Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wandering Moot Point

Two days without Henery passed with great uneasiness. April was mentally and physically drained. Though feeling low, handling the baby and the chores all by herself, she made a brave attempt to keep her spirits afloat. Oscillating between weal and woe April received a new lease of life when Mark paid a surprise visit one day.
Mark's arrival brought life back into her household. The moment he tenderly held June in his arms, he fell in love with her. But Henery...! There was no sign of him. Mark could sense something which wasn't right but preferred to stay tight lipped. He watched his sister with great pride...and why shouldn't he! Inspite of Henery's gnawing absence, which was breaking her from within, she refused to succumb. She had not a single complain. When Mark became inquisitive, she kept her doubts hidden behind a veil and cooked up convincing stories regarding Henery's where abouts, knowing in the heart of her hearts how unsure she was. Realising that he would be the cuckoo in the nest in his sister's house he alienated himself from the subject.

April was feeling the pressure and one day, she had even thought of going to the hospital to enquire about her husband but her feeble health held her back. Besides she didn't want her brother Mark to have any inkling of her agony. She waited for the right time.

In the evening when Mark took June out in a pram for a gentle stroll, she found the opportunity to call the hospital. 
"Hi Steffini!"It's April here. How are you?" she asked.
"Oh Hi! Congrates April for the baby. What a lovely surprise...you called. I'm quite fine. Any thing you want!!"she replied.
"Yah, just called to know if Henery was any where around?" she asked.
"Oh, he's in the surgery at the trauma centre. In case I chance a glance upon him I'll let him know that you had called. By the way, any problem April! Steffini asked as a friend.

"Oh no Steffini! Thanks. The mother and daughter duo is doing perfectly fine. Please don't disturb him. You know how it is when the baby arrives! You lack sleep...just wanted to know if he was coming home early tonight 'coz I wished to sleep. But poor thing, Henery himself needs sound sleep after 72hour's of back breaking schedule." she answered. Will call you again Steffini!" with a friendly chit-chat she hung it, cursing and regretting her devilish thoughts.
"How could I doubt! How could I! How mean of me! Oh poor Henery! He's on 72hour's roll!...and here I sit all day hallucinating! Oh god...help me! Polish my heart and fill it with the light of your mercy, compassion and warmth!"
A deep sense of guilt consumed her. Holding her head in both arms she dropped on the bed and let endless tears roll down as if she wished to wash away all the muck inside.
Just when she began to feel lighter and a lot better, the doorbell rang. April hurridly wiped her tears, brushed a stroke or two and clicked and pinched her cheeks lightly, for the glow to return. When the door opened ...outside stood Henery...exhausted. 

Harbingers Of Hope

Storms are harbingers of hope of some sort. April was making efforts to be resilent. She saw Henery engrossed with their baby. He refused to leave her side.
"Oh my darling June! What a beautiful name! Isn't it!" he fondly talked to the baby to which baby June smiled and jerked her legs in the air with great gusto. This playful moment of father and daughter was cut short when Aril sent that piercing question,
"Where had you been Henery? Couldn't find you when I needed you the most!"
"Got syuck April!" Said Henery, casually, without looking up.
"Got stuck! What do you mean Got Stuck!" she shot back.
"Yes, Got Stuck. How can I explain! Now ..wait a second, why should I explain, don't you trust my words!" Henery showed signs of frustration and his tone reflected his irritation to such dumb questions.
"What can one do! How could I tackle that moment!" he said.
"Is there anything wrong! Oh how stupid of me...of course there is something terribly wrong. Can I be of any help Henery!" answered April, with a regretful voice. " Tell me!' she insisted.
"Nothing in particular. I'm on a tough duty. Got to go now. Please take care of yourself and the baby." He got up from his chair and prepared to leave.
"Where are you off to now!" asked April.
"To the hospital right now but don't forget to call me after an hour. At five I'll fix up a meeting with Mr. Reed and then visit him by this evening." he said. 
Henery left almost immediately.
Physically weak April felt helpless.
"What's wrong with him! I must find out what happened on saturday that my poor Henery is so disturbed!" she thought to ease her taut nerves.
Bewildered April spent her days anxiously, two days passed and there was no sign of Henery.

Reverbrating Echoes

 April turned in bed with a warm smile. Together with Henery every thing reverbrated the joys of her heart. All looked so wonderful. The mornings were anxiously awaited and so were those glorious evenings! There was no love lost between them. Amidst that season of hope, they thought of tying the knot. Their final semester was over and their friends too rejoiced. The atmosphere was electric.
The wedding took place in a simple manner. Friends gorged on delicious food and had loads of fun. The two together looked a happy couple, absolutely dedicated. Soon a life began to take shape which had a multiplier effect on their joy. Their respective families back home sent them greetings. Mark in particular decided to add a comforting touch and announced his arrival for a month on vaccation. April was happy but Henery...!The flow of letters for Henery dropped and finally ceased. It disturbed him. April became irregular at Medical College due to her advanced stage which made her stay back quite often. It was one such day when a visitor dropped in search of Henery.
"When will he be back?" he asked
"It'll be late today, he is handling surgery this week." replied April
The man asked her to drop in a word from his side when he returned and then contemplating something he suddenly asked for some paper and a pen. April obliged. The man held it against the wall and wrote down something. Handing it over to April he said " Please don't forget to give him this."
April answered "Oh sure! I won't. Please drop in when ever you can." she said warmly.
The man said "Thank You!" and left.
April opened the folds and read "Visit us at 45 Bewly Road, West Midlands."
On his return after he read it, Henery decided to meet the man that same weekend.  April would stay back and rest. The week passed contemplating their trip back home and early that saturday morning Henery left to meet the unknown man.


April was distressed. All alone, she felt nervous  and called her doctor, who advised immidiate hospitalisation. She had no means of informing Henery. With great effort she called the ambulance and left a note with her compassionate neighbours before leaving for Maple Hospital. Henery didn't visit her there till the next day. She grew anxious and her blood pressure shot up. It was a difficult time and April fought it all alone...all by herself. Soon the baby shifted it's position and came to occipito posterior position. An alarming position especially when it's neck gets entwined in the curls of nourishing placenta. C.S had to be done. With no one beside April trembled anticipating the pain, fear and that huge monetary burden. She had no one to turn to. Henery quietly abstained from the scene.

The baby arrived amidst these challenging moments. When April reurned from her deep slumber under the effects of anesthesia, she found Henery sitting beside with her hands tightly held in his. The pain returned but she felt light in her head ...all that stress vanished, simply by looking at Henery's face.

The brightness of her tiny round face made Henery name her June. He would always say, " My April turns to June." 


The rest of the day, the two stayed together. Their laughter reverbrated in the air of Green Gate.
" It is so nice to see them together." thought Gearu Ram, as he came out into the lush green lawn and asked "Shall I get you some tea... and snacks for Baby?" April and June nodded together, with grand smiles. Gearu smiled back and went in to fetch them something to munch as they talked. Together they hugged their silvery shiny oak and kissed it tightly. Still holding the tree in their strong embrace they shared their unfathomable eternal joys. It was real fun.

