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A Hill Story

A Hill Story

9 mins 485 9 mins 485

Deep down in the ravines the gurgling sound of the waters of the river Beas was the only disturbance on an tranquil morning in the hills, the snow capped Himalayas stretched out in front as far as the eye could see and fluttering birds in the coniferous trees on the sloping hill side.

It was a lovely sweet morning, the sun shining off the snow capped Himalayas, the river frolicking on its way down the slopes the birds chirping in the trees and the majestic pine tree branches swaying gently in the fresh breeze and grassy meadows covered with dew drops.

Raju ambled down the gentle slopes with his flock of goats and sat on a fallen tree and watched rushing water of the river and fell into a reverie.

He dreamt he was floating along with the clouds over the mountains and seeing the sights of his town and people from a height and wandering to the next village and drifting where the clouds take him into far off lands.

Somewhere in the far off lands a maiden came in his dreams and was insistently asking something which his jumbled mind could not make out. The voice became more persistent and demanding and louder and Raju’s senses slowly transitioned from the abode in the clouds, to the present to realize it was not a dream a young girl was standing in front of him shyly asking something.

Like all men woken up from a dream world it was sometime before his senses started working and in particular part of his brain paralyzed by a female voice, he slowly focused on the matter at hand and in due course of time understand the young damsel was asking nothing more than some water to quench her thirst.

She was on the way to take her flock of sheep for grazing and on the way the pack of water she carried dropped down a ravine and the long walk up the hills had made her tired looking for a suitable grazing ground to lead her sheep to.

Raju hastily got up brushed the dust off his clothes and offered her readily his water pack.

She had come newly to the village with her parents and they were staying over the hills and ravine on the other side of the clouds.

The rolling meadows beyond held her spell bound and she decided it was a good place for her sheep and settled down in a nearby rock in the shade below the trees.

They spoke of many things, time flew past and the shadows of the tall pine trees stretched across the meadows to the edge of the river and danced in the golden orange twilight of the sun receding in the horizon over the hills.

Kajal got up suddenly as if from a trance from the mesmerizing surroundings and gathered her flock and headed in the direction of her abode over the clouds.

Raju sat still for a long time gazing into the distance into the clouds over the hills over which her figure receded and got merged into the evening mist and vanished like a ghost.

A chill went up his spine, was this all a dream or real he had heard many stories of ghosts from his grand mother of beautiful maiden roaming in the hills and descending from the clouds and walking in the quiet woods and talking with strangers.

She seemed real enough her laughter like the sparkling waters of the river, her smile more radiant that the moonlight which was slowly creeping over the hills and the touch of her soft finger and hand as he gave her water too very real.

He slowly gathered his sheep and meandered his way up to his small cottage in the midst of the pine trees and fell into a deep reverie .

Raju was all alone in the world and his only possession was his sheep other than the small cottage with its coir cot and few cooking vessels.

Following morning Raju woke up early and he felt happy for some strange reason and did his morning chores with a light heart and quickly moved with his sheep to the meadows.

The sun slowly climbed up in the sky and Raju unconsciously glanced furtively in the direction of the hills where Kajal had vanished the previous evening,

The sun climbed up further and but still no