“Hi, good evening kids. How was your day?” asked Anita. She was busy cutting vegetables after a day’s toil at the studio. Usually, they spent their evenings in the open kitchen, sharing the day’s events at school. As Anita prepared dinner, her kids would narrate their day and then complete their homework.
“Mamma, today we studied more about water cycle,” said Rithwik, the eldest. He was in fifth standard. “Is that a cycle that can sail on water? Or is it a cycle that works on water? Does it have black tubes and two seats like that of our Vaasumama’s?” Malu alias Malavika shot a series of serious doubts…She was just into her lower kindergarten. (Vaasu, an aged neighbour was acting as their gardener and kids were attached to him).
“Oh, hoo, what a fool you are?” teased Vishnu, her elder fellow. He was in class III.. “Didn’t you study about water at school, so far? Maybe you have slept off when Miss took that class…”went on Vishnu… they started pushing and pulling each other and pinching and hitting…
Anita, who was busy giving the finishing touches to the dish over the stove, was simply irritated. She turned around with her usual angry gaze. The first warning signal silenced Rithwik. He stood still, took long breaths and composed himself.
About the water cycle:
“Malu, I will tell you about the water cycle. Its nothing but the story of water, where we get water, where it goes, its forms and so on…You will soon learn it at school also;” started Rithwik.
He went in search of the picture Mamma had drawn for him last year. He was well appreciated for the story attached with it, then. How proud and happy he was!
Pappa and Mamma maintains a good library and this was added to be preserved with those books and materials. As he was busy taking the respective folder of the story of water and the hydrologic cycle, the phone rang. He took them out quickly, closed the door and ran downstairs…He knew it was Pappa calling them…As he reached down, Vishnu had already started speaking with Pappa.
Their father, an NRI Engineer would call them daily; by 8.30 p.m. Middle East countries were nearly 3 hours behind Indian time…He would have reached his flat after his busy day of work, poor Pappa, how he is managing alone there? Rithwik thought.
Major events get shared over the phone as do their plea for major decisions on participating in events, going for picnics, purchase of out of permit items, visiting friends and so on.
Those few minutes were crucial for them!!! Everyone would be keen and around the speaker phone to hear for themselves!!!
These are moments when kids plead with Mamma, to prevent her from sharing how they had misbehaved or disobeyed or fought with each other …
On special occasions, they would be ready to chat on Yahoo…
Some days, are so very special, they would be ready with their webcam and scanner, to show off their certificates or special dress and so on…On such occasions, Mamma will have to shuttle gathering and serving dinner, checking whether all doors are shut and safe, preparing things for the next day…
If either of the kids is sick and longs to see Pappa, then again they wait patiently until he can spare adequate time with the webcam totally on… Kids emote under such circumstances so deep that it’s really painful for the family in Toto.
“Mamma, can we study about water cycle, once more after dinner?” asked Rithwik.
“Why not?” replied his mother.
They rushed through dinner and got ready to make it a special evening…
Rithwik recollected the old story. Mamma prompted few times and helped him maintain the flow. She was happy to have been blessed with such studious and intelligent children!
Rithwik started narration: “Malu, you love going to the beach, isn’t it? Beach is the shore of a sea. Seas and oceans hold most of the water in this world. Please look at this globe. All that is shown in blue colours shows that its water. Can you see? Water is more and land is only very little. This is the place where we are when we visit the beach…
The molecule studies:
Vishnu, you don’t know what is a molecule, do you? It is the small form of a material. All things have these small forms called molecules. Look, this is a water molecule. It has two red balls for Hydrogen and one green ball to show oxygen. Actually, Hydrogen and Oxygen are gases. You have seen steam in the steam cake vessel? Steam is the gaseous form of water. The LPG cylinder we use here for cooking is also liquefied gas. We don’t see it as Mamma opens, but we can hear the Hush…sound, don’t we? See hydrogen is a small molecule and oxygen is a bigger molecule. We breathe Oxygen…When these two gases join, we get water!!! This is only one single molecule of water…So, water is a compound.