"June, why are you so scared to enter Mark's room?' April asked. Ramilla fell silent.
"What happened! Answer me! Baby!"she poked her again.
"In that room Daddy left you and me ...and went away...never to return. I hate that room, I hate it." answered Ramilla with loud gestures.

The smiles and laughter died yet again. Ramilla had stepped on the most painful nerve .

"After he left and after I stopped crying I noticed a face on one of it's walls." Ramilla added."It is ugly and scary"

All of a sudden April remembered how June would scream if ever she let her in that room and the day of her passing away too became vivid before her.
"I floated away from that room...don't you remember Mama!' said Ramilla quietly.
April simply sprang up and held Ramilla tightly and said "Today... you're back from that long journey to nowhere...you were always with me...and so shaii you be!' said April strongly.
Gearu Ram brought their tea and cookies and a glass of milk for Ramilla. Diving into the platefull of cookies Ramilla asked "Tell me about Daddy Mama! What happened ...  that he had to leave us/"

April too thought that it the time was fast approaching to speak her heart out to her Baby but she needed to compile her thoughts well which meant some more time, so she said 'Sure, I will...  but not today...someday later"

That night as April lay in bed, Henery's face became vivid and live before her. Ever since he left, she had thought of him every passing day. She had complete information and knew how he was and what sort of life he was leading! Today she wanted to visit that bygone era and listen to those moments of vanished beats. Ramilla's question had to be answered...and answered well.

It had been pleasant and happy times, when she first approached Henery on her first day at The Royal College of Medicine, England. She had lost her way to the class, after their anatomy lab. Henery was passing by and on approaching him he asked her to come along. From strangers they turned into pleasant acquaintances. Neither of the two had any clue of their destined path. Regular greetings with  slight nods of familiarity in no time turned into friendship. The process of inter personal relationship is exciting but strange! It catches on like the wild forest fire. Soon their hearts were caught in the  passionate blaze of love. It spread like flu, from one to the other. Henery unable to hold on to that passion, on his own, silently, gave in and had actually gone up to April and proposed. And the ever shy April accepted it.
"Out of so many why did they had to come together!" April thought. She was trying to figure out the will of the lord. Now it was simple to understand.

Both had their roots in India.

Consuming Aches

 Ramilla was taken aback. April's words pierced her, through and through. She felt the jolt and numb all over.
"What happened! Why is Mama so troubled! Does she want to test me more! Is my real test not over yet!" confused Ramilla wondered. She had to find out and so she too bent her steps towards the hospital, in her favourite green chiffon frock.

April was on her usual daily rounds of the wards where she wasn't allowed. So, she waited for her in April's chamber. It wasn't a long wait though, but Ramilla with her head on the table softly placed within the folds of her arms, had dozed off to sleep. On finishing her rounds, April returned to her chamberand sawher little one sleeping silently, unaware of the high tides of her heart. She lovingly ran her hand through Ramilla's hair and said "My baby...oh my baby!" Ramilla stayed unperturbed. Finally sitting down on her chair April stretched and pushed her head back gently to let it lie on the back rest of her chair. With legs strtched out in front, under the table, it was a relaxed pose...but  a strange impatience consumed her. It appeared as if she was in a dream. She tried hard to get out of it but in vain! She couldn't resist the elements of her dream and felt strongly drawn towards it gradually. The poignancy of each moment pushed her deeper into those painful memories and soon she became a dream within a dream. Her resistance towards them made her utter"Go Away!" again and again, in quite loud cries.

Ramilla suddenly returned back from her doze and saw April again in that troubled state.Through her closed eyes, Ramilla saw the tears trickling down. She was disturbed and got up from her place to come closer to April. Then noticing the pain on her face, she tried to shake her up from her sleep. Crying her self Ramilla said "What is it Mama...see I'm here ...with you now! Open your eyes and see me....take my hand and feel me..Mama!"
April got up with a jerk and embraced Ramilla tightly and said "Don't cry baby! Don't. These tears are too precious for me. Moreover, I promise, I won't shed them ever again for I've done it enough....now no more. Fine!" April's smile returned with a pledge and Ramilla trusted with her whole heart.

But, what would April do with her memories of Henery....they kept on returning in flashes.

Seasons Of The Past

 "No I'm not hungry. I want to be with you." said June.
"Fine then. I'll wait downstairs till you are finished with your studies and then we can be together and talk and laugh our lungs out." answered April, "Oh by the way! I'll be on my rounds in the ward...so take your time."
April was the witness of the mysticity of life. Celebrating her reunion silently, she was in her state of euphoria and ecstacy. In spite of this sudden excitment she couldn't forget to thank the lord and said a silent prayer in her heart. Returning to the silvery oak, she held it in her tight embrace and kissed it with all her might. The oak too understood and rejoiced...and the moments of life chimed away with brilliant radiant hope.The silver shine on the back of the otherwise green oak leaves sparkled in full glory, as if acknowledging the joys of her heart, which were full of pain and yearning till yesterday.

Every moment comes as a complete package deal of garbs and gifts. With so much of happiness came along the thoughts of Henery, flooding her heart mind and soul completely. April fought back yet again. She desperately tried to jerk them away. Just then, June came out of the house, dressed in a green smoked chiffon frock and heard April say "Go away!...just leave me alone...Go away,...will you! Then she hurriedly rushed towards the hospital.

The Intersection Of Times

With a heavy heart, Ramilla goes upstairs, holding her precious books close to her bossom. Near the stairways is the room she dreads to enter.
"Thank God it's locked today! Uncle Todd must be out of town!"she thinks.
She passes by Todd's room , without glancing through as she fears to enter it for some strange reason known to her alone.Through the corridor, after passing that locked bottle green burma teak almirah, she stops at the threshhold of April's room which is her own too. As she looks through the door she finds April wipping her tears while sitting on an old study table holding a  photoframe. April looks up and says "Come in Ramilla!"
Ramilla enters. The room is dark. The slight glow is caused by the lighted table lamp placed beside April's desk. Ramilla stops at the threshhold of April's room with her gaze fixed at April.
"Come on Ramilla, come to me!" April calls her gently.
Ramilla moves closer to her and looks at the picture frame, which is placed right side down on the desk top table.
"An old frame must be holding an old photograph" she thinks
"Do you want to see the picture?" asks April as she looks up, Ramilla nods. April slowly turns the frame.
"Oh, it's Henery, you and me! It's before he left us. Do you remember!" tells Ramilla excitedly
"Yes I do! But do you know when and where was it taken ?" asks April to quiz her.
"Yes of course, I do!" answers Ramilla. "It was when we went to visit Aunt Eileen with Daddy. He showed us Stratford, the birth place of Shakespare, on our way to Cardiff in England".
April holds Ramilla's arms and draws her closer to her.
"why did you leave me alone! Why June!" April tugs her in tight embrace accepting the mysticity of their times.
"I shouldn't have...I know....for you were left alone...but couldn't help! That day the fever was just unbearable. I couldn't hold on Mama!" wipping April's tears she said.
" But cheer up I've come back to you again. This time I won't leave that early! she said.
"Stay with me here June" said April
"I will Mama!" came a loving answer as Ramilla jumps to kiss April.
April switches on the light and Ramilla sits with her books on the seat vaccated by April.
"All my search ends here with Mama. I have no wish to move further on." thinks Ramilla.
"Wait I'll get you something to eat while you study!" says April as she turns towards her way out.

