The Mill

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Saleh, the miller, stood in front of the mill and scanned the horizon. A sullen sky forecasted a bright future for him. This coming year he’d rise to the top. Yes, he was quite optimistic about what lay in store for him.

He had prayed to God for rain and a good harvest for the longest time. Finally, he had seen the dark clouds that he had watched gather and scud across the sky unload just above the village. Since then he had spent his days monitoring the soil of the vast plain to make sure the seeds sprouted. Ultimately, the plants started shooting up. The town’s stream started carrying more water as it flowed through the countryside. This made the miller happy. His lips curled into a smile.

The miller relished the prospect of having his mill up and running with the bumper crop the town would reap that year. With corn, people would ask for the miller’s services and sign agreements with him.

The wheels of his mill would spin once more after having been idle for ages due to the fact that the town’s stream had previously almost dried up and had been unable to provide the necessary power to get the mill wheels spinning and the grain ground. Everyone had gone through a rough patch. Not a single drop of rain had fallen onto the boiling surface of the earth in years.

In the past, the skies had been stingy with their gifts. To the townsfolk’s dismay, rain had not exactly teemed down in sheets. The river that had once girdled the town and had propelled Saleh’s mill out of its lethargy had become almost untraceable.

The miller had had to resort to a trained beast of burden to get the mill wheels spinning. However, he had soon come to realize that he was not able to provide it with the substantial quantities of assorted hay and oats it needed to feed on. He had been compelled to travel to another town every time he wanted to fetch a fresh batch of food. And it was not cheap to boot.

During his life, Saleh had neither saved up much nor befriended anyone who would lend him money if he were to find himself in a predicament. That is why when he looked up at the sky while standing in the doorframe of his mill and saw the rain clouds mass on the horizon, he sighed with relief and smiled. He vowed to counterbalance the losses he had sustained during recent years and subsequently dived into number crunching.

As it began to pour down, people started talking about Saleh’s mill. Suddenly, everyone hoped to sign a business contract with the miller. By harvest time, the miller was ready to grind the grain of everyone in town who had previously reached an agreement with him. He hired two heavily built lads that had a five-year gap between them.

They worked hard around the clock. The younger boy enchanted the mill’s new clients with his charisma while the older one poured the grain out of the bags the townsfolk had brought with them and into the heart of the mill. He then filled gunny sacks with the stone-ground flour, sealed them, and sold them.

The water set the mill wheels in motion, and they made the surfaces of the grinding stones grate against each other. The resulting creak could be heard from outside the building.

The miller sat down on the doorstep of his mill and started humming old love songs to the beat of the creaking. This time he fixed his unblinking gaze on the fast-turning wheels of his mill instead of on the fallow farmland. He had a blissful expression on his face.

 

Written by Mohamed Benroho.

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Choose your own adventure

No water,

a) no grain.

b) no smile.