is our life blood. Each one of us, every writer, every teacher, every kid – we all want to know that we are loved. Similarly, if we create something, we want it to be loved by others. It is a natural instinct.
Now, Wattpad has a high percentage of invisible readers. There are so many users out here but not everyone is active.
Some of the readers prefer to add the books to their private library and read it offline. On the other hand, leave votes. And others leave comments. And, only some (read : handful) of readers comment as well as vote.
The site has got more number of readers – readers who prefer to download books and read them offline and read them via the mobile website. I’ll be honest, I too was once a silent reader.
But that was once upon a time.
Now, I make sure I leave comments. It encourages writers. It makes them feel good about their work. Place yourself in the shoes of the same writer! I remember getting pretty excited when a reader once commented on a lesser-known novel of mine, asking me to update! It provides a sense of joy to know that someone wants to know more about my story!
Be the active reader. Someday, when you’ll be writing a story, the people you’ve supported will help you back. They do.
  • Competition –

For such a large and popular website with numerous new users joining every day, it is only natural to have some competition. But on the site, the competition is carried on a different level.

As a pretty person who has always loved competition, I have no complaints against it. In fact, I think competition needs to be there. It pushes the writer forward and gets his/her creative juices flowing in the right direction (or maybe wrong). Of all the writing sites I’ve been to, I feel that Wattpad probably has the strongest competition. The tighter the competition, the better the talent that is showcased.

However, competition is peculiar on Wattpad. There are writers who have impeccable grammar and beautiful writing and yet remain lost in the shadows. Yet there are writers who go like, “Yo, bitch!” and manage to get so many readers!

Now, you see, why I told the competition out there is peculiar.

Who are the writers comparing to?

  • Becoming popular on Wattpad –

Let’s face it. Becoming popular on Wattpad isn’t easy. And if you think it is easy, you are wronger than the word I just used. Or maybe, you’re just delusional.

Here, social interaction plays a major role as well – how well you communicate with your readers, how well you can keep a reader engaged, how well you can sell your book to the crowd – all these factors play an essential role. It is no longer about how well you write, but how well your book reads!

One of the major lessons I learned after joining the site is that you don’t become popular by being good at something. Simply good. I write good. I know that. My friend is good at writing. She knows that. Some user I know has a good writing. He knows that. But there we are, all in the same train, squeezed up into a corner, waiting for our turn to come to the limelight.

I see several new threads in forums where confused writers are seeking help. Most of them have the same question – how to get more reads and followers and how to become popular.

There’s a definite mantra for this, but remember, it doesn’t work half of the time.

  • Write a good story (That’s what all of them say)
  • Publicize it in the Share Your Story page (this is a mere ridicule. There are two very contradictory words in the same sentence, which I’ll leave for you to figure out)
  • Seek critiques (75% of the critiques on Wattpad are not genuine, trust me. Try it.)
  • Help people (I’d second that. 25% of my followers are actually people who I’ve helped in the past.)
  • Show your enthusiasm by commenting on other stories. Show your support!

To be honest, a person as witty as me or like me (I know I’m being delusional, but oh well) will have better chances to get to that stage than a hardworking honest fellow who re-reads his/her manuscripts a hundred times. However, that doesn’t mean that you follow my example. I’m not here to set one. We need serious, hardworking people who are passionate about writing. We don’t need semi-erotic stories with a PG-13 rating or fan fictions where a pathetic girl jumps on someone and they fall in love.

And we need those people everywhere. In every nook and corner of our world.

But, at the same time, let us all remember that it is not always the hard work that wins. Intelligent work does.

Stay tuned for the next post where I reveal secrets to achieving slight success on Wattpad and give out top tips on how to impress a crowd (you know you want to)!