A Disquieted Night With Her

“India has won the world cup” – the news spread with the same speed as it would have transmitted from the radio station. Everyone clapped and cheered. It was a wonderful time to be there- June 1983, i loved it. It was not common in my world- the celebration. The atmosphere was further boosted by the chants – “Kapil Dev Zindabad… Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. Cricket connects this country so well and even while sitting in a remote place like Barot in Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh, i felt the belongingness to this great nation and i felt proud. The irony is – i am not an indian. 

To add more to our pleasure, two goats were slaughtered in the name of Bharat Mata and its success. There were at least thirty people and i was doubtful whether two lives would be sufficient to satisfy our appetite. After presenting it to Devta, we all had our share and i got more than what i was expecting. My stomach was full with Meat-Rice. I also had some local wine. Which made me wonder how would i be able to walk all the way 3 km uphill to reach home? 

I live alone in a two room house which is at the hill top. I came here to work from Nepal when i was a kid and never left thereafter. I don’t even know what my age is, but i guess i am around 18-19. I have never seen my parents and i often wonder why i was abandoned. Now in this foreign land, i am more used to the name Bahadur and it’s been a long time when i was called by my original name- Prem. 

Next to my house lives Shankar with his wife and two sons. They are a happy family, though i don’t deny the fact that his wife had never tried hitting on me. But i never responded. In fact there were times when she was all alone in the house when she called me, i never took advantage of it. And looking at my track record, i have started to suspect if i am a celibate. 

I work in a Kiryana Store- the only one that is there in Barot. They pay me enough to live a decent life. I had worked as a servant for an old couple who died in an accident two years back. Satisfied with my work and also the fact that they didn’t have any children,  they had left the house in my name. Rest of the property, they had donated to charity. Had they been more kind to me, i would have been a rich guy. But it’s not bad i guess. I am living a happy life. I don’t even belong to poor class. I am one of the few people here who own a radio set.

As i started to walk, i realized it would take good effort to reach home. The overeating and the drink have started to show their effects. My Laltain was showing me the path, as it had always done. The path was narrow and was surrounded by a dense forest. I took quick steps as i was trying to reach as early as possible. I needed sound sleep. I had walked only a kilometer or so when i heard a whisper from behind. It said something i didn’t understand. I fainted for couple of seconds. I turned back, but there was no one. The combination of fear and cold breeze gave me goosebumps. I started to walk really fast this time. As i made my way through the dense forest, the Laltain was put out by a sudden blow of air. I reached my pocket for matchbox but it wasn’t there. Guess i had forgot it in the shop. Damn!

I heard a shout this time. I stood still as i heard a sound of bangles and anklets. My senses told me that there was someone who was moving towards me. I looked back quickly. A mid aged woman was walking hurriedly, whom i had never seen before. She looked worried. And in a way she scared me. I didn’t know why but she did. 

“Who are you?” i asked in a firm voice trying to hide my fear and i guess i succeeded. 

Namaste ji, i have come from the neighboring village. My in-laws have been torturing me for quite some time. Now they have threatened to kill me. I had to leave the house, but had no place to live. I want to go back to my parents but they live very far.” There was a pause. “I will go to my parents place tomorrow morning. But i can’t go anywhere now. Please help me. Can i stay with your family tonight?” she pleaded. My heart melted. Plus i have the inability to say No which at times troubles me. I preferred to tell her that i lived alone in the house. She didn’t seem to have any problem which looked odd to me.

We headed in the dark night, through the forest. As we walked along, I became more skeptic about her identity. Or probably she was just being impulsive. But i was sure about the fact that she was a poor woman. And poor never hurt anyone- life had taught me this. 

As we reached i signaled her sshhh to stay quiet before we had entered the house. I didn’t want my neighbors to know the fact that i had brought a woman over. No matter what the reason would be, they would always doubt. I haven’t seen the world beyond this village but i suppose neighbors everywhere are same. 

I made the bed for her. And though it was June, still it was quite cold. I took out all the blankets i had, some of them smelled really bad. I asked if i could make some tea for her. It was mere a formality but she said Yes. I gathered some wood and lit the fire in the Chulha. 

I asked her to join me. I looked back at her. Her color had changed. She looked blue. God! what was happening.

To be continued…

Published by Deepak Rana

A writer, a wanderer. Keeps dreaming and aspires to make them true.

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