A SMALL HUT BY A JOYOUS BROOK

1
It was a day to remember. For quite some time clouds were making thicker and darker the partition between the earth and the sky. Suraj had expected it; he had carried an umbrella whilst leaving his home for the college in the morning. He loved the rains even though his name meant ‘Sun’. He had often wanted to walk in the drizzle, preferably with the girl he was in love with. However, he had often wondered if she would be even aware of his having these feelings for her. Whilst sitting in the class he had frequently looked towards her and at one time he was emboldened to throw a paper plane in her direction; but, the plane had landed near the physics teacher and he was expelled from the class for the remaining afternoon session. He was, therefore, contemplating more practical methods of communicating with her than being at the mercy of the aerodynamics of his paper inventions.

She had evoked feelings in him that were hitherto strange to him. He was not quite able to decide as to what exactly attracted him to her; it could be a number of things: she had the most beautiful black eyes that could be called dreamy. Her entire being exuded innocence, an innate vulnerability, so that anyone around her would be naturally protective of her. She always looked aloof as if she did not quite belong. He had recently and secretly started writing poems about her and in one of those he had written that she might have descended from another planet. When he read the poem back, it did not sound like a very original idea since Hindi movies were already showing ‘the dream sequence’ in which the heroine stepped out of the half moon. But, in his dreams he had seen her stepping out of the half moon many times and he was always there to lead her down the steps. He was not sure whether the idea had come to him first or those smart blokes in the Hindi movies.

Not only in the class, Suraj’s eyes had followed her everywhere. During the lunch breaks she would go with her friends to the pine grove in the college compound where they would eat out of their tiffin boxes; she was with them but she was also alone. He loved that detached look. Many a times he thought of following her to the water tap where, after the lunch, she would wash the box. But, he did not. It was not as if he was a coward; it was just that if she would spurn him it would break his reverie. He had realized during early stages of his childhood that whether he became a doctor or an engineer or an Indian Administrative Services officer that his father wanted him to become; or a navy man that he had set his heart on after reading books and seeing movies, he would always be a dreamer.

One favourite habit of his was to time his departure from the college in such a way that as he walked back home he would be fifty to sixty steps behind her. She invariably walked with her friends but in his way of thinking, the intimacy between them, such as it were, was bound to increase if they walked the same way together even if separated by a few steps. Invariably, in the Hindi movies (nobody had yet started bastardizing their name by calling them Bollywood movies) when the hero and the heroine were finally portrayed happily in love, the scene would fade into their walking together on a path leading to the sunset.

Today too he was a few steps behind her. However, today was a special day since she walked alone. His eyes had followed her activities in the afternoon; she had wanted to spend some time in the library and the friends had not waited for her. He, in any case always walked alone. For one thing, he had reckoned that if one or more of his friends were to walk with him, there was nothing stopping them from falling in love with her too and then he would have had unwanted competition.

It started drizzling – a very light drizzle. He had the umbrella with him but he did not open it since in his dream of walking with her in the drizzle there was to be no umbrella. Love blooms without artificial shelter he had mused. It happened in Barsaat ki Raat (A Rainy Night) when rain drops trickled down the tresses and strove to pause on the petal like cheeks of Madhubala (Exact words: “Hai yeh reshmi zulfon se tapakta paani; phul se gaalon pe rukne ko tarsata paani). Even Raj Kapoor and Nargis, though they stood under an umbrella in Barsaat (Rain) had little use of it when they decided to enjoy the togetherness in the shower. He had already noticed that she carried no umbrella and that suited him. But, as the drizzle increased in intensity he was filled with fear that she might stop to seek shelter and his walking in the drizzle with her, which he had begun to enjoy like a dream come true, would be cut short.

So, he opened his umbrella and ran to catch up with her. He soon realized that it was a mistake; he could have run to catch up with her and opened the umbrella later upon slowing down beside her. As he ran, the umbrella was caught up in the breeze and had opened up inside out. It was no use as a shelter to her and he was embarrassed. It took him some time to straighten it out. He offered the handle to her to hold and she did. He walked beside her without saying a word; she was in the shade of the umbrella whereas he walked in the drizzle. He felt that it was left to her to invite him inside as he could not have been so bold to share the intimacy of the small shelter. She did only when the drizzle turned to rain. “Thank you, Kiran”, he told her. “Thank me?” she said with a smile that was equivalent of glockenspiel to him, “It is your umbrella, you know”.

He walked in a daze. Many things occurred to him to tell her but he did not. He wanted to tell her that not just the umbrella but everything that he had belonged to her now. He wanted to tell her that his heart and his soul too belonged to her. He had so much to tell her about his dreams, about going together for long walks in the tea gardens, about sharing lunch boxes, about studying together for exams, about exchanging notes and letters, about singing songs together, about…

“Poor puppy”, he thought he heard her say. Why is she calling me a puppy? Ah, she must be equally in love and it is common for lovers to call each other sweet names. But, how quickly the intimacy had developed, he thought: puppy now, rabbit later and maybe even adorable cuddly teddy.

“Poor puppy”, he heard her say again and he wished she would call him some other name; but then, she added, “Look how he is getting wet”. He? He finally glanced in her direction and saw the puppy in the rain. She made him hold her books and ran to pick up the small golden pup. She picked it up and held the umbrella over him. Suraj was now outside the umbrella and silently cursed the puppy for having taken his place.

