I was tagged by The Helmet. I carried forward this story (without any expected twist!). And then I tagged three more (lucky bloggers!).
What you read below is a story contributed by count-them-how-many bloggers. The story is interesting enough to excite each tagged blogger; and excite him enought to carry on the legacy of his taggers by contributing to it while following the rules at the same time (the rules are listed at the end of the story).
Have fun as the journey continues…
He thought it would be an ordinary journey. Standing behind the pillar he watched the train snort arrogantly into the station. With each snort he was reminded of his grandfather’s words “You will fail in the city and return penniless”; with every heavenward whistle, he heard his cousin, “Don’t worry. Come here and I will get you a job at the construction site.” Now he had a 34-hour journey to prove one of them wrong, and he expected the excitement at the end of the journey. He looked at his ticket once again: compartment S9 berth 23.
Pushing his luggage under the seat, he sat close to the window. “Papa, when will you be back?” – his four year old daughter Munni asked innocently. He stared into those soft brown eyes of the motherless kid. He held her frail palms in his, through the window. “Munni, Papa will get you a nice gudiya from the city..Say tata,” his sister spoke to the kid, to avoid an emotional outburst. In a minute, the train pulled forward, and Munni’s little fingers parted from between his. “I need to go..”, he thought, “I have to, at least for Munni’s sake..”
The humid summer breeze and the rattling train coaxed him into an uncomfortable state of drowsy consciousness. He dreamt that Munni ran away, the closer he ran to her, the farther she was, like a mirage.
He woke up with a start and squinted at his watch.”What is the time please?”A smallish woman, a meek voice as if she was scared that her existence would annoy someone. Her only noticeable feature was her rather large, expressive eyes.”4.30″Something made him look at the woman again. He had stopped noticing women long back. Ever since Meenakshi passed away…
But this woman was different. She reminded him of someone he knew. In an instant he realized who and the painful memories came flooding back. She looked exactly like his childhood sweetheart Madhu. As teenage lovers in a conservative society, they had often met secretly and had declared undying love for each other.
Then someone had found out and all hell had broken loose. The elders in the village Panchayat had ostracized Madhu’s family as she was from a lower caste. Unable to bear the humiliation, she had committed suicide by drowning. That was twelve years back…
Could it be? Could it really be him? He seems different, weary and downcast. Oh no will he recognise me? No, I am dead to the world. Still she cautiously wrapped her saree end around her head and across her face.
Behind the cotton screen, her mind drifted to happier times, languid strolls in the corn fields, games at the riverbed, his gentle caress, whispered sweet nothings, stolen glances at the temple fair.
Tempted to take one last look, she consoled herself that he wouldn’t notice.
Slowly she lifted her eyes only to find Rupak staring back at her.
She quickly glanced the other way.
No, this girl looks too close to be any other person. She is infact Madhu!! â€œHey, Madhu!â€ he called.
She struggled hard not to respond to that call. And successfully managed it too.
Hey Madhu, you forgot me?â€ he inquired her and came closer.
The old lady sitting opposite to him was looking at this unapprovingly.
â€œNo, you are mistaken, My name is not Madhu.. I am Supriyaâ€, she lied.
Hey Ram! a young girl cannot travel safely in this country without being stalked!â€ the old lady muttered angrily.
The girl walked briskly away from him, trying to escape his glances, as though she was hiding something, not wanting to be discovered. He stood confused, she had said her name wasnâ€™t Madhu, and should he run after her? Or should he let it pass, after all he still had a train to catch.
His heart told him it was Madhu, followed her, all thoughts about going to the city vanished; he was on delighted to have met Madhu after such a long time. He was filled with memories of their time together. He finally caught up with her. Looking into her eyes he said, â€˜Why Madhu? Why this to me?’
“Please dont lie to me anymore”; sounding more like the Mani he used to be ten years back when he had first met her at the Village temple, rather than the arrogant side that seemed to rule his life now. “I know it is you, nobody else but you Madhu”. Tears roll down her cheecks as she tries to remember why they ended up this way. Was it destiny or fate that they had to meet now?
