Sunday, June 08, 2014

Long run

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 47; the forty-seventh edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

imagesManu lied down in the dark space. He could hear distant sounds of dogs barking. It was the sound very close to his body that was making his heart beat faster. He did not want to die of rat poison. At least not before he could arrange something for his family, to save them from dying of hunger. He had found shelter in this big city.

Back in village, his little farm had turned to cracked dried mud and the very little food they had in the house was reducing to nothing even though he and his wife were eating negligible to feed their two year old child. From the frequent gatherings of the farmers that he learnt that a new tax will be levied on their village as was seen in neighbouring villages. The question that the farmers were mulling was if they should meet their Raja? Most of them were in the favour, but many were of view of finding alternative ways to earn. But they were farmers and  kheti was the only work their ancestors had done for years and so had they. While they were cursing their fate came Guna, like God. Guna was a young kid of seven when ran away from home, nobody knew where he vanished. Now that he had returned he claimed he had travelled west towards the sea. He had seen ships big equal to mountains. And in such ships he had found work as a helper.

Manu had never thought of being anything else than a farmer, but a decision was instantly made in Manu's mind. Today he was in the big ship city, people here called it bandar which he found extremely funny to name it on an animal. This sheher was drastically different from his village and he found many goras moving around on horses and magical moving objects, gaadi, as they call it. He planned to stay as far as he can from them. He had found work at a shop which supplied materials required for the ships. Who would have thought he will find work the very first day? Guna was right about that. He thanked God and Guna in mind. Guna while had raised disappointment over little crammed places, Manu was more than happy to find shelter even though it was a dark small place under the building(structures he found overwhelming) stairs.

He was lost in thoughts when he heard the sounds. They were coming from his seth’s home upstairs. He decided to stay where he is and listen for hints. There was crying, but suppressed, like someone was in pain but was trying to hide. The sounds continued for sometime but he decided to stay away rather than doing anything foolish and loose whatever was in hand. After sometime, his tired body gave in and he dossed off to sleep.

Days passed and he found himself settled in the routine of the city life. He found a small puppy abandoned on the road who in time turned to companion with whom Manu shared his feelings. They filled each other's emptiness. The work was simple and good. Tomorrow looked hopeful. Only puzzling were his dreams at nights. He saw himself in his village, running along the narrow path towards their hut clouding the air with the dust. He always saw himself smiling and hopeful while he ran. But his daughter and wife, who were at the door looked very sad like in a perpetual wait. They saw through him as if he was invisible. He woke up sad, not once he saw himself reach the door. It was like a run for lifetime.

But these dreams never bothered him. Each day he found new courage and hope to start afresh. He had to collect enough to send it home through Guna by the end of the month. After the days work, when he returned to his shelter, there was trouble to sleep. Some days due to the sound of the sobs while other days in its anticipation. The beatings were regular and after a few weeks he had concluded that his seth who otherwise (supposedly acting) gentleman to others was very cruel towards his wife. They were childless which he guessed the reason behind his brutality and which was confirmed when he once heard him call her baanj. He felt sorry for the woman he had never seen. But more than that he felt anger towards the neighbours who kept mum over it. But at the same time he also knew how they all shared the fear of losing which in their case was a home, all of them being seth's tenants. There was always silence over these events as their seth was wealthy and influential. Besides who would be namak haram to the one who is providing meal? Over few days he gathered that the one staying with his seth was his second wife. He had exiled his first wife to her maika and had married another woman for a child.

Days had passed and Manu had accepted his reality of cowardness. But it was the cruel Sunday when things upturned and his hopes fell apart. That day he saw his seth leaving the building. A few minutes before that he had heard beating and crying sounds. These usually happened during night so Manu wondered what had caused seth's ire early Sunday morning. Manu could still hear the painful crying. His brain ordered his body to settle in the hollow but something was twisting in his heart. When he needed to cover his ears he took a step towards the stairs. He could see himself taking the step like he was outside himself. And this estranged spirit also kept mum as if it too was convinced it was the right thing to do, screaming silence must be heard. Before he realised, he found himself up to the end of the stairs. The crying was coming from the room at his right.

But what was he supposed to do? What should he say to her? He is from a neech jaat. Is his presence before a uchha jaat woman be right? He realised he might be in trouble. He was brought to reality with a squeal and he noticed that he was carrying his puppy and was unknowingly strangling him. He didn't know why, but he lay him down and knocked the door. As if his floating spirit still had the wit, it shook his body. He heard payal approaching the door and anticipation took over him. His body drenched with sweat. This is not right and he may land in deep trouble. Instinctively he ran to the stairs and peeped through the small gap. The door opened.

She was a young girl not more than sixteen or seventeen. Her face was round and eyes had shape like lotus petals but were swollen and red. She was beautiful but her face and body was fear-afflicted. It was maybe his movement that she looked directly at his eyes through the hole. With fear he turned to run when he heard swear words and felt a punch in his face. There was terrible pain in his nose and he could taste metal in his mouth. He felt a little imbalanced but seconds later when he opened his eyes he saw his malik dragging him up. Seth’s wife was still at the door, her body shivering. Her face was contorted stricken with fear. She had the puppy in her hand who was squealing while she made repeated pleas to her husband.

Manu’s mind started to make sense. Seth must have seen his wife and him, looking at each other, in the same frame and his crude mind put the pieces together albeit wrong. “You kutta get out my sight otherwise I will kill you. Don't show your face again” his seth yelled. Manu began to beg. He had done nothing. Seth was taken it all wrong. But this turned Seth's face crimson and he struck his leg on Manu's face, who was on his knees. Manu went rolling down to the street.

When Manu stood at the street, he realised it was all over. He wiped his nose to his sleeves. People were rushing around. Nobody stopped to see a man beaten and kicked. Nobody cared there were two mouths suffering in hunger miles far. Nobody would care even if he just jump off the bandar and drown himself. His wife’s and child’s face hovered over his eyes. He felt dizziness. But he cannot kill himself. He sighed. It wasn’t over. He started to walk to nowhere in particular. He has to make a way.

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