He crosses the river and the storm hits him when he reaches the land. The earth is primitive the wind plundering the rain torrential.He starts running. He has no idea where he is going. The whole earth seems a mystery and white and he knows he is completely lost in this small village. His friend’s house is now far distant and he just wants a shelter now for the night.The rain has drenched him and he trembling in cold  runs till he sees a house and knocks at it.The door opens and he can see a old man is standing and beside him a woman with the lantern in his hand.

I am lost. Just need a shelter. He says.

Come in. It is natural in this type of night.

He steps in. The old person gives him a shirt to change.

Where are you going? He asks.

To my friend’s ancestral house the Roy Villa.

It is quite far. I will make you reach there tomorrow.

Thanks a lot.

Nothing to thanks. I know the Roy Villa very well and their residents.

He settles. Meanwhile the woman came and gave him some food.

He for the first time look at her and he finds strange resemblance with someone.

He thinks. But he cannot remember.But the face looks very known.

 

He gets a guest room near the verandah and after a while the woman comes with a lantern.

 

There is no power tonight.She keeps the lantern.

Have I seen you somewhere before?

He asks.

The woman look at him , and said , ‘I don’t think so.’

But your face is very known very known to me.

The woman keeps quiet. Then said, ‘You must be wrong.’

Then she smiles.

Her smile is beautiful.

He take the bed. It is still raining still windy. And there are still thunder storms.

He thinks and when he is about to sleep a thunder storm cracks and in the flash of blue lightning everything is clear to him.

It is her.

No one else but she.

Only ten years before she was a bit more thin bit young and not so matured.

She is the one from her college days.

He questions himself.

Is it really her?

Yes. She is.

Around midnight the lantern gets low and he searches someone.He calls.

But this time the old man comes and helps him with the lantern.

Sorry to disturb you. He said.

It’s fine.

The man departs and he sleeps thinking when he can meet her.

As he needs to talk with her.

It is important.

The rain continues and in the flashes of lightning he is back ten years before in his college days.

It is her. He tells himself.

At one time he sleeps listening to the rain drops.

In the morning the old person comes and serves him breakfast.

Shall we move? He asks.

We can.

At that moment the woman appears and said at the doorstep,

I think you have left something in your room.’

What?

This.

She opens her palm and there is a pen.

The sunlight of the morning falls on the pen and he has no doubt that this woman is Atreyi, her college mate and it is this pen that have a memory.

It is with this pen he wrote her first poetry and gave it to her.

Is it just the message from her that she is the same woman or she wants to give his pen back?

He look at her for some time.

For a moment their eyes meet.

He nods.

‘This is not my pen.’

He hopes that Atreyi got her message too.

He do not want his pen back which once he has gifted her.

Her lips opened, she tried to say something but do not.

‘Shall we move?’ The old man asks.

Yes. Let;s move.

He starts walking.

Once he turns back and see that Atreyi now standing at the room with the lantern in his hand and looking at them.

And in her other hand he can see clearly.

She holds the pen.

At midnight the bus stops at a strange place.

 

There is almost nothing but something. There is a closed tea shop there asre closed  roadside Dhabas there is then just the long road which shines blue in the moon light. There is only at a place one streak of light coming from the back of the shop. Some smoke. Some warmth. It is tea. And I need it. I got down from the bus and got spell bound absolutely spellbound. There is a breathtaking beauty in the place.The wild beauty of open nature. Some scattered trees some thorny cactus es and the empty Khatiya(beds) which lie open and covered with dust. There from a distant there is a cry of the night birds and some white flashes of their wings flashed in the night air. Within all these I walk towards the back of the shop and order a cup of tea. An old man with turban in his head and a Shawl over his body lifted a cup of tea from the kettle and within the smoke give it to me. I sipped it.

Brilliant. The best thing that I can sip in the night.Then I walk a bit cross the highway  and stand below the mountain.

Then I completely lost myself.

 

 

 

….I am standing all alone.

 

 

I do not know at present what date is today.

 

What time. What part of world I am.

 

Though in my conscious part of the mind I knew all these.

 

But sometimes..moments touches you with a different attitude. Sensation.

 

When the winds slowly touches you.

 

Your feet start moving.

 

Your eyes full of amazement.

 

Your mood in a complete mood of submission.

 

And like this with different segregated versions of myself within me..I started walking.

 

And then again stopped at the next moment .

 

I saw that I am standing just beneath the Aravalli.

 

And just over there, over the range of Aravalli is the moon.

 

The Full moon.

 

The earth around me is totally a canvas of blue and white.

 

Little crispy sounds of tottering leaves from the trees.