Malu, in the ocean there is so much of water… It’s like a big joint family. The waves that we see are the water kids, hopping and jumping up high to touch the human kids on the shore…As their Mammas and Grandmas yell at them to return, they quickly fall down and recede home…Like in our playground, the mischievous act of one group is repeated by the other and the process goes on. Vishnu, actually, it’s said that the force of the waves is influenced by the gravitational pull from the Moon, isn’t it so?
During the day, as the sun rises and it becomes hotter and hotter, water in the ocean gets heated up and it becomes vapor. Water vapor is more hot than the air around, so it rises up … As we go up, the heat of Sun is more, so they try to escape from the Sun and move towards the sky. There, many water vapor molecules join to form clouds. We have seen clouds of different shapes and size haven’t we? These clouds are dense and they are happy that they have somehow escaped being killed by the sun’s rays…So they run around like athletes or play hide and seek…
Introduction to Thunder…
But, unlike down in the ocean, they can’t jump and hop. Also they miss their companions, family and school down in the ocean. So, they try and try on ways to return…In this hope, they join together and become more and more dense. Some of these huge clouds move very fast with the wind and then they may collide with each other, as we do when we cycle at full speed on the playground…Sometimes, they get stopped by big mountains…Mountains as you know don’t move. They are very huge and are proud of their size and power. But, in spite of all that, they are more jealous as they watch these waves in the ocean and the clouds in the sky, everywhere water is enjoying and playing free…So, they stop them to display their might!!! They hit down clouds that try to escape…The water vapor screams at the pitch of their voice. That’s what we hear as thunder.
You know thunder, don’t you? “I hear thunder, Oh! Don’t you?” It’s a rhyme you used to sing aloud daily when you were in playschool…Malu stood up happily and memorized the rhyme for them.
Then they also sent light signals to their parents down to the ocean, which we see as lightning. Light travels fast in vacuum and so we see that first…
The water vapors dispersed from the clouds fall down on land and oceans. This is called rainfall. Good molecules reach ocean and meet their parents directly. It is just like good souls getting united with their parents in heaven!!!
The less lucky water drops, fall on houses, roads, rivers, ponds or lakes and later reach the ocean. Thus rainfall is one of the natural sources of drinking water for human beings, animals and plants. If humans are lucky, we get adequate rainfall.
When it’s less, we have drought- dryness and lack of water, especially during summer. In the Middle East, a bottle of water to drink is so costly that at times people fight for having taken each others’ water bottle!!! Water is so precious. Every drop is highly valuable. Conserve where it falls.
Sometimes, during rainy season, the extent of rainfall is so huge that we have to tackle floods. Do you remember having seen small children sitting on the road and eating their food, houses getting washed off, water to the height of coconut palms and frightened people perched on trees expecting to be rescued…on the television, some days ago? Roads looked like rivers…People rowed boats instead of scooters!!! It was quite threatening…
Improper planning that has clogged existing drains, former wetlands and reservoirs transformed into buildings and shopping malls, lack of new channels to drain off water all causes such situations in developing cities…Our Environment Miss had told this during a session on town Planning; recollected Vishnu.
The coming war for water…
Our history teacher, during one of her Assembly sermons, told that next world war might be initiated to resolve conflicts based on Sharing of water!!! Water, water everywhere, but, not a drop to drink!!!
Malu, we love playing in the rain and as we do so, we used to get wet…isn’t it? Still it was funny…
This rainwater that falls in our courtyard is drained onto the roadside channels and then into the canal. From there it’s carried into the river and from there into the sea. Like this, in Pappas ancestral house on the hills, the rainwater is carried through natural drains and they form gullies, which drain into rivulets and rivers. These rivers also drain finally into the ocean.
Some of the rainwater falls into open wells, ponds, tanks, lakes, rivers and other water sources. Do you remember the vast stretches of green paddy fields around Latha auntie’s ancestral home? These are called wetlands and they preserve huge quantities of rainwater.
The extent of water stored from rainfall is very little. But this along with the existing level of water resources together determines the water-table. “Better you draw and show Malu,” said Vishnu. It’s the height at which water exists in a locality…Valleys have higher water table and hilltops the lower… (It’s not a dining table or study table made of!!! or filled with water!!! added Vishnu in between!)
