“Little Cloud” wandered over the concrete jungle which his friends on Earth called a “City”. He looked down at the organized (but rigid) layout of the City.
The city was rectangular in shape. In each corner of the city was a shopping complex (which was popularly referred to as “Shopping Malls”). In the center of the City was the City Square. It was surrounded on all four sides by the buildings and offices of Government Officials and the Local Municipal Corporation. There were four main roads that led into (and out of) the city. They entered the city through four major gateways which had been designed very well to impress all those who visited the city. Each one of the gateways was present in one of the four cardinal directions. The remaining portions of the city were connected to each other by a huge network of roads, Most of the land had been used to build housing complexes, supermarkets, gardens and various complexes for the welfare of the public (Schools, Hospitals, etc.).
The residents of the city were extremely happy with all the development which was going on around them. They would cheer each time a patch of trees was felled to create a new shopping complex or multiplex (in order to satiate their need to watch movies). Little did they know that what was “development” for them, was in fact destruction and death for “Little Cloud” and his dear friends.
“Little Cloud” had seen many of his friends die due to the absolutely apathetic behavior of these humans. He had seen so many of his “Tree Friends” (Oak, Birch, Sal, Pine, and many others) being felled right in front of his eyes. They were then chopped up to help the greedy humans in their process of “urbanization”. But they didn’t just stop there. No, they didn’t even leave his poor “Rock Friends”. They would grind them up and use them for their own needs. Worst of all, however, was the way they treated those poor animals who had once inhabited these lands. After the forests were felled, the animal didn’t have any place to go. Therefore, most of them were either killed or captured.
All this would make “Little Cloud” so unhappy that he would tear up. He would begin crying. However, these weren’t “happy tears”, like the ones he would release over the beautiful forests and small villages. No. These were tears of anger, of sadness.
But, they still had the same effect. They were welcomed by the city-dwellers, just like his “happy tears” had been welcomed by the villagers in the villages and the wildlife in the forest. These tears which would have scared even the villagers in the villages and the wildlife in the forests had positive impacts on the life of these city-dwellers.
He realized that he had been created for the sole purpose of providing relief to all living beings. He was never to care for his own emotions. He was only present to provide- to give life.
But he noticed that the city-dwellers didn’t appreciate the rains they received. Yes, they would welcome them and enjoy them, but they didn’t really care, unlike the villagers who would offer prayers to him and conserve as much water as they could, or the wildlife in the forests which would dance on the arrival of the rains and make sure that they didn’t waste even a single drop. No, these city-dwellers just didn’t care.
He, being the kind and simple cloud that he was, didn’t have the heart to punish these humans. So, he decided to reach out to these city-dwellers and communicate with them. But even then they didn’t care.
They didn’t care when it rained heavily. They didn’t care when it rained lightly. They didn’t even care when it didn’t rain at all (Sure, they would complain about a bit, but then they would switch on their ACs and whatnot). They didn’t even notice his presence when he was right above them or when he tried to make shapes using his body.
Disheartened, he decided to leave this ungrateful city.
But then he heard a soft voice; a sweet voice, call out to him. It said, “I see you.”
He turned his gaze downwards and saw a little girl (who must have been eight) standing below him.
He asked her, “Do you understand what I am trying to communicate?”
To his surprise, the girl nodded her head. He hadn’t expected that. He hadn’t expected a human to understand his language, let alone a little, city-dwelling girl.
The girl said, "You are surprised that a little, city-dwelling girl understands you. You are sad about what these humans; we humans, have done to your friends. You are disappointed about how we mistreat our resources, especially the water provided to us. Well, you are not the only one."
"Little Cloud" was stunned by her words.
"But how do you understand me?" he asked.
The little girl chuckled to herself.
"I have never had any friends to play with at any point in time. The others would never include me in any of the games which they played. So, I ended up spending most of my time outside, staring at the sky, and observing the nature present around me."
"Little Cloud" was wonderstruck. How could a little, city-dwelling girl be so mature?
She said, “I have tried everything in my power to conserve as much energy as I can but nothing seems to work. These humans don’t listen to me. They don’t care.”
“Little Cloud” understood her dilemma. He spoke, “You must try “Water Harvesting” if that is what you call it. In the villages which I visit, the villagers have dug up wells and made other systems and structures for the collection and conservation of water. They have learned to appreciate each drop, each precious tear that they receive. You must do the same.”
“But, how can I?” said the girl. “I am just a little girl, with no friends, no resources, and a loving but poor family.”
“Do you go to school, my friend?” asked “Little Cloud”.
The girl’s face lit up. “Yes, yes I do, friend.”
“Then there should be no doubt as to what you need to do. Go to School. Study hard. Pay Attention. These years will not come back, at least that is what I have heard. Go to School, study hard and become something; someone, Sadly, that is the only way people will notice you. But don’t worry because you will have my help along the way, forever and ever, till the end. As you keep going along this path, side-by-side, pursue your passions, spread awareness about this so that your society; your people, are saved from the terrors which come this way.”
The girl nodded her head slowly. “Thank you, Friend,” she said. She turned around and went home.
From then on, the little girl and the “Little Cloud” met every day. They would talk about everything under the Sun. She would spend most of her day either studying or spreading awareness about water harvesting, energy conservation, or something else which was related. As a result, she cherished these few moments which she got with her best friend. It wasn’t that she didn’t love studying or spreading awareness, it was just that she would feel lonely sometimes and needed someone to talk to. And anyway, nothing in the world can ever replace a nice, long chat with a friend.
And so, twenty years passed. The little, eight-year-old girl, had now grown into a beautiful and mature twenty-eight-year-old woman.
After much hard work and effort, she had finally become a lawyer (an environmental lawyer). She had passed her exams with flying colours and finished top of her class. She became an absolute news sensation. The headlines had read “Girl From Poor Background Tops Her Class”. Better yet, the day she became an environmental lawyer, in addition to having a news piece, she had also had an Interview.
“Little Cloud”, on the other hand, was, well, still little. I guess some things just never change.
The little girl, who was not so little anymore, came to visit him that day at their usual spot on the hill (the only place where they could meet without gathering eyeballs). She told him the great news. “Little Cloud” was overjoyed on hearing it. He almost started crying (but then he had to control himself in order to make sure that the little girl, who was not so little anymore, didn’t get drenched).
The little girl, however, was free to cry.
They talked and talked all evening. However, it was then time for her to leave.
She got up to say goodbye.
“Little Cloud,” said, “I am extremely proud of you. I know you will make me proud. But remember, never stop working hard, after all, there are miles to go before you sleep.”
The little girl, who was not so little anymore, nodded her head. “I will remember,” she said.
She began to walk away but “Little Cloud” called out to her, “There’s one thing which I have been wanting to ask you for a very long time. I can’t believe I let it slip from my mind so many times. I wanted to know your name.”
The little girl, who was not so little anymore, smiled and responded, “Aasha. My name is Aasha.”
They both smiled, not speaking a single word but communicating a whole lot more.