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.

Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading the story. I liked the simplicity, the suspense and the illusion. I thought it was a wonderful read. I actually liked the last part. I thought you did a great job tying up all the loose ends and the background history was interesting to read. But if you are looking to change it, then I think it should have been a bit longer. As a lesson learned it could be 'take your own time writing the ending' ;-)

    '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.' +1 Brilliant. Very well done.

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    1. Ohh Thank you very much for those kind words and for following such a looong story.
      And ofcourse i've noted the feedback too :)

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