In cities like ours, we get water distributed through established pipelines in the taps inside our house. This is collected from any of the common sources above. Near Manju auntie’s house, we have seen a spring, a natural source of water, oozing out from the space between rocks. It’s so cool and tasty as it contains some minerals. It’s called gravity flow. Though their house is atop a hill, they get enough water in their ferro-cement tanks, quickly…once the tank is full, it flows automatically down into another tank and so on…the excess is drained into the valley. No pumping, no waiting for water in queue like in our public taps …So nice, isn’t it?
Water – It’s countless uses
You know the uses of water don’t you? Can you imagine living without water? As soon as you get up, you need a bowl of water to brush your teeth. Then you again use water to wash your glass to take milk. After that you wash your mouth. You need buckets of water to have a bath!!! You love water so much that you play with paper boats in the rainwater…
How many times Mamma runs around while cooking to fetch water? You watch our maid washing clothes…How much water she uses off, so quickly!!! We need water to clean vessels, clothes and mop our house. We need water to grow our carps in the pond, guppies in the terrarium, gold fish and tin foil in our aquarium…
Not just human beings, animals also need water. You look passionately as Pinky and Plumy drink water from their cage…So does Tom and Jim. All pets, whether they are dogs, cats or rabbits need water to drink. We need water to bath our dogs. We use water to clean their kennels and utensils.
Your favourite hobby is gardening, isn’t it? How much water you use for watering those plants, have you ever observed? Plants also need water. We pour water through hose into the base of the potted plants, using drip to the base of coconut palms, and using sprinkler inside our green house. All this needs so much of water! Plants take this water from the soil through their roots into their leaves. That’s their kitchen. They cook food only during morning hours, in presence of sunlight. Meantime, sun, takes up some water from them through transpiration. This water vapor also joins to form clouds!!!
Unlike expected, Malu was turning passive, thought Rithwik. He started to concentrate on the responses form Vishnu alone.
Water theme parks – the entertainment angle.
Water is now a major component of entertainment. We love water theme parks with all those vivid play zones…When I was in the nursery; we had to travel hours to visit a water theme park. But, now we have one near!
In places like Alleppey, water is a major part of daily life. Children have to row boats to reach school. They cultivate paddy in submerged conditions. Here, boat race is a major event that attracts foreign tourists. So are house boats. That’s called eco tourism, isn’t, it, Mamma?
Water is also used for physical fitness!!! Swimming pools are excellent examples. Many of my classmates have enrolled for swimming, Mamma; would you let me too to join them?
All the malls and shopping complexes have attractive water fountains…pools and ponds…even indoor streams…Water is a major business component to attract customers also!!!
Water’s industrial needs:
Not just entertainment, most industries also use and reuse water. Some industries flush out used and polluted water that causes lot of health problems to those using it. Some industries extract huge quantities of water and have badly affected the people living nearby, as well.
Forests are places where there are lots of trees. Here, we need not irrigate plants. God has created self sufficiency!!! The leaves and litter that falls down can absorb lot of water. So the soil retains more water from rains. In summer, they shed leaves and reduce demand for water requirement. So natural, trees in an area are specific to the availability of water through rain in that area…
In soil also, water is said to be retained by the small spaces. When they are full, excess water goes down, Water stored in the top layers are available to plants. Rest goes down as ground water…In dry areas; this water source is used by digging bore wells,” concluded Rithwik.
“Bhaiya, I learnt some similar new terms today,” said Vishnu. Do you know estuary? It’s the place where river meets sea. Do you know about mangroves? They are natural protective coastal belts. Then infiltration, percolation, seepage, erosion and so on… We learnt a glossary on Ecology and Conservation today. I don’t remember all by-heart. I shall learn well and describe other terms that I was taught today later… said Vishnu. He was also feeling sleepy.
“Mamma, look, Malu has already slept on your lap…Oh! You could have stopped me in between…” said Rithwik. He regretted having become so immersed in his presentation.
“That’s all right. I shall put her to sleep. You did a good job. Study those terms very well. No need to teach her that now. She’s so small. You clubbed what you learnt earlier with what was taught today, nice job. Very cogent…Keep it up;” appreciated Anita. “Please do support Vishnu to learn those new terms as well,” she requested.
She herself was feeling sleepy…Good night…Sweet dreams…See you early tomorrow morning…