15 March, 2011
The little wooden boats, the ones that gently rocked when you blew at them, cost thirty Rupees at the village fair . Rickety little things, that never left shore enough to touch another. This one was different though. The minute he clutches at it’s smooth, symmetrical polish – scented edges , he knew. He also knew it was not to be owned. The setting sun rippling on the river, the perfect postcard background for the grand launch; he let it go – envisioning it’s grand travels along it’s puny path on the mighty river.
And it travelled. It touched Benares and carried a whiff of the evening “aarti”. It touched Bengal, and the “baul” song reverberated in intoxicated rhythms from it’s then ripped sails. Somewhere in Howrah, a girl touched it during her late afternoon splash. And she saw the ‘pujari ’in his pot bellied , ‘tilak’- in –place splendor. She felt the cool breeze of Rishikesh , just a draft – but nonetheless. And then it stole away, leaving behind the illiterate girl with a glimpse of a highly coloured , high school geography book dream.
The shepherd found it in some crevice of the almost frozen river. Motion was difficult then. The smooth flowing meanderings replaced by icy obstacles. He breathed in long forgotten summer dreams in its hollowed length. It was like the last time he had picked mangoes in the orchard, he could still taste it on his tongue tips, the uniquely mango-ish juicy sweetness. The thrill of secretive climbing of forbidden trees.
And having delivered that last smile from far-off lands ; it breathed it’s last in the icicle cave. A furry creature scurried forth. Somewhere there were meadows with enough sun and trees.