Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Pursuit: Part 7 (Final)

 

…continued from Part 6. She then began to run around the ruin. He followed and saw she was standing looking something at the ground. He looked down. A closer look revealed that it was a human body.
 
He was interrupted by someone, “Who was it? the tribal man?” Rishi nodded. “Yes, it was the young man”.
 
“When the police investigated, the whole thing was brought to light. Rahul returned to the village after a few days and found what had happened from the girl”.
 

The girl told him her story. She was from the village below the ruined fort. One of the elder man in the photo was her husband. She was married off to him when she had turned fifteen. It was common in their tribe she said but she didn’t wanted this fate for herself. She rebelled and it was during those days that she met Nathu, the young man in the photo. They fell in love. He was from the other village at the top. Their path never crossed and nobody came to know. They started to meet secretly. The husband used to go to the city on Saturday to get the weeks household shopping. He also used to spend a night in the village on the path at his uncle’s home. It was all a routine. In those nights she used to sneak away and come to the pond to find Nathu invariably waiting for her. They used to spend time talking, making vows, repeating the promises and then return to their homes with new dreams for the night. Those few hours filled their lives with immense happiness and hope. They spent the rest of the days and nights waiting for next Saturday when they would be together again.

On the night of storm she had sneaked out before time and after a long stroll enjoying the forest she had entered the pond. How peaceful it was under the water, calm, cold. She liked to swim, in fact she could stay under water longer than normal. It was a second home and she felt like a free pisces under the cold water. After some time it started to thunder. She understood that there would be rain. But the time of meeting had passed and Nathu was nowhere to be seen. She was waiting for him desperately.
 
But then it started to rain and she saw Rahul. He had moved to the small arc but it was too narrow and insufficient to provide any protection in the storm. He needed help and she took him to the ruin. Leaving him there she escaped from the left door. She saw there was light in the adjoining chamber and that Rahul will be safe. Hardly did she realise that the one she was waiting for desperately, was right there in the next chamber. That night she did not meet him. Nor the next week and also the following. With Nathu gone, her life was useless. Her life was ruined for eternal.
 
Days were passing. She continued to come to the lake and wait for Nathu heartbroken. One day she met Rahul again. And then he showed her the photo. She was awestruck to see her husband and Nathu in the same frame. How could that be? Did he knew about their love affair. And when Rahul narrated his story, this became clear to her. Through his story that she came to know that her husband was also there in the same place on the dark night.
 
As Rahul repeated his story and she added her bit to it guessing what may have happened. He mentioned about the small kid. She told him the small kid was her step-son, child from her husband’s first marriage. He had thrown the child’s mother out of the house for some feeble reason. The villagers  must have found Nathu before her and must have confronted him. They must have been warning him when Rahul entered the scene and they had to stall their plan. She said it must have been the child who must have guided them in handling the situation. He had inherited the cunning and selfish trait from her husband. But with these traits what she had noticed was a fatal and precarious streak that was building in him.
 
What Rahul had seen in the fort was an illusion, presented by the men, them as the harmless villagers while Nathu as violent. All the while his only attempt must have been to escape but they had held him back. It was unknown why he did not just shove them and escape. She said she was sure he must have been worried for Rahul, that’s why he wanted to warn him and was trying to talk to him but Rahul thought he wanted to fight him.
 
The men had revealed in interrogation that they had passed fumes of poisonous plant that they had bought for Nathu under Rahul’s nose. Rahul passed out and they were free to carry on with their plan. Seeing Rahul down, Nathu had rushed to him but Ganga, the other elder had brought down a stone on Nathu’s head. It was a fatal attack and he died on the spot. The kid was the one who still had not forgotten about the photo. He tried to delete it but it was too complex for him. He stamped it and threw it in water. They discussed and had a common understanding that a traveller like Rahul was not a threat and that he will just get up the next day and leave the place never to return. The two elders carried Nathu’s body to the back of the fort. They had to struggle as it was bit heavy for them. That answers for the foot prints outside, Rahul thought.
 
The girl was crying inconsolably. Rahul understood how difficult it must have been for her. She kept repeating, she knew her husband was a selfish man but she never knew that he would actually kill Nathu. His eyes welled to see her so anguished. But there was nothing that he could do.
 
It was so unfortunate. He could have saved a life. Had it not been him, maybe Nathu may have escaped” Rishi’s voice was sorrowful as he narrated the sad end.
 
“What happened to the girl? What happened to the murderers?”
 
“The case is going on. The men have confessed” His voice was getting softer.
 
