At 7, a steady drone of the JCB loading the tippers begins. And goes on all day barring two 20 minute breaks for breakfast and lunch. Kutty, Raju and I are either checking the loading or directing the tippers to their dump sites. Annamalai keeps bringing filled water bottles. The tippers leave by 5.30pm. There was invariably another hour of solo work at least for the JCB. It was 8 pm by the time I washed up in the open delighting in the silky water. Under the solar lantern, I made do with heat-and-eat quick foods. The muscles ached pleasurably and I was asleep by 9. Raju and old man Annamalai too slept in nearby beds. On a given night, breeze either flowed thick and steady or dried up entirely. Either way it was a cool, silent, mosquito free heaven. Neither querulous monkeys and nocturnal birds in the hills nor crickets and clacking frogs, compromised the silence in any way.
Had I a few more creature comforts, I might have driven the crew on till finish. As it was, after three days, when the JCB man pleaded that he be given two days off to cater to another client, I yielded with feigned disappointment. No doubt the threat of rains was greater now, but thoughts of a good scrub, a drink, a hot meal, the internet and a soft bed do queer decisions.
We resumed on Oct 18th. The break had given me a better understanding of managing the task and the crew had gained a greater ease. The rains had not arrived during the two day break. I began all over again to go from 3′ deep to 6′.
That very night it rained. It was an educating experience. We all woke up and sat bolt upright. A wet spray blew into the wall-less shed drenching us, chilly winds found us defenseless, thunder and lightning drove us into silence mildly terrified and the flow of noisy water everywhere -down the roof, around the shed and down the hills- gave us a sobering idea of how it is when it rains on pointReturn.