Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Footprints

The rain came suddenly.

Sanchita never expected that out of that maddening beauty of horizon , the mixing of different shades of red purple and blue would be replaced by dark grey clouds in such rapidity. Though the air spell that , even the sky showed the signs but as Sanchita was sitting with face towards west she hardly saw that arrival of heavy clouds.

And thus she was caught in the rain badly.

She is running fast, parallel to the river side. With big droplets of rain pouring, running is really not the easiest , specially for a Kolkata girl like Sanchita. She now began to curse herself for not bringing her maternal brother. Buro asked her multiple times to accompany her but Sanchita refused . She for the first time came to visit her own village , Rajpur , a mere spot in the district of Murshidabad. And thus she wanted to get a feel of the place and to enjoy the smell of the sowing crops , the wet fragrance of grass, the partial brown un finished Khowai road, the sound of tractors spreading water, the grazing of cattles in the field and obviously , the vast sky which gradually disappeared where the

village ends only again to start a new beginning.

However her adventure has now most unexpectedly reached a climax.

She is running. Her hairs blowing , dupatta in wind, struck tightly to neck , her green salwar with her every step adoring new splashes of mud.

The wind is tremendous. The reddish appearance of the horizon has vanished with twinkle of eye, and it is replaced by diversified shades of clouds. And these towering

Cumulonimbus clouds looks really alarming.

While running Sanchita turned her head to the river. The small river , which is a distributary of the Ganges is now adored with waves waves and waves. The level of water is rising with great force. There is not a single boat in the river.

But there were some. Just minutes earlier. The Majhi(boatman) know the signs of nature.

And the evening light also has disappeared

It is really dark now.

Suddenly Sanchita stood still much in surprise.

As before her lay no road.

The path has vanished into scattered slums.

Sanchita confused turned her head and started walking in her right but again stopped.

Because suddenly in front of her a lantern is shown and somebody said her,

‘Odike noy!’ (‘Not that side’.)

Sanchita more surprised found that a young boy is standing before her holding the lantern.

The boy is tall, wearing a dhoti and a open-chested shirt. He asked Sanchita now,

Where she would go.

‘Mukhujye Bari. Tumi Cheno?(Mukherjee House, do you know the road?)

The boy didn’t said anything and started walking showing her the way.

The boy left the road and stepped in the sand.

Sanchita asker her to go through road but the boy said her that she is totally in the wrong way and for finding the right track they have to work some distance through sand.

So Sanchita started walking silently.

The outpour of rain has increased…. so did the velocity of wind…. grains of sands hitting eyes now and then…. the boy is walking slowly but gently…. his lantern caught in his left hand giving light to Sanchita…. The flame of lantern within the glass is shaking fiercely in this terrible wind…. a Deshawali song of a Majhi coming through the rainfed air …. the wordings still crystal clear…. water of the river coming in small splash and touching the feet of Sanchita and then disappearing in the wet brown sand…. the spots of her feet getting lost every minute in the mud with arrival of more raindrops…. Sanchita thought to cover herself in dupatta but it is of no use…. she is totally wet…. the sounds of thunder ….

the flash of the stormy evening with a sharp bluish light.... Sanchita forgot about her condition…. she started enjoying again .. as if she is walking through the road of eternity..

She is almost getting lost in some other world…. when her hypnotism broke ….

She looked forward….

There is not a single soul in the riverside except two of them ….

And she heard that boy is saying to her….

‘Abar adike….’(Now this side.)

They left the riverside and took the left hand road.

And within five minutes Sanchita recognized the road to the house and within

next five minutes they are approaching the Mukhujyebari , a renowned ancestral house of the village.

Coming near the door the boy stopped.

Sanchita felt that the darkness has increased suddenly.

She soon found the reason.

The light of the lantern has got out.

The boy is standing quietly…. his whole body wet…. Sanchita looked at him and thanked him and then suddenly took out a fifty rupee note and extended it towards the boy….

“ Na Didi….Ami ar janya..’(No, Didi.. not for this..)

The boy not saying a single word more , turned back and started walking.

Sanchita called him.

But he has gone.

He knows very well the way to the river.

Sanchita kept stranded in the rain.

She realized that she had done a wrong thing.

She should not have offered him the money.

She stared towards the ever increasing darkness and rain.

And at that moment she found her brother came running towards her with umbrella asking her where she was …. and ending…. ‘ You have lost the road certainly!’.

‘I did’. Sanchita said softly.

And then she told her brother about the boy.

‘Which boy’.

‘Who showed me the way from the riverside.’

His brother not paying any more importance took her inside the house.

But Sanchita decided that tomorrow she would go to the slums and find the boy and apologise to him.

She went next day. But she didn’t found him.

She gave the description, there are many like him but none was him.

Sanchita came back to Kolkata.

She went Rajpur many times after that.

But she never found him.

Ten years have passed.

Married Sanchita came again with her little son.

She is standing in the open balcony of the old house.

A beautiful view of the river can be seen from here.

Sanchita stood alone.

After so many years she still remembers that boy.

She now thanks God that she never found him.

Because she never wanted to meet him again after so many years.

She in this ten years have felt.. a truth.

That boy is an unique shelter to her.

Or may be.. her unfulfilled apology has turned into an unexplained love.

The wind smells rain.

Sanchita closed her eyes….

She can see….within the horizon…. an evening storm…. a fierce wind…. a song of a Majhi….the trembling lights of lantern….a slow but gently moving figure of a boy…. his footsteps….

engraved in sand….

Sanchita kept on walking.


rumki maitra said...

u r absolutely brilliant.....this one is such a vivid description of the rustic charm......
so much is hidden within u.everytime i read ur post i find a different u........don't know whether i read u correctly or not....u will be the best judge for that....
every writing of urs touches my heart from the core....ur descriptions r so beautiful n crystal clear , actually i can vizualize .....i have to say so many things but i don't find any words for them.....might be when we meet i can actually express how i feel.....
just carry sure u will fulfill ur dreams!!!!!!!

Saket Ranjan said...

Just stumbled on ur blog. And frankly, am gonna come again. Bookmarked you.

About the story : Reminded me of Premchand's writings. He had the same rustic innocence portrayed in his stories. But what happened to the boy? Maybe you can write a second version, describing the boy's side of the story.

Keep writing!!!