The sky was red and the sun was down. In ability to see the ball had initialized the night. Evening air feeling my skin covered with sweat brought me shiver. I was tired, trying to locate the ball which was coming towards me. It was last wicket of the match. Honey, best baller of my team, tried his hardest but avi was stubborn as expected. Forfeiting the game wasn’t our style. So we played along until we lost the ball and won the match according to the rules. It was worth it, the sweat, the gazing and the patience.
Susheel was my best friend now, avi was second best; he was stubborn. Susheel qualified into the team because he impressed avi by challenging him in batting. Susheel invited us to his house warming ceremony. We realized it had been a year the Susheel arrived in our street. It was at 12 at noon and tomorrow was Monday, full day school. I promised him to come on time, avi asked me how, I just winked at him gesturing to bunk the school for the day. Avi was an obedient student, bunking school for non-studying purpose: out of his character. But I gave my word and I was a man of my word.
The meeting was ended by the call of respective mother, blaming us for playing late. I reached home, my father was home: I discovered the bike at the gate. Wondering the atmosphere inside the closed door, washing off the dirt on my feet, I recalled the English homework, which I scarcely did. But the preacher had warned me of the consequences, otherwise. I rushed towards the door to open and welcome the heat I assumed when I heard loud noises previously. Ignoring the creators of the loudness I walked at the study table, where my pretty sisters expecting my arrival as they heard the door open. Frowning on the meaning of the noises, I closed the room but the noises increased when I banged the door to close. This was not new; it was as old as I.
I inspired the sisters to pursue the interrupted work and settled with my work. I expected the work puny but it was the contrary. Given the scenario it was hard to complete. The noises never ceased at the door and the closed room being silent enough to travel the sound through air. What could I do?, Distracting my sisters to study and desiring to make the sounds stop. If we were birds we could sing song for the sounds became tune and rhythm of breaking objects. I was assured of goose bumps and felt more than expected. When the sounds became low my sisters were sleeping on their books. I opened the door suspecting calmness, disappointed to prove tiredness. I had to make sure my sisters were stomach full when sleep. Mother slept without anything down her tongue and father came home after leaving us for two hours. My conscience persuaded me to do the work but I was betrayed by my body.
I was awake by motherly wakeup call, yelling to her children the count down to 8.00 am. While packing my bag I realized that it was going to be a very bad day. I bathed sooner than usual managing to squeeze a little time to think of an excuse or to do the work; latter was not possible. The preacher’s angry face was haunting me, gulping now and then for the fear of the punishment. I managed to act in pain but mother had me under microscope, before I could explain the suspected melodrama, she refused plainly. It was about time I face my fate, I thought but the fear was too great to suppress. I drove my cycle like wind, having realized there was no avoiding of the punishment. It hit me, the safest choice. This was not usual, not of me; out of character. I turned my path and ventured towards the historical monument. Where I could hide for the day and no one would know.
The place was no strange to me. I had my game there, every Sunday morning till evening. Though there were trees and the places which hadnot been discovered. The monument was surrounded by trees, it was a great place for a wanderers. I ventured deep into the trees where no one could notice a child wanderer. If only I had a shirt in my bag, I thought, it would a perfect crime and no evidence. When I stopped my ride and spun my head around to locate myself and I shivered for where I stood once there was a hanging body discovered by the authorities. The scary branch still had the rope hanging and swinging by the wind. Fear was engulfing my choice and I was supposed to faint abut but saved by a stranger who filled my category of wanderer.
He climbed the tree and started playing with the rope. I assumed he was unknown of the incident, so he was not from the town. I dared to ask “where are you from?”. He named a village when I inquired its location he could only say it’s near that village. He was not older than me and had a younger brother. They studied in 7thday school. I had heard it before, some of my friends left the school to join mine. The little brother was 2nd class and their parents were farmers.
Introductions were at an end. I parked my ride at the “died” tree and walked along. He took me to very rare places their existence were unknown to me. Explaining its reason of popularity apparently there were stories stick to each place. He took me to this well, its diameter was the about the size of a standard cricket pitch.‘The well of dead’ as he called it, he began “you know Bidar was a grave yard, the largest grave yard a man had ever seen” I answered positively. He continued when people started to build the yard into a city and lacking place to bury the dead, they started to fill the wells. If you jump down you can see skulls lots of them still floating”. It was a normal boy talk, not too scary, not too believing but I believed. When I asked him where you heard all these, he would say “my father told me”. I remembered my father telling me stories when we sit for lunch along with mu sisters. I threw a stone in the well and threatened by the sound of thud but no the splash of water.
The adventure was becoming no more than a horror movie. We reached to the next place, through the pits and over fallen trees. The place had no green grass, only spins dried and dead. He started again “look around now, fret not you are standing on a cursed ground. There was never a green grass or a pant ever grown on this part of the land”. His stories started to raise the hair on my hand, charged with cold and fear. For a child he had a great knowledge about the land. I had to conclude the he visited the land more than once. I was naive but he was a master. I thanked him graciously for being guide and amusing me. He replied with a smile uttering “my pleasure”.
It was noon and my stomach started knocking the door to welcome any gest I offered him. Some rice and pickle and let him sleep for a while. I shared mu lunch with the retired guide and his brother offered me some cake. He was unusually silent, he sat on the branch staring at the monument, something was on his mind, I suspected: “what are you thinking?” I asked “you look worried, what is the matter?”.
“Nothing, I was thinking about us. Our parents work hard and make us go school and we back stab them”. I wished he was wrong but human mind is always accustomed to go the wrong way. He continued “my family couldn’t afford one time meal for all of us; four people. But they inspired me to go to school. Being distracted all the time, I can hardly concentrate on studies. I like adventures; I like to observe the art of nature”. His enthusiasm was portrayed in his face. There was twinkle and joy in his eyes.
“You should spread your legs as much there is a cloth underneath”. I continued “we should dream our dreams only if we can afford them, if cannot then we should raise ourselves to afford them. I can understand your feeling. I am not interested in what I do or I hope it might interest me for the sake of parents”. I was going away from the point, which explained his expression. “all I am saying is I have learnt one good lesson: ‘live your life for others’ and for me, I am not going to miss my school daily and let go all the fun. I will endeavor through the pain and win one day”.
I couldn’t stop all the big words. And when I stopped I observed the rage in his eyes: The stubbornness to prove him to the wild world.
“Why are you here?” he enquired. I explained him everything and he started laughing. “You know you are luck you have your motives to do what you do”. I couldn’t understand what he meant. I gave him motive he said.
We wondered in our own world reasoning the events that were taking place at that very moment. I realized that I needed to face fear. I was a coward today and reborn as a soldier. Life is a challenge and challenges are meant to be won. I rode my ride back home. Greeting my friends on my way home and surprising them, from where I had come. It took few lies and declarations. I took an oath to never march that path again. As for the stranger I prayed for him and his family.
It is a beautiful process, how we learn our lesson? And how we remember them to tell others? Miracles happen every day and that day I had the honor to be a part of it.