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Friday, September 27, 2013

Beyond the mist

  • A Short Story by Suruwat Lokendra K C
    The author

     Last winter:

    It had been few days since Terai was freezing. The visibility was lost due to the thick and cold mist. Lost in that dense mist, I saw him when I was on the phone talking to my friend. Trembling by the cold, he just had a shirt and a pant which had several holes, covering his body. I disconnected the line and went a little close to him.

    ’ Hey, don’t get close to him.’ A person behind me warned. I was scared for a while but I dared to go little close. He was sitting on the ground in front of the Ghantaghar. Nobody cared for him. I tried to trigger a conversation with him. I thought of some excuses to talk to him.

    There was a teashop nearby. I went to the teashop and ordered two cups of tea. Due to extreme cold situation, he accepted my tea proposal. He didn’t say ‘thank you’ to me. He only concentrated on the tea. The beard had grown up so long, it looked like it had been years since he shaved last.

    He demanded next cup. In this way he drank seven cups till I provided him some snacks. Now I was looking forward to asking some questions to him but he asked me before I could do so. ‘What is your name and what do you do?’

    'My name is Mark and I am a journalist.' I said.

    ‘Everybody calls me mad, how did you dare interact with me?’

    ‘Because I don’t think that you are mad. You don’t appear mad.’

    ‘I appear. Look at my shirt, my pant and my bare foot. Don’t I look mad?’

    ‘No, madness depends upon state of mind and not on dress.’

    Soon we struck a friendly conversation. He said: "You are right, I am not mad. This society labeled me mad. I am here because of my own mistakes. I was a normal guy and went abroad to earn some money hoping to make a decent future. I kept sweating all the time. I did overtime jobs. I was leading a happy married life. Then, suddenly everything changed. When I returned Nepal planning to start business with the savings, my wife had ran away with the money."

    He took a deep breath, paused for a moment and continued: "Do you know what I got?" He trembled again and told loudly: 'Nothing'.

    Then he continued again: ‘So, what do you want? Do you want me to be your story? Then, write about me. My pain and everything that life has given me.’ Then he added: ‘I lost my legs in the accident. Then, I got here.’

    I was unable to speak. I had nothing to say, because I couldn’t completely feel his pain. He then smiled and said. ‘Do you know how I beg for the money?’

    I glanced him with curiosity. He said: ‘I know to play this instrument’. He then opened his bag and showed me a ‘Sarangi’. He played the tune, the tune of tragedy. It was so amazing and heart piercing that within few minutes a crowd gathered there to listen him play. He played the instrument and sang.:

    ‘ Lord oh lord Take as a payment My body my mind , 
    Bright morning rains on my body, But dark nights spit on it 
    Your lamp never burns in the darkness 
    Do this favor to me, 
    Oh lord I request you, please free me from myself 
    Free me from my life; Give me a death’.

    I saw everybody very sad for him but nobody helped him. I gave him my jacket. Everybody was throwing coins at the small bowl. He smiled in return. Then I returned from there. My bike was accelerating slowly and slowly. I turned back, little far away from there. He was smiling …slowly and slowly he disappeared beyond the mist. And the story about him was published three days later in the newspaper I was working for. It was the most successful news story of the magazine that year.
    After three months I got a job at Kathmandu as a TV reporter and married got married.

    This winter:

    I am on vacation. Today I went out with my wife. Everything was similar, the weather and the scant traffic of a modest Terai town. But today the fog was denser than usual and it was darker. We were having romantic talk. Then I heard the familiar tune.

    I actually had forgotten that tune. Oh god! I remembered it was the same tune. I turned back. I nearly got a shock when I saw him near my back playing the same old tune of melancholy. My eyes burst into tears. He was no more a ‘mad man’, his dress was better than mine. He ran towards me and hugged me.

    We both cried for a couple of minutes. Sometimes, heart smiles and eyes shed tears, it happened to us. I was so happy to see him. ‘Now what a surprise!’ he added.

    ‘There are no any surprises and no more coincidences in our life, everything runs on fate.’ I replied.

     ‘And sometimes the fate and the fortune are carried by the messenger of god’. He replied.

    ‘How?’ My wife asked.

    He went on to reply: "Listen, I was at the worst condition of my life, with little in the form of expectations. I was not even able to commit a suicide."

    After a thoughtful pause, he continued: "All I needed was just some courage. And last year, I met your husband. He didn’t only provide me a jacket for warming my body, but he provided me the lost hope, he provided me the love that I required at that time. Then after few days, the owner of this hotel came to me searching, after reading the article about me written by your husband. And I got a job here. I now play this Sarangi and sing songs in this hotel and I live in the room they provide. And they pay quite well. Recently, the owner brought a man from one music company to record my song and my music. This all is possible for me only because of your husband.’

    He gave me a warm hug again. My soul was satisfied by his words. That satisfaction came from the work I did. We then walked out from there. The crowd was getting thinner and thinner..then came evening ……and there was this pervasive darkness……and then I saw some street children keeping their hands near the fire

    I told my wife that I’d join her later and sent her home. After writing some notes about them and interacting with them, I turned back …but my mind was there, stuck in their lives. Again, slowly and slowly they disappeared behind the mist…and I was expecting same changes in them like the person I met today. I didn’t even know his name. The introduction is not in the name and cast, the introduction is that we all are humans ………. And the life is not always still, everything changes.

    Morale of the story: everyone has a good and a bad time, don’t pity anyone; if possible help him/her, because people in trouble need help and not sympathy.

    Suruwat-lokendra K C is a Freelance writer and photographer from Jumla and currently lives in Kathmandu. Recently he is working on two novels in two languages and is planning to launch children's bimonthly magazine( The Rising Star).

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जीवनमा अफ्ठ्यारा घुम्तीहरुमा हिंडिरहँदा मैले कुनै क्षणमा पलायनलाई एउटा विकल्पको रुपमा कल्पना गरेको थिएँ, त्यसलाई यथार्थमा बदल्ने आँट गरिनँ, त्यो बेग्लै कुरा हो त्यसबेला लाग्थ्योः मेरा समग्र दुखहरुको कारण मेरो वरपरको वातावरण हो, यसबाट साहसपूर्वक बाहिरिएँ भने नयाँ दुख आउलान् तर तत्क्षणका दुरुह दुखहरु गायब भएर जानेछन् कति गलत थिएँ !

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