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Vintage People

 

The sun seemed to arise from its sleep, the birds chirped with fervor as if in salutation to the harbinger of the new dawn, the cool breeze made music as it nonchalantly blew to rock nature from its slumber. The heavenly sights of the moment made for a veritable feast for the frayed nerves reaching up to the heart and soul, filling up with its aroma of a serene and un-comprehendible hope and wellbeing, more so for little Shankar who could afford to feast on only these. This is Kasauri, a vintage recreational place built during the times of the Raj.

It is said that the officers posted around this area liked it so much that it soon became their picnic spot which subsequently graduated to became a favorite holiday spot of the era and even to this day people from various parts of the world ensemble here to experience nature from a multitude of refreshing perspectives.  Along with nature's bounty the edifices of the past era takes one into a journey that brings to light an enigma of the times. The enigma of the lives of the immediate past that evolved to become the people of our present times.

But not everyone evolved and some are still there frozen in a time-frame of the era that changes its shape only at its freckles and one among them is little Shankar, barely eleven. Little Shankar lived with his old grandparents along with his two younger siblings. The youngest is the four year old Asha and Niranjan who is two years older to her. Both the brothers loved playing with her and took turns to look after her especially now when their parents are away to make an earning as this is the peak time of the year when tourists flock in larger numbers. Shankar's parents based themselves downtown in the central parts of the valley in makeshift tents that served as their shop during the daytime and which housed them during the night. This was barely enough even for the two of them and hence the rest of the members stay at their humble dwelling amongst the hills.

The fore-fathers of Shankar were into making customized wooden balls that were used to play golf in this region. The specialty of these balls was that due to its weight it hardly traveled long distances and in these regions they were best suited due to the lack of large open grounds amongst this hilly terrain. These balls gained popularity as Kasauri balls and to this day people gather these as mementos of the place. And these balls are their providence as whatever they make from the sale of these, somehow sustains the family.

And this is what Shankar is carrying with him in this heavenly dawn, to deliver this small consignment of balls to his parents downtown and to take whatever money they give him from the proceeds of the last consignment. A part of this money is to be spent in the procurement of the wood and the other raw materials required to make their next consignment of balls by their grandparents and whatever meager remains is spent on their food and other current requirements.

But this time they had are encountering a problem as it rained untimely and most of the tourists stayed indoors and it negatively effected their sales and thus Shankar like the rest of the family barely had enough to eat. Here, he was hoping against hope that atleast this time the sales might have been better. En route he stopped to look at the tourists in their contemporary attires, some recklessly spending money, they all appeared to him to be from a different world. It was almost afternoon by now and Shankar quickened his pace.

Their were his parents, he managed to smile at them beamingly but that didn't reflect and he understood what is in store.

"Shankar, this time too sales were less but don't worry the next time you come their will be a lot", his mother tried to cheer him. The skies were gradually getting darker by then and a gloom descended on them. "It's again going to rain", his father said dejectedly. There was silence for sometime as none could muster the will to speak. Shankar drank the porridge his mother had placed before him and sat stifled there.

"Get up, Shankar and go before the rain comes", said his mother wrapping him in an old tattered traditional long coat to protect him from catching cold. It was dark by now and Shankar hurried towards his home. He passed by a group of travelers when suddenly something got hold of Shankar, it might have been a connotation of a deep hurt directed towards the unknown and the deprivation that seemed to engulf him. He suddenly started dancing as if in a frenzy. Huge droplets of sweat spawning from him sprinkled around him as he vigorously continued his movements.

 

Just then it started to rain, the chilling drops of water that fell on his face gradually bought him to his senses and he stopped his dance. "That seems to be the rain dance", commented one onlooker. "Yeah!, these people are close to nature and it seems it is a form of obeisance to the coming rain", said the other.

"Excellent!, take this", saying this one amongst them put some money into his hands. This was soon followed by the others. Shankar appeared numb for a moment, but then almost instinctively he immediately stocked up the money carefully to keep it from getting wet and gathered enough energy to run towards home. "Shankar, what happened", enquired his grandfather. Shankar could hardly say anything, he put all of the money into his grandfather's hands and for a moment there was silence before he could meekly say anything. By now everyone gathered around him and slowly Shankar started narrating his experience. "This could last for a whole month", said his grandfather counting the money.

By now everyone sat around the fire lit by his grandmother and shared the food. Today his grandfather is not telling them any story as he seemed too excited. Shankar stared at the fire, there was something he was trying to comprehend but it was hard for him, atleast for now. Tired and lulled by the visions of the beaming faces of his parent when he tells them about it, he finally fell asleep..

Contributing Story Teller Suresh Kumar Tamada,  Visakhapatnam (A.P.)
skplanet@gmail.com


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