“You didn’t see her. She cried like…My hear went to her.” Rishi continued. His words struck the friends that it was Rishi, it was his story. He never told them, maybe it was closer to his heart and brought the vulnerable Rishi out. They didn’t dwell on it. Rishi continued.
 
“ When she cried with her face buried in her hands, the difference between us vanished and I could feel the pain she was going through. I felt like someone very close, like it is my little sister, crying over the tragic permanent loss. I couldn’t do anything. All I could do was see her cry. But that day I realised….how lucky we are. We get everything, without any struggle. But still we crib. We take everyone everything for granted.”
 
They nodded, he was speaking the truth. We have forgotten the value of value. Someone asked, “Is she all right?”
 
“She vanished”, Rishi answered. “She couldn’t be found anywhere. A missing report is lying in the police file. But nobody cares about disappearance of a poor tribal girl.” He paused, “But she is a brave girl”.
 
Somebody put his arms around Rishi’s shoulders. “I am sure she will be all right” his friend said.
 
Rishi smiled, nodding he said, “Yes. I am sure. She is a brave little girl’ Then he wiped his tears and looked at them, “The lake is close by. We can go there. Maybe she has returned!”
 
The End.
 

P.S. After a long long time, I’ve written a story this long. Actually I started for a small one, originally the first part only. But then I went on. I thought about it a very much, so much that when I woke up next day, the first thing that came to my mind was the story. I wondered if I was thinking about it in my sleep too.

I have tried to write the story differently, in all passive tone. I don’t know how much justice I have given to the story this way. But I feel strongly and honestly that the last part could have been better. But with passive tone, I was not able to come up with better way to write it. But maybe when I come back again to this story after some days or months, maybe I have improved and could think how good this story was and what could have been better. Happy writing and Happy reading.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Pursuit: Part 6

 

…continued from Part 5. He thanked them and left. All was well but a simple fact that the kid was talking the local Marathi language while he refused it’s knowledge on that night. He let it go. He was really fantasizing too much. He continued his way up the mountain taking rest every one hour or so.


He now headed to the lake. It was again full moon night when he was at the same place. He was panting as he reached the plain. The dry grass was making swishing sound as the wind played with it. The water was making the slight sounds as it rippled and shimmered in the moonlight. Every thing, every movement was so much same as the last time he was here, that he had that uneasy feeling like the one that deja vu gives you. Everything repeated as if it was the same night. Everything except the presence of the girl. He searched the water surface in the darkness with urgency to see her, with an anticipation but at the same time his heart filled with dreadful fear that he might never see her. She was not there. He sighed and sat down. He decided to spend the night there and continue with the original plan to trek to the top in the morning.

It was when he lied down and closed his eyes that he could feel the presence of another being around. He sat up and looked around frantically. Another look at the lake revealed what he was here for. The girl was sitting silently by the water. She turned to look at him. ‘How can she be a spirit? How can she be my imagination? No she was alive, in flesh and not his fantasy’. He went to her and sat beside her. He assumed she recognised him as she did not move. He felt the solemnity in her demeanour. ‘Was she sad?’ They sat like that for sometime. Then he tried to start conversation. He wanted to know about her. ‘Who was she? Where did she go that night?’
 
To start with he introduced himself. ‘Rahul’, he said pointing to self. He could hear her breathe. There were gasps. She had been weeping. ‘Your home’, he said making inverted V in air. She pointed at towards the valley, ‘down in the village’ she said in the Marathi. She was still sombre. Sensing her sombre mood he stayed calm but inside he was happy to know that she could talk marathi. She can now answer to his questions. Then quickly realising, he produced the photo from his bag and flashed light on it. The men too were from the same village, that may break the ice. But when she saw it, she snatched it from him. Her eyes went wide and fixed on him with questioning gaze. ‘Where did you find him?’ she asked. ‘Whom?” he wanted to ask but instead he said, ‘The shelter, where she took him that night’
 
She stood and started towards the ruins. He ran after her asking why she was running. But she was in her own spell. He followed. In few minutes they were at the ruin. She ran from one chamber to another searching for something. There was nothing to be found. He could not understand her frantic search. ‘What was she looking? Was it the men? What was it?’
 
She then began to run around the ruin. He followed and saw she was standing looking something at the ground. He looked down. A closer look revealed that it was a human body.
 
He was interrupted by someone, “Who was it? the tribal man?” Rishi nodded. “Yes, it was the young man”
“When the police investigated, the whole thing was brought to light. Rahul returned to the village after a few days and found what had happened from the girl”

…to be continued

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Pursuit: Part 5

 

…continued from part 4. The whole thing, the events, the doctor’s revelation, everything was disturbing. Nothing was fitting in. Who were they? Was he accidently poisoned or with intent to finish the eye-witness. Were they on a run? Should he go to police?
 

