BETWEEN GREENERY AND FALLOWS
Slowly, this woman left darkness behind her and walked into a contrasting backdrop of broad daylight. She was carrying some firewood, which she carefully placed, near the well. Her dress was traditionally Nepalese, which told of a demeanour happy to be governed by its own culture. She, abruptly turned towards the sun, folded her hands and held them up above her head. But just before she did that she covered her head with a piece of violet cloth as a symbol of respect to the Sun God.
Folding her hands, she cropped up a posture, which would have made one feel that she herself was a devotee and had cascaded down from her heavenly abode to grace Mother Earth.
After a brief prayer, she bent down, folding her knees and touched the ground with her forehead. Time seemed to stand still. Her actions symbolized a person who not yet being idiomatic, spoke many things. Her devotion towards every maneuver portrayed a soul who was seeking divine assistance to regain her lost self.
“My lord, all these years you have made me live in melancholy, but please let me die in peace.” She finally spoke; but in a de-fragmented tone. Then she sat up and turned around. Her body faced a green field with profound patches of fallow land in between. Maybe that summed up the life she had led; a life with light striations of happiness and profound patches of drudgery.
The ambience was nothing short of heavenly, but to describe La-Dung the monosyllabic expression of GREEN would be enough.
Nevertheless, the woman was turning pale with every passing second. Although her face blanked at the sight of the field, but her eyes rolled downwards towards her feet, which seemed to have trodden fire and ice at the same time.
Then she silently went inside a partly dismantled hut. It was apparently evident that the hut had been struck by a storm. On the outset, it looked deserted but practically, it was not. She again contrasted the surrounding, as she went inside her puny little residence. She dragged herself into the kitchen and washed her face with water kept in a big earthen pot. The water had the same tranquility as the woman possessed, but she had faced many more hurdles than the water had. She grabbed some biscuits, which she had bought from the town. She took off the violet cloth from her head, which she had been wearing since the morning prayers. She trodded the same way back and entered the field. Meanwhile, the sun soared high up in the sky and the day turned even more pleasant. Considering the surroundings, it was easy to forget that an old woman was fighting with grief. She reached a barren portion of the field and from the place where she stood; she saw an even older masculine figure cutting grains with a combined look of hatred and disgust on his face, with whom she had spent nearly three quarters of his life. He was thrashing the grains with brutal force with a weak grunt or two in between. It appeared as if the grains had committed a serious offence and were receiving just punishment for it. When the woman saw this scene, she understood what he had gone through during the last ten years when his son left him and joined the army and she remembered how he was reported dead. A fat tear rolled down her cheek. As it reached her chin, she altered its course with her palm that did not want any more wear.
Regaining her composure, she marched towards him with the violet cloth in her hands. The man was very skinny and the torment of anger was vividly written all over his face. She stood beside him. The man stopped cutting and paused for breath. His eyes were mournful but they were embedded in a face, which burned with the rage of revenge. Although divergent emotions separated the two individuals separately, but at heart, they bonded...with grief and sorrow, a bond that seemed inseparable. They looked like a couple who had compromised with every bit of happiness that had come across their way but found no means to compromise with their misery.
“Lapang, please have them.” The woman spoke out for the second time in the day as her eyes became moist. The soothing and serene voice of the old lady calmed Lapang down as he held her hand, as if in reflex.
“Why? Nunho, why? Why does HE do this? What have we done to HIM? First, our house. Then, our son too… Oh, Lord! What crime have we committed? Will our son ever return? Please tell me he will.
Day by day, their lush green life was turning brown. However, the woman sympathized with him.
“Its God’s will, Lapang, God’s will. Our hands are tied.” Both embraced each other.
Both held hands together and walked to their only remnant of existence, their dismantled hut. The man carried an extremely tired face begging for some rest. Climbing up to their hut was a backbreaking task for Lapang. He somehow reached the door and sat by it exasperated with a notion of blankness on his face. Nunho helped him inside so that he could have some rest.
The clock ticked on as Lapang on his bed, kept his eyes closed with the determination that he will not give up hope, but his overworked body kept reminding him the stark reality that there was actually no hope. Nevertheless, Nunho was a warrior at heart. She went through the daily chores of her life whose flame was diminishing fast. She carried no signs of regret because at the core, she also had the illusionary yet firm belief that her son would be at her door and she would be there to embrace him.
The sun slowly crawled towards the other end of the horizon and the hopes of their son returning seemed ominous. She went out to fetch some firewood and Lapang was sitting by the fire he managed to burn up outside the house. He looked into the flames and the retrospective images of his son’s childhood flashed before his eyes. He was sweating with tears. Soon, Nunho returned with four sturdy twigs. Then again, at the sight of his wife refueling the fire, his thought process changed. He now felt if the diminishing flames of fire can be refueled then why not his hopes and aspirations. Then, out of the blue, a dark figure emerged. Lapang did not pay any heed to him. However, Nunho out of sheer expectation lit a twig and held it in the air. The figure’s face sparkled. At once Nunho knew it. SO did Lapang. It was their son…Their son had finally returned but he was in tatters. The lower part of his left arm was nowhere to be seen.
But Nunho was not disturbed at that sight. He had lost an eye and had several scars on his face. But to the couple, that face was equivalent to the face of GOD. All three of them broke into tears and Nunho ran and embraced his son.
That night Nunho knew that even in this oblivious darkness around her, she had contrasted the milieu of darkness and her life was about to live a new dawn just like it had done on the commencement of the day, but this dawn Nunho was assured, would bring newer hopes and a zeal to live life with full vigor.
BY SANGBID KUNDU
MAHARISHI VIDYA MANDIR, SILPUKHURI