The leaves which once chuckled in the month of may, now stand their ground humble admist the rain that the gods have shown no remorse for.
It’s the kind of rain that steps onto the heart and gently closes off any window through which hopes can peep through. the sun barely existing in this dark blue colored hue bathing the entirety of forest. Inside this amalgamation of moisture and dread, walks a thin naked soul covered in a shabby blue gown, her wrinkled skin acting as a temporary milestone for rain drops that’ve travelled a long journey. Her bald and scarred head covered with a hat she made through dry strands of grass. On her slender legs she has worn flat slippers – round in shape – bout half a feet broad (made with firm tree branches inter-twined through a jute rope). She walks towards the once dry river, now brimming with life. Her flat surface slippers ensuring that her legs don’t get stuck under the thin layer of mud near the river. she moves steadily thought the blinding rain as a soul possessed. Both of her hands carrying baskets.
Approaching the river the woman sits down on the mud and calmly pulls out the fish net she laid. Carefully and with great concern, she drags the net, simultaneously with both of her petite hands until she gets the sight of silver colored fishes, flubbering and gasping for breath. Then she slowly treads over and picks up each fish, throwing back any which is prematurely developed for perhaps some other day. The ones which made the cut now being put inside the baskets. the pace of hers being equally constant regardless of the change in the amount of rainfall. Her house is in the heart of the forest, a shabby yet sturdy one that looks like the house of a witch out of some fantasy novel. It has cylindrical shaped mud roof tiles, all leading to a singular long roof tile which leads to a big water tub down below. on the backside of the house there is a small shed filled with handful number of chickens and rabbits and a few goats. The rainfall now almost at halt, The sun half-heartedly protruding through the clouds. She hangs the fishes and her wet gown on different branches admist the sunlight. Naked as the day she was born, she puts up the pot of water on the on the stove burned by logs of wood, and then sits curling up her thighs to her breast, near the fire. The light from the stove bringing out the blue in her eyes and the pearl in her gaze, each breath of hers longer than the last.
By evening, the fishes have all dried up, ready to be carried at the nearby village bout 15 miles inland. They fetch bout 15 rs / peice.
Returning on her way back she stops at the nearby woods and stares at the sky, trying to smell if it’s going to rain tomorrow. The night is the time she eats the boiled rabbit or hen whatever she prepared in evening, She sits in the corner side of her small room beside the steel glass of half filled water and vigilantly shove bites of boiled meat. A small lamp lightens the room for just a few hours before she extinguishes it’s flame and sleeps on a rugged mattress, covering herself of a cotton weaved – hand made rug.
Night time in the jungle is filled with noise of cricket and all sorts of nocturnal creatures, penetrating the silence by their appeal of existence.
by 5:00 am it’s almost bright, no sign of rain. the lady gets up before the sun and walks out with a branch of neem in her mouth. She looks upto the sun as a friend, familiar. With the buckets she again goes back to the river. This time with plastic buckets to get some clay to fix a hole in the wall. Without a hint of change registered in her walk, she reaches the riverbank, bends over and splashes the fresh flowing water on her face and then gargles with it. The water so clear that you can register the pattern of rocks underneath. The sublime rays of sun glistening the reflection of water on her face. She fills up the bucket with clay and then goes over to the river one last time to wash off her hands. As she bends down she hears the sound of coughing and breathing. She looks around her and sees a young girl about 7 years old washed up on the shore, lying there unconscious. She has Cotton top and a skirt on. The lady doesn’t move her fixated sight from her, contracting her pupils to notice each and every nuance, then suddenly she looks down and gets up and starts moving away with the buckets of clay. Her sight still down, the worry on her brows now clearly visible. Her pace quickens and the suddenly comes to a halt. She still looks downwards onto her feet and takes a deep breath.
back at her house she lays the little girl down by the fire place and starts undressing her wet clothes. She then covers the girl with clean cotton cloth – entirely and rubs her forehead. The little girl has small hair and pink cheeks. Her eyes still shut yet her chest still pounding. The lady turns her over and thumps her back as the little girl starts coughing water, she then with her other hand rubs the little girl’s chest hastily. the heat from the fire now showing the salt marks on the girl’s skin which the lady checks and tries to wipe off with a wet cloth. After tending to the girl she places her at the corner on the rugged mattress and goes out to the back pen. She looks around and then picks up a chicken from it’s legs and starts to move out but before leaving stops and then looks at the goat and it’s udders and looks back at the chicken.