 

A hush sound of a truck passing through the highway.

 

A faint sound of a Dholak being played somewhere.

 

Where it is being played?

 

Is it coming from that distant house up the hills?

 

Or is it coming from some straw-thatched huts much much below down?

 

A night bird went flying with a shriek yet soft clattering noise.

 

A distant..very distant whistle of a train which may have come from the way of Ajmer..in this highway to Udaipur.

 

I walked towards a half-closed road side Dhaba.

 

Where most of the people are slept.

 

Some over Khatiya.

 

With Blanlkets.

 

Or local rajjais.

 

Only one burner is burning and over it hot smoke of tea is rising.

 

A pleasant warmth of tea in this freezing cold.

 

I took a cup of tea.

 

And then sipped.

 

Ah! It’s Heaven!

 

And then again I saw the moonlit Aravalli.

 

Except this road side shop nothing is there.

 

I remember the view I saw from the window.

 

The scenes of wild nature. As the bus came crisscrossed through the rugged hilly roads.

 

I took a deep breath.

 

A fresh air welcomed me.

 

An air of pure nature.

 

A bushy smell of the leaves of the trees.

 

A strange smell of the surrounding hills.

 

A an unknown experience of an unknown life.

 

Which I always wanted to live. But how much can I?

 

I started again walking.

 

Can not I go a bit near to the hills. Is it not possible to touch the silky light of the moon with my all hands open beneath the hills?

 

Can I go and stay here in any one house here, for one night..for this night..will I not get any shelter?

 

And as my feet moved on..

 

I heard..

 

“Bus chod raha hai sahib!”(Sahib, the bus is about to depart!)

 

I stopped.

 

I again looked at the midnight moon and the bluish white Aravalli.

 

For a fraction of moment I resigned completely from the present world..I felt the silence the nature offered..I saw around me pictures of a remote place..scattered canvas of life sketches of people of whom I never saw..of nature..the sublime moonlit midnight nature at its real beauty..and for a moment ..flashed in my mind scenes from Bibhutibhusan’s Aranyak..as if I am not below the Aravalli but I am wandering in the outskirts of Labatuliya..how far is Labatuliya from this particular place of Jaipur-Udaipur highway I do not know but now in this mid night it seems that must be all milestones..all kilometers..all state boundaries..all human made borders has vanished..and may if I go walking up the hills I can distinctly found some men who like Labatuliyas’s farmer have never known what mirror is..and never have seen his face in life .. may be there outside some straw thatched hut some Rajput woman is waiting for collecting the bare minimum food from the leftover..may be up the hills in around the summit..there.. remains..still a lost kingdom and a lost king like Dobru Panna..and much within the language of the winds legends go on speaking the arrival of some fantasies..some angels..some..lost forgotten men ..warriors from the gone days..may be I have managed to come here this particular night by some magic..by the gifts of my fortunes..may be each day the bus stops here..each night different men and women drop here..and get astonished like me..or today..this particular night is very special..this night..these moments are created only for me..

 

I uttered silently..

 

I uttered silently a wish as the shadow of the Aravalli fall over the sleeping village across the highways..

 

A wish.

 

A promise.

 

I would come back here once again.

 

I have to go on travel this astounding world as much as I can.

 

I do not know I can ever do that or not.

 

But I promised myself.

 

I would travel.

 

I would roam.

 

I would see as much the world I can.

 

And more than anything..

 

I should live a different life.

 

A Silent wish made from a pure heart just beneath the full moonlit Aravalli will not come true?

 

Is it too much to want?

 

Or is it too less?

 

I slowly walked on.

 

And then I see her walking towards me in the blue moonlight and white mist of the chilled midnight.

 

As if pages from a book. She said.

It always is. I said.

But is there any story?

Oh yes. There is the story.

Which story?

The very old story.

Of?

Of a Man.

And.

And a woman.

Is it a long way?

It is.

But where it ends?
From where another road begins.
Where from you come?
Not far. Not close.
City?
It is always a city.
And alone?
Meanwhile alone.
But?
But there is someone always.
Where are they?
Somewhere. Sometime we will meet.
And is this the beginning of a journey?
No. I am in the middle of a journey.
And then?
Then again home. Away from home. Road again.
You are quite strange.
Is it?
Yes you are.Your words are beyond words.
So are your questions.
Now what for you are waiting.
The last bus of the day.
And why you are going?
To find someone.
That someone?
Yes. That very someone.
You are queer.
Oh old man, I am just me.

