It was one of the hottest mornings in his native village, a beautiful riverside area of western hills in the remote Nepal.
As usual he was running toward the hilly slope down the village to reach the cool water in the river. Every time he gets there he tries to put his hand on the water which follows towards the watermill. This deliberate act usually annoys women’s but also makes them aware of the presence of the trouble maker in the range. However, a young girl came out of the tiny hut and unhurriedly specified her presence inside the mill. He apologised gently by saying “I never knew if you were there, sorry!”
“What do you mean by that if the mill is running you must sense someone’s presence” she was quick to respond.
“Do we know each other” Sai asked slowly? She said “I am quite not sure if you know me or not but I do know you “she get inside the hut quickly to push her grains, and continue, “You are quite popular one don’t you? I hear people talking of you and your family” He smiled Yeah “I don’t really know of family but actually I am popular among girls that’s true, haha.”
“What do you mean by girls I am married don’t you know whom I married to?”
“You are very young to get married I don’t think you are more than 15 to be honest” Oh god I forgot sorry, this is village by the way” He was surprised.
She was actually married to man known as the powerful kaji, Furious usually among women and the low caste people. His previous wife ran away because of his violent attitude towards her. Jhuma was married to him because of the debt of her parents were not able to pay in time to kaji’s family.
“You know I feel sad about you” Sai said with elegance. “Why do you need to be anyway?” she said. “It’s time to go to school to learn and experience life not be wife and do all the house chores” he continued. You must be looking pretty in school dress” he smiled. It was always her desire to be dressed and go school with mates and read but she never gets any such opportunity. She was married when she was 15 couple of months ago. She was curious though, eager to learn whatever she could.
She inquires with saipal about his school, friends and life in town uniquely. She was amazed to know that even girls in town wear trousers. She was like omg! Yes he told her not only the dresses are same in schools but they also boys and girls are settled together.
She spotted the music listening device in his hand with earphone. After sensing her curiosity he let her listen it through earphone into her ear and explained about it. She was mesmerised, glad and happy to touch, hear and feel that.
She saw the camera and immediately asked him that can he take the picture? Sure I can wait a moment he replied and she tries covering her up nicely. Saipal actually took the picture without giving her enough time to get ready. Everything was perfect except the stone on which she was sitting at the bank of the hilly river. She always has the dream to have her own picture. She was delighted to have one so she asked him “when will you bring this picture to me?” He said not before another 4 months but I promise I will get those pictures back to you. He said. She was so glad and said I always dreamed about having a picture of self you are going to fulfil that. You are a nice boy. She smiled. Yeah I will I am sure you will be looking pretty in that picture He said.
Suddenly a gang of local lads arrived who were all gathered to show the places for sai. Look the group of shaitan is here she pointed to them. Sai what u doing with this crazy woman in here one of them asked? She scolds him for saying her crazy women. Now almost all of them were teasing her for being married with an old man. It was difficult for a young girl to hear all that. She felt nervous; He couldn’t say anything although he felt for her. All of them together rushed towards the river.
It was a usual ritual for the kids of his age to go for swimming in the river. But sai was more kind of fascinated by the way people lives in villages, the tools they use and mechanism of life either it’s about producing oil, flour or rice. He could only get to know about the traditional way of living life in those rare occasions where he gets freedom to go to his grandparent’s house. He has always loved to be in that part of the world not only because it was a kind of paradise on earth but also because of the love, care and affection of people around the villages has for him.
He moved back to town and never gets any liberty to get back to the village because of the conflict between rebel groups. When he was in town he processed that picture and keeps it with him. His parents were in the District headquarter because of their posting in the development office. One day he heard of the attack on government forces at headquarter by rebel forces. He was worried about his parents. Only after couple of days he spoke to his mother. She mentioned about the girl called jhuma asking of him. He was happy to hear that she took care of them. He was stunned to hear that a little 15 year old turned a revolutionary with a gun in her hand. She was inspired by her colleague to join the rebel to overthrow the system which has suppressed poor’s, women and marginalised for ages.
It was very tough for him and his family to reach to the village back soon because of the security concerns. So he didn’t get any opportunity get in touch with her but was able to hear of her success stories through media. Actually he never liked her ideology but always liked people talking of her charisma.
Years passed, revolution was successful, and rebels came into power. Many of them became the lawmakers; other into many powerful posts, jhuma was one of them to be a MP. He saw her on TV she has changed a lot, a poor 15 year old girl has turned to a visionary young, fierce yet calm and composed leader.
It was before peace process has started, Sai moved abroad, which was not his choice though. His family want him to stay safe abroad.
Today he was out in the busy shisa lounge with his colleague to celebrate the leaving do of Anito one of his mate from work. The Nepalese restaurant next door was busy with some well dressed people getting in and out. One pretty looking smartly dressed young girl caught sai’s eyes. He stares at her for a quite a while however didn’t take long for him to recognize jhuma. Yes she was her and it was unique coincident for him to see her here in these circumstances. He tried to get near to her but couldn’t speak to her. She was a destined young character now her life has changed significantly. Nobody can speculate anything about someone. Everybody has that hidden strength with them and life is about stretching the possibility of success either this way or that way. Real life inspiration was exactly in front of him. As for his destination, he has never thought he has one. He walked, he ran, in the direction where situation has asked him to. Things changed along the way, people changed, environment changed, the world changed, which is where even he changed.
He came back and went back to his old memories before everything has changed when he was very young. That poor little who used to dream of trousers and pictures was the centre of attritions that night with the best dress. The girl who complains of not seeing the town 14 years ago was in the top city in the world. He was so glad for her.
He went back to his apartment that night and took out his album and get to the last page and open up that picture which was covered in with another picture. He smiled as usual after seeing that picture which he couldn’t deliver to her. It was like a treasure to him because his heart was there all these years. He thought of meeting her with the reason of giving that picture to her. But again thought no way I can’t she would kill me. How I can show her this picture by the way after all this year. The picture was like art a beautiful girl by the riverside with the green background of trees in undiscovered land on earth. According to him the picture must remain as a mystry within him, which of course will make him smile for rest of his life. Now he has turned that picture into art with computerised effect which can be seen in the wall, in his living room.
© Copyright 2016 Ganesh Adhikari. All rights reserved.
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