She fills up the milk collected in a clay bowl and gets inside the house, while entering she now gets a full glance of the little girl wrapped in white. This stops her in her tracks as she stands there, motionless with the cup of milk in her hand. she tilts her head and starts to count her breath and then moves forward, her steps no longer hasty. She lays the girl on her lap and carefully says ‘Sshhh’ while moving her thighs. The little girl now moving her pupils inside her closed eyes feels the inside of her closed mouth. The lady once again moves her thighs trying to wake up the girl. She opens her eyes and looks at the moving lips of the lady, trying to make any sense of the lip movement. The girl has big dark brown eyes which now look at the cup of milk, the lady seeing this moves the cup towards her mouth and pours it in gently. Seeing the throat of the child moving the lady starts shaking. Her lips move uncontrollably and her eyes becoming moist, she looks away on the other side and the movement brings out a few drops of water that she held in her sight.
The little girl curls herself up after finishing the entire bowl of milk, to sleep. While the lady sits in another corner looking at her.
Beside her she notices the worn wet clothes and checks them, they seem to have no clue whatsoever, just a couple of 50 paisa coins (a common denomination back then). She sat there throught the night, skipping her meal, waiting for the girl to wake up.
The next day – the sun is equally bright. The forest seems to have a new life. It’s leaves starting to show vigour, the migrating birds seemed to have venture back what was once a lost home to them. The Morning chirping and meditation penetrated by a very sharp sound of whistle with the gaze of a few men dressed similar. Their uniform covered with a dry raincoat worn in the anticipation of rain. They come over to the house and hound at the lady, with the Lead inspector now breathing down her neck – asking about the whereabouts of a missing girl, while the sub inspectors searching the entire house for clues. While the lady stand there motionless – inanimate to the questions.
They don’t seem to find any clues, irritating the lead inspector even more, who seems to get no response from the lady. Admist this a sub-inspector intervenes and exclaims “O sahib, jau dya na, ti yedi bai aahe, tila kahi mahit nai” (Sir, we’re wasting our time, she’s the local nutjob, she doesn’t know anything).
They leave furiously, While the lady stands at the same place. With them out of sight she walks to the back-pen and goes inside. She goes into the chicken pen and moves over the haystack with the little girl behind, giggling at her with her mouth wide open and her eyes shining. The lady in return tilts her head and hints a very very small sign of widening her sealed lips.
The Widening blue horizon along with the Lush green acknowledges the presence of someone walking by the narrow routes. Someone new and home. The someone wearing a handmade yellow top. The someone walking across to the river with her white legs – barefoot and her hands carrying a bucket. Her walk more inquisitive and considerate to her surrounding. She has long dark hair that are roughly tied up into a bun. There is no beauty in her demeanor yet a sense of clarity. she goes over to the river and Fills up the bucket with silver fishes and turn on back to the home. The house looking the same it was 15 years ago when it accompanied only one mortal soul. A few rough edges now more sorted.
The young woman taking off the clothes, hanging outside, that are now dry, into the house and approaches the wood stove, from which she takes off the pot filled with chicken broth. She pours it in a cup and approaches the old lady lying in the corner, now more thin and weak. The young woman sits on her knees and brings forth the bowl. The old lady gently moves her sight on the bowl and then moves her head to the other side. She keeps the bowl aside and then sits beside her. Both of them, looking in the same direction. After a few hours, the sleep of the young woman gets interrupted by the vibration she feels on her right lap, she hastily gets up and checks. To her surprise the old lady has her eyes wide open, she’s shivering and gasping for air. The woman sits on her knees and tries to put a wet cloth on her forehead which the old lady shrugs off. The woman gets up to find something but notices a tight grip on her right hand, the lady holding it looks at the woman right in the eye and tries to lift her head up. She moves her other enclosed palm and puts it in the woman’s hand. The woman not being able to comprehend murmers ‘Amma’, as the lady then eases up and lays her head back down on the pillow, she looks away, motionless. The Young woman, sits there looking at the lady, she then opens the hand in which the old lady placed something and finds Two 50 paisa coins. She gets up and shuts off the eyes of the lady and sits back, looking at the door, holding tightly the palm. Droplets of rain start falling as the sky growls with zest, she gets up and takes the plastic tub outside, under the cylindrical pipe and then rushes back in, aside the lady, she sits, staring at the rain. Staring away on the dispassionate drops that’ll forever be lost in the name of anonymity.