I am the two-faced lover of the developing world, the smiling maiden offering a delicacy secretly laced with poison. With one breath, I nurture and I kill.
I demand whole-hearted devotion. They come to me in droves as I freely flow, offering daily obeisance in the washing of clothes and communal bathing. From first waking moments to exhausted end, children and women scurry to transport me. Balanced on heads, lugged in hands, I move to and fro throughout the countryside. In the city, droves of trucks lumber over streets in my service.
Sometimes I reveal my threat in brown, roiling depths; but like a chameleon, I can easily cloak secrets in clear sparkling flow. A mother laments her child’s descent into illness and rightfully suspects me as the culprit. She limits my influence, and diarrhea yields to dehydration. With my presence or absence, I possess the power to give or take life.
I am a wild beast not easily tamed. For those who lack knowledge and resources, I am unmanageable. Like a curse that can be broken only with a kiss, it is love alone that muzzles me. It is the indignation of their brothers and sisters who teach and give. They capture, purify, purge me of malice. Bridled, I surrender into the life-giving source I was meant to be.
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