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|The Crow's Tale of the Masks and a Lost Friend (standard:romance, 1376 words)|
|Author: NILANJAN HAJRA||Added: Feb 02 2007||Views/Reads: 2866/2017||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A multi-layered story of identities, love and loss!|
The Crow's Tale of the Masks and a Lost Friend By Nilanjan Hajra Cawing of crows intruding into peaceful slumber is an insignia of dawn. That's how I guess it is all over the world. But in India and certainly in our Bengal we have a beautiful exception to this rule. This occurred last night. My restful oblivion was gradually but firmly broken apart by a steady din of cawing crows coming from the ancient pipal tree just opposite to my bedroom window. I was certainly not feeling like the enlightened Buddha. And was in fact a trifle angry at the night that seemed to have slipped past without my making full use of it. But as I walked up to the window my frustration melted into an amazing feeling of sweet pain. It was a brilliant moonlit night. One of those rare nights, which in Bengali we call Kak-jyotsna. These otherwise intelligent crows had clearly been fooled into believing it was already dawn. I was enjoying the quaint beauty and the flute-pain when a crow hop-skipped on to my window pane and narrated the following story: "Many years ago there was a small boy who used to feel sad for no apparent reason. One night an Angel flew down to him, woke him up from deep slumber, hurriedly put a mask on his face, and said, 'Quietly come with me.' The Angel clutched his hand tightly, and the two took a flight. Within moments they landed in front of a large fair. The Angel told him, 'Wait here. And don't even try to take off the mask. I will be back in a moment.' It was a huge fair. Dazzlingly lit with lights of all hues. There were more people than he had ever seen in his life. And vendors offered all kinds of mouth-watering fast food on make-shift stalls outside the fair rampart. Just as he was toying with the idea of peeping inside the fair-ground for a moment, the Angel reappeared, and brought along a little restive girl wearing a strange mask. The Angel then put the boy's right hand in the little girl's left hand, and said, 'you can go in now. You'll find everything you ever wanted in this fair. But remember, never, never take off your masks when you are with each other, or when you are inside the fair. If one of you takes off the mask the other one will be in grave danger! Whenever you feel sad', the Angel continued in a mysterious tone, 'the mask will enable you to fly down to this fair. Now go, and explore!' By the time both of them shouted together, 'what danger?' the Angel had disappeared. "So the two of them went in hand in hand, and soon found out it was really the Calcutta Book Fair. For hours and hours they had a delightful time, which they never shared with anyone else. From that day every time they felt sad they just flew into the fair. After a long time both of them were a little surprised to find that both of them felt sad at the same time. In time the little girl was curious to find out how the boy really looked. She even told him once, 'why don't you pull off the mask? Just for a moment?' But sensing the great danger that might befall her, the boy had jumped back. He of course had no problem imagining her face. To him she was sometimes Liesl of The Sound of Music, sometimes Tagore's Mrinmayee, sometimes Fermina Daza, sometimes that nameless girl whom Mayakovsky had challenged to play the flute blowing a drain pipe, and some times Matilde... The girl was also becoming pretty naughty. She would often suppress her own sadness for a while, and come late. The boy would search for her madly in that huge fair ground, running from one gate to another. And then she would suddenly appear, shaking with a disarming laughter, and pull his hand from behind. It never so happened, that she didn't come at all. Year after year after year flew past. And the happiness in those two little hearts began to flower into a sweet pain, exactly as you are feeling now. "Then one day just as the two were entering the fair, she felt a tug at her hand and it slipped out of his. At that precise moment everyone -- millions of them it seemed -- wanted to enter through the gate. The ruthless crowd pushed her apart, and kept pushing her until she completely lost sight of him. She called out his name, again and again. But the din drowned her small voice. As for the boy, for a moment he was stuck watching a dirty old lady begging outside the gate hugging in her lap a small rickety child with a large stomach. By the time he realized that he was no longer holding her hand, she had completely disappeared. It will take the whole of this night to mention all the places where he searched for her. From rallies to Click here to read the rest of this story (49 more lines)
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