Sunday, October 24, 2010
That year Raghu had come to spend two full months at his grandparent place. As Ma had diagnosed with gall bladder problem at the same time his parents were shifting from Lucknow to Mumbai. At the station grand pa was standing with kaka because he had under taken the journey on his own.
Next day the hobbling of feet and hushed voice with giggles had broken his slumber during the morning hours. Previous evening when they were coming home they were interrupted and asked by many acquaintances of grand pa whom to receive he had come to the station. Therefore the news of his arrival had already broken in the sleepy village of Sambalpur and his friends were there to meet him. Granny came into the room and she ushered them to come inside.
Raghu was invited for hang out with his friends. He was curiously wanted to venture all his place of interests – the river bank, the temple beside the pond, fields and most interesting the orchard. In that dusty remote village the names were really few but for Raghu the bonding he would feel with everything over there was special.
In the morning hours of monsoon Raghu felt delighted when he had been called outdoor by his friends. The paddy saplings were being taken out from the field and they have to monitor the work.
Sowing of green grassy paddy were going on almost everywhere in the water logged field. It seemed enchanting to him to listen the rustic yet invigorating folk song in chorus by the bent ladies busy with chores of sowing. He was sitting on the huge stooped branch of banyan tree beside the field. The leisurely pace of village lives always seemed close to him.
Settled at granny’s places since a week the loads of homework to be done than started pestering him. As the sun was blazing in the rain washed sky he had been refrained by the granny not to venture out. Watching the puffy strewn clouds for a while through the window ultimately he decided to complete his home work. He was too engrossed in his maths that he didn’t notice the howling of strong wind outside, with dark sky.
Granny had been rushing to terrace to bring down the dried cloths lined over there, he accompanied her. In the cool breeze out of delight the village children were running in the dusty lanes in the hope of cool showers. Standing at the terrace Raghu had been amusedly watching the enjoyable chorus down there. The sudden start of storm had put the lives at the rush in the idle surrounding. Some folks were hurrying down the path with their cattle’s. The bleating horde of goats was scurrying to their places. With surging gale the lightning with thunder started flashing in the sky.
Then amid the animals and folks he noticed a stooped weird man with knotted muscles and a lump at the back he was hurrying past the children. Rejoicing few of them followed him but deprived of his attention they returned back to their own group. His legs were bent sideways in arch. With unkempt look and maze of dry hair the man was busy talking with himself frantically throwing wild gestures. All that seemed quite uncanny to Raghu.
While collecting the clothes granny caught the uneasiness on Raghu’s face. To pull off his attention from him, she casually added that he was Baiju. He had lost his wife few years back in the lighting while she had been sowing the paddy sapling in the field. Then onwards every monsoon the sight of storms and rain infuriates him to no extent.
Soon the wind storm got blended with the thick dusts of gravel paths and fields. In that Raghu was finding even difficulty to open his eyes. Clutching the stacked clothes they both hurried down stairs.
In after noon Ragav his cousin called him from the window, to accompany him to the orchard. As the gale had already started furiously and the strong spell could start at any moment. In the dusty wind others were also rushing towards the orchard. And in all that it was fair possibility to enjoy the taste of sour, tangy green mangoes. After collecting enough for themselves they decided to find a place to relish them. Beside the pond the temple was the exact place for them.
In the shade of temple Raghav opened the knot of the bundle. The monsoon rain was pattering everywhere. The ladies who were sowing the paddy sapling had already left for home leaving the work mid way as the dark clouds with its thickness had been creating complete effect of setting dusk. The water logged fields were further refurbishing in the pouring rains.
In the already flooded field some baskets of paddy sapling left unattended. Raghu pointed the basket to Raghav, “Raghav who left those saplings there?” He simply shrugged the query but Raghu had got stuck in between the taste of mango and the sight.In blurred setting with whipping rain he was feeling lost. Again his attention got stuck on the left basket of saplings. He saw a man with arched legs was entering the field, so at least some one came to claim it. In the lashing rain oblivious of surrounding he was entering the water logged field. Through the lashing downpour the piercing thunder and lightning were making them deaf. The setting tempest seemed frightening to children. And then from the other shades few hordes made a quick escape viewing the worsening squall. The arch legged one standing in the middle of the field was shouting something inaudible with raised hands amidst the lashing rain.
Raghu got awestruck by the arch legged Baiju, " why he is still standing in the field ? What if the lightning will strike him?"
Under the impact of dark monsoon clouds the day seemed yielded to darkness, they too winded up from there.
In the morning Raghu went along the granny to collect some flowers. While shaking the branches he saw grand pa walking along the path towards the pond. He intended to accompany him, in affirmation granny smiled silently. Cheerfully Raghu jumped down the branches and hopped the fence to reach him.
Collecting flowers granny glanced to them, holding the arm of grand pa Raghu was insisting to go with him. Soon reconciled they both walked away.
Grand pa was taking the longest route as he had numerous farm duties to talk with different folks. Along the canal they walked for the moment then he took the branched muddy path.That took them to clay hut settlement, there was a brook flowing in front of the them.A palm tree trunk was kept to cross the brook.Viewing his inconvenience grand pa chided him lightly for accompany him. Standing at another side of the brook grandpa called out loudly. A man with a bundle of straw came out behind the bamboo grove and wished to grand pa.
Raghu got enchanted with the groves of trees over there, emerald greenery of huge big trees. At the distant he caught the frail figure of Baiju, he was busy digging the earth with new samplings of mango , neem, tamarind and many others. So it was Baiju’s orchard, the biggest one in the village without any boundary as every open treeless space belonged to him..
During the lunch granny seemed delighted as if she had some plan.To find out he asked her whether she wanted flowers next morning.
As she would send him for frantic errands or sometime she would send some message to busy grand pa at the farm. Ignoring his queries granny asked him whether he would come along her to temple day after tomorrow. There would be a fair- a big gathering of neighboring villagers. She lifted the thali (plate) after wiping the earth and went to the kitchen.
With other ladies granny went inside the temple leaving Raghu and Raghav at the temple stairs. It was a high place to view the standing folks down there.In the open uneven land some folks were busy flying the kites. Raghav was fond of watching the flying kites soon he got gripped in vivid colored paper avians.
Few children were throwing stones on the tamarind trees beside the temple stairs. It seemed more amusing to Raghu as a frantic throwing of pebbles in the thick foliages would create a bustle over there and flock of birds would fly in flurry only to return after some times. And then the next bombing of pebbles in the foliages brought down on the earth a big green parrot bleeding profusely. The sight scared the children as they started getting reprimands from the elders standing over there. Scared they flew off the place leaving the bird on the ground.
Tears floated in the Raghu’s eyes instantaneously he started climbing down the stairs and made his way towards the wounded bird. From another corner too the arched feet with stooped shoulder joined the place. Baiju lifted the bleeding bird and Raghu frantically brought water in broken earthen piece lying near the pond.
Sitting in the shade of backyard he waited for Baiju to bring the green herbs for faster healing. Granny brought a bird cage to put the bird for the rest. He was feeling the warmth of rough Baiju’s hands when he was plastering paste on the bird’s wounds. His crinkled face with broken teeth seemed so near to him—today Raghu got two friends the parrot and Baiju. As Baiju had promised him that he would come daily to watch the healing of the birds and he would look forward to it.