Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Whispers of the Wind

The wind blew strong through the desolate village, with nothing to obstruct it`s path. Though it started as a normal breeze, the emptiness of the village and the lack of obstacles, just a tree here or there, a few lone houses scattered across, seemed to be the barrier and in the absence of anything to stop it, the breeze became a strong wind and swept past the little village.

“This rotten place is haunted. It is in the middle of a summer and there you have a big wind out of nowhere”, complained Ashokan. He had retired long ago and found his days rolling by as if nothing could stop it. He found new things to complain about, every other day, and since the time the government had given all the farmland nearby to the big industries, all the friendly farmers and friends had left the place. The farmland was lost, and the industries had not come, and the matter was being debated in the courts between the industrialists and the activists. His son, Pavithran had explained to him that the land was being wrongly given out as SEZ`s, but Ashokan did not understand the ways of the new governments and found it difficult to understand what his son was explaining.

His thoughts slowly started to hover around his son. Pavithran had been a good student, right from a young age and had been a promising young man. He travelled out to the city, and had become a civil engineer, and was also responsible for building the roads and the bridge near the village. Pavithran had always been a matter of pride for Ashokan among his friends and he would lecture them on his son`s achievements every evening, how the son of a postman could go on to achieve things unheard of.

“Why do you always keep shouting and screaming?” replied Sumitra from the kitchen and in a way interrupted his thoughts. “Nothing, go back to your work and leave me alone..!” thundered Ashokan. Sumitra, just smiled. She knew this was a part of his daily exercise and let him have his way. He was after all, all she had, and a loving husband he had always been.

He stretched himself and tried to pull out some weeds from the garden in front. He worked on them for a while, and then sat down under his favourite peepul tree. It swayed to the wind and seemed to welcome him to take rest under it`s shady bosom, all ready to embrace and cuddle him to sleep.

The hazy memories of how he used to play and lie down with Pavithran under the tree came back to him, and he seemed lost again in those old times.

“Father, why do the leaves of this peepul tree, look like a water drop upside down” , ten year old Pavithran would innocently ask, leaving him speechless, and trying to answer him as he believed a responsible young father should do. Sumitra would then call them for lunch and rescue him from the tough situation; his son had put him into.

Pavithran had then had this great opportunity at the start of his career to represent India as one of it`s engineers and go and help in rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, and had seeked his parents` blessings and they had reluctantly obliged to his wishes. Looking at his bright loving eyes and saying No had always been impossible for them.

As the days passed, life had become a big struggle. Economically, there was no trouble as Ashokan received a moderate amount as pension every month and there was some investment, Pavithran had made which kept giving returns twice every year. The way it works, his son had sat over the lamp, one evening and explained to Sumitra and him, but he never really understood the ways of saving money these days. Everything had sounded puzzling to him. All they knew was that they wouldn`t have to worry about money for a few years at least.

But life was a struggle as yet, the lonely existence, the absence of their son, the long days and the sleepless nights. Their son had struggled a lot to bring a telephone connection to their remote village and when they finally got a telephone at home, it had been a moment to rejoice. Though Ashokan or Sumitra never used it, it had always been a pleasure to see Pavithran talking over the phone with his friends.

Now the only happiness left in their lives was the sound of the telephone ringing once every week, and listening to Pavithran`s voice. They would sit beside the telephone all evening afraid that if they did not pick it up quickly, the telephone might not work and that they might not hear their son`s voice, that voice of assurance, voice of hope and warmth.

The journey of the wind is very unpredictable, it has no destination, it does not know it`s path, it loses a lot of things on it`s way, it gains a lot of things, and it may even die a sudden death.

The wind is even more harsh in the rocky deserts of Afghanistan, and the war and bloodshed around lay silent to the onslaught of man upon man. The country had lost face and was in times of great unrest, when people and friends from all over the world came visiting, some to help out, some to help themselves.

It was at a construction site, where a new school was being built that there was a sudden explosion, demolishing the newly laid bricks out of their cemented glory and casting them back to rubble. All the workers had to flee to save their lives from the onslaught of the rebels. The rebels, they had won, they had conquered some territory, or so they proclaimed. In the midst of all the commotion, four engineers were forced to take refuge in a bunker among some rocky mountains, along with a company of soldiers of the UN peace keeping force, with the limited supplies that they could gather. They had lost track of their group and had to temporarily seek shelter from the harsh sun and the harsher enemies outside.

Those were days of great struggle for the engineer friends, especially Pavithran, who missed his country more than ever, he missed his weekly phone call and he missed his parents. He knew there was no way to intimate his parents and that they would be very worried about him not calling, but he had no choice and the only other Indian friend who was capable of passing on a message was lying beside him in the bunker munching on a chocolate.

When Life comes to a total standstill, the mind starts to reflect upon whatever it can reflect. Pavithran was like that able to go over his life all over again; his achievements now seemed incapable of giving him peace of mind. At times, he used to sneak to the top of the bunker and spend time looking at the dunes of sand. The wind blew against his tanned face and he kept talking to the wind, telling all about his aspirations, his love for his parents and how much, he missed them. He remembered how Sumitra had persisted that he must return quickly and marry a nice young girl she had selected for him. He had smiled and nodded.

It was a few more days before which there was some reinforcement of the forces and Pavithran and his friends were found and rescued. It was a day of great relief and celebration, A celebration of life and new-found freedom. It is in such moments that one relishes life and Pavithran hugged his friends and the soldiers with tears in his eyes. In a few days he called home and talked to Ashokan and Sumitra. They cried and laughed over the telephone as the dryness of their surroundings seemed to disappear abruptly.

