Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

178. Innocent

" Wai Wai? or Momo? What would you prefer, Madam? " my colleague asked me.

Momo, I know. I like Momo. After coming to Delhi I have been consuming them regularly. However at that moment  I did not want Momo only because yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening I had already tested Momo in this part of the county. So, I asked what is Wai Wai? And realized that they are kind of noodles.

I was in the village Sikkp in Namchi area of (South Sikkim district) in Sikkim. My local colleagues were with me. In the morning I had climbed up and down the hills in village Wok and had used lot more calories, so I was hungry. But here there were only two options - Wai Wai and Momo.

I decided to have Wai Wai and it was filling. But my colleagues were still hungry and were planning to order Momo and Soup. Instead of waiting for them to finish their food, I decided to use this time to walk around and take some pictures. Because of my presence my colleagues were not able to freely converse in Nepali so they gladly accepted my plan.

I came outside and noticed the beautiful river flowing to my left. While going to Wok village I had asked about the river and was told that the name of the river is Rangeet (which literally means colorful or colored). This is a tributary of Teesta river - the lifeline of Sikkim. About Teesta river, there is a lot to tell - but not today. I was planning to climb down to the river and enter into the water - just stand in the water for few minutes. But then I realized that the water was too deep and was moving very fast. I also realized that there was no path to climb down and that during the last three days I have not seen anybody near the waters. The river is flowing with flurry - so better to keep away from her!

To my left there was a bridge. In Sikkim one comes across these bridges very often. I can imagine that when these bridges were not built, how the villages would remain cut off from the rest of the world for days. These bridges appear to be old and one wonders whether they are strong enough! But these bridges are very strong. They play a major role in connecting villages and in turn connecting people with each other. They carry the burden of the vehicles and make living of people a little less hazardous during monsoon and winter. 
I was adjusting my  camera when I saw both of them chatting together. They were standing in the middle of the bridge in a relaxed manner. Initially they were little worried about the camera in my hands. However, I believe that was the reason they wanted to interact with me. They started staring at me. I leisurely walked towards them. That increased their curiosity. I could understand that both of them were in two minds - whether to smile at me or not. I took the initiative and smiled.

"Can I take your photograph?" I asked in Hindi. One of them smiled signaling me his permission and was immediately ready to pose. The other was bit hesitant though. "Can't you speak Nepali?" he asked me expressing his distrust. I said, "No, I can't." He started thinking on my response. But the first one did not want to lose the opportunity to get photographed. He just made his friend quiet.

I took a photograph and showed it to them. Both of them were delighted.
"Are you alone?" one of them asked.
"No, I am not alone. My colleagues taking lunch, I finished with it and so came outside to take some pictures," I explained. 

"Why are you taking food in the hotel? Is your home here?" the first one asked again.
"No, my home is not here," I answered.
"Then where is it?" another question.
"It is in Delhi," I inform.
"Oh! That is the reason you cannot speak Nepali", the first boy who was still doubting me seemed to be little convinced. 

"Where have you come? To whom did you meet?" he asked.
I indicated the office where I had been.
"Ok, I know that office. You met the officer there?," another question.
"Yes," I answered without explaining more.
"Where will you go now?" one more question.
"Namachi", I answered again.
"Which car is yours? The Jeep or the White one behind?" he asked. I was impressed with his observation power. I answered that too.

Then I decided to ask few questions to them. Though the children looked very young, they were studying in fifth class. We had an interesting conversation about their school, Nepali language, mid day meal in the school, their teachers, hostel and the students in the hostel ...

"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Watching the water level" both of them answered together. 

Then there was another round of conversation- this time about the river. The name of the river is Rangeet, there is a dam on the other side, the water level increases during day and reduces in the night because it rains more in the night. They can swim but nobody swims in the river during rainy season.

I asked about fish. One of them explained, "There are no fish now. Like flowers they too are seasonal. This is not the season for fish..." he was patiently trying to explain. 

Suddenly they shouted at me, "Run fast. Your car is leaving. It will go without you..." They were able to see the car though I was not. I knew that the car won't leave me but I was touched by the concern the kids expressed about me.

"The car will pick me up. It will pass this bridge, won't it?" I tried to assure the boys.
"Namachi is not in this direction. It is on the other road...." the kids almost pushed me towards the car.

In the cities we are taught to act with purpose, taught 'not to befriend strangers'; taught to guard our privacy; in short we are taught to distrust people around us. Of course I agree that the changing situation has provided  a solid context to such behavior and attitude. 

However these kids talked to me for half an hour, they showed trust in me, they had a concern for me, they understood my limitations - I am touched by their action, 

Whenever I will remember the roaring waters of Rangeet, the green Himalayan range I will also remember this innocent conversation with these two young boys. 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

177. Shadow

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 30; the thirtieth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
“Let us go to the seashore,” Anil suggested.

Sunanda was excited with the suggestion, even when she was worried. She had seen sea only in the movies and in the books – but she never had been on its shore. This was an opportunity.

However, Sunanda was caught in two minds. Something strange was happening in her life and she was not able to understand it properly. She was feeling uneasy about it but was unable to pinpoint the cause of her uneasiness.