I stand at the bus stop and sip in the cup of tea. After sun set the air is becoming cold and the shops are slowly getting lighted. The birds are coming back to the nest on the large trees. There is a smoke and soon it is mixed with the mist that is born in the evening. The yellow street lamps start looking dim and the haze is enough to create a mystery of unknown untouched ambiance.There are shouts and I look up and can see the fort looks glorious in the light with all its broken walls and windows and there is a light at the tower.The shadows of the trees in the winds start playing over me and suddenly I am fade in. Sometime across time I can see a man waiting in a busy city near a bridge in the evening and it would rain it would be full of flower smell and flower seller and the chaos and music of the streets and then a woman would come and they would meet and smile. The rain falls between them the wind flows between them the city lives between them.
Then it is rain rain rain and it covers everything the man the woman the city. Fade Out. A horn of the bus comes and with shouts of people.Is it the last bus of the day? I thought. But no it is not. But I see someone quite near to me. I walk towards her.
Haven’t I met you early?
She looks at me.
Yes. I am thinking the same too.
Is it on the road to Jaipur?
Yes. It is on the bus to Jaipur.
Oh! Yes.
I think I have something for you.
What?
She take out a book from her handbag.
Islands in the Stream.
Papa’s book! Oh I thought I have lost it on the road.
No you left in the bus.

Am I really? Thanks that you take that along with you.
But it is a very interesting book. Do you need it just now?
Oh no! Wait. Is this pen yours?
I showed her a pen.
Why? It is mine. How you got it?
In the bus.
Now this pen has a great flow.
Keep it with you.
How long you are going?
Jodhpur.
You.
Same. Jodhpur.
So can I read the book?
Sure.
And you can use the pen.
We both kept silent for a while. Then I ask,
‘Is it only about the book?’
She stare at me and said,
‘Is it only about the pen?’
For a moment no one can answer. Only the headlight of a passing bus criss crossed our face and body.
Yes, she said again,It is about the road to Jaipur.
And the journey. I add.
And? She look at me.
And us. I slowly answered.
Just then the night bus came and whistled.
We enter and take our seat.
Again we are close enough and easily we can sit together.
The bus is about to start.
I got down once for having a cup of tea once more.
The old man came and said,
Is it her?
What?
That someone?
I laughed out loud and hugged the old man.
My dear old man! I uttered.
I sipped the tea.
The bus conductor whistled.
I came back to the bus and she said me,
‘I have found another thing within the book too. Here it is.’
I opened the sheet of paper.
It is a piece of poetry.
Have you written it yourself?
I nodded.Then added,
‘Do you like it?’
The woman said nothing but take my hands within her palm.
At that moment the bus started.

Then we are on the highway to Jodhpur.

In that glorious twilight from the top of the hill I know I am lost again. Day by day I am getting addicted to be lost. Lost to be found again. The road that I am in now the green hills the grey caves and far down that small blue river with pebbles here one can be lost.For a moment it is my own struggle of being lost and not being found. There is a temple far across the hills. It is a gorgeous lonely spot. It is a thousand year old temple and it is said who ever spends night here turns into a rock. It is myth it is legend it is fables. And thus I stay here. I have coffee and book along with me and then my ideas. I cover myself with more solitude and shadows until I am in that spot where no one can find me and there is only the sound of a river and a faint sound of a scattered village down down down. The twilight turns into evening the sky a palette of colours and the birds return home. Then the full moon comes and I in the light of torch start reading my book. The evening changes to night and after a while I start walking towards up the hills.The wind have a strange wild smell and somewhere the scent of the river. How far I have walked I don’t know when I find someone coming down the hill.

 

The shadow stops.

 

She is a woman.

 

Are you real? I have to ask.In Hindi. Broken.

 

Are you too? She asks.

 

I am.

 

Then I am too.

 

Or is it I am seeing a rock?

 

No. You are seeing me. I am from the village.

 

At this part of the night?

 

To collect honey. I sale it in the market in morning.

 

Where is your village?

 

Far down.

 

Where the river flows?

 

Where the river bends.

 

And?

 

And it flows somewhere towards the sea.

 

What about those stories?

 

Stories are stories.Some real. Some not.

 

Then?

 

Then they become myths one day.

 

You are a strange woman.

 

For a moment she stops.

 

Then she look st me.

 

It is all beautiful.

 

It is.

 

The Hindi dialect in her voice appears lovely.

 

It would rain tonight. She speaks suddenly.

 

But it is all moon.

 

The flowers are saying me. I know this land.

 

She picks up the pot in her head.

 

No, don’t go.

 

Why?

 

I want to see you bit more. It is so easy to tell and I am surprised how I tell which I may not in some other places.

 

This is the place. This is me. I have to go.

 

She starts walking.

