He had set out to explore a new world; a world where – as per the lyrics of the old Hindi song – there would be no sorrow or sadness, no tears; where there would be only Love as far as the eye would see and heart would feel.
First, there was a hill to be crossed. He had overheard many a wise people in his town telling about the wonderful new world that existed beyond the hill and beyond the rainbow.
He set out just before the crack of the dawn one day. He was alone. The going was tough not just because of his aloneness. It had rained just a while back and there was wetness in the air. Because of it the ground had become slippery. Even though the hill was beyond the valley and the stream, the thick vegetation was there to be negotiated and was making the going difficult. Some of the rocks too were slippery.
It was late in the afternoon when he reached the stream. The rainbow had been showing at the hill from the time the sun rose but even though he had headed straight towards it, it appeared beyond his reach. He wanted to continue going but the heat and toil had taken their toll and the stream beckoned him to take out his shoes and immerse his feet in the cool and clear water. He lay back his upper torso on the grass and his eyes closed.
Suddenly he heard a voice very close to him; it was a heavenly voice, a goddess singing exclusively for him. It appeared to him that the singing was sweeter and more heart-warming than that of Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper though he was quick to admit to himself that he wasn’t really there when the great poet heard the reaper. Anyway, he wasn’t getting into having a dual with WW and turned all his attention to the singing, “Aapko apna koi dard na sehna hoga…” (You won’t have to bear the burden of any of your pains).
This was music to his ears. Suddenly, the scenery transformed itself into a paradise. The rainbow appeared so close that it was almost within reach. But, at this juncture, he had no desire to touch it since he had both his arms around her; the most beautiful person on earth and beyond. Indeed, he forgot all about climbing the hill. There was no need really because he had – he thought – found his new world there and then.
They set out to make their world more beautiful than any world anyone had ever seen. He worked in a farm and she amused herself in the hut by the stream. They often observed to each other that God must have been kind to them for having given them each other. Listening to each other, being with each other, loving and dreaming, dreaming and loving were the only things that mattered. The world that they had made protected them against everything, or so they thought.
Time passed….as it always does…
One day, she ventured out to go and look at the scenery upstream whilst he went to work at the farm. She came to a spot where the stream had formed into a near still pool. As she watched from behind the bushes she saw a number of men come to the spot, remove all their clothes and bathe in the pool. She was totally in love with her man but it appeared to her that this was, after all, innocent fun just to watch other men bathe.
That evening he asked her where she had been. She lied and said she watched the cattle at the meadow and enjoyed the sight; brown, white and black cows grazing with their calves. She deliberately omitted to mention about the bulls she had seen.
He knew instinctively – as one would in love – that it was a lie but he did not say anything.
Time went on, as it always does…
By this time she had taken to watching the men at the pool whenever she could. She liked the gleam of their muscles as they dried themselves in the sun. Gradually, she became familiar with the features of every man in the group. Everytime she lied to her own man. Everytime she was overcome by the fascination of seeing the men in the pool.
And then one day..
She took a dip in a smaller pool downstream from the men. It felt great. Why hadn’t her man ever suggested it? It was, she reasoned, innocent fun.
He was returning home a little early that afternoon as he had a headache. From a distance he saw his woman bathing in a pool with men. There was no need to lie now. He had seen it with his own eyes. That night when they lay in each other’s arms he asked her; to his shocked surprise he found that she lied about this too. Incredible, he thought. She said she was feeling so warm that she just thought of having a dip, and…she had no idea of men bathing so close to her.
Lies multiply and mutate like living oganisms. Now that she had gotten over a hump (my first lie?) she became quite crafty with it. For everything she had an explanation and often quarrelled with him for doubting her. “What do you want me to do? Quit bathing? Do you like dirty women?” she would confront him and made it look like he was a demon for having even doubted her.
He wanted to get over the trauma of her bathing in nude so close to men. Was it really as innocent as she made it out to be? But there was one thing that made it less innocent; the fact of her lying about it.
One day, when he slept, his dream came back to him. Next morning he got up and went to the stream and watched the sunrise. There soon formed an exquisite rainbow across the hill. Why had he paused? Why had he forgotten about the brave new world? Who had he set out to become and what had he become?
He took the first hesitant steps to go across the stream, to start climbing the hill. It wasn’t easy since he had really worked hard at making the world, their world. But, later he found he could do it. From the first stop up the hill, he looked back. There she was in her pool…and the men appeared close…very close.
The steep part of the hill was still to come but, he knew he had to keep climbing beyond the hill, beyond the rainbow.
He hit a rock.
He found he was with his feet in the stream and body resting on the grass.
An eternity had passed since he had closed his eyes….
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