|Pigeons in Monsoon (standard:romance, 1661 words)|
|Author: sayan||Added: Jul 25 2004||Views/Reads: 2200/1412||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
In the last 50 yrs of our independence the tourism industry has lost more than 60% of its tourists to Kashmir, India you know for the wars and terrorism and stuff like that. For me a 46 year old station master in the small insignificant rail road town of Kashipur, Kashmir was what I used to see in Shammi Kapoor (popular actor of the 60s and 70s ) movies as a child and as a teenager. So I see it as a heaven on earth place where people play on the snow and romance blossoms at sunset. Then two years back my transfer had been to Pahalgam, 96 kms from the capital city of Kashmir, Srinagar; just one more of those those small hilly railway stations. And beauty lay before my eyes, all that I had dreamt of after a movie night. Pahalgam was one of those isolated villages, where one by one winters passed away in the back of beyond, people in a cabin community environment living and living till they realize they have grown too old. For the people here were a long-lived yet friendly race, must be the fresh air and the crystal clear water they drink, I'd say. As the months creeped away, my face became more radiant as my body recuperated in the freshness of early morning air of a hill station and I amalgamated into their community. Pahalgam is a humble shepherd's village with breathtaking views. Situated rather lower than Gulmarg the nighttime temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town. People were either shepherds or fishermen who welcomed their new stationmaster into their 'hookah' (a traditional tobacco smoke) chat forums one fine evening. Then one by one it happened- I began to remember their names when I saw their face. There was Farooq, Sheikh, Asif, and so on and so forth, their wives their children.All the men used to gather for a smoke every evening after driving their flocks home. But one- one man used to drive his flock everyday in front of us till his house that dipped below the view of the road, and stay there till he repeated it the next day, without ever glancing at us; as the bent rays of the sun split into its spectral colors by the moist air, just behind that hilly peak. Drawn by the curiosity that small insects feel towards bonfires, I began to inquire about this man, who looked to be in his late forties or may be early fifties. Apparently his name was Omar Abdullah and most people remember him to be that way till they remember. The older folk knew a little more of his early years. One monsoon evening when fewer men had assembled to chat, Farooq cha-cha narrated a kind of love-story that many native novels are made up of. A simple story- in his late teen years Omar had fallen in love with a young girl and people, he recalls seeing the few furtive meetings of these two lovers. Omar had been a strong athletic boy in his early years, but for reasons as obvious as the rising of the sun here, the girl's father enraged at the very thought of a Hindu bunya girl being with a Muslim had quickly married off the girl to a boy of the proper caste in a neighboring village. Omar reconciled to his fate after a few foolishly designed unsuccessful attempts to meet Sonal, the name of our heroine. He remained in his house during the following year or so, which i feel to be the apathetic melancholia that sets in one's mind following bereavement that makes us disinclined to drink till we're too thirsty or may be remain silent when a psychiatrist asks you questions. Two or so years later Omar's father died leaving the young man to think of the cardinal truth that “When one must ,one can”, taking up his shepherd's job in the silent grassy plateaus he had grown up on. Saying precious little with his village folk he boycotted all social gatherings, the villagers caring little for the rude man outcast. Though he married soon keeping his dying father's wishes, he forbid his wife from talking to others. No Titanic sank and no dolphins jumped out of the waves, even if they did people here were not aware of such events or that the smoothness of life is sometimes perturbed by cataclysms. The couple had no children which the people took by default to be the 'woman's fault' and cursed her sterility and felt pity for the unfortunate man. Last year his wife left him, and Omar was seen less and less in markets and places he had to visit to sustain his earthly life. As to what trespassed between Omar and his wife behind closed doors no one knew. As the rains got heavier we had to disperse that day and leave this story unfinished. Before I could run to the nearest shade the rains drenched me, coming at an angle, blown by cold cold winds. My brain's Click here to read the rest of this story (71 more lines)
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