As she speaks up, the train which for a while had be at a halt, slowly starts to move.
â€œI was asked by the Panchayat to leave the village. They said theyâ€™d manage by saying Iâ€™d drowned. Everyone was led into believing I was drowned. I went to the towns, so no one would recognise me. My family disowned me. I struggled to live. Anyway, itâ€™s all made me too immune. Life being a struggle is passÃ© to me! Iâ€™ve learnt it the hard, cold and sharp way.â€
â€œBut Madhu, you could have written to meâ€¦â€
â€œItâ€™s all over between us Mani. You are now Rupak. I am now Mita. We couldnâ€™t possiblyâ€¦.â€
Train no where in sight.
He was jolted into consciousness.
Somebody had yanked the chain.
Some talked of escape. Some, of someone jumping the train.
Others of how this someone had failed.
Alarms rang in his head. Madhu!
Breathe! He commanded his senses.
She wouldnâ€™t. Perhaps she went to the toilet, he reasoned.
He took out a checkered handkerchief from his breast pocket, delicately took off his glasses, and wiped his forehead.
Down, he saw the book lying on the floor.
He shook his head in disbelief.
He got off his seat, onto his haunches and looked for his pen.
He could not find his pen and neither could he find peace.
A reassuring yes is all he was looking forâ€¦..Alas! â€˜twas still coming.
Then he turned his attention towards the book and what he read was not immensely satisfying. This made him think of what he had seenâ€¦.how can this happen? Perhaps I am overreacting or maybe notâ€¦
He saw the old lady sleeping in peace and thoughts of Munni comforted him, only for a while though. All the chit chatter made no difference to him and hence he decided that he needed to do something.
He rushed towards the door and saw a crowd which made him fear the worst. Delightfully, the outlook of the gathering was not serious enough to make him feel jittery, but he still needed to find someone, he lit up a cigarette and started gazing at the moon
He paused for a moment. Closed his eyes and blew out a stream of smoke.
He had start smoking when Meenakshi had passed away. Anything to ease the pain he had thought. The melancholic tale of the lonely heart is one which repeats itself much too often. He still wondered how he made it through those days. Those terrible days that had sequestered him, from which no one thought he would ever recover. But he did.
â€œPapaâ€¦â€ He heard Munniâ€™s voice in his head. That one word was perhaps the only reason he was still alive.
It was a cold night and the cigarette was quite comforting. He kept staring at the moon through the train door. The moon! It brought back old memories.
How could he ever forget those sweet nights spent with his wife? They used to stare at the moon for hours. It was during one such cold night that he had told Meenakshi about a story from his past. He had told her about Madhu. She had cried like a child after knowing about the ill-fated end of their love story and had given him the warmest hug in this world.
He never ever missed Madhu after that night.
â€œWhere are you lost?â€ a feminine voice interrupted his thoughts.
Everything below the dashed line above should be copied and pasted with every accepted tag
This is a Story Tree and is best nurtured as follows:
1. A blogger can add only 90-100 words (not more or less) at a time
2. All previous snippets of 90-100 words need to be copied before the new set of 90-100 words are appended.
3. Each entire snippet should be linked to the respective author (and not just the first sentence or so)
4. Characters, scenes, etc. can be introduced by an author
5. Bizarre twists, sci-fi, fantasy sequences are best avoided.
6. A tag must be accepted within 7 days else the branch is a dead branch
7. After appending 90-100, the Story Tree can be passed on to at most 3 bloggers.
8. If more than 1 branch leads to a blogger, s/he is free to choose any one of them but cannot mix the snippets of the individual branches.
9. The Story Tree is best left to grow than concluded
10. Please attach the image of the Story Tree below with each accepted tag (the link address can be copied and used).
Here I go now. The three lucky bloggers are :