 

At that time a gust of wind start flowing and yes then it starts raining.

 

She is walking.

 

But then stops.

 

She turns.

 

It is a remarkable picture.

 

Just below the myth temple of thousand years there is distance now there is the hill there is the sky.

 

There is rain.

 

And at two points we stand.

 

A man and a woman.

 

The rain increases.

 

I walk towards the temple.

 

It is all dark now.

 

And between lightning between storm between the shadows I walk towards the woman.

 

Then there is the laughter from her.

 

Why the laughter?

 

Only question.

 

No answer.

 

But I know.

 

This is when the myths are born.

 

 

Each time I see you I am back to youth.

Each time rain kisses I think about you.

Each time there are words there is silence.

After all the bleeding yet there is love.

Exactly these words flash in my mind when I stand in the wooden door of the small room behind the bus stand. There it is raining and the street windy and the night wet. The shadow of the night fell on her face from the bulb and except age nothing has changed and there she is. It is strange to look at her. But is gorgeous to look at her.I thank once more that we actually broke up one day.
That made her alive within me.
The wind blows.
The book she is reading lifts up and she looks up and her eyes freezes on me.
For a moment.
After a long painful await.
It is a beautiful moment.
Again that old wild smell of flower.
And yes she is always there the smell of coffee.
She stares up once more and then look outside.
At that moment the power goes off.
It is dark.
I strike the matches and light the room.
Thanks. She said.
Between us threre are three chairs two tables number of crowds waiting some sleeping and heaps of luggages and a water jug.
I stand at the room and the winds from outside comes in.
The flame of the matches flickers.
Someone presses a mobile and a song fills up the silence.
If it is a novel or a movie I think the crowds would be gone and there would be only two of us. But life is never so simple.
I managed a small place in a bench and look at her. A faded light falls on her face. Half light. Half dark. Between us there roams like the rainy wind some cities some old brick walls evening lamps closed doors open windows and nights of poetry.Is she thinking the same? Is she are on the same road as me? Is she here  or back in those days? Or I am getting hopeless romantic once again?
A horn of  a bus comes from outside.
Some people walks out.
Some comes in.
A candle lits up the room.
Rain is increasing outside.
Winds as if laden with moisture of memories.
Of may be some distant land. Some evening of not to be forgotten.

It appears strange and true.
We are near but we are far away from speaking.
No words.
But silence.
It is strange.
It is truth.
I start reading a book of Garcia and it is such an absorbing story that I am all in it when light came back and I got up looking for a cup of tea.
I also realized that there is less people now in the room and one hour more to wait for my bus.
‘The bus to Bijapur is about to come,right?’
For the fist time I find that she is looking at me. And with eyes of a stranger.
The light now full on her fair face.
I tremble a bit.
A bit stranded.
She is not her.
She is not the woman I am thinking.

Yes, the bus is about to come. I said.
Thanks. I thought you would know.
She took the last drink from the cup and start collecting her luggage.
Soon she steps out smile at me and goes out near the bus stand.
I stand all alone.
I come and sit in the place where she was sitting.
Then I nod my head.
It is all an illusion.
But it is not.
I am filled up all around here in this room by smell of burnt coffee which reminds me of her.
The woman may not be her.
But she is within her.

Like the beans of burnt coffee.

I am always in search of that old village man.

Whom I met once in a moonlit night in a village fair just down where the sun goes deep down and from where colorful birds with brilliant wings and the evening comes through red lips. The sky appear all shades of  a genius artist and the golden ray now turns purple. Soon the moon came and like a beautiful smile of  a gorgeous woman soften the earth.

At that time I heard that old man.

I was coming down from the old fort and the local muddy road which the villagers use.

I am never a tourist.

I am always the soul of the soil.

Thus I sat then and there smiled with the local villagers taste their different tea hug the beggar and stop to take fragrance of that wild flower in the bush. I am like that. I am all right with my strange moods. I am happy with that. I am unhappy with that. I am comfortable with that.

As I am coming down I stopped.

As a serene sound as if like a flow of silk like the touch of the ever searching river like the only man on the bridge like the lost traveler in the deep jungle the wanderlust poet in search of words the sound of the bells from the old temple the smile of the passing tribals the dance of the Temple girls within thousand glowing lamps the whisper of the night in her own language the birth of tears and the flow of the clean clear water deep within the eyes and a sacred feeling of chanting hymns..suddenly many things happened. Suddenly nothing happened. Suddenly everything happened.

This is birth. This is the moment. When a man changes. When a soul becomes pure in the world of sins.

A sound of flute is floating in air. And far far down near the fair I can see the old village man playing it.

