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Pigeons in Monsoon (standard:romance, 1661 words)
Author: sayanAdded: Jul 25 2004Views/Reads: 2200/1412Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Once more.
 



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 


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