 
He had made up his mind. He decided to go back. Not only to find the truth of the events. But for the girl. He couldn’t forget the girl and it was almost everyday that he dreamt of her. Not that she was very beautiful but the whole extraordinary circumstance that she had appeared and disappeared made him curious. Her face with the silver ornaments shining against her face kept appearing before his eyes. They gentle way that her petite face had rose through the water with rain dripping was not the thing to be easily forgotten. Even then he had followed her enchantingly and she continued to enchant him in the thoughts. He had to meet her. After that he will be fine and continue with his daily life, he was sure.
 
When he reached the foot of the mountain he remembered the person who gave him lift last time had mentioned about the tribal village. He decided that he will make his way through it. The reason was that he had something that had added a thin possibility of discovery of the truth of the whole mystery. While changing the mobile phone he found that the memory card was undamaged. The photo he had taken of the tribal men was intact and he had brought a photo print with him. He was filled with apprehension as he saw the small huts that dotted closely on the mountain slope. Should he back out? What if the men in the photos were really goons. Was it that he was a fool who wanted to step in the lion’s den? Even as he thought his feet kept walking and he found himself facing a group of men under a large tree.
 
He skimmed the faces and as he eyes reached the last of them, he recognised. The two elder were sitting there. They had smile on their lips, it was clear that had recognised them too. The young guy and the kid were missing. He was glad about the absence of the young guy. He wanted to ask about that night but stopped when he realised that it would be vain as they would not understand anything he would say. Ram Ram, he greeted them. Ram Ram, he heard the greeting from behind, he felt his strength draining as the thought of the youth and his aggression passed his mind. He turned reluctantly and sighed as he saw the kid. But he noticed that the kid had greeted in common local language and not tribal. They smiled at each other and he gave a chocolate bar to him.
 
When they talked the kid told them about the night. It so happened that they had all dozed off to sleep and it was him, the kid who had woken up in the middle of the night and had found out that the storm had passed and the sky was clear again. He then woke up the rest. The kid then tried to wake up Rahul too but he was in deep sleep and did not respond. So they left him to rest.
 
Rahul sighed. It was all simple and he had been a fool to thing the other way. Probably he had done too much thinking. Or probably he was fantasizing a little too much. He wanted to ask them about the girl but remembered the reaction last time he had tried to talk on the matter. He thanked them and left. All was well but a simple fact that the kid was talking the local Marathi language while he refused it’s knowledge on that dark stormy night. He let it go. He was really fantasizing too much. He continued his way up the mountain taking rest every one hour or so.

…to be continued

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Pursuit: Part 4

 

…continued from Part 3. He tried to sleep but the last event warned him against it. But his body was too tired and refused to cooperate. His eyes closed and his mind into oblivion forgetting about the storm, the fierce youth, the photo and the mysterious girl.


As Rishi stopped, the others said in unison, “Then what happened?”

He woke up to find himself alone in the ruin. It was already morning. The sun was up in the air.
His watch indicated 11 am. His stomach was twitching and he felt sick. He ran outside. As he threw up, he saw something in the puddle of water to his right. It was his phone. There were number of random footprints around. He picked his mobile and tried to remember how it landed there. He tried to recollect if it fell out when the guy came to him for the fight. But it was in his hands and it did not fall, he could remember it clearly. Maybe they tried to steal it. When he tried to operate the phone, he found that it was ruined and was useless. As he handled it, a possibility flickered in his mind.
 
“Were they some thugs, the villagers? Did they do him something that he doesn’t remember anything?” someone asked interrupting Rishi. The others shushed him.
 
Rishi shrugged and continued, “The last he remember of the previous night was the queer smell that he felt. He couldn’t remember if it was real or just a dream”. He went on.
 
Rahul thought about the comrade, they could not be thugs. Coz all of his belongings were with him. But then they had tried to either steal or ruin his cell. Could that be because of the photo? Were they some wanted murderers? He shuddered at the thought. If that was true, he should thank God that he was still alive. But how believable it was that some murderers left a defenceless witness back. It could not be true. Maybe the kid took it and may have thrown it in the fear to be caught.
 
He collected his bag and started walking. Feeling weak physically and with the stomach creating issues, he decided to back off. He took lift on his way. He was relieved to find that his helper could speak his language. After talking to him he found that there are two tiny tribal villages. They speak their own language. One was some kilometres up on the mountain and the other was downwards and was close if you take go around the mountain. But that was all that the man knew.
 