They walked like this to the junction whereat her way bifurcated from his. She wanted to give back the umbrella but he insisted that it would be good for her and the puppy and he was anyway wet. She gave him a smile and departed. He stood in the rain for quite some time trying to find a parallel with some Hindi movie or the other. In the night after dinner, as he lay in his bed dreaming about her, he realized that his own love for the canine siblings, though very strong at one time, had considerably diminished. Irresponsible bitches, he thought, who left their litter on the road.
2

 

The small wooden hut was special to him. It sat on a pebbled ground next to a gurgling brook, as if in a story book. It was barely discernible in the pine trees around it. It was exactly how he had pictured it in one of his early poems about her:

Don’t love me, O’ sweet, when we meet,
For there is less
Glee in achieving than in yearning.
From here it’s alluring,
The scent of your tress;
I get my joys in burning,
In pining, in longing
And in sorrow,
And waiting for each tomorrow.
I don’t want to strangle my dreams to death,
You, alone, sit in my dream castle
And far below
In a dark dungeon I am thrown.
I reach out my hands without catching ye,
And you outside smile at me.
And, lo! I wish not my hands were free.

Wait…wait till the pains are so much,
That they burn themselves in their own fire,
The waters of grieving river’d calm down,
The cell would break its own bars.
Then you and I’ll live away from town,
In a small hut by a joyous brook.
We’d work, we’d eat, we’d play the deep
Game of love,
And thus at last we’d sleep.

Now, she was in sleep in the same hut, a sleep from which she’d not get up again. He sat beside her body; at one time full of life, perhaps too full, and now dead. On the polished wooden floor lay a bloodied knife. The hole he had carved in her stomach with it was not visible since blood was still oozing out of it. Blood has a colour which can be made out from a distance against many a background. And then it occurred to him in a flash, as many revelations often came to him, as to why did not God make lemon coloured blood.

He touched her. There was still warmth there. He was instantly transported to another time, another era; the first touch of her hand. It was warm like the underbelly of a bird. He had electric waves going through his body. It happened the next day after his giving her the umbrella. She met him outside the classroom and returned the umbrella to him neatly folded. He put his hand to grip the handle only to realize she hadn’t taken off her hand. As he gripped it she could have instantly taken the hand away. But for some five seconds she didn’t. Later in the class he kept thinking about it if that was a sign from her, an acceptance.

That day, because of the rain, they went to the college canteen for lunch. She sat with her other friends on a table next to where he sat with his friends. The subject of discussion was rains; Deepak said he hated rains because these kept him and others from playing cricket. Sampat said he did not like being closeted in his room waiting for the rain to get over. Suraj had a faraway look when he suddenly interjected, “But I just love the rains”. It was so sudden and so sharp that there was a momentary silence on his table. Suraj was sure that Kiran had heard him because she looked at him and then took her gaze away as if he had revealed their most closely kept secret. This time there was no doubt about the intimacy.

He looked down. The blood was oozing out though not with a gush. Why, he asked himself, was he driven to do it? He had never loved anyone more and she claimed she loved him too single-mindedly. He remembered the song she sang on their first get together, “ke duniya mein aa ke kuchh na phir chaha kabhi tum ko chaah ke” (That after coming in this world, I never desired anyone, after being in love with you).

And yet, here they were together in that wooden hut. It was their hut. She was dead..he had killed her finally…and she? She had, he was sure, killed him many times with instruments worse and more blunt than the knife.

He had never wanted her to go, much less go like this. On the first vacation, after they acknowledged being in love, he sang to her a Mohammad Rafi favourite of his, “Tum chali jayogi parchhayiyan reh jayengi” (You will leave your shadows behind after you go). The song was indeed a mature and deep philosophy and it surprised her that at his age he would have that as one of the favourites in comparison to more lilting and boyish numbers of that era. But that was how he was: different, emotional, philosophical, dreamy. The song from the movie Shagun went on to add:

Sun ke is jheel ke saahil pe mili ho mujhse
jab bhii dekhunga yahin mujhko nazar aaogi
yaad mitati hai na manzar koi mit sakta hai
dur jaakar bhi tum apne ko yahin paaogi
.

(On the lonely shore of this lake you have met me
Whenever I shall see, I shall see you here
Memories of our love and its stages won’t fade
When you go away you will still find yourself here)

He had killed her…but, she would never be gone; she would always be in this small hut by the joyous brook.

With the song came the flush of memories…..

© 2010 – 2016, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  1. What killed her? love or possessiveness,(or over possessiveness)?Love gives rise to a whole lot of emotions which one is not aware one had.Jealousy being one of them.Insecurity and distance breed more insecurities and heartache.Good story so far, wanna see where it leads…:)

  2. A romantic part 1 leads a reader to the very touching part 2 which have an apt beautiful poem with Hindi filmy songs used justly. Diction in part 2 is at best. But killing of girl is not convincing. Is it out of lover’s idiosyncrasies ?

    1. Your observation is apt Jaswant. I had started writing a novel and then cut it down to short-story and hence something is missing in between. Perhaps sometime I will finish it.

      1. That is nice Sir. Title is stunningly impressive and asks for a treatment something similar to Dharam bhra n Hema starrer Aas Pass