Ever heard this story? does it reverberate with some ancient, forgotten song; like this rain outside.Like a wafting streak of a lullaby, forgotten rain. A damp piece of soil somewhere, maybe a little patch, perhaps a wasteland in the first summer rain. Like some evasive smell you cannot really place, is it the night flower or the night rain. A damp piece of soil somewhere, by the river, in the valley of the mountain. Like forgotten roots, uprooted lives, feeling lost. Like this rain outside.
“… Long before the lizards, before the dinosaurs, two spores set out on an incredible journey. They came to a valley bathed in the placid glow of sunset.
My elder sister, said the little spore to the bigger spore, let us see what lies beyond.
This valley is green, replied the bigger spore, I shall journey no farther.
I want to journey, said the little spore, I want to discover. She gazed in wonder at the path before her.
Will you forget your sister ? asked the bigger spore.
Never, said the little spore.
You will little one, for this is the loveless tale of karma; in it there is only parting and sorrow.
The little spore journeyed on. The bigger spore stayed back in the valley. Her root pierced the damp earth and sought the nutrients of death and memory. She sprouted over the earth, green and contended.
A girl with silver anklets and eyes prettied with surma came to Chetali’s valley to gather flowers. The Chempaka tree stood alone- efflorescent, serene. The flower gatherer reached out and held down a soft twig to pluck the flowers.
As the twig broke the Chempaka said, My little sister you have forgotten me !”
the loveless tale of Karma. Two points, the prophet said, birth and the other death. And in between there is turbulence. Turbulence. Born with the worm of death, we walk the path of living, towards death. Life as a short gap between certain deaths. The brevity of it. Everyday we lose a few things, a daily death, did I ask for it. Ha the sound of aero planes, the morning rush, pounding horns, hot steel, the maze of the city. The speed is mind numbing, it must be a free fall, the geography changes often. If it is a free fall,we must have lost our wings. Lost our sky,our little light. While we grip tight on the railings to make something of our lives, a forlorn migratory wind from the east whispers a story “Long before the lizards, before the dinosaurs,…..”
There once was this plant with a beautiful name,which grew near the well, what did we call it.One summer evening some time in the past has a cold bucket of water from a well pouring over my head, the smell of the evening, the huge tamarind tree, Cuticura powder, Chandrika soap. Nandyarvattom. My grandfather bathing me. Yes, Nandyarvattom, that was the name. If I tilt my head a little, I’ll forget this name which eventually I will, its so hard to remember, easy to forget. I shall never pass on that name to anyone. Where is my grandfather now, is there a place where they all go. Where they sit around at night, just to see the Nishagandhi of the night bloom and smell its heavenly scent. Is that a nice place. I wish someone poured a bucket of cold water on my head, ha this forgetfulness.
There was a time, till a few years back, when men and women knew every tree and every plant that grew in their backyard. They knew what it meant if one of those trees flowered, the smell of each flower and when they would bloom the next day or the next year. They knew each of these plants by name. Why did they connect so much, why were they so much in love. Most of those men and women are gone, the last few are at the end of their times.
Our generation lost it. We can’t connect. We didn’t get a chance, nobody taught us, nobody told us. We had to move on. We are always moving on. It is not our mistake. Our free fall, the acceleration of our lives. For God’s sake! it is not our mistake. It is not. But at the end of the day, when night approaches, we have lost it. We can’t smell a flower, say a butterfly from a moth. We are far removed from certain things which we really don’t remember. There isn’t anything we have left to pass on to our kids other than what we learnt from our books. For us, we’ll continue our trips to see beautiful nature, without realizing a thing, clouded in millions of years of forgetfulness. When was the last time my bare foot touched the morning grass, when I had dirty mud in my hands.
The kids,will they ever feel their soil, the cold damp soil tickling at their feet. Will they ever dig their fingers into the dirt and mud and get curious about the wriggling earthworm. Kids’ fingers are their roots,aren’t they? which they dig deep into the soil to catch that lonely earthworm. We would probably never let them do that,the book says it is unhygienic. The kids would probably go to sleep, never realizing that a skylark or a crow or a cuckoo can wake them up. Never realizing that millions of years before two sister spores stood in a magnificient valley.
Once,a long time back I left my elder sister. Tonight I do not know her name. I do not know how to talk to her. She stayed there, I moved on. She, the tree, the green grass and me, the animal, the human. Nature selected me or so I say. The pain of separation does not bother me anymore. But why do I feel incomplete when it rains, when I see those blue mountains. Is it that a shroud of forgetfulness clears. A sunbeam enters the stagnant pond. Loud music from the next room, another shroud, another night sets in.
Its been a while since we left our village. Tonight, I take my big roaring machines from the city to my village. Tonight the younger sister will break a twig off her older sister. She will forget everything. The city needs to grow, grow into the villages. Our machines will build highways over the villages, we need to reach places fast. The village was forgotten long back, we need to build our cities faster, we need growth and development. The path to progress, the poison smoke of the factories which build our vehicles and our air-conditioners will be located in the hearts of our villages. Our urban ugliness will be shared, like leprosy, to our elder sister. The loveless tale of Karma.
There was this paddy field near my home where we used play as kids. In summer, after the harvest in April, there was a festival for the Goddess in the field. During mango showers in May, the field would be slippery and that was the time we played football in it. We would get all wet and dirty after the close saves and fouls during the game. We would sit around till the sun went down, all of us smelling like dirt and soil. There was stream nearby which would abound with guppies after the mango showers, we used to fish in that. This time of the year, the field would look like a hopeless lake of muddy water after three weeks of monsoon. I passed by the place last week.
The field is not there any more. It was divided into some twenty plots and all except one had houses in them. The stream nearby was clogged at every point on its way, it was dead like an old man. All the plots were raised by a few feet by dumping red soil brought from somewhere. There were lorries in the left out plot. They were removing the grass and mud from what was once a narrow path through the paddy field. A lorry passed by carrying something from there, I knew what it was – my childhood. I started the bike and raised the throttle. The sound of the engine numbs every other sensation. I have to get ahead in life, need to move on from here. Because, some of us write to remember, some write to forget.