A Silvery Shiny Oak

A shiver wafts through April. The cold quiver left her numb and speechless. After a long stillness, she felt a tight grip and looked down. It was Ramilla's tight embrace. Trying to break free from her hold she forcibly unlocked Ramilla's clasp and turned away from her. "Mama, don't go! Don't leave me this time!" cried Ramilla. For a moment April's footsteps stopped but she didn't turn. Ramilla hastily came forward face to face with her almost blocking her way and said "I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm sorry , I shouldn't have uttered ....! But it's true!"
April though listened but ignored every word and went inside the house, leaving Ramilla with a  deep sense of regret.

Ramilla returned to the old wise oak tree and gazed at it intently." Yes, it's that one!" she said and embracing it's huge trunk she began to weep silent tears.
"Let no one accept, but like me, you too know, this is true! I was here before. I loved you before. It's my another chance to make good of life that was cut short last time. I'll tell you all. Mama might not accept and I don't have means to prove either. So what!...I'll always be June to her" Sobbed Ramilla.

The oak tree stood silent witness to the eternity of life. The silver shiny leaves dazzled the moment with it's sparkling brilliance as if saying  "Ramilla, stop crying! Gather your spirits and listen to me! This flow is called life. We come and go to come back again. Your coming back is mystic.... but true. Make good what still remains incomplete and undone. Mama will be yours again and remain so all through." With tender loving kindness Ramilla ran her palm over the bark of it's trunk ...and suddenly her fingers touched upon a smooth surface whose contours, she felt were slightly varied and didn't seem to match with the rest, so she bent over to have a look. She saw  that there lay engraved on Silvery Shiny Oak's trunk those four letters...JUNE... ! They appeared old carvings which had turned brown. Ramilla quietly kissed it with trembling lips and said softly "Thank You My Silvery Shiny Oak! Thank You!" and she too turned towards the door.  

April Turns To June

Learning bitter sweet lessons so early in life didn’t dampen Ramilla’s enthusiasm, instead they turned her into a greedy learner.
She moved in with April. They shared space, time, every aspect of their lives, above all their hearts.  Slowly it seeped into her that the lurking suspicion of the approaching moments was actually the basic texture of her life, and she could do nothing about it. These awakenings happened, little by little ,almost every day and she began to accept that in principle. Meeting April was the biggest break through for her. Her huge presence helped Ramilla to look straight into the eyes of the coming moments, with snigger, and continue to dream on. The flood of emotions that came like tsunamis to wrap her in pain and grief was the only thing she couldn’t tackle but she had to learn to be calmer still.

“I’m happy then why these tears keep returning back again and again!” she asked herself sitting under the silvery oak tree.
Gearu Ram brought tea and arranged the garden chairs for two while Ramilla intently practised some problems from Rational Numbers in Mathematics sitting under her favourite silver oak tree. April came out in the clear bright sunshine and walked straight towards Ramilla and said "come let's have some light tea. Just you and me."
"No, I hate tea it'll turn my complexion dark." answered Ramilla without raising her eyes.
"O.k! That's what you really think! Then fine don't take tea but take these coockies." April answered laughing away to glory.
"No. I'm not hungry." came a quick reply.
"Oh Ramy, at least come and sit closer to me so that we can talk a bit."requested April 
"No I'm practising my maths and don't ask me to move. I love my silvry shiny oak." Replied Ramilla
'Silvery shiny oak"  This one phrase caught April's attention  and she said "What's so grand about this oak tree!"

"It's been with me ever since Henry Moore planted it." Ramilla answered casually with her gaze fixed at the sum she was solving.
"What? Come again!" asked April with a slight jerk in her voice.
"I was here before April." came a serious reply
A chill ran downApril's spine. Keeping her cup of tea down she came closer to Ramilla  and touched her forehead.
"Arn't you well! What are you talking?" she asked
"You don't believe me!...you!...I'm June....I'll show you my name...come ! Remember you etched it for me here on my Silvery Oak's trunk....I'm your June Mama!  Ramilla hugged April tightly as she said.  

Resplendent Togetherness

"Oh Mark is back!"April sat up on the couch while putting her book down on the top of the side table. The summer sun sets late at Green Gate. Around this time, the hospital seems to be less busy and noisy. The soothing cool and crispy fresh air is a boon for the folks and they say it actually nourishes them to regain health and high spirits. Usually this comes as a much awaited oppertunity for April Angela to regain her energy and to read all those unread fresh releases of fiction. She is a voracious reader but loves to read books by Dr. Brian Weiss the most.

The jeep honked as it took the last of the hair pin bend from Longwood to Green Gate. It actually comes as a signal for the house staff to put on their respective caps while taking on their respective positions and wait at the main door and at the main gate, to welcome their master home.

April threw an inspecting gaze at Todd's picture perfect organised room. Everything was in order.
"Gearu,is so meticulous! He gives no reason to complain. What a perfectionist! The fellow is so old now but has been just this way ever since I can remember! softly talking in a hushed voice to her self April took pride in their prized possession.
Stroking her unkempt hair with a brush and fingers she switched on the lights for the wooden stairway and began to climb down.
"What would we have done without Gearu! He's simply too good for his job, so careful and observant that even the brass rods that hold the carpet on each stair is  sparkling ...and the carpet....it's fitted so neatly and tightly !" admired April. "Even this huge oval mirror standing at the main entrance, is polished well as if lending a broad smile ....absolutely ready to greet its master!" She felf satisfied  and the fulfillment of her being sneaked out through a light smile. Filled with joy April approached the main door...and outside the jeep announced the approach of the master with a short and a small blow of a horn.
"Welcome back Mark! Welcome home!" so saying she ushered in Col. Todd with a broad smile.Todd met her spirits in equal rhythm and with his rare and precious broad grin.
"Hi Angela! How have you been! Missed you for a long time this season! How are you?" answered Todd equalizing her spirits with his own enthusiasm and a rare and precious broad smile.
"Fine brother! Oh we've a little lady as a guest Mark! Welcome dear lady!" so saying April lifted Ramilla in her arms and then implanted a soft gentle kiss of welcome on her tender cheeks.

"Welcome to Green Gate!" said April and Ramilla instantly liked her warm fragrance. It reminded her of the those lavish spread of Jasmine near the portico which now filled the air where Maa was. Ramilla felt pulled and torn apart and to hide her tears she tightly hugged April.

