"When bright flowers bloom Parchment crumbles, my words fade The pen has dropped ..."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Miles apart

Sitting by the side of the pond , Amu was throwing pebbles in the water. She was in no mood of playing or climbing the trees to get ripe mangoes. Her friends had come to fetch her but she did not like their company right now. Her mind was travelling far far away into the distant unknown land , the land of luxuries , the land of freedom , the land where Priya belonged. Priya was the granddaughter of the erstwhile "Jamindar" (Zamindar) of their village. Although the Zamindari system had long been abolished , Roop Narayan Ray Chowdhuri was revered by all villagers. The Jamindar bari build on many many acres of land was magnificent, surrounded by jamun(gooseberry) and mango plantation. Roop Narayan's son Abhay Narayan Priya's father was working for an MNC(as told by Priya and Amu had no clue of what this was)and he , his family were living in Dilli. Priya had also told Amu that Dilli was the capital of Bharat but what exactly was a capital Amu could not understand. All she knew was the big town had buildings much much bigger than the magnificent Jamindar bari, and all people there were rich.

Every year Priya with her parents paid a visit to her dadu(grandfather) at Rampukur. The one month long vacation was always pure bliss. She loved the carefree , slaphappy village life. There were times when her parents stayed back at Kolkata, but she did not mind staying here. With no studies, just playing and wandering and her Dida's (grandma) recipes , she longed for this trip year long. She also longed for Amu. Amu's mother Sita was a helper(actually a servant) to Dida. Sita did almost all the household chores and helped Dida in the kitchen. Ma had told Priya that Amu was born the same day she was born. May be that was the reason why Priya and Amu had become best pals though they were from completely different societies. Priya had learnt a lot from Amu.. from swimming to climbing trees to making baskets from twigs and dried palm leaves to "how to read and write bengali". They spent their days picking the mangoes and jamun, swimming in the ponds, listening to the songs of koel, swinging on the banyan branch by the riverside. Sometimes Priya would steal some savories or delicacies for Amu, while at times Amu would bring aachar or jhaal muri(puffed rice) for her. They would get drenched in the rains or lie under the star studded sky locating constellations.

For Amu life would be wonderful during the sweaty summer days when Priya came to her Dadu's home. Although they were very rich and affluent, their doors were somehow never closed for Amu. Amu had many times crept into Priya's room .While others took their afternoon nap, she would amazingly peer into Priya's picturesque story books.Priya had taught her english alphabets so she could read the stories, but could not understand the meaning. Priya translated the stories to bengali for her. Priya would also bring gifts for her. Sometimes a story book, sometimes a sketchpen set or sometimes a doll. But what she(Amu) loved the most were the stories of the distant land, the tales of Priya's school, her friends and teachers, the fables of her tutions and dancing and drawing classes. She would be mystified to see the photos which Priya bought for her. The photos and the stories were her eyes to see Priya's wonderland. She wished one day she could see those with her own eyes.
Priya was blankly gazing through the window of the Rajdhani Express. She with her family were heading for NewDelhi. From there they would leave for US in a week. Her father had got posted to the headoffice of his company. Her parents were very happy, but for Priya it was as if she was leaving a part of her at Rampukur. They said life at States was a lot busier with more of competition and more aristocracies. They would be moving to the land of Skyscrapers(as she had read in her GK book). Tears filled her eyes thinking she may never be back to enjoy the leisured life, with no studies and no classes and no competition.Life would be hell with no annual trip to her beloved village, no Dida - Dadu and above all no Amu. Oh how badly she envied Amu now, with all her(Amu's) freedom and a simple life.
Back at Rampukur, Amu was crying her heart out, her face hidden in her shabby cotton frock. Her only eyes to see the world outside Rampukur had left for a far distant land, a land which she would never see nor feel. A life which she enjoyed once a year, was taken away from her, a life full of stories and fairy tales , a life of knowledge and wisdom , a life which she did not have the right to live , that life would never be back. Now she felt jealous of Priya for the first time in her life.


anindita said...

Very nice, very nice. The tale of the two girls from different worlds, yet so entwined, is very touching. I also remember during summer hols we would make friends at our relatives’ places, the letter writing would continue even after the vacation was over.

A very nice post indeed!

Sushmita said...

Thanx Ani di..

Swats said...

hey .. i loved this story .. very sweet .. how the 2 long for something they could have had but can never have .. i like the fact that such a simple story actually tells u about the irony of life.. very touching and gentle :-)..

Sushmita said...

Thanx Sweety..

Suj said...

very nice story...
you start collecting your blogs, we will soon make a book of it.

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