“Did your friend go the village to find out?”
 
“No. He was frail, his health had worsened. And apparently there was no reason to go back. All his belongings were good, except for his cell”, Rishi answered. He continued, “After reaching home, he recovered. The doctor found poison in his blood, possibly entered his body through fumes.”
 
“Ohh!” there were sighs from his friends. They were hooked. Rishi continued.
 
The whole thing, the events, the doctor’s revelation, everything was disturbing. Nothing was fitting in. Who were they? Was he accidently poisoned or with intent to finish the eye-witness. Were they on a run? Should he go to police?
 
He had made up his mind. He decided to go back.

…to be continued

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Pursuit: Part 3

 

…continued from Part 2. The chamber was dark but there was a light coming from the right opening. There should be another chamber over there, he thought. Little careful he stepped in.

“What happened? Was the girl there?” someone asked with urgent curiosity.
 
“No”, Rishi continued, “She was not there. She had vanished. Or perhaps she sneaked from the left opening of the other chamber although she did not had any reason to do so in the grave circumstances of the storm. But there were people inside”
 
“So she was a spirit? Bhoot? You are making this up, Rishi!” they all grunted protesting
 

 
“No. Why would I?” he protested.
 
“Just like that. Just to make the night more amusing”
 
“Oh no! You think I am this creative. (pause) I can stop if you think it’s all fake” They all looked at each other and shrugged. “Okay”, they said, “Carry on”.
 
There were people inside, sitting against the wall. Light flickered from the lantern hanging from the ceiling. It was enough to introduce them to each other. There were two elders, one youth and a small kid, all tribal from appearance. It was difficult to identify the age of the elders but the young guy was bony and with slightest of fat. The kid must have been 8 to 9 years. Their body reflected day to day struggle for living and their eyes stared at entry of the new stranger. By their gestures, he guessed that they must have been talking but they refused to continue. They all sat silent. Quite odd, he think. He said Hello to them but it went unanswered. He talked in Marathi, the local language, be they shook their heads. They were all watching him, the elders with a questioning gaze while the youth with defiance and fire. Rahul acknowledged the flair and decided to keep distance from him.
 
They all sat for sometime with small conversations happening between the villagers. They were talking in their native and not a word was interpretable to Rahul. But Rahul was sure that it was not some small talk, with the intensity they talked that something much important was under cover and they were discussing and arguing and his entry had brought halt to it. But there was nothing that he could do. As he had a nutribar, he offered them some, only the kid accepted, others refused.
 
He wanted to ask them about the girl. But how would he convey it? With his hands, he made the curves of woman in air, but got frowns from them, their eyes narrowing. How stupid was he. He could be misinterpreted for worse. He gave up. With such an interesting subjects sitting in front of him, his mind urged him to take some photos. He played with the idea for sometime and then he took out his mobile and stood by the opening from where he could take a good shot. In a fraction of second, just when he clicked, all of a sudden the youth stood up with such a swiftness and ferocity that Rahul’s heart almost stopped. The others were quick to hold him back and make him sit. If not for them he would have been wailing on the floor.
 
They scolded the youth. Rahul understood nothing but he interpreted as warning not to act foolishly. The youth was not happy, fire shining in his eyes, hands restless, he was squirming in his seat. Rahul cursed himself. These guys were here with some reason, perhaps an important meeting. I was an intruder and had brought stop to whatever they were doing. It is only good for me to stop being foolish, mind my own business and leave with the first light, he advised himself and nodded to self.
 
He tried to sleep but the last event warned him against it. His propped his eyes wide but his body was too tired and refused to cooperate. His eyes closed and his mind sunk into oblivion, forgetting about the storm, the fierce youth, the photo and the mysterious girl.
 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Pursuit: Part 2

 
….continued from Part 1. Rishi sat down on the uncut grass and began his story.
 

 
My friend, Rahul is also a hippie at heart. He likes to travel by the untraversed path. It gives him adrenaline, he tells me. It was one of his offbeat trek. The one that he will never every forget. He was trekking up the mountain in the Western Ghats. He said there was an easy way to the top but he had found a dirt path and the prospect of traveling by that path was enticing to him. The jungle was safe as the animals were minimal and restricted themselves to the jungle at the top. He had anticipated sparse habitation along the slope of the hill and was carrying enough food with him. The only risk was that the jungle was dense and brilliantly cunning. It was a mirage and could loose you all the while you think you are on the right track. He took the risk and started on the tiny track.
 