He is walking through the fair. Smiling. Then walking. And playing the flute. And now and then the tune of the flute changing.

I walk fast. I need to catch the man.

The tune changed again.

As the evening changed colour so the tune and the moment when I came down through the rocks and came to the red dust soil the man has disappeared.

But still the sound of the flute is there.

The trace of the sound still cheering the air with a sense of composed and calm ecstasy. Much more lies in the left over trace than the real sound of flute.

And I feel that the tune changed again as it becomes trace..then faint trace..then hardly audible..then silence..ah..the complete silence..the truth of silence..

I searched the man for a long time but I never found him.

And then I stopped.

I no more searched him.

It is good. It is real good that he is gone.

Let something be in life for which some amazement some romance some lamentations remain.

Far from the world of reasoning far from the world of science far from the spirit of knowing everything.

Let there be imaginations.

Let there be undiscovered gift of moments.

The genius of creativity.

Tonight as once again I dropped from bus in some lonely midnight village I remember that man.

That ol.d village man.

He is still within me.

He would always be.

As he lives in that beautiful secret world of mine.

Thus I feel pure.

Thus I cry.

And being able to write at last..

Some true words.

 

It is said a Poet have a thousand birth. And a thousand death.

I, a born romantic believed it completely. But it is again proved today that I have been treated with surprises then and now. It may be an over explained account by a worshipper of beauty to many but to me it is the most necessary open surrender of the soul from the asylum of daily buzz and boredom.

The fact is simple. 

The rain came and completely soaked me.

It is wonderful. It is those moments for which one love to live life. It is those moments when one feel his whole body fresh his mind clean and his eyes clear of all the nightmares the dirt and the disgrace which when one live in a civilized society has to pass on.

Toleration is the word.

And thus we are “civilized.”

But for once when the rain comes..I am no one but that soul who is born in this earth with no religion no stigma no  degree no stress of sophistication . It is all after the birth the crucification starts.

Rain drops has the legacy of time as well as timeless ness.

As the rain drops pour down my body I try to imagine that is it the same feeling that gripped those travelers who came from West of the Uralas once and crossing the Himalayas came to be known as “Aryans” ..Is it the same feeling that made those tired lips of those merchants flash in a smile when touched by rain somewhere in the middle of Silk Route..is it the same feeling that got engulfed when the monk in his room with all solace stopped for a while chanting those unwritten hymns and completed it..once the rain drop fell on his writing palm..is it the same feeling that a couple framed in eternity by the riverside shared within rain and the half sunk moon within clouds…And is it the same feeling that a Poet..a writer feels when from all the nothing ness and the emptiness he writes a masterpiece and stand all open beneath the sky within the soft gorgeous rain?

The blue lightning struck.

 

The wind in a gush.

The shutters down of the shop the cars passing with headlights on the glasses of the café house appearing mystic with the flowing drops and the faces of the strangers relapsing in a haze of shadow  within the rain and with all the rush and sounds came the whistle of the train that I always loved and which somewhere sometimes explain me myself my ways..the girls running with Dupatta covered face some all wet and looking for an auto..some running towards  a shelter..young boys shouting in ecstasy and some dancing.. it is all a picture of immediate excitement and somewhere within all..I somehow felt that beautiful silence.

 

And I lost myself within that silence.

It is then all about the sensual world..it is the world only and only of senses.

It is like turning pages of Classic Hemingway and building my own dreams..it is like feeling the pain deep within whispering with some characters of Coetzee..it is like watching endless time “Pather Panchali”..and realizing the song of the road..it is like chanting all alone with eternal  Sunil “Akla Ghare Suye Thakle Karor mukh mone pore na..mone pore na..mone pore na..(Lying in a lonely room offers not a single face..not one..not one..not one..)..and it is like with all the bleeding insult and struggle creating the first line again the joy of finding the first letter first words..and  one is born..

 

Again lightning.

Again the earth sliced into two halves.

The Blue streak.

The primitive Earth.

The Dark earth.  The white earth.

I walked on within the rain within the thunderstorm within the lightning.

And then I stopped where there is truly all silence and I closed my eyes and lifted my two arms towards the sky.

And I start uttering..

 

The whisper is different

As if we met all of a sudden from nowhere

But it is destined

After the promises of a long shadow on the dark roads

For once I have opened my mask and I am soft

Soft like your youth

For once I can say the truth

As you lower your eyes

For once I kiss my neglected dreams

And you love them as they are

Then all is dark all gone all lost

I lie there with all my meaningless whisper

I smiled sometime and then I cried

Rain knows it all rain washed it all..”

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