New Designs Of Fate

She clutched on to Anya with small but tighter grip, refusing to part and no one made any efforts either, to steer her away to Col. Todd. Apu stood beside Anya holding on to her saree and Iti totally confused couldn't stop crying and yelling. It had been the toughest morning for N.K. Though Anya held the little girl tightly but her eyes bore a vaccant look. They were hard core eyes with no trace of fear or tear. Stoned eyed she stood emotionless...not stirring a bit.

It was getting late and Todd had to reach Dharamsala with a break at two places on the way. He had to leave few instructions at the excavating sites of Chaitru and Jwalamukhi. He didn't have the luxury to squander time so he came up to Anya himself, took Ramilla in his arms and went straight inside the jeep. As it began to move towards the hospital gate, all could see Ramilla clinging on to Colnel with eyes tightly shut which gave away few tears rolling down her round peachy cheeks. No one waved, all stood in a state of shock. Prem, the jeep driver saw through the rear mirror and brought the vehicle to a screechy halt.
"What happened? Why did you stop?" asked Todd.
"Memsaab has fainted!" he replied while getting out of his seat in a hurry.
Todd climbed down  the jeep with still clutching Ramilla in his arms. N.K stopped him from coming near Anya and said " Go back Todd, she'll be fine. Child's safety first. Don't bother I'll take care of her. She'll be fine. She's in good hands, don't you think so!". N.K gathered all his strength to bring in some humour.
Todd quietly nodded in affirmation with a slight smile at the corner of hiis lips as he returned to the jeep. Prem pressed on the accelerator and whisked them away, within a wink of an eye.

 Todd started off late so he made a slight change in his plans. Now, instead of Chaitru, he opted for Jwalamukhi. He thought of freshening up first, then eat and after that...to his camp.

Lowering Ramilla from his aching shoulder he looked at the serene face of the child and thought"Poor girl, must have fallen off to sleep...sobbing! I wonder what lies in store for her!"
Lost in his own thoughts he remembered N.K. and Anya and the richness of their hearts. It was just yesterday, when they were so happy and then...! It's so hard to discern our fate or destiny! Looking at Ramilla still in deep slumber beside him his heart went all out for the little one.
"How cruelly she has been treated even before her birth! And since then..., poor little thing!...in spite of having two  loving mothers she seems to be running wild like an orphan! How cruel thou art , oh heavens! How cruel indeed!" thought Todd looking high up at the clear blue sunshine filled sky.
"Is she actually gripped in the clutches of fate for a life time? Is there a way out? Anya says that life is eternal, then, Is she in this eternal trap? No...no...no..! There muat be a way out! There has to be...one atleast.....for my little one! When all seems lost....future remains! I'll find a way out for her. I'll bring the warmth of sunshine in her life! I'll ...yes, I'll....! Stay assured oh my tender one ....rest well..... be happy and safe....you'll be....,I promise....for I'm there!" Todd felt his spirits soar high and  all of a sudden, the sunshine which lay outside, spread it's warmth in his heart...filling it with absolute hope. He began to hum a few pieces which he composed then...

You just keep trusting me, Love
As you walk along;
You just keep trusting me, Love
I'l' give you a reason and a song

Though the storm clouds dark on the sky
Over that heavenly trail
You just keep trusting me Love

The Exodus

 Col. Todd and N. K (as addressed by Todd) listened intently to her side of the story and were contemplating ways to save her withered soul when Anya joined them.
"Poor woman!" she said.
"Don't feel sorry for her Anee! Look at her courage and that tremendous zeal for life! She is truely a brave heart! What do you say N.K" answered Todd almost cutting short Anya's conversation.
"Hmm...I'm thinking how brutally battered and bruised she is from within yet her eyes express that strong desire to live! So just to safeguard her physically won't be enough we need to save her soul. But how! Well that's bothering me. What must I do to liberate her mind from fear,suffering, shame, guilt and humiliation!" spoke Nirmal quietly.
"Why Nirmal! Let's nurture her back to strength and then we can enroll her as a mid wife in the hospital." came an encouraging idea from Anya.
"Wow! That would be good! We want to help her so that she's able to hold on to life with courage, grace, poise and dignity, don't we! Then what could be better than making her self- reliant!'answered Todd with great enthusiasm."Anya is right, N. K, let's administer her back tohealth."

Though they spoke amongst themselves in English, a language alien to her, yet she was intently studying their gestures. It's difficult to know what made her think so but Kanta rasped out a plea,"Save my daughter saheb! Save my daughter!"
Then in a fit of fear she began to cry loudly flinging her arms on all sides. The noise drew the attention of many and few nurses, ward boys and even the compounder gathered at Nirmal's house. It was almost 8o'clock at night. The children couldn't hold themselves in either and came and stood at the threshhold of their room aghast while Ramilla peeped  from behind those long drapes. Anya consoled her and gently rubbed her back with her soft and gentle strokes.
"You are good people.You don't know, they'll not leave my baby in comforting hands. They'll soon come for her. Saheb, please save my daughter." said Kanta almost begging Nirmal.
"No Kanta, noone can take my daughter away from me. It'll be unlawful."said Anya thinking of pacifying her but Nirmal spoke just then,
"Stop it Anya! Stop fooling her. Look at her impoverished body! Those people have already put this woman on the path of silent death by their imposed starvation. You know who they are! They are ruthless stone hearted murderers" he spoke venom
"Yes it's true Anee!" spoke Col with a gentle touch
"Ramilla isn't safe here Anya. She must leave us at once for her own good. She'll be away but safe ...pursuing her journey the way she wants.Let her go and don't sacrifice her for the sake of your affections."spoke Nirmal gathering all his courage.
Anya dropped on the nearest chairlike a stone. She was quiet for a while and then said,"Where will Ramilla go?"
"She'll come with me. I'll take her now but will also bring her back when you wish to see her."remarked Todd.....to be contd  

A Fresh Departure For Kanta

" What shall I say sir, except that my family needs me no more." recalled Kanta. " I've been turned out of the house because they have brought some one else in my place. They can't feed  my extra mouth. Moreover, they say I'm useless for them." she added and breaking the dam of her pent up emotions she began to tell her tale and her pain rolled down her cheeks as tears.

"Scars are scars  sir! They malign and project a tainted life. They are no badges of honour!" showing the scar on her fore head she said . Col. listened to her attentively, along with his doctor friend.

After the family got her discharged from the civil hospital, she needed care and prolonged rest., instead , she received none at home. Having drained family's wealth for her own treatment and then giving birth to a daughter became her fault and she was penalised severly for this. When she wished to see her child, she was locked up and beaten by all who could  lay their hands upon her. With badly bruised  body and soul she  yearned and cried for her baby but was neither given space nor time to heal. She had to go up and down the steep hill with the break of dawn to fetch drinking water from the river below and then as usual had to get hey and green grass - feed for their sheep. With barely any morsel in her stomach she often found the world reeling before her but some how pulled through.Slowly  the most basic need for survival, her food, was also stopped when the family learnt that she could bear no more. Living off water for days with daily hard chores, drained her strength and she  fainted one day on her way to fetch water. Village folks were called and she was brought home on piggy back. This incidence established for her family that she couldn't keep up with usual daily pace of the house hold work and so they had  to think of an alternative and that was to get her husband married off again. And so they did. The new bride was indifferent to her. Beggars can't be choosers and so she managed to stay on maintaining a very low profile.But soon the things were to change.

