A Brief Interlude
A Brief Interlude4 mins 182 4 mins 182
When it rains in the mountains, it really rains. Unlike the plains, rain pours in buckets, with the intoxicating fragrance of pine cones and cedar leaves.
He was a regular traveler, on the train which grudgingly chucked its way to the upper slopes of Dehradun and Mussorie. Adam Smith looked out of the window, hardly able to see, for the drops had taken their dominance by racing down the glass. It was the time when most British were planning to leave India, around 1930. He was a teacher in a boarding school and having spent most of his life here, he had little inclination of leaving the mountains, which has a hypnotic, aching longing for anyone who has spent ample time there.
The train stopped at an empty, forlorn station where none got off or on, which Adam always wondered and thought that someday he would get down and look around the picturesque town which he always saw from the train.
A young girl, around maybe twenty years of age got on, with a basket of neatly woven twine carrying flowers. Like all the person who lives in hills, she too had the innocent yet a charming face hidden by her veil of poverty.
"Sahib, take some fresh lavenders for your misses, " she said to him in a voice as pristine as the drops of rain.
Adam was unmarried but he took a farthing out of his pocket and gratefully thanked the young women.
Though she was dressed as people in these parts are, a shawl and long skirt, her demeanor the way she walked made him strangely attracted to her, as she carried herself like the upper-class gentry.
Every time now he kept seeing her, sometimes bringing the fruits of the season. One day he accosted her and asked her name. She just looked down, blushing and then with a charming smile said "Sahib, what do our names matter. A wildflower will remain a wildflower, call it by any name."
Adam was amused and more drawn towards her. Gradually every time he now started waiting for her and tried to extract some information about her. But she always amused him by her wit and words and never revealed much about herself.
One day, the train stopped but she was not there. Adam was perturbed but thought maybe next time.
His brief interlude of charming interaction, which he did not want to bracket it as love or romance, for so pure and innocent she was, like a flower which blossoms once in the mountains for all to regale in rapture and then fades away, he had an ominous feeling that she may disappear too.
And as he thought, she did not appear again. He got off the station, and walking across to the lone station master, asked him " Do you by any chance know the girl who gets on the train with flowers and fruits?" The station-master looked at him with a bemused smile, for seldom will a British enquire about a low class Indian. " Sir, even I have seen her. Its a small town and most are known to me but she came from the lower slope of the hill and I think her name was Jasmine, as in flower Sahib and yes, she was blind but knew her way around. That's all I know of her."
Adam looked at him, with a puzzled and a vague aching feeling of knowing someone but on the other hand, not realizing that the eyes which looked at him, had no light in them!
He got on the train and though his relationship with the phantom of delight was not explainable in any modern terminology of relationship, yet he knew love had touched him like a passing wind and passed on.
He kept waiting, with a hope that he may see her again, but she never came.
Sometimes clinging to hope has much more purity than possessing the one you love. He could not let go yet the small town always held the mirage of a young women, who came like the soothing, intoxicating drops of rain and then all of a sudden vanishes like the mountain stream.
A brief interlude of love Adam always remembered.