[WP] While learning to speak, a 9 month old toddler accidentally summons a demon in a forgotten language to do his bidding.

It rained so hard that it seemed the red earth of Telangana was crying. Allam Ramayya, shivering, thought that the Gods his wife and his mother prayed to were playing a cruel joke on him.

The previous year, his crops had failed, his cotton ravaged by pests that had grown resistant to DDT. Other farmers in neighboring villages had all switched to Monsanto cotton, which they said was resistant to pests. They had all had a bumper crop. Why didn’t he make the switch himself? But it was expensive seed, more than he could afford. Desperate, he had taken a loan from Malla Reddy, the moneylender, with his house as the collateral. His wife, pregnant with their third child, helped him plough the soil and plant the seeds.

Then they waited for the rain.

Day after day, the sun came out, hot and relentless. They watched, hopeful, as passing clouds grew dark, but they passed by without a drop. The cotton plants grew thin, and their leaves seemed to dry away almost before they germinated. His crop, so close to harvesting season now, was almost barren, with just a few small bolls to show for his investment.

And now the rain came, when they least needed it. It beat down in torrents, as if the Gods were saying: here is the rain you were praying for… are you not grateful? He was not. His cotton would rot in the humidity.

But this was no time for lamenting. His wife was almost due, her water had broken hours ago, but she was writing in pain, delirious, and incoherent. The midwife had to be called but he had nothing to pay her with. Briefly he thought — it may be a kindness to let her die. He would lose the house, but the moneylender’s demands would break them. He would have to slave away for years to work off the debt. What hope could he give his child? Had he not already failed his family?

He shivered once more, then stepped out into the cold rain. Allam Rudrayya was born just as he swallowed the second mouthful of pesticide.

NINE MONTHS had passed. Allam Satyamma had passed that time in penury, working the fields, which now belonged to Malla Reddy. The house was gone, she now lived in a shack made of asbestos near the cotton field, by the side of a small temple. Ramayya’s mother had died soon after he had, heartbroken and unable to understand the misfortune they had fallen in. It was just Rudrayya and her, and she was going to put up a fight.

Little Rudrayya was small, smaller than other nine month old babies, but he clearly wanted to live. He cried loudly when he was hungry, which was often. He sucked at his mother’s breast with ravenous want, while his mother did her best to satisfy him. At the break of dawn an old priest would come to the adjoining temple, ring the bell and say his prayers, and give some prasad to the two of them if some were left over from the previous day. Since people didn’t often come to the temple in, the priest would sometimes take the child into the temple, and keep him by his side while he chanted verses in sanskrit. To everyone’s surprise, the whimpering child grew calm and peaceful when he heard the chants.

Then one night, one calm night, just as Satyamma was putting him to sleep with a soft lullaby of film songs, he looked at her in the eyes. and said: “Rudro bahu-siraa babhrur”*

And with a thunderous sound, the heavens opened overhead.

[Footnote: in Sanskrit, meaning “the one who makes all people weep, the one who has many heads, the one who rules all the world”]

/r/WritingPrompts Thread