He: What gift would you like to have next month?
She: Rachel and Tim went to the garden last weekend. I also want to see the factory building.
He: Sorry sweetheart, I don’t think we can afford that trip now. I will still check if we can manage it. You better think of an alternative before next week though.
He remembered this conversation umpteenth time over the last year. He also vividly remembered the tinge of disappointment in her eyes and then the smile on the brave face she put forth. Last year he was not able to arrange the trip because of the financial constraints. This year was a bit different. He smiled. He had managed to arrange the funds this year and he planned to surprise her. A few well timed calls to well placed resources and he had managed to secure the passes to an inside tour of the factory, as everyone called that place. He knew she was going to be delighted. He himself had wished to see the factory since a long time. He tried to remember the last time he had got wet in real water. He was 7 years old then. The planet was not yet colonized by the Mars visitors. He remembered getting drenched in the rain with his younger brother. Everyone used to have a bath every day with water. People used to drink water to quench their thirsts. The thought almost made him feel the water gliding on his lips and his throat ran dry. He took out the factory box and quickly popped a capsule in his mouth. He knew that no amount of capsules could give that satiating feeling the real water used to give. He looked out of the window of his office cabin. Even after standing 133 storeys high up all he could see out were vehicles. He couldn’t even see the sky or the next building through the thick vehicle envelope. Almost 20 years back since the day the global warming had affected Earth in the worst way, Mars inhabitants had swooped down on the planet. The aliens had managed to convince all the countries to allow them to run the Earth system, as if the nations had any other option left with them. The planet now had become an entirely different place to live in. Technologically advanced, but thrown backwards in many other ways. Robots were being used widely in all places. Oxygen and water intakes were turned into translucent green coloured capsules, which had to be bought from the government agencies. Inhalation and exhalation were only terms now. Food was insipid. A solace was that his favourite burger was still available once a week, though the friendly blue eyed waitress was now replaced by a robot with no emotions. Almost everything was under the control of the alien government. Even the white fluffy clouds he had seen in his childhood. The aliens had converted an entire nation land into a water producing industry. Clouds were generated using an advanced cryogenic machine and rains were brought down in the same area on demand. The major part of water was then used to mass produce the capsules and the remaining part went into the cloud generation activity. The government needed funds to run this and so it had separated an area where people could pay a premium price to feel the rain and touch the water. He had heard from Tim about his experience where they went in a garden with real flowers and trees, soaked in the rain and sat for a couple of hours watching the water stream flowing nearby. Tim’s description matched with the agency’s site offering for the tour. He looked at the passes sitting on the desk. He imagined himself and his wife dancing in the rain. He imagined both of them looking skywards with hands outstretched and drops falling on their faces. He saw him embracing his wife and feeling her wet curls on his cheek and then he saw himself kissing her moist lips. The kiss-in-rain, which they had read only in books and seen in some movies retrieved from archives. It was going to come true in a weeks’ time. He couldn’t wait to go home and show her the passes. He pulled up the segway and glided down till the parking lot. Climbing in the passenger seat of his aerial vehicle, he was greeted by the voice of the robot driver. He pushed the Home button and the vehicle joined in the air traffic with a jolt.
His eyes opened up. He was sitting upright in his bed and he was cold with sweat trickling down on his body. His wife flicked on the bedside lamp.
“You alright honey? Dreamt something bad?”
“I guess so.”
She handed him a glass of water from the table. He sipped and felt the water running down his throat. He looked at her. Her golden locks were falling on her bare shoulders.
“I love you. I am sorry I stopped you from getting drenched today. This weekend we will enjoy the rain together.”
“Yes, and we are going to plant a few saplings to avoid global warming eat up this planet.”
P.S.: I was stuck in a traffic jam last year in the rains and had a thought if we could control the rains in future to fall on specific days in specific areas. I had heard about cloud seeding, but my thought was not just brining rainfall when needed/desired but also control the actual one. So I had started with a thought of a couple enjoying artificial rains in a year when rains were controlled by humans, but somehow work and procrastination held the upper hand for an entire year till I read a question in one of Yashita’s recent posts about making the rain fall only in the catchment areas during peak traffic hours. I tried looking up my machine data for the draft I had written earlier, but couldn’t find it so I started again with a blank page and this post came out. Looking at it after completion I know this is definitely not what I had initially in my mind last year, but the thoughts drifted and well, here we are.