The Hails (Short Story)

John KolyavStarred Page By John Kolyav, 12th Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

How can a father fulfill the last dream of his daughter? This is the translation of my first prize winner Malayalam story about an endosulfan-affected child.

Frozen Water (The Hails: Part I)

“It’s almost twelve, dear...”
Her voice was as humid as the Monsoon rain.
“You may sleep…”
Gripping the bars he stared through the window. The shower falling in the courtyard was glistening. It was not cold even though sprays were falling on his face and hands. There was a strong lightning and a simultaneous thunder. The entire village shook. The lights were out. He did not shudder as he wont. What is there to frighten him anymore?
He withdrew slowly into the bedroom and lighted the candle. While closing the door she sighed. He looked a while at his son, sleeping close to the wall and blew out the candle.
Her hands crept through his chest as he lay by her side.
Another strong thunderbolt fell somewhere followed by heavy sounds on the roof.
“Hails…it’s June six…” She sobbed.
“Please don’t Lissy. Let him sleep…”
He yearned to cry aloud when hot shower fell on his shoulders. It was not easy to restrain.
Natural rhythm of the rain and wind outside, along with her sobs, gradually slackened. He kept aside her hand very carefully, got up and sat a while in the darkness, as he was a part of it. Flashes peeped through the ventilator now and then. He palpated his way out into the sitting room. Once again he stood at the window and stared into the dim world outside.
The wind and rain had completely stopped. Silent flashes from the north-east shone everything intermittently. Those lights must be rhythmic, at least for that particular night.
Why did she, like an angel, visit this earth? Was it to teach the heat and cold of pure love? Why did she go back to her eternal home so early? Who destined her path? What man knows really?

He gazed indifferently at the grim silhouette of the cashew hills far east. They brought into the village the ill fate along with its peculiar aroma.

Will Bodhisattva appear to save the world in the era of iron-eagles? Or, is it only a myth? For what temporary profit did they pour deadly insecticide using helicopters all over the hills? How happy life was when she was studying in U.K.G.! It was a heaven in spite of poverty. How fast the dreamy life turned into nightmare! How beloved was she for her teachers and neighbors! Like a butterfly she was fluttering behind butterflies, all along the farmland. Everything is as clear as happened yesterday! Was it the serenity of the endless blue that reflected in her long, bright eyes?

“Daddy, she fell..!” Was it two years back Sunil’s scream rose at the well? Is time really frozen?
Bag full of books, he was about to set off for the day’s work, selling them. Neena was lying pale near the well. Whose cries gathered the villagers?

Two months later, he had to return home with her transformed body hospitals discarded.
Everyday he expected her in vain, waiting in the courtyard, when he was coming home after work. However he could withstand when doctor said, “Mr. Joseph, may be two more weeks…”
June fifth, when he came back in the evening Lissy and Sunil were standing at the threshold, weeping. “She’s asking hails…”
He ran into her small room. Where was the storm roaring when pearls were shining in her small eyes? Only once he had collected hails for her. She was in L.K.G. It was during the onset of the Monsoon rain on a Sunday afternoon. The hails were falling on the tiled roof as if someone was throwing pebbles down. He gathered a few of them fell here and there in the courtyard.

Deception (The Hails: Part II)

How curious and euphoric she was watching the hails melt away in that tender hand. But, had it that deep influence in that little mind? Who knows what things cause lasting impression in innocent minds?
“Where can I get hails from, my dear…”
“Hails…” She muttered.
“O.K. I’ll get’ them tomorrow my dear!”
Was it certain? A false promise! There was nothing to do but helplessly looking at her scaly face. Her thin legs were twitching in pain. The effects of sedatives were deteriorating day by day. Media were full of the deadly poison sprayed on cashew crops.
He prayed earnestly for hailstorm the other day. It occurs only very rarely when wind, rain and thunder synchronize.
How can a father go for work the next day? It was sunny in the morning. Even though it rains in the afternoon the chance for the heavenly blessing was very rare.

Was there a feeling of extreme guilt when coming back from town by two p.m. with ice pieces covered in saw-dust? There had been no choice. He was compelled to do it for her last wish.
He kept them in the kitchen. The weather grew dim by four o’clock. Was the first thunder really in the sky? His heart was about to burst. When the drizzle started, her feeble sound rose, “Daddy, hails…fall…”
“I’m ready my dear!”
Was there a volcano erupting inside? Why the voice faltered?
Was it conscience numb when stepped into the courtyard with the ice pieces in the left hand? Uncertain even now why he threw a handful of pebbles over the roof! Was it to deceive her or his conscience?
“Daddy, hails are falling…”
“I’m coming!”
Were the legs staggering when entered her room through the door between duty and deception? Why did terror grip for the first time when handed her over a small piece of frozen water?
What was there in her mind when she watched it against the light? Was there any meaning in the momentary smile flashed on her dry lips? Could she observe a spectrum of hopes in that? Was it the dream of a whole family melted down through her hands?
On which bramble mind tore away when unearthly peace prevailed in her eyes. How could he control tears when Lissy hugged Sunil with a scream?
The next evening when she said, “White ants eat my books…give it to him…angels are calling…” was she really in delirium? Were those her last words?

Spectrum (The Hails: Part III)

There were silent flashes from the horizon. He felt it had a special rhythm. It must be for the unique night.
He wore slippers and carefully opened the door. The pools of muddy water were reflecting the faint light. He covered the footpath and moved slowly through the country road.
He was well aware where his feet were carrying him.
The houses on either side seemed engulfed by shadows of death. No dog barked nor any nightingale sang. Faint flashes from the horizons continued. Everything was visible as dark figures. The light appeared unearthly as if the moon was behind the hanging clouds.

The road was moving back as in a dream. His heart trembled when he climbed the steps. He moved towards the churchyard.
Keeping his hands on the wall, he looked eagerly towards the south-east corner far away where wild jasmine was thickly growing. It seemed a nest of fireflies under the hanging branches of rubber trees.
Is it empty? Won’t she appear for once, at least in this night?
The fireflies on the jasmine began to shine rhythmically. It seemed harmonious with the flashes from the horizon.
Something was getting clearer. Snowy shirt and fringed skirt…all shone as diamond dust was sprayed on it.
Two small glassy objects were moving up and down. Thousands of colors scattered in its every turn. She was dancing and jiggling with them. Happiness brimmed in him.
The next instant intense grief gripped him.
Was it due to the fake hails she was denied of the world of angels? Is she doomed to dance in the earth for ever? He sweated profusely.
No! She is enjoying the act very well! She seems to be indulged in it. Her feet are not touching the ground! There is no question of guilty feeling anymore!
He felt for the first time that the world is not so cruel and dark as he imagined but only a temporary asylum full of living lights.

Published in


Bodhisattva, Cashew, Endosulfan, Hails, Hailstorm, Insecticide, Monsoon, Poison, Spectrum

Meet the author

author avatar John Kolyav
Born in 1963, Postgraduated in 1986. Six novels and four poetry books published. Got three state- level awards for literary works. More details at

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
13th Aug 2012 (#)

Touching and thought provoking story, John - siva

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author avatar John Kolyav
13th Aug 2012 (#)

Thank you sir for the appreciation.

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