It was a haat day(village fair). On her husband's return from the haat, things began to look a bit brighter. Soon, she saw that the family bolted themselves in one of the rooms, for some serious discussion and Kanta was deliberately left outside, alone ,in the care of sheep.Next day she saw her husband and his uncle leave the house in their best attire. It quizzed herand she asked timidly one of the older children but was thrilled to know that they had gone to fetch her baby. Hiding her excitment she asked the reason behind their move and gathered that the child  had turned the previous predictions false. She was a good omen. The village folks thought so and believed that her baby possessed some special charm which brought good fortune to which ever house she visited. So they desperately wanted the child back and that too after five years. She even over heard her father-in-law say that they would  watch over the child for a little while if she turned out to be as usuless as her mother then they would bury her alive- a common practice to sniff the life out off little girl child.ren to get rid of them.

But they returned the next day battered and low. The heaviness of their empty hands detonated Kanta's life. She faced complete imprisonmentin her own house, imposed on her by her very own people. The circumstances lasted for two long years till that day when they dragge and threw her out of their house complaining that she had too big a mouth to be feed and all without any returns. After throwing the bundle at her they slammed the door of the house at her face. She, on the other hand didn't have the strength to resist. Instead,Kanta looked at the long road vaccantly for a long time and  then slowly began her aimless walk. It was this road which brought her at their door steps.....to be contd.

A Pocket Full Of Stories

As the evening sun began to dye the blue mountains and the green fields inred, it was time for the girls to wind up.
"Uncle Todd, Please tell us a story" came the sharp cry of the children from the garden outside.
"They must be through with their outdoor fun.Before they eat my head out, I better make up one!" said Todd smiling at their invisible presence.
The three sisters almost wriggled their way in. The older ones caught hold of both his hands and began to pull him towards themselves and that too in two different directions. Poor Ramilla, tiniest of the lot, didn't know what to do, so , she came forward, looked at Todd, and just hugged him, who by now had lost his balance due to the tug of war between the two sisters and  had safely landed  himself on the sofa but with a thud. They knew by now that Uncle Todd was a great story teller.
"Story! What story?" asked Todd
"Any story!" said Apu
"No, Tell me about that tiger at the Green Gate story. Did you kill him? Could he eat the goat?" interrupted Iti.
"What story do you want to hear Ramilla?"said Todd freeing himself from the clutches of the girls.
'Why will you always tell her story? Why are you partial Uncle Todd?" said Apu sulking.
"Stop sulking Apes!" said Todd brushing the tip of her nose with his index finger."I've got many stories. My pockets are full of them. Just put in your hands and see for yourself how deeply I preserve them" added Todd gigling at the girls.
Hearing so, Iti puts her small hands into one of Uncle Todd's many pocket, and says with big rounded  eyes, full of amazement " Hmm... Apu ! It's very deep! There is no end in it!"
"O.K Uncle Todd, tell us the story which Ramy wants to hear." said Apu calling for truce.
To get absorbed in the story, Iti always needed a comfortable posture. So, she  hurridly began to pull her hand out of side pocket of Uncle Todd's shirt, when all of a sudden Todd said," Stop! stop! Be careful! You are spilling my stories all around. See how many of them got lost! Just allow me little lady to take your soft little slender arms out of mypocket." Todd was very good with theatrics.
Just when the four of them were engrossed in their merry making a woman knocked at the door which was kept ajar.
"Who is it?' asked Todd in a loud voice
"It's me sir! Kanta!" came the reply from outside.
The girls were back with their grilled manners and sat down quietly for the moment and watched Uncle Todd arise to answer the lady outside.
By now the sun had set and from absolute darkness Todd saw a figure appear holding a small bundle in front of her.
"I am Kanta sir!" she reitrated.
'Whom do you want to see?" asked Todd again
"Bibiji" was her reply.
"Who?" Todd asked again for in his dictionary there wasn't any such word.
"Mamma! Uncle Todd! Mamma!" replied Iti from where she sat grinning at him
'Oh Anya! Please come in I'll call her right away" answered Todd gently.
"You don't go Uncle Todd, Ramy has gone to fetch mamma." said Iti making place for him to sit beside her.
Todd felt heavenly by the warmth, the little girls had showered on him. He obliged and sat between Apu and Iti on the sofa, while the lady stood still with her humble belonging, all waiting for Anya to emerge from the kitchen.
"You know Uncle Todd, Mamma is making chicken roast tonight! ooommm! She makes it very tasty!" said Iti making all sorts of clucking sounds with her little tongue.
"I know! She is making it for me."said he teasing Iti. "You all will be eating toast and soup....oh I mean chicken soup."
The girls did not resent instead Apu remarked,"If we eat that will you tell us a long story tonight after dinner Uncle Todd!"
"Chi Apu! Toast and soup is horrible food. I don't want to eat that!" said Iti in a fit of tantrum
"Shhh...here she comes. Stop all that Iti or Mamma will be unhappy." minded the older one.
"Yes, what is it?" asked Anya as she walked past the girls and uncle Todd carrying Ramy in her arms "Why do you want to see me?" she asked the lady.
The lady dropped her bundle and fell at Anya's feet and began to cry. With one corner of her "Dhattu" - the head scarf, she wiped her tears. The girls went absolutely silent and got engrossed in the scene.
"Is she in pain?" asked Apu
"As per good manners Apes, when elders converse chilren must learn to excuse themselves out from the scene." replied Todd. "Come then! We'll change the room and anyway our own amusement stopped with the coming of the lady, isn't it?" spoke Todd gently.
After the children were gone from the room with Uncle Todd, Anya learnt in great details the sad tale of the lady and sent in a word for Nirmal at the hospital.
"Shanti! " called Anya and as shanti approached she said " Go to the children's room and wait. Help them to change into night dress and send Col. Saheb here."
"Just when we thought all was over, look here, she sheds the remains!" said Anya with frustration as Nirmal stepped in.
"Now what?" asked Nirmal
"She'll tell all by herself."answered Anya but the lady refused to speak. " He can sort out your problem, not me. So tell him." she added. While walking away she turned towards Nirmal and said," Listen to her carefully and see if we can help her at all. Remember, Ramy's all ours. I'll just check through the kitchen." and so saying she went into the kitchen. By now Todd had returned to the room and the woman with red scarf began to speak. 

