The youth was on his march, with a heart broken and shattered. His eyes were morose and in the depth of his bosom was aflame an intense burning of love’s deception. What’s life? What’s the reason of my existence? He thought and kept on moving. Just moving on ….. moving on … destination he had none. A world had burnt completely. His mother had died, father no more. Deprived, since his childhood, of the soul-soothing shade of love, the ill-fated youth had got a glimpse of dawn in that distant Himalayan village.
He had heaved the first sigh of love when that enchanting Kashmir damsel had looked into his innocent eyes and whispered: “You’re the reason that love exists!”
Ohhhh …. these words he heard and countless xylophones tinkled in his eardrums. As if a rivulet withheld behind a mighty rock of ‘loveless-ness’ gushed forth with all its might. No … it was not a dream, truth it was! Verily, this love was true, not a dream – the youth thought again and again and believed. As an unloved cactus growing since ages in its solitude on the scorching sand-bed of the desert, and quivering with a delightful sensation when, by the mercy of the Creator, it was fondled by the first downpour of the rain in a gloomy evening, the melody of the girl’s words filled the youth with indescribable melody while a strange unbelief permeated his mind. What love is! never had he tasted since his mother’s death. But that day he did believe: love regenerates, the springtime comes again. Verily, this love was true, not a dream.
But isn’t it that everything gets changed in this world? Does love remain the same in all times? “Destiny is also something, My Friend!” the youth uttered while allowing himself a little rest under a shady tree, as if he wanted to talk with the melancholy tree. Sad, his careless glance fixed over a Himalayan peak where snow was melting and, from an originating point, many streams were rustling out. Does the snow know which of its atom will melt and mix in which stream? A puff of wind will come and which tiny atom will be dropped on the bosom of which stream, this is known only to Him Who is the quintessence of every atom. Something like this had happened in his life as well. His fiancée forsook him one day. From the town of Gulmarg a rich and attractive mountaineer came and took hold of the kingdom of her heart.
The youth resumed his journey. He will go far away, where the soothing shadow of these life-like valleys will never remind him of this treacherous love. Far away he will go, where in the avenues of the past, no intoxicating smell will reach. He remembered …… remembered that village of his childhood, his motherland that he had left since his mother’s death.
There .. oh there … a Parul used to be! Ten years younger to him, a little lovely girl with her stammering voice. None had she, too. Grief was her only companion and, yes, a polio-afflicted leg dragging her along! She received no love from any soul, but mocking. No support, but taunts. Today, that faint, rejected image danced before his very eyes. Those dark curly locks! Those pensive eyes like tragic verses! That innocent beauty as simple as of Wordsworth’s Lucy! Disheartened by the cruel mockeries and tortures of her stepmother, often that girl, Parul, would come to the youth. How much he used to love her! Like a little, lovely sister she was to him. How much she used to play with him in the farm. Both engrossed souls would make paper boats and ohh .. how far these boats would sail across the rainy water! Such ambitious boats as if they will sail … sail … sail .. and will straightly meet the ocean! But alas! Like the dreams of the destitute these boats were sure to be hindered by the barrier of a tree, or floating on the ups and downs of the water, were destined to be torn and destroyed.
Though a little girl, Parul was amazingly beyond her age. When she would talk, it was not she, but as if a grandmother. One could find her sitting under a tree in a quiet summer noon, engrossed composing a poem – holding a used-up pencil in her tiny fingers and a wrinkled paper she might have arranged. If not, she must be busy drawing flowers, stars or the prince of her dream! The youth used to marvel. So much love for poetry in this age! Such aesthetic vision! Such sublime thoughts! In great delights, he would kiss her cheeks tenderly. And one day he held her up on his shoulders, danced and declared among the children and all : “One day Parul will be a great poetess of the world or, you will see, a marvelous artist”.
Now this was a new episode for children, a novel excuse to tease Parul. Overwhelmed by his love, she wept bitterly that day and broke out : “O My Brother! For whom even a loaf of bread is from someone’s mercy, who has not a dime to buy even a brush, damn will she become an artist? Why you made me a laughing stock today?” The youth also had wept bitterly with her. The next day he went to the nearby town and brought a paintbrush for her and a drawing copy. How happy was Parul, oh, how happy! But soon after, the stepmother’s wrath was on her. She threw the brush, burnt the copy and imposed a coarse abuse on her slandering her pious relation with that youth. That day the ‘poetess’ grew more as a grandmother. Her inner ‘artist’ saw a horrible sketch of life. Now she would never meet the youth. Only sometimes in the orchard, on the dusty road of the village market, their eyes met. When the tongue is silent, eyes speak, and love, in whatever angelic form it is, has a birthright on this language of the eyes. Far beyond the blood relation, the love of a brother and a sister grew up in these filled moments of silence …. and one day … his mother died … a world perished …… and he left his village forever.
