Waiting for Rain
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Mundari Vineyard 2045, Nashik (India), Shiraz
Black cherry, plum, and currant flavors mingle with aromas of sweet tobacco and sage in this
dependable offering from India.
The sun peeking through the grapevines felt hotter on Bharat Mundari's neck than twenty-four
degrees. Another perfect day. Bharat scowled and worked his way down the row of vines,
thinning the grapes so the remaining Shiraz crop would become fuller and riper.
Not that there was a point in having healthy vines when he couldn't pay his weather bill.
Without rain, the grapevines would weaken under the stress, and stressed grapes made poor wine.
No one bought flawed wine.
He snipped another cluster from the grapevine, dropping it on the ground where it would
raisin in the persistent sunshine.
He needed his micro-climate back.
"Bharat!" Indra peered over the trellis. "Have you heard anything I said?"
He stood, working the kink out of his back and blinked at his wife. "No. I'm sorry, my dear, I
She tilted her head, like an inquisitive bird. "About what?"
About how the family was destitute. About how he had no resources. About the rain.
She arched an eyebrow and looked down the row to their youngest daughter, Rachana.
"Nothing important? Do you hear your father? Here we are discussing possible grooms and he is
distracted by 'nothing important.' "
"I'm sorry." Bharat smoothed the anxiety from his brow. "What did you say?"
"Rachana said she wants to date." Indra frowned. "I told her in my youth we wouldn't think
of such things, but everyone thinks you and I married for love."
"True." The dust between the rows coated his feet as if the earth itself wanted to prepare him
for the poverty awaiting them.
Indra stopped and peeled back her glove. "I thought so." She showed him the blister on her
hand from the pruning sheers. "I wish you had hired a crew to do this."
If she knew about the debt . . . Bharat snipped another cluster from the vine. "It's important
for Rachana to learn the business."
"Not if she marries into another family."
They had just married one daughter off; the thought of paying for another wedding made him
shudder. "I'm in no hurry to see her married."
The bindi mark on Indra's forehead seemed to glare like an accusing third eye.
"Let her find her own husband if she wants one." Bharat went up the row, heading back to the
winery. It was starting again, the marriage broker fees, setting the dowry . . . And a marriage
broker would look at his financial records. He ground his teeth. They had no money.
The tap tap of Indra's footsteps followed him, but he kept his eyes focused on the winery. He
could imagine the look of reproach in Indra's eyes.
She always knew when he lied, so he simply grunted.
"What's wrong?" Indra's voice sounded sweet and gentle, but the question held too many
"Nothing. I have some work in the winery." He escaped into the cool dark of the cellar. The
stacked barrels of last year's vintage soothed him with their mute round sides. They asked him no
But the current vintage had its own demands.
Watering the vineyard would require every waking moment. That left no time for shoot
positioning, leaf pulling, or hedging. And what of thinning? How could he tend the wines in
barrel and water the vines?
Any one of the millions of unemployed laborers in Nashik could irrigate, but a day laborer
would want his wages at the end of the day. And if he had money to pay them, then he could pay
the weather bill and he would not need to irrigate.
How had his father managed before the India Space Research Organization began weather
control? Bharat had barely been in his teens when they switched to micro-climate management,
but Nashik had been a wine region since the time of the Moghuls. Of course, it had rained more
then. He still remembered monsoons.