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‘Clouds’ is a short story written by Intizar Hussain. It revolves a young boy and his quest for answers behind the mystery of clouds and rain.
About the Author:
Intizar Hussain (1923-2016) was a prominent writer hailing from Pakistan. He had written numerous short stories and novels in the language of Urdu. Famous works of his include ‘The Seventh Door’ and ‘Leaves’, both of which have been translated into English. This text too is a translated version of his ‘Badal’ by Rakshanda Jalil, edited.
The theme of this short story revolves around the curiosity inherent in children, their seemingly endless questions. Here, the persona too is filled with curiosity and questions, searching high and low for answers. How nature works can also be seen through the story.
The story beings with the persona, a ‘he’, in search of clouds as the title suggests. On his search, he sees a grass cutter and asks him whether the clouds had come there. He repeats the same to a farmer and other wayfarers. He was unsatisfied with their responses as all they had to offer was amazed looks.
In the morning, he seemed to have asked his mother the very same, only to have been reprimanded for asking what she called a stupid question. The persona, however, is filled with questions. He is intent of figuring out the mystery behind the disappearing clouds from the night before, the sky alternating between being clear and filled with dark clouds. Also, having seen lightning and its effect of clouds, he had expected rains, only to be amazed by a clear sky in the morning. Disappointed that him falling asleep must have been the reason to have not received rains, he searches and searches. Having reached the desert, he pauses to wash himself and drink some water from the Persian Wheel to quench his thirst.
The Old Man:
On his journey, now refreshed, he spots an old man and asks him too whether the clouds have come there. The old man replies that had the clouds come, the Earth and the sky would have known, implying rains. To the amazed persona, he reveals tales, including how he had lived once in lands that had not seen rains for ten long years. Realising it was late, the persona returns home, only to find out that it had rained earlier, the clouds having come and gone back in his absence!
This is a simple, heart-warming story of a small boy and his curiosity about how clouds and rains work. This portrays the way children question even simple things, how they learn when taught patiently like the old man does. It also talks about the mysterious way in which nature works, how what is expected rarely occurs.