SHORT STORY: THE EVIL RAIN
The sun was already down when Pedro started for home. All day he had been working in his cane field and now his legs moved slowly and his head drooped. Pedro was more than tired-he was sad.
It was dark when Pedro reached his village and a reddish light was flickering through stockaded-wall huts. To one of these huts Pedro made his way. A woman was standing in the doorway. It was Maria his wife. She must have been awaiting Pedro’s return.
On a stool-like table stood a half-quart can; at the top of the can was a hole through which passed a strip of cotton cloth dipped in kerosene. Maria took a chip of wood aflame from the fire-place and with it lighted the tip of the cotton cloth. A hammock hung from one of the beams. In it a small bundle twitched and turned.
Neither Pedro nor Maria spoke a word but they understood each other. They didn’t speak much to each other. Living in such close contact words become redundant. A look, a nod, a gesture can speak with more meaning than a thousand words.
Maria had the table ready for Pedro. He took a steaming tortilla from a big round gourd, sprinkled some salt on it; he then rolled the tortilla and dipped it in a dish of hot pepper sauce and ate it – Pedro’s appertif. Stewed beans made up his main dish. Finishing his meal Pedro went to his bath. The little bundle in the hammock twitched several times and let out a purr softly at first then louder. Maria hurried to the hammock and took out a dark haired brown skinned baby whose little mouth made several attempts towards mama’s bosom. Maria unfastened a pin from her cotton blouse and let out a plump breast and began feeding little Antonio.
With Tonito safely back in the hammock Maria spread out a grass mat on the clay-floor. Pedro came and laid down on the mat. Maria sat beside him and begun to unplait her hair. Lying down she pulled a sheet over them and curled beside Pedro. And Pedro spoke.
-It’s the Evil-rain Maria; the Evil-rain has fallen on the canefield, Pedro murmured.
-the whole field bas withered, he continued.
Maria understood Pedro and her young heart shivered within her. She feared for Tonito for Pedro for herself. Evil-rain meant no crop-famine. When Pedro was a milpero the Evil-rain was an expected calamity and they had learned to cope with it. They stored up their corn until the next crop was safely in and they had their pigs and chickens. But now that Pedro had shifted to cane growing they had no corn neither pigs nor chickens. Pedro said he had no choice since all the good com lands had already been taken up by the large cane-growers. And cane have enveloped all these lands like a monstrous green fungus. Moreover he needed a lot of land for his method of corn cultivation- the only method he knew, the only one his predecessors practised – shifting cultivation. Not to fall still lower down this new social scale Pedro became a cane-grower. He started small and is still a small grower and the Evil-rain has struck.