He later wrote a letter home as to how he had done enough with his job in Afghanistan, and how he had decided that he would return to India soon, start his journey back to home with great fanfare after a few weeks of formalities.

Almost a month later, Pavithran reached his village, his home and ran inside with the great enthusiasm and happiness, an homecoming is synonymous with. Sumitra was in the kitchen as usual and he hugged her with great warmth.

“Mother, you wouldn`t know how much I have missed you.” cried pavithran. Sumitra too was overwhelmed and had her eyes brimming with tears. “Where is father?”, he asked her. “Oh! He must as usual be dreaming under the peepul tree. Go meet him, son. He has been restless ever since your letter came. I will prepare breakfast and keep. You go and bring him in here.” she replied.

Pavithran quickly hurried up to the peepul tree, and there precisely as Sumitra had suggested, was Ashokan sitting under the old tree, a picture of peace and contentment, his eyes closed and a smile on his lips. Pavithran called out to him and touched him by the shoulder, but his body was cold and devoid of life.

“Father.. You...” he hugged Ashokan and wept inconsolably and called his mother letting out a wail. In Ashokan`s tender hands was the letter Pavithran had written lovingly a month before. The words “I will be home soon” barely visible from between Ashokan`s tight fist, which seemed to be protecting the letter unto death.

As the years passed, Pavithran`s life changed a lot and he became more busy with his work, but always managed to spend sometime with his son, under the old peepul tree as it lovingly swayed to the wind.Ashokan had left from his side only in the physical world, but he realized over the years, that he still retained him in his spirits and he saw his father in his son`s little loving eyes..

The breeze quickly gained momentum and became quite a wind. The wind travelled long and far with stories old and new, no matter happy or sad, but always filled with hope.


Sreejith Kumar said...

Hats-off to you man... This was something special. The deep love and care the parents had for their boy and vice versa were captured well in it. The desolated land of Afghanistan and the struggle foreigners face there, the love and realisation that you are happy and safe at home..... very good piece mate... The mention of the wind was so charming that it gave another life to the story, something parallel.... So impressive... keep penning.... :-)

Has to be me said...

Nice senti story there...& wow what a combination of Afghanistan, parents love, sweet home etc! Well done!

priya said...

That was a beautiful piece and loved reading it. Loved those pictures and very much related to what you narrated.

Foodie's Hope said...

WOW!! Beautiful pics and what a write up!! Great job!!Keep it up!!

Hip Grandma said...

I am reading a book abt life in Afghanistan and you come up with a beautiful story.Is it telepathy??
loved every bit of your story.

Srijith Unni said...

@Sreejith : Well, too many things coupled in one.. yes.. I just don`t know how and why, it just came out so.. Anyway thanks for your appreciation, my friend!

@Has to be me: Yeah a bit senti :) Thanks for your kind words..

@Priya : Nice to know that you were able to relate to it.. and about the pics..:) Yeah I like to post pictures left and right.. makes my otherwise dull blog, a bit colourful

@Foodies`s hope : Thanks.. Welcome in here.. Do come back! :)

@Hip Grandma : Is it Telepathy?? Perhaps..! :) I dont know for sure.. What book are you reading..? Nice to know that you liked the story..

Thanks for your wonderful comments, friends..

Balaji said...

Really nice

jac said...

That is a good narration, sreejith.

You wanted to know when I am back on the circuit...I am here again.

Thanks for the visit sometime back to which I couldn't reciprocate because I quit writing for some time.

Srijith Unni said...

@Balaji : Thanks :)..

@Jac: Nice to see you back.. Thanks for your kind words..

Helen Wang said...

That's a beautiful narative! I think you should write a book!

Prash said...

That is a long post. don't have enough time to read it now..shall get back here soon.

btw, you are linked in my blog

Tanushree said...

lovely story....
really words for this..

Ashish said...

A beautiful story. Liked it.

Velu Nair said...

Wow... am speechless, Sri!! I mean, this is real amazing. At once touchy and sentimental, heart rending and emotional, this is easily one of the best reads that I have had in recent times!!


Keshi said...

what a profound msg!

**The journey of the wind is very unpredictable, it has no destination, it does not know it`s path, it loses a lot of things on it`s way, it gains a lot of things, and it may even die a sudden death.

I love that quote. And it seems like it's what my life is.


Gaurav Jain said...

sorry I couldn't post my reply earlier (I had made up my mind to completely read this post later when I had free time). I must say, a very touching story, and deeply moving.

Thanks for such a wonderful post!

LERA said...

Hi srijith, Thanks for stopping by my blog, you do have great blog going on....Whispering winds are something that is so enticing .have a great weekend...:)

Happy Diwali to you!

starry nights said...

Loved this story.the wind is unpredictable. Have a happy Diwali.

Srijith Unni said...

@Helen: I do have plans, but I feel too overawed by the existing books by different authors.. I just dont know what book I can write and where I would fit myself. or whether I am at all capable of doing so. Anyway thanks a bunch for your encouragement

@Prash: Do come back and give a read.. :) Thanks for linking me.. It`s an honour to be linked on his majesty`s blog. :)

@Tanushree: Thanks :) Do come back.

@Ashish: Nice to know that you liked it.. Hope I get to write better stories too.

@Velu: Yeah Velu :) I guess it was a bit mushy read.. but I wouldn`t have had it otherwise.. Thanks for your kind words of appreciation.

@Keshi: :) Seriously.. After you made this comment I too sort of feel that you are like the wind, so lively and living to ROCK!.. Have a great time..!

@Gaurav: Thanks a lot for coming back to read this, my friend. I would have anyway needed your words on this..

@Lera: Thanks a lot! Happy Diwali to you too.!

@Starry : Nice to know that you liked the story.. Happy Diwali..! Thanks for your wishes..!