Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thinking of what to write, i assume that i'd want to write about something pleasant today.

Here is a story.

the afternoon

Two girls, no, three girls were playing with a small red rubber ball. Savithri being the eldest taught Lakshmi, her younger sister and Gowri, her cousin how to catch the orange-sized ball neatly within cupped hands. Dressed in long skirts and blouses made of printed polyester, they appeared typically rural. With their hair oiled and plaited with coloured ribbons, red dots on their forehead, colourful glass bangles on their wrists, they concentrated hard at the game. To the small girls, to catch the ball which was flung at them from a distance was trying. Gowri, being the youngest found the task of throwing the ball in a pre-determined direction utmost difficult. Screwing their eyes into small slits, they carefully followed the parabola that the ball assumed.

The game was being played in a clearing set in the midst of a forest, on one side of a metalled road. Greenery that surrounded the bare space; the latter was hardly distinguishable when looked from afar. A drizzle had set in. Again. Of course, it was the rainy season and nothing but rain could be expected. The rain poured in for long periods of time, continuously without a break. After dark, the raindrops battered on tin roofs supported by mud walls. The constant hammering lulled the children to sleep, a steady one at that. When the sun appeared quite into the horizon, the intensity lessened. A soft thudding noise could be heard then. Sometimes, the sound on the roof indicated the time of the day. Night and day, morning and evening; the rain played along.

It was the weekend. The three had returned from school, hiking on the hillside. Umbrellas half-protected them. They had to ensure that their blue uniforms remained dry. They had only one blouse and one skirt each. If that got wet, drying them was hard; especially in a damp house. Despite the umbrellas, their feet clad in plastic footwear got muddy. Mud, fallen leaves, pebbles flowed around with the water currents and collected in depressions. They would have loved to play. But they had school to attend to, and their mothers had warned them against mud smeared feet and hands. The common cold could attack anybody anytime, and when attacked, it was nasty.

Beams of afternoon sunlight flooded the patch of land. The girls had run out of the house, when the rain let go some half hour back. The surfaces of the pools of water shimmered in the bright sun, as if sheets of silk were spread around them. Silence ruled the atmosphere, only to be pierced by shouts from the girls. ‘Lakshmi, you have to bend low to catch the ball when Gowri throws it at you. She is shorter than you, and she can’t throw it high enough. Here watch me. Now, Gowri, throw the ball at me…. Ah, good girl, can you repeat it for me!’ Savithri appreciated. Gowri picked the ball which was flung to her by Savithri, pushing a loose strand behind her left in the process. It was time for lunch, but their fascination for the ball overcame the faint pangs of hunger.

A voice called out, ‘Savithri, it’s time for lunch, won’t you girls come?’ Jaya, Savithri’s mother shouted from below. She peered in to the clearing above from below, her hand pressed against her forehead, shading her eyes from the sun. She climbed up; the girls could not be seen. “Come to the edge of the clearing, at least I can see you then’, cried out Jaya. She could now see her daughter, and motioned her to come down. Savithri yelled, ‘Amma, we’ll come after some time. We are not hungry yet.’ The ball held the girls’ attention. Savithri could see her mother thread back to their hut, stopping midway to pick something.

Suddenly, she could hear excited talking. On peering around the bend, she could see nothing. She ran a few steps towards the road, to see a group approaching walking towards them. Lakshmi and Gowri ran behind her. They were curious. ‘Where did this babble come from?’ pondered Gowri. Their surroundings were usually quiet. It was the first time for Gowri and Lakshmi, to see people from the plains. On sighting the group which consisted of college-going adults dressed in jeans and shirts, was surprising. They only had heard about these people from their fathers who had traveled far, to the plains. The tales told to them were strange enough. And, now to see such kind before their eyes was a surprise, to say the least.

The group was on a trip to the mountains. The smell of fresh earth bore them well. With a million forms of life abound in the not so pristine forest; they laughed and smiled, a pleasant feeling was welcomed with ease. The river which flowed through the forests was to be reached. They spotted the clearing, and saw the girls staring at them with wide eyes. On walking up to them, one of the girls smiled at the trio. Another put a hand on Gowri, telling her friends, ‘This small girl here is so cute, she looks just like a doll.’

Gowri shrank, ‘Who were these strangers, and why were they speaking to her?’ Savithri pushed Gowri front, ‘Don’t be afraid Gowri, they are kind people. Speak to them nicely….they will not harm you.’ Feeling reassured Gowri felt herself petted by those big girls. She smiled broadly, replying to their questions initially in monosyllables and later in full sentences. ‘It was nice, when others spoke well of you, isn’t it?’ Gowri glowed.

She found one big girl rummaging in her bag trying to find something. A slab of chocolate was thrust into her hand the next minute. Gowri looked at it with wonder. She had never seen a bar of chocolate, that big ever in her life. She refused it, shaking her head vigorously trying to emphasize her refusal. Her mother had often told her, not to accept anything from unknown people. But, the group from the town pressed the sweet into her hand, ‘Take it. See, you can share it with your sisters. Are they your sisters?’ they went on.

Jaya called out again. The new-found excitement had now shadowed their strong desire for food. Savithri realized. ‘Lakshmi, Gowri, let’s go, it’s time for lunch. Amma is waiting for us.’ Gowri smiled in appreciation. She clutched at the chocolate bar so tightly, it started to melt. The big girls waved to her and her sisters, as they proceeded to their destination.

Gowri ran down, picking her way amidst the brambles that covered the path that led to her house. Her mother had to be told about the nice girls from the plain. Behind her followed Savithri and Lakshmi.

P.S: Please don't copy it.

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