Sunday, January 30, 2011

Painted Life

Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter - By Nietzsche

Samina was packing her luggage as her family was migrating to a Muslim dominated area in the suburbs of city. She was just five and in five years she had seen her family migrating from one area to another more than the number of candles in her cake. Initially it was terrorism and then army and now religion-ism which were responsible for her nomadic lifestyle. Apart from her dolls and teddy's she didn't have any friend. Rahim Khan, her dad, was dumping all her friends in a big box and asking her to hurry up. Sitting on the front seat of a lorry, Samina looked back and waved her hand to the empty walls and silent garden. Her mother was expecting a baby and Rahim khan wanted to shift in an area where his children can have a religious education. Samina, being unaware of this ideology was just coming out of the memories of her old room. Within two hours of journey, the lorry stopped outside a narrow lane. Rahim khan got down and called a collie to help them in bringing the luggage to their new home which was at the end of the narrow lane. Samina got down and saw tea stalls and Butcher shops all around. The sounds of Azaan were breaking the hustle bustle of the market. Holding her mother’s hand, she entered her new adobe. After she got settled in her new home, her mother delivered a baby boy and that has incremented her stagnant friend list by one.

          It was, Amir’s, fifth birthday and Rahim khan had called a party . Samina was looking from her room’s window in their backyard plot . Amir was holding a big Knife and was about to slain the throat of the Lamb which everyone in the party was supposed to enjoy. Samina trembled with even the thought ; so she kept herself encapsulated in a closet of that room. She decided not to eat that meat but in the end following her family ritual she had it and enjoyed it.   

     It had been more than ten years when she had seen Amir cutting that Lamb, but still that thought shook her up in her dreams. Today was a big day for Rahim Khan’s family as Rahim khan had got promoted to a collector’s post and he had been posted at Madhopur. Madhopur , a small village at the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab which shares the culture of both the state and has nothing of its own other than some small river side resorts. Again after a period of more than fifteen years, Rahim khan was busy in shifting but now he had several helpers to do that work. Within nearly two hours, the movers and packer folks packed everything and Samina was again back to the front seat of the truck sharing with Amir , looking back to those narrow lanes, those mutton seak shops where she and Amir had enjoyed eating mutton . But one thing was sure, she still had no friends to say good bye.

      Samina was enjoying her dreamland when Amir woke her up and asked her to get down. It was a pretty villa kind of quarter with one side deep forest and on the other side gushing sound of water coming out of some barrier. Samina and Amir spent whole day in setting their room and in exploring every nook and corner of the home for their Hide and Seek play. It was in the evening samina decided to follow the narrow pathway from their backyard garden to the forest. After nearly 10 minutes of walk, she found a big old banyan tree with a big hole in its trunk. As soon as she tried to peep inside in the hole with curiosity, as in the old adage goes ‘curiosity killed the cat ’, she was about to die with an heart attack . Because someone yelled at her inside that hole. She ran forgetting her sleepers there . In no time, she reached her garden and covered the distance in seconds which would normally take her 10 minutes. Following lines can describe her situation right now:

I tremble
They're going to eat me alive
If I stumble
They're going to eat me alive

Can you hear my heart beating like a hammer?
Beating like a hammer?
Help, I'm alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer
Hard to be soft
Tough to be tender

Come take my pulse, the pace is on a runaway train
Help, I'm alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer
Beating like a hammer

Madho , their watchman saw her running, so came forward to ask her the reason. When Samina told her the story , he laughed to hell. He said that a mad boy lives on that banyan tree and it must be him yelling at her from inside.

      After few days , samina again went there and this time before she peeped inside, she saw a young boy with torn clothes on that banyan tree. She waved her hand toward that boy but he didn’t respond to that gesture. He crawled down the tree and came near her. He smelled her and made a voice just like a jackel’s ‘pheau’, the cry of fear with which he communicated about something external to all the jungle. It was a weird howl and between each note there was a kind of low gurgling. He kept his head straight up to the sky, making the neighborhood vibrate with the eerie violence of its cries. Then suddenly he stood up and ran off into the woods. Samina was frightened as well as curious to know about this guy.

Next day after her school, she again went to the jungle and this time she went with a cake. The boy came near her and took the cake; he gobbled it in one byte and looked at her for more. She promised him to bring more tomorrow. Everyday Samina used to bring cake for that boy and everyday he demanded for more, once done. She found a good friend in him but still silence was more of the language of communication between them.

     It was a summer evening and it had been nearly three months of their friendship when Samina told Amir about this . Amir told this to their mother who when enquired from Madho came to know that boy was mentally sick and out casted one. She warned Samina about him and restrained her from meeting with him. It took her a week to convince Amir and then she along with Amir again started for the jungle with some cakes. She and amir reached to the banyan tree but he was not there so Samina decided to walk ahead . Amir was a bit hesitant to go as he was afraid of the thrashing from their mother if she would come to know about it. Moving nearly five hundred meters ahead, they saw a beautiful little goat. Samina touched that animal with love and affection .She took it in her lap, suddenly that boy jumped from a tree. While Samina and her brother were busy in rubbing their hands on that baby goat head and giving it the cake she had brought for the boy , she ignored the boy. This made him furious. He came near then again 'pheau' like a jackal but this time it was with a more infuriated cry and then suddenly he picked up that baby goat and hit its head with the tree with as much power as he can. The little goat died on spot with its tiny brain smashed out of its skull. Seeing this, samina and her brother ran backwards to their home. Amir narrated the whole story to his mother who told madho to put a wall on the backyard so that samina can’t go into the woods anymore. For the whole day the family kept talking about that boy’s heinous act , some called him crazy and others cruel fellow. 
Samina was sitting all alone at their rooftop under the umbrella of stars and silent moon. She was still in an ambiguity that whether boy's act was cruel or not. She knew that his cruelty was no different from his father’s killing a animal on Amir's fifth birthday or on every eid ; only difference was that boy’s untrammeled cruelty , primitive as yet undisguised by civilizing restraints.

Do you think the shower of boy's anger was anyways different that we killing animals for our sport or for our rituals other that we just tag our acts with reasons and he has no reasons.

Thanks to Ruskin Bond as he is the aspiration for this blog. And thanks to Arun (fouji) as he was the one who gave me the song "Help I am alive" whose lyrics i pasted above.

Silence Prevails,
Aditya Deadpan