It was the beginning of June and the monsoon had not reached Maharashtra. But the climate had been cooler than it should have been and he expected some drizzle. But he was lucky and there were no surprises. He kept walking as the cool breeze unwound him of his tiredness. When it was dusk, he decided to camp. It was not yet dark. He found a place that rooted him as soon as he stepped there. It was a fine place. The ground was flat, defying any indication that it was actually a place on the mountain slope. The grass was dry and swayed in the cool breeze making a swishing sound. In this noise was getting mixed was the soft sound of babbling water. The water reflected the sunset colours. The whole set up looked like taken from some enchanting sequence of a romantic novel. His fatigue vanished and he felt relaxed.
 
Just when he was about to sit by the water, there was a lightening followed by a thunder. It was completely dark by now. There was a commotion of clouds that startled him. He saw a movement in the calm water. He looked around and ran under the rocky arc a few feet away. He was right, it started to rain. Just then he heard the bubbling sound in the water. Something was inside and was coming out. He frowned trying to concentrate on the silhouette.
 
He sighed when he saw it was not an animal. With the sudden flash of lightening that illuminated the scene, he saw it was girl. He could not believe that she was under the water all the time he was there. Her head was now out of the water. He saw the big silver ear ring and nose ring that stood out on her dark face, a tribal girl, her parkar-polka stuck around her body and water dripping from her face. The whole scene brought him goose bumps. He noted that she was unaware of his presence. It was just a fraction of second of illumination and then it was dark again and he could see her no more but did sense that she was now out of the water. The rain by now was coming down in sheets. He noticed she made some hissing sound.
 
She did it again. After an effort of concentration he realised that she was addressing him. She was making sign with her hands over her head indicating house. She was moving towards the the dense of trees and was making signs to him to follow. He complied, he needed a shelter or else he would definitely get sick. The rain was trying to make it difficult to trace her but it did not hinder him. He followed her like a snake following the movements of the charmer’s pipe. After sometime she stopped and he realised they have reached a ruined fort. She stepped in the chamber and he followed. She wasn't inside. He saw two openings, one to left and another to right. The chamber was dark but there was a light coming from the right opening. There should be another chamber over there, he thought. Little careful he stepped in.
 
“What happened? Was the girl there?” a friend asked with curiosity.
 
“No”, Rishi continued, “She was not there. She had vanished. Or perhaps she sneaked from the left opening of the chamber although she did not had any reason to do so in the grave circumstances of the storm. But in the other chamber there were people inside”
 
“So she was a spirit? Bhoot? You are making this up, Rishi!” they all grunted protesting.

…to be continued

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Pursuit: Part 1

Dark-Night-390x243Sometimes someone else’s grief gives you more pain than yours”, Rishi murmured looking distractedly at the cloud passing animatedly in the sky. It disappeared in the trees only to reappear in the small gap of the dense forest. They were in the veranda of a small cottage at the outskirts of Nimbude village.

After an eventful day of adventure followed by extremely delicious food, the friends were lying down in uncut grass watching the clear pollution-free sky dotted by the stars, their mind dabbling in the double pleasure discussing the day and relive it. They had immensely enjoyed the jungle safari and were very happy that they had consented to Rishi's suggestion to come to Nimbude.

It was a lovely night and they felt at peace like never before. The wind and abundance of nature melted all their tensions. After a long time they were together, talking their hearts out. As the night wore, their topics drifted from gratitude to complaints. They took turns to keep names and criticize their life and relations. Why couldn't they have a perfect life? What can they do to make it perfect? Rishi listened neglectfully as they discussed to make it perfect but only by trying to change everything else but themselves. “What do you think?”, somebody shook him. “What do you think Rishi?” he repeated. “Me? You really want to know?” Rishi refuted. He stood and looked up to the moon. It was a fullmoon night. Then he answered their question.

“You guys are fools. When you have faithful partners who love and care for you, why are you running around for something else? What exactly do you want?”. His answer silenced them. They were not expecting this answer, not from Rishi. They were aware he had a breakup last month but he wasn't the emotional kind. In fact he would just joke about his fleeting relationships and move ahead. But this was a different Rishi they were listening to. Where love was last word in his dictionary, here he was, filled with emotion, his words carrying a hint of sadness, not fake but urgent and convincing of some unknown reason he wanted to convey.

His face looked soft with emotion, his eyes contemplating and staring in the air. “This place brought some memories. About a girl, a friend had told me about”.

They waited and when there was no answer they said in unison, “Tell us”. They were looking at him with interest in spite of the booze. He sat down on the uncut grass and began his story.

My friend is also a hippie at heart. He likes to travel by the untraversed path. It gives him adrenaline, he tells me. It was one of his offbeat trek. The one that he will never every forget.

… to be continued