Sunil had not taken her to ‘their’ home this morning. He talked about ‘some urgent meeting’ in the office which he had to attend to. He introduced his friend Anil to her and asked to follow instructions from Anil.

“When will we meet?” she had asked Sunil and he had just said, “Don’t know”.

Wasn’t it strange?

Anil seemed to be a good person. He took her to a restaurant, fed her well. He convinced Sunanda how life in Mumbai was different than village life and how Sunil was compelled to leave her and all that. She was not convinced. But she had nothing to complain about Anil. He seemed to be a decent fellow.

Sunanda had arrived in Mumbai at about 3.00 in the afternoon. Sunil, her husband came to receive her at Dadar station. They were meeting for the first time after their marriage which took place a couple of months ago, and she had dreamt of a very romantic meeting.  

Sunanda after the accidental death of her parents was brought up by her maternal uncle. Well, life was not good there. Sunanda clearly knew that she was unwanted there but had no options but to stay with uncle. She managed to score good marks in her secondary school examinations but the doors of college education were closed to her. If there was a college in her village, she could have still managed it. But going to block headquarter for higher secondary studies and graduation was out of her bounds.

For the last two years, she was just at home, doing nothing and not knowing the purpose of her life. She had nobody to talk to, nobody to communicate. So, when the marriage proposal came, she accepted it gladly, thinking that she would be able to make something of the new opportunity.

Sunanda’s uncle did not find it necessary to ask her consent. He had fixed it in a local Samudayik Vivah Sohala (Community marriage ceremony) organized by a political leader. Sunanda only knew that his name was Sunil and he was working in Mumbai. She also came to know that like her, Sunil too was an orphan. She thought that they will be able to understand each other well because they had gone through the same peril.

And here was her husband; not taking care of her but delegating to his friend!! Sunanda felt very insecure.

Anil had entertained Sunanda well. He seemed to have a knack of making strangers talk. He listened to Sunanda with sensitivity which surprised her. Once in a while, she asked him to call Sunil. However every time Anil politely answered that in the meetings cell-phones were not allowed.

Sunanda did not know what to do. She realized that in this strange city, she did not know anyone except Sunil. She also realized that she did not know anything about Sunil as well. She had his number but no cell-phone to make a call. She had some money with her – but she was sure, she could not go back to her uncle’s house. There was no place for her.

She had only one person to depend on – that was Anil.

So, she accepted his idea of going to sea-shore.

The Sun was about to set and the horizon was reddish –orange. The waves sounded beautiful. There were many people playing with the waves. Sunanda forgot all her worries and was excited like a child. She wanted to run into the waves, but was frightened to do so. What if she gets drowned?

“Do you want to go inside? Don’t worry, I am with you. Just hold my hand,” Anil promised her.

For a moment, Sunanda was aghast at his suggestion. How can she, a married woman, hold hand of her husband’s friend?  She politely refused and went on.

But just before entering into the water, she stopped.

She saw a monster ahead of her. She turned back and she realized that there was another monster there.
She realized that she was caught in a trap.

She turned back to Anil.
“Can I ask you a question?” she asked.
“Sure”, Anil was as polite as ever.
“Is my husband ever going to come to me again?” she asked with some hope that she would be proved wrong.
“You are very intelligent.” Certified Anil.

Sunanda stepped back. She looked around. There were many people on the sea-shore. Some were walking, some were running, some were playing with their kids, some were building sand castles.

If she shouted, would any of them come to help her? Would anybody believe her? Would she be able to speak their language? If she calls people, what would Anil say? Would people believe her or Anil? He had been good to her so far, but what would he do if she called people or police? Sunanda wanted to cry loudly but only silent tears rolled on her face.

“Come on. Don’t worry. I will take you to my home.” Anil assured her.
“Your home? Who else is there?” Sunanda asked again. She must doubt this man, his intentions. He knew Sunil won’t come again, still he never indicated anything to her until she asked. And why was he ready to take burden of an unknown woman? Sunanda was getting confused.

“Oh! My mother is there. My sisters are there. You will enjoy their company. They will teach you how to earn money in this strange city. You will get enough food and good room to stay. You will have to work for few hours only. You will become a rich person. I promise you, you will never remember Sunil. Anyway, Sunil does not deserve you. He could not bring this luxury to you that I promise. Come with me. Let us go.” Anil’s voice was very assuring and peaceful.

Sunanda looked at those shadows on the sea-shore once again.

She knew she had left one dark corner to have more darkness in life. The past was dark and so would be the future.

Sunanda had to give up to the darkness where there will never be any other shadow.

The reddish –orange horizon and the setting Sun are not as joyous to her as they are to others.

In her life, she is never going to see the rising Sun, never to enter the sea waters, never to have blue sky, never to have the fresh breeze and orange shadows.

She would be drowned in life itself. Now onwards, she would be the shadow of herself.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. I’m thankful to BLOGGER NAME, who introduced Blog-a-Ton to me, and I debuted in XX edition.
Credits Image - Shades of Orange by Harsha Chittar Courtesy - Curious Dino Photography via www.blogaton.in