The elders called it a miracle, as a village crowded around a battery-powered transistor radio, with a loud announcer hailing the Prime Minister’s efforts to finally electrify Leisang, Manipur, the last village without electricity in India. In a few weeks, a group of inebriated, and the cheapest-tender workers pushed a steely tower into the ground, broken with prayers, and yellow flowers. Twenty days later, the wires went up, disappearing into the distance, promising to return with the power of light, and sound, and progress.
The locals were ecstatic, cracking their savings into Edison bulbs, and yards of colorfully twirled wire, table-fans, and for the select few, free televisions for election votes.
When the power arrived, buzzing promises into every home, nobody turned their lights off to sleep and dream. The Prime Minister tweeted about it on his electricity powered cellular phone.
Rain-soaked animals could not cover in the darkness and/of human warmth any more. Scorpions died flip-flop deaths. Bed bugs shriveled up anemic. Mice broke skulls in coconut-lured traps, placed conspicuously in the lights. They sat on insulated wires, chewing at the rubber for nourishment.
Brown monsoon puddles, alive with malarial mosquito larvae, twitched stupid. A few clung on to the playful, matching-puddle-brown legs of a child, baked in the sun on labor days. Others barnacled the sides of a blue-ruled notebook-paper boat, filled with dreams in black ink, half-sinking in puddle water, immobile. Like the dreams.
So when a mouse-bitten black wire to power a lightbulb came undone in last night’s storm, it hung ominously snaky, in the neighboring puddle, waiting for revenge.