Ramilla Comes Home With Uncle Todd

 "Realities of life are complex and complicated. It's kind of a jig-saw puzzle. I think it's so 'coz life itself is complex, enormous and intricately webbed." speaks Anya to Col. Todd, in the jeep, on their way back home.
"I'm tired of gender bias,the patriarchal traditional culture.....and....and...! It's so suffocating for a girl child to see the age of ten!" remarked Dr. Nirmal. "Just look at the way they treat their daughters!....training them to follow in their mother's footsteps!"
"You calm down Nirmal! You've done what you could in your capacity. Don't expect everything to change in a day!" said Anya calmly.
"My heart breaks to see such injustice. Who needs enemies then when protecters turn prediters!" said Nirmal angrily. "It's getting worse, I feel. In the name of culture, they justify everything. Be it the case of female feticide, female infanticide, dowry deaths....domestic violence...how many... just how many you want to hear! The list is endless!"
Col. Todd who had been a silent listener till now said," Our Ramilla is fortunate to have you and Anya. You just saved her. So, be calm and we'll work out something. It needn't be just now!"
"You don't understand, Col., the time is running out. Ramy is one such victim. Think about those countless others who don't."said Nirmal frustrated.
"And for Ramilla!...she has come in  such a time, when her sisters, especially Apu, see and understand their environment through their observant eyes. If not today!.....tomorrow!  She surely runs the risk of getting exposed to this rustic humour tomorrow! My little darling!" Nirmal suddenly gave way to all his fears and reached out for Ramilla, who was sound asleep on the other seat.
Looking out of the window Anya thought the other way. "It's a very big responsibiity, to give back to society three normal healthy and rational brains who can think logically . I can't be beaten and low. I've got to give my all in bringing up the three, no matter what and how the weather is!" talking to herself Anya was lost in her thoughts.

Col. Todd, had just returned from his trip to Laddhakh.He was on his visit to different monastries, to have a look at some of the ancient scriptures there. During his stay in Dharamsala, he saw the news in the  morning papers and got in touch. In the rest house at chilgirhi, he decided to join them. He had already seen and grown fond of Ramilla  though but wished to meet the other two young ladies back home too.
His Association with the doctors had been quite ancient now. It goes back to their days in Dibrugarh, Assam. Like him, Anya belonged to the family of  tea planters ,in Assam. Assam tea is popular for it is strong with very little aroma. It's not like Darjeeling tea, which is soft light and cup full of aroma.

He had his education in England but returned to Dibrugarh, Assam in India to join his family business of tea plantation. Their bunglow was just opposite to Anya's enormous house at Chowkidingi.in Dibrugarh.Being a small town almost every one knew evrybody. The three soon became friends, but Todd lost touch, when Nirmal and Anya got married and shifted to Calcutta  and then to Himachal Pradesh, eventually.

At the rest house, after a long time, the three enjoyed their evening tea together and rolled out a new plan for the next day which included Col. Todd.
"Are you very busy Todd?" asked Nirmal smiling at him.
"No, I'm through with my present project and it's just the paper work, which I'll begin within a week. And then I'll be busy with my research for a while." answered Col. Todd, "But why do you ask?" he looked at Nirmal with questioning eyes.
"Oh, I think he wishes you to accompany us at our present posting. Girls will be delighted to have you and so will we!" said Anya.

"That's a great offer! It'll be a nice break. Even I wish to be around you for sometime....lot of catching up to be done as well!" Todd answered happily."Hope it's not a bother for you!" he added.

"Bother! What bother!" said Anya immediately.
"Nirmal,he is coming with us. Where will you be going next?"enquired Anya.
'Kullu."came the quick answer.
Finding a friend after bearing all brunts on their own they felt a bit destressed. But Nirmal's words couldn't stop haunting Col. Todd and he said," What have you decided for Ramilla?".
"What question is this?"answered Anya." What is there to decide now/" she remarked boldly.
"I was just caught in Nirmal's words. I think his fears are not phantasmal. These are crucial years for the child's development. After going through all these struggles to have her(pointing at Ramilla fast asleep)... legally,... you certainly wish... the... very best... for her. Don't you? A slight shift in the body language, a slip of tongue.....or... whatever... can cause breach of trust. A small chip is enough to detonate a life....and then..." he stopped. There was total silence inside the jeep, "rebuilding it will become mountainous task. So why get exposed to all this! Why not plan out a smooth sailing...for her at least the girls!" he said.
"Do you have any solution to the problem." marked Nirmal.
"Yes! Think about it patiently. Let me rear the girls! " answered Col. Todd

"What!!!" the two yelled in unison.
"I can explain! Do you have good schools in this area?...No. Do you wish to make them self reliant?...Yes. Do you think that by staying at this place the girls will be enlightened by the light of education?....No. Can the boarding of a good convent school be an option?...yes." spoke Todd interestingly
With many questions in their hearts they got out of the jeep. Ramilla jumped up at the sight of Apu and Iti, wishing to melt in their tight hugs, perhaps. The two came running and bounced on Nirmal and Anya, one by one and then quickly ran towards Ramy to choke her with their loving beer hugs, incognizant of tomorrows.         

...And They Came Back

It was early hours of morning, that day! Anya was jolted out of her sleep by Apu and Iti. She opened her eyes amidst the sound of mindless commotion. And the girls were crying out of fear. Beside her Ramy slept blissfully,ignorant of all that was going on around.
Sitting up on bed she said,"This is papa, isn't he Apu!"
"Yes" she sobbed.
Something was really wrong, sensed Anya. Nirmal's voice was predominant. Looking at the two girls she said,"You two stay just right here and watch over Ramy till I come back. Don't budge from here. Is that understood?"She asserted and swiftly got hold of her shawl and went out of the bed-room. She didn't wait to see that her daughters nodded in 'YES". Poor little things, they were very frightened indeed.
Wrapping the shawl around, to stay warm from the morning chill, Anya looked towards the place where the commotion was.
"It seems to be coming from the drawing room." she said to herself.
"What could it be!" she thought and rushed through the corridor.
With one gentle push, the door of the drawing hall swung open and she entered quietly to come face to face with a nasty situation. There were two men talking in a low sober tone to which Nirmal's reaction was extremely violent. She had never seen him so till then. "What could it be!" she thought.  The men looked quite familiar to her. Where could she have seen the two! She thought intently.  Not at the hospital, not at market place! Then where? She thought hard and then it dawned on her "Oh Yes! They were here in her house that day ! Sitting beside the fire place there, they had decided to abandon the child in the absence of her parents. They had twisted Ramilla's fate that day."