The youth kept marching on. The valleys were being left behind. Parul’s sweet memories had suddenly filled him with a sense of duty. 7-8 years have elapsed! Now she must have grown up! Oh, that curly-haired fair doll! He gained momentum, faster he moved. Like this he will keep on moving. Beyond these valleys, he will reach the North plains. Then his village … then Parul! Oh, Parul! Her dreams must be fulfilled. She must be a great artist one day, a very great poetess she has to be. Many days I spent in the valley of love and attachment. Now I will tread the straight path of a mission.
A new inspiration boomed, a new light sparkled in his eyes …. and a new momentum his feet gained. He was moving fast. The valleys were left far behind now. The sun was going to set. Once he paused and looked back. On the snow-clad head of the Himalaya, the last rays of the sun were shining while kissing the thinly lair of dusk, as though even night was a romantic poem which the sun was busy composing with a tint of modesty. Far away somewhere …… the enamoring laughter of his fiancée echoed. Her rose-tinted cheeks he recalled. And he remembered those heart-warming words that her lips had once uttered: “You’re the reason that love exists!” Tears crawled from his eyes.
He recalled that mountaineer, the son of a wealthy man of Gulmarg. His priceless Chevrolet car was always standing at Dak Bungalow gate while whole day he would practice rock-climbing. When the sun used to set, he and his friends would make merry in the Dak Bungalow. One day he had slipped off a rock in that same valley and the charming damsel bound his wound. Many times they met since then … many times …. and in one meeting the mountaineer gave her a golden ring studded with diamond. Love was fascinated by the charm of wealth. “I hate you today”, a tense line appeared on the youth’s face and his breathing was heavy. In that heart-burn of hatred, Parul’s tender memories vanished somewhere. He resolved: “O Unfaithful! For gold you cheated my love? A day will come when you will see me seated on the heap of gold and I will snatch you back from that proud mountaineer”. A fire of revenge sparked his being and he resumed his march. Now he will earn money, he will become a big shot one day. He, too, will own a Chevrolet car and will become a rich trader of love with mounds of gold at his disposal. He was moving on fast … faster than ever.
Once again he cast a casual glance over the mountain peak where the orange beams of the sun rested condensed. In those golden rays he saw his golden future. He saw in them millions of golden rings. This is life! He thought. Revenge re-shaped itself into a new vision of life. But then again his eyes captured the scenic view of a big, white snow-rock. It was melting continuously and giving birth to a streaming river. At a point that snow will be molten and finished but the river will go far ahead. He saw, it was the same river which goes till the plains traversing these valleys …. to those plains where lived his Parul and her dreams.
He kept on moving, marching ahead, parallel to the river. Several nights passed, many days were spent. One fine morning, when the golden rays of the sun were swinging over the nimble waves of the river, he found himself in a village. On both sides of the river greenish-golden wheat and gram fields stood merrily. Near about, along the clusters of trees, little squirrels – like naughty children – were busy cracking nuts with their tender ‘hands’. In the mango orchard, children were having their fun time. Far away, the rice mill’s chimney was emitting fume in the clear sky filling the environs with a whistling sound. Artless farmers were on the farm’s way chattering and carrying their harvests. Unaware of the heart-throbbing natural beauty God had granted them, the farmers’ daughters were giggling and walking with their lambs to the pasture ground. And the river was flowing. Today, in the golden rays sliding on the water billows, the youth envisioned a novel daybreak. The auburn light now changed into silvery gray. The sun appeared to him as a lover who meets his beloved – river -- every morn and eve, and offering a million golden rings in her hands, starts again on its endless journey. And see the river, too! Who saw her accumulating those golden hoards? She just gives them back to these wheat corns, to the gram fields. That is why they are golden! That is the reason the earth prospers!
“Snow or gold?”, his conscience interrupted. Today the youth was on a decisive point. Snow or gold? He must choose one. Instantly, he watched a shadow walking towards him with dragging paces. A girl with youthful but timeworn face stood before him. “Brother, you?”, she stood dumbfounded with blends of emotions, tears flowing through her eyes and her hands hiding a wrinkled canvas on which, he saw, a boat was drawn …. a river was there … two small children floating the boat on the river! “Parul”, his heart rendered and he hugged her tight. They stood there … a brother and a sister … and words were mute. When the tongue is silent, eyes speak, and love, in whatever angelic form it may be, has a birthright on this language of the eyes. Tears flowed from their eyes …. flowed unrestrained …. as the river was flowing by their side, pushing all the boulders, unfettered, unchecked. And in these powerful streams of love, the youth found his destination today.
Gold not, snow …. piety … purity … selfless flow!
The dream-valleys were left faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar behind!