Monday 15 September 2014

Short Story 2014 Longlist, Avinash Kumar

The Fairy

 My days of happiness came to an end the moment the Maths teacher in yesterday's  class passed on the decree that he would ask each and everyone the M-table of 13. How come each Math teacher  reminds of some tyrant dictator and mode of their punishment always holocaustic. Sitting in the darkest corner of last bench was no longer going to  help me as like a mean predator he knew where to attack first for the best kill.

Five minutes to go and the lunch break would be over. Suddenly, I see some hope for survival ;the Principal's car was trying to make past the narrow school gate and some lower Kindergarten Kid's parents had come to pick them up. I join them without anyone noticing, not even that cunning pawn chewing foul talking gate keeper with evil smile too. My heart skips a beat as I see the Maths teacher coming from the opposite direction. I close my eyes as I knew he would recognize me and may be he will hang me to the lamp post or may be he would drag me from the bonnet of principal's car. No, I just walk past him safely and just where the road divides I turn back and find him gazing at newly pasted movie poster of “Jungli Haseena Ramkali”(Wild Beauty Ramkali) and did not takes his eyes off as long as I could see. Thank you Ramkali .I said it from the bottom of my heart.
I know from here the school  bus  takes right. Its an empty afternoon road in the month of April ,when it feels like a heated oven but the sense of freedom was preceding over any other feeling until I reached a cross road and find I am confused which way to choose. There is small hut where a very old man with his pet parrot is sitting on the floor. I ask him how to go to my address. ..seemingly he is not just blind but deaf too.

I could see a black Bull licking on his fresh wounds on the other side, so I take the opposite road. Now this road seems greener, better and wait a minute stranger too. Anyways I am my own man and I can search for my home. Not a single soul on this road. I keep on walking and now see huge banyan and Shesham trees whispering to each other. I can see the railway track from distance which is seen from my home too. If I follow the track I can find  my home easily, I keep on walking …almost 2 hours since my gallant escape from school.
Its almost dusk, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I can barely walk and I am badly remembering mom. I sit under a grove of bamboo trees. I feel something crawling on my back. It’s a small kitten of peach color. I have no energy but I still want to grab him, may be he is lost like me too. He escapes my clutches and I chase him. He jumps over the bush and so do I and runs pass through green field , into the dense group of  mango trees. When I take a final leap to catch that minion I land into the sack of marigold flowers .I could smell the freshly lodged honey inside them and now comes the pain caused by the bruises which were result of that epic leap. The kitten is crying in my hand, and I m crying too ..inside some ones soft arms. When I turn my head after being sure that the kitten cant run anywhere, I see the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen till date, clear, misty and light brown shiny like marbles. She touches my nose with hers and say “are you hungry?” …I nod yes..unable to take my eyes off her .
She reached her hand above her head and plucks a huge guava and gives it to me ..I ask her "Who are you”? she says “I am a Fairy”. She laughs and dances in circle.
I have never seen or imagined anyone so beautiful . Bright glowing skin, sparkling  shiny waist long hair, spunk at its peak from every angle, rosy pink lips and a divine smell when she lifts me every time into her arms, sandal ..something better than that.
Do you miss your home…? Actually I was not for last few seconds. “I know you, you little sweet intruder”…I will take you to your home.
She takes me to the other side of that heavenly place. It was a cottage on the front and soon we were on road and from there I could see my home. She leaves me in front of my house. I turn around and ask” Fairy, can I meet you again…?...She smiles and says yes.
Now I look at myself, completely stained uniform , couple of bruises but smile still not ready to leave my face. I see my big sister standing with both hands on her waist and arced eyebrows…. "why did you run away from the school?”….I smile.."you will not understand”. I could not keep my mind off the beautiful fairy even after one long shower, even after skipping the dinner and even after spending 3 hours in bed that night. I shook my sister up from sleep.. "what happened now…you foolish owl?..."Do you know..I met a fairy today”…You stupid freak just go and sleep…..not another word at all  or I would tell everyone including your maths teacher that you ran away from class.” “I swear ..I will take you to meet her tomorrow ...she lives just across the road.” I plead.

Next day after school I take my sister to the cottage..we are welcomed by a bearded old man with stone eyes . "What you want….he asks..I say with excitement… "I want to meet the fairy….”..he looked confused and here she comes again with all magical aura around her. "look who has come..and you have brought your little sister too”..she smiles and touches my cheeks…the old man did not seem very amused .. "Dad they will just play and go”…Soon we were catching Butterflies and later Glow worms…I asked my sister…"was I not right.? that I have met a Fairy”…."Stupid..she is Shalu Didi.” …But she was my fairy …and I was on unilateral date with her on daily basis.
And on one such day when I am in her arms, I hold her cheeks and ask "Will you marry me?”..She said “yes”…and she laughs..I put a small ring into her finger which I had stolen from my mom’s shelf...she laughs louder. I can stand only till her waist but think that should not be a problem in our happy married life., until one day I see another guy her age in the garden and both had tears in their eyes.
Once he is  gone…I ask her who was he…she says "he is my Prince”.
I feel jealous and was  in rage and did not stay there for long. I did not go to her place for next 2 days. But third day I got the courage to talk things out with her , I wrote important points on a piece of paper and went to her house. While entering the gate , I am grabbed by collar by the old man….he is furious "Get the hell out of here and never dare come back.. If you do I will cut your both legs”……Then I was 5 year old.

I could never see the fairy again. As the time passed  her memories started to fade but I could not forget those beautiful eyes.

I was 11 now and bunch of urchins like me  made a gang who used to play havoc in the locality. We used to steal fruits, flowers, grocery, eggs, chickens,whatever we could for fun. Pigeons, bats, frogs, snakes and dogs , all were our victims . One of our group member came up  with this mission plan "Do you know guys that cottage house has got the sweetest  Wood Apple tree”. I got to taste once and it was amazing. Let’s raid there next morning 3 am sharp. Everyone likes the plan except me as I was reminded of the Fairy what if she catches me stealing from her home, what would she think. So the plan was to pluck as much wood apples as possible and dig a large hole and hide everything inside as bringing home would have raised lots of doubts in parents mind and we will take them as much as we can on any given day.

I could not sleep whole night; at 2 am we met at our makeshift office at a discarded house. We all approached the cottage from different directions. Now I was in the same garden, under that wood apple tree which I had not seen when I used to be with fairy, It must have come up recently I thought. 3 of us were waiting to see if anyone is coming, 4 climbed up the tree. I was asked to dig hole. I started shoveling and the land appeared abnormally soft. I could have dug with my hands. But my shovel struck something that was wrapped inside the plastic bag. The guy who was helping me was ecstatic…."we just have hit a treasure…we would get gold coins.”

I try to unwrap the plastic bag….find a finger bone …which still had the ring which I had gifted to the Fairy…
Every one runs away from there once they realize the whole tree had grown over a dead body but I don’t.
I tell everything to my parents., they inform the Police about the dead body and the Old man confessed that he had  killed and buried his daughter for secretly loving someone outside their religion 6 years back.

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