Wednesday 25 October 2023

Short Fiction 2023 Longlist, Kamala Belagur

 Anju's Dream..

The last thing she remembered was her mummy shouting, “Anju, what are you doing? Take Googly for a walk.” Anju goes out with her pet dog, Googly. As soon as he gets out of the house, Googly tries to run.

A cat near the bush. Seeing him getting angry, she followed Googly, who was chasing the cat. She knew her mother would punish her. Not knowing the way to return, she decided to go in search of Googly. She spots a river in the distance. It is a short walk. Crossing the river is inevitable if she wants to go further. A sailor was standing with his boat ready to ferry to the other side of the river. Anju takes the boat to the other side of the shore.

The wind howling and the trees moving wildly looks frightening. A natural repressive order seemed to regulate the place to preserve its sanctity. Anju's reminded of old stories about the  world of yakshas. While walking on the road, she found a woman, who was dark as the night, selling something in the basket. She beckoned Anju to come closer. Getting closer, she saw a bunch of tiny golden fruits in a big bowl. When asked, the woman spoke in a language Anju did not understand. In her outstretched, she held the fruit for Anju to eat. The fruit was delicious. She packed some fruits for Anju.

Until now, she had missed that the sun's rays were burning the scalp. Moving to the shade of a tree, she found an old man busy carving wood. Some children sat around him to listening to a story. Probably a grandfather to the these kids, he started telling us about his ancestors…

This forest is the God of our ancestors. The forest was named Brahmagiri. They could talk to all the plants and animals. His forefathers knew each and every plants. They had an instinct for knowing which plants could cure which diseases.

 For anyone to access the forest, it was necessary to obtain the permission of the forest guardian, The Divine God. They had to enter the forest after receiving divine permission, manifested in the form of a wild boar.

For his divine anger could not tolerate the slightest mistake. Villages were said to have been destroyed by the wrath of God... No one could cross the line of divinity.

The river of our lives, Kaveri, had never been drained. But the waters were so pure they could never contaminate the river water. They grew up in the lap of nature and had a gracious feeling about it.

But now man's greed has overtaken all beliefs, pushing them all to the brink of destruction. Grandpa finished the story with a moment's sigh.

In a moment- - Booom! Anjali was awakened from an earth shattering sound.

But guess what? She was still in her bed. The rays of the morning sun had entered the window and tried to kiss her. Googly too was still asleep beside her. As she sat recollecting, Anjali couldn't believe she had been dreaming for so long...

She went out looking for her mother to tell her about the dream last night and what it could have meant, when her voice was silenced by the woodcutter's loud machine bringing down the up-to-the-sky tall oak tree that her grandpa had planted.

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