Sunaina woke up with a jerk. Her groggy eyes couldn’t comprehend the happenings around. Thanks to the seat belt, she nestled back to comforts of the seat in a flash of seconds, unharmed. And then she heard laughter.
“What’s the matter, Grandma?”, she enquired, little confused.
“RTOs have shown up around the bend”, replied Shaukat Bhai, the erstwhile driver.
“RTO?”, she was all the more puzzled.
“Road Traffic Officer”, tittered grandma.
Sunaina turned her gaze outside and was surprised to see two cows staring at her from the car’s window pane. They appeared as poker faced as the traffic policeman handing out the tickets. It had so happened that the heard of the cows was making its way around the u-pin bend when their car was trudging up.
Sunaina had landed in India, a few hours back. It was her maiden solo journey. Till then she was accompanied by either of her parents. As per their year on year routine, almost a ritual by now, her grandma had come to receive her. They were being driven to her grandparent’s place which was about three hours from the airport. After initial chitter chatter, the jet lag crawled stealthily and casted its web on Sunaina, drifting her to dream land, only to be awakened by a sudden jolt.
It took five odd minutes for the shepherd to clear the road of the cows. The sight of the cows however fetched a long-lost memory for Sunaina. The white and brown faces of the cows reminded her of Samay Lal, for Samay Lal too had vitiligo.
As the car picked up the harmonious speed, Sunaina asked, “Granny, any news about Samay Lal?”
“Aha, you remember him?”
“Of course. How can I forget the rides to the market on the bicycle with him, his lessons and practical on milking the cows, making the cow dung cakes and taking the cows for grazing to the forest”, replied Sunaina, reminiscing the past.
“And his flute?”, asked the granny.
“Yes, his flute too! He played it so well. But only in the company of nature. He always remained disconnected from the rest of the world”, supplied Sunaina.
“World was cruel to him. The patchy skin that he had, was always a reason for him to hide in forests, away from the censorious eyes of the louts. If only he had courage and support to get over it…” sighed grandma. After a pause, grandma continued, “Epilepsy added to his miseries. He was disowned at an early age by his family. It was your grandpa who took him under his wings. Initial tryst with the formal education failed as he was butt of all jokes and pranks. Insensitive country bumpkins”.
Sunaina witnessed a rare site, one that of her granny turning red with anger!
“How did he play flute so well then?”, asked Sunaina growing curious.
“When formal education failed, your Grandpa enrolled him for flute classes. It was here that the teacher agreed to take his class, all alone. And then there was no turning back”, said granny with peace returning to her again.
“Did he ever perform in any gathering or on stage?”, Sunaina enquired.
“Do you really think it will have any positive answer Sunaina? He played flute, only when he would take the cows for daily grazing in the forest”
“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes”, opined Sunaina.
“I feel, he never felt the need for any one to come to him or other way round. He was happy with his solitude, his own company, cows and flute”, said grandma.
“But where is he now?”
“With God…giving Him musical company. Few months ago, one evening, the cows returned to the cowshed but Samay Lal was conspicuously absent. After waiting for some more time, Grandpa along with few other men went searching for him. He was found under the tree with his flute on his lap and a complete bliss on his face. The night was dark enough to hide his patchy skin but not the wounds of his heart”, sighed grandma, wiping a lone tear that had escaped her dark black eyes.
“And here comes my darling granddaughter”, shouted grandpa, as the car neared the gate of the bungalow.
Emerging out of the car, Sunaina casually glanced at the cow shed that stood lonely at the other corner. Faint forlorn notes of the flute floated in the air, from a distance, making the void in Sunaina’s heart stood out in silence.
I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter
A Wasted Life…May Be is another story from Sunaina’s diary.
Linking this post to #FridayReflection by Corinne Rodrigues and Shalini R