How could she forget!  But, their sight today, frightened her as well! She reached for Nirmal's closeness, with her heart thumping  arhythmically.  As she overheard their rustic murmur, her head reeled and had it not been for the pillar she would have been badly hit. Now  things began to fall in place. Now, she knew what the commotion was all about!.
With her high intensity intellect, she quickly gathered herself and caught hold of Nirmal's arm and led him towards the chair. "You have had enough. Just sit here. Can't say, relax for I know why! Let me handle them" she was  as assertive as she is with her children.
The two men with strongly starched turbans and dressed in their best attire stood tall with pride.
"Yes, what do you have to say!" she looked at them as she began to talk.
"We've said enough, now, it's time to take her along with us" said one of them, barely in his teens.
"Who are you and What do you want?" asked Anya
"I'm Kanta's brother-in-law and this is our uncle" said the boy.
"We've come to take back the baby to her mother." he added
"Hope you will not refuse as it'll be against the law" replied the middle aged man.
"Baby! What baby! Whose baby have you come looking for!" questioned Anya
"Kanta's baby girl" they said in unison.
"We don't know any Kanta. You're made some mistake." she said politely knowing well whom they were talking about.
"She has our blood and we'll take her back. We'll use force if the need be." said the boy with great temper
The uncivilized gesture made Nirmal furious and he rose from his chair and kicked him hard. The boy fell down with great force and was hurt. His turban flung to even a greater distance.
"Bahadur!" Anya called for the security guard "Call the police. Right now!" she asserted
'Ji behtar!(Yes I will surely) said he
Just then, the elderly man, who had been enjoying till then, rose from his seat and came forward, holding his turban in the joint palms of his hands. He seemed to be making an offering to a deity. Underneath his turban there was money in Indian paper currency....lots of it and all in one hundred rupees denominations. Probably he had thought that if the talks failed he would trick the doctor with money. How little he knew of them! Ramilla was their child now, their little girl and like Apu and Iti they would be protecting her without begrudging their lives.

With one swing of his left arm, Nirmal let the turban fly out of the clasp of man's hands.  Loosing it's spiral grip, it lay  spread out on the floor. and the hundred rupee bills rained from thin air of the room , fluttering and swinging before settling  on the
The two men were taken aback. They hadn't seen a man of integrity so far. They looked a bit puzzled.
"How could a man not get lured by money!" they thought.
They hadn't known Nirmal well enough! He was a man for whom money wasn't everything. Of course, he too knew that in the present age money ruled the world and also the hearts and minds of the people. But to Anya he always said,"Money is not god!", whereas in his heart he too knew that if money wasn't god then it was the next thing to god today!
 The elderly man now came and fell on his knees and begged Nirmal but he remained undaunted and so was Anya. Then the man began"Galti ho gaya saab!(We made a mistake, sir!). We had brought money not to give it to you on returning us  our girl but to Thank you for saving Kanti."
Nirmal could make out that he was lying and said"Just get out of this place or I'll call the Sarpanch( th ehead man of the village) and get the matter settled once and for all, right here! Right now! Just get out of my sight."
Anya came in after regaining her strength and courage and said" Will you tell this boy of yours to behave and get civil at least."
Then Nirmal added,"Don't show us your face ever!"
 The two picked up their belongings and quietly left with bruissed hearts and never came back.

Ramilla Turns Three

 Days rolled into months, and months into years, but nobody came for her. Long back, Dr. Nirmal had heard that after about a month and a half at the Civil Hospital, Kanta, Ramilla's biological mother, was discharged, on gaining back her health. She had  even cried at the loss of her daughter, they had said so. Nirmal had grown restless on hearing the news and was sure that the mother would surely visit him some day. But NO...! Nothing of that sort happened! No one came looking for the beautiful baby girl. What a relief it must have been for Nirmal to think that this piece of his heart would not be torn apart from him any more!

Ramilla had been a bubbly and a chirpy baby, loved by one and all in the hospital and also by the people on the other side of the hospital gate. Slowly the story of Ramilla's birth and her arrival into the family was no more on the lips of the people, it had died down probably. Or you can say, that people accepted Ramilla as a part of the doctor's family perhaps. Since,time is the best healer,so with time, all memories got shrouded in a hazy mist and Ramilla's advent into the world got pushed far back  into  the greater depths of  their subconscious mind, for good. All rejoiced her presence, anywhere and every where. In fact, she was accepted as a fortune child for all said that she brought great good luck to the family she visited. Much to Anya's annoyance, she would be invited and at times whisked away, by some, to grace their families with her auspicious presence. For a toddlerit all meant good time.

Anya and Nirmal gave in their all and with great care they reared the three together. Like Apu and Iti,  Ramy too turned out to be  a vibrant child.She had started to walk in her ninth month and talk...! Well she began her speech with free flowing fluent little pieces of poems. Every thing seemed to be unusual about her. She called Anya "Ma" and Nirmal "papa".

Her education began at home, by Anya. She was taught English and Maths. After reading a poem  together, Anya would explain it to her and then leave her with it to read it over and over again  so as to memorise it on her own. Ramy would fall prey to those beautiful colourful pictures of her book and would actually  begin to visualise the scenes. Later,she would enact it out before her "Papa", on his return from the hospital. This  is how the time flew by and before they could realise ,she had already turned three.

The Early Life Of Ramilla

 Abandond at birth, the baby was warmly taken in by Dr. Nirmal and Anya. Without any glitches, their own two daughters welcomed her with open hearts. They became a family, as soon as Anya walked in through the door holding the baby in her arms, along with her husband.
"Why Ramilla Ma?" asked Anya's eldest daughter, Apoorva.
"Why Ramilla? Ma, I don't like this name." followed the other one.
"Oh! I must tell you how beautiful her name is!" replied Anya to Apoorva and Aditi.
"How can it be beautiful, it has no special meaning" replied the eldest Apoorva.
"Who said it hasn't any special meaning?" Anya said curtly.
"Ramilla...is made of...RAM...and...ILA. Do you know who Ram is?" asked Anya, looking at Apoorva.
"I know RAM is god." replied Apoorva quite interested in the conversation.
"Right! RAM means god and ILA ...! Do you know?" she asked her again. Apoorva nods in disappointing negation.
"And you Aditi! Do you know what ILA means?" she turns and aks her younger one, who nods a big NO".
"Very well then, I'll tell you what it means! Remember it always. ILA meeans The EARTH. "Anya gives her own made up analysis of the name. She knows that they are too young to question.
"So, Ramilla means THE CREATION OF GOD. Right! No problem with the name now!"
"But where is the earth?" asked Aditi again.
"What is earth ITI? Isn't it the creation of god?" answers Anya raising the girl's curiosity.
"To show that it is special ,we say that ILA means CREATION." answers Anya patiently.
"So when we put the two togetherRAM - ILLA, it becomes Creation of god." Anya feels that she could satisfy them with her reply.
"Oh Papa! the little one has a special name too like E.T and me!" Apoorva runs and jumps into Dr. Nirmal's arms. Shouting in excitment she says," so we three become sisters. Don't we!"
"Oh, calm down Apu! Come Iti( who was actually called E.T - Extra Terristorial). Come to Papa." calls their father.
"Yes! Now you two have a little sister too. Take good care of her.O.K!" tells Nirmal
This was enough to satisfy the ever questioning mind of the two. From then on there was no love lost between the three. 

