Zeenath Jahan

In a Time not long ago, in a Place not far away, the Earth lay arid and empty under the blistering skies. For years and years there had been a drought and so there were only a few hardy plants that managed to grow there. Alone, the Earth struggled to live.

"I'm thirsty! I'm thirsty!" cried the Earth to the unhearing skies. "I'm thirsty! I'm thirsty!" she cried to the uncaring passersby.

One day, from over the mountains, from over the seas, a Bright and Silvery Cloud drifted by. Hearing the Earth's desperate cries it was moved to tears. With an all-encompassing Love it smiled on the Earth through the gentle tears. Drenched, the parched Earth laughed with pleasure, lifting her face to the Bright and Silver Cloud. The joyous Earth then burst forth in all her glory. The treasures that had lain dormant for centuries within her heart came to life. Streams gushed where there had been none; trees and flowers sprung up to cover the face of the earth, and grassy knolls covered her nakedness.

The lush greenery of the whispering grass, the inviting shade of the sky-reaching trees and the vibrant colours of the multi-hued flowers drew the attention of all who saw it.

"It is a piece of heaven!" said one.

"It is a place of wonder!" said another. News of the Earth's beauty grew far and wide. Pilgrims came to partake of the largesse, drawing strength and peace of mind from the beauty of her soul.

The Cloud looked on from a distance. Entertained by the transformation he had wrought on the arid Earth he lingered close by. Never traveling too far, and always returning to smile on the place Love had beautified.

When the hot day was done and the pilgrims had returned to their homes, satisfied and gladdened by the bounty of the Earth; when the gentle night fell on the world and there was peace and silence all around; the Earth would hold out its arms to the Cloud drawing him down to her bosom.

"You are beautiful," the Cloud would whisper to the Earth, and the Earth would become more beautiful under it's admiring gaze.

"WhatI am today, I owe to you. I 'Am' because you 'Are'," the Earth would reply in love and gratitude, while stroking the cares of the day from the Cloud's silvery face, smiling and glad in her abundance.

The Cloud would sleep deep and long within the embrace of the Earth. With the first rays of the rising sun, stretching from its peaceful night and preparing for another day of adoration of the wonders of the universe the cloud would slowly rise to the heavens. The earth would wake dewy fresh in the rosy morning, damp from the night of love.

"Wandering the world in awe and wonder the cloud belonged to the free, open skies. The earth was fenced in, anchored to one small space in the world. In time the cloud drifted off, further and further away, dreaming other dreams; floating on the back of the winds; searching for the reason for it all. Each time the absence was longer and the earth waited in hope and fear, until the day the cloud did not return for weeks.

The Earth waited.

For a time the Earth's gradual death was not visible to the world, they only saw that which grew above the surface; but soon she found it harder and harder to nourish all that grew out of her heart. The stream shriveled to a trickle until all that remained was the channel it had nibbled out for itself on the face of the earth, deep ugly scars. Then the brown edges of the lush greenness became wider, darker, deeper, eating into the heart of the Earth.

Then the creeping death was visible to the world when the flowers dried out and the skeletons of the trees reaching fruitlessly to the skies were all that remained of the riotous growth of yesteryear. The Earth flourished only in the shadow of the Cloud's Love.

"I'm thirsty! I'm thirsty!" whispered the Earth through cracked, dry lips. The unhearing sky did not hear.

"I'm thirsty! I'm thirsty!" sighed the Earth, parched and dry; but the arid wasteland made passersby shudder with fear, quickening their pace to get away from the scene of desolation.

"I'm thirsty!" sobbed the Earth with her last breath, but there was no one to hear her.

The bright and silver cloud, drifting over the mountains, over the seas and oceans, searching for the reason for it all, did not hear; it was too far away.

Then the skeletons of the trees, crumbling and dead fell to the ground; the dust of the Earth quickly covered their naked bones, burying the memory of her fruitfulness deep in her heart. Faintly at first the Cloud heard the final death rattle. The stench of death in the rising dust reached the Cloud and harnessing the wind it returned to the Earth.

The extent of the devastation stunned the Cloud. Sinking to the Earth, and crying hot tears of sorrow the Cloud embraced the earth. Lifting her face to the Cloud the Earth smiled. A trickle at first, the stream hummed to life, filling the scars on the face of the Earth. New trees and flowers sprung up to cover the face of the earth, and grassy knolls covered her nakedness. The lush greenery of the whispering grass, the inviting shade of the sky-reaching trees, the vibrant colours of the multi-hued flowers were all hidden from view.

The Cloud covered the earth from view, for now the Earth belonged only to the Cloud.

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