Ramilla Is Born

It was about 5p.m. Under the portico of his house, Dr. Nirmal Kumar had just sipped into his cup of hot tea, when four palanquine bearers entered through the main gate of the hospital, holding a palanquine on their shoulders. It alarmed him. As it had been customary there that all the hopeless emergency cases, which demanded immediate attention, were  brought in palanquines.The doctor saw it come through the gate and immediately gave instructions to the security to inform the hospital staff, to get the operation theatre ready for an emergency. That day, after a long time, he was at home, with his family and had plans of going out with them. Instead, he simply rushed  towards the hospital, leaving his hot cup of tea, just about a sip short, on the table.

It was past 10p.m, when the doctor's wife heard the sound of the jeep and rushed out. On disembarking from the jeep, Dr. Nirmal came hurridly towards her and said,"It's been the worst accident case I've ever seen, so far. The woman is in her advanced stage and is badly hit on the head. On being pushed by a bull, she lost her balance and tumbled down the hill, head on. It's multiple fracture of the skull. All I could see was... just her brains, with no signs of fragmented piece of the skull. It had folded along with the skin and hair and was pushed underneath the skull bone, due to the heavy thrust of the fall. I had a tough time locating it."

"What now!" asked his wife, with a quiver in her voice. "Will she make it?" she asked. "How did the operation go... according to you?" she added, knowing fully well that her husband must have given his all.
"Well, you know, my means here in this small primary unit falls too short for the purpose." He answered.
"...But...I think, I did a good job, let's hope for the best!" he said wishfully.
"And now! Where are you off to?" she asked again.

"I just stopped to inform you that the patient deliverd prematurely a baby girl. Though the condition of the baby is good, she'll survive. Still I've sent both, the mother and her daughter,to the civil hospital, in an ambulance and am following them now. Don't worry, I'll be back by tomorrow." And he hurrid back towards the jeep and jumped in.

It was a disturbed night, with people flooding the gates of the house for a piece of news. There was absolute silence all around. Anya, the doctor's wife, was a kind lady. She opened her house for the relatives of the patient to spend the night by the fire place, who, she thought, must have travelled huge distances in the cold of the night, to be there. The hospital staff helped Anya to support and comfort them. They looked worried about the patient and had many questions, like, "Will she live? Will she be able to work normally? Will she be able to bear few more children, later? Hope our son's life won't be ruined! What will happen to the baby? Will it be born? Will everything be normal with him?" Some even began to suggest the man " Keep a strong heart, all will be well. You're just a boy yourself and there's no dearth of girls either! The name must go on and for that if necessary, you can marry any time again!" Overall, they were more worried about the baby than the mother. Anya couldn't restrain herself and broke the news of the birth of a baby girl. The stillness grew quieter still. On hearing the news of the birth of a daughter, they began to wail in grief and wished ill for the child. They remarked, "What a bad omen the child had bestowed on her mother! Surely,a witch incarnated! Who else can bring so much of disturbance along with her...none but a witch! Poor fellow! What a bad luck...with a lunatic wife and a ...! This filled Anya's heart and made her cry. She ran inside the house and locked her door. She could hear no more. Time went on clicking unnoticed. Amidst wail and grief of the night uncertainity and despair, filled the air.

In the evening of the following day, Dr. Nirmal returned, carefully holding a tiny bundle in his arms.
"She is fine... see! What a beauty she is!" so saying he extended his arms towards the relatives. The wailing and the superficial grief of the people grew louder and none came forward to hold the little one.
"Come on, hold your child." Nirmal asserted. On seeing no one come forward, Nirmal was taken aback.
"Give her to me, I'll take care of her till her mother regains health and returns!" came Anya's voice from behind. Before Nirmal could turn back, to his utter surprise, the sound of all wails stopped, all of a sudden, and the people gathered there, began to make moves as if they were leaving the house, together, feeling quite relieved, but without any sign of gratitude.
"Oh, just a moment please, I must tell you one more thing!" said Anya.
"God forbid! In case if anything happens to her mother I'll rear her as my own. So, please do not bother to come back for her then!" said Anya, carefully choosing her words to humilate them.
 "She may not be unlucky for you" remarked one elderly man, exposing the ugly hearts of the ingrates, who proved to be far worse than the animals.
 "They do not desrve any compassion. They are sick and not fit for such a beutiful grace of god." she thought .

Anya came closer to her husband and looking at the baby she remarked," I'll call her Ramilla.  What do you say Nirmal!"
She is god's  creation, his gift for us and it is beautiful. What do you think!"
Nirmal was out of words. "What will you do when they come back for her?" asked Nirmal. "What if the mother returns for her child?"
"I pray that the mother returns to good health soon, but what I heard last night, assures me that her family won't let her come back to take her girl child.. In case she does, what more joy can there be but to pass on our tiny bundle of joy to her own mother!" replied Anya with a smile.
" But, I hope they never come back. I just hope so."

Friday, January 21, 2011

                                                                             Chapter 2

It had been a bright sunny day. The womenfolk of the village had just returned from their early morning daily chore of drawing water from the river. It was a very normal scene here, where one could see that while the boys and the men, enjoyed their comforting sleep, the little girls with smaller vessels and the older ones with larger ones, made haste towards the direction of the river, almost running and brisk walking, just before dawn. After filling their vessels, with pure sweet and icy cold fresh water, they would each carry these back on their own, singing together a joyful melody, as they returned, taking slow and measured paces, to balance their heavy load above, all through their uphill path. This task was performed as a daily ritual by the girls and the womenfolk of each household here. On their return, they would quickly cook food for their families and hurriedly move out of their houses again...to perform another tiring and back breaking task. Some even carried their little babies by tying them tightly on their back. With  sharp sickles they would carefully chop soft new grass for their sheep and return home by dusk with their daily load of grass.

That day, every thing was quiet and soothing. The two pregnant women, parched themselves comfortably on their locations close to each other. Their voices of cheer and chatter was loud enough and could be heard from far. The others nearby, at times, exchanged notes. The sounds of laughter reverbrated through the air. And then.....! All of a sudden, that painful stillness desended

....to be contd



                                                                                Chapter 1

Before entering the plains,the river ran through two villages, each on its either side. Inspite of being situated on the slopes of lower ranges of the mountain and being a hilly area, the place where the course of the river lay near these two villages, was actually a pebbled flat land. It appeared as if the river ran through a valley. Here, its water had no depth at all. The river bed could be seen crystal clear. Many round shaped big and small bolders were placed here and there all along it's course. some even lay within it's waters as if, to restrict their flow. The flowing waters know no obstruction, they just know to move on, if anything hinders their flow, they change their course and pave new roads, new paths for themselves, without ever succumbing to stagnation.

The river had great speed in it's currents, which travelled, hitting and pounding the rocks on the way, splashing its water by turning into a spray of innumerable tiny droplets. This way, the river had been traversing a great distance from the mighty Himalayas to the Gangetic plains, since time unknown.

Farming and cattle-rearing were the two main occupations in which, the entire populace of the villages was engaged. There were few families though, in both the villages, whose occupation was sheep rearing. They were nomadic people, who dependent on sheep for it's wool and meat.Into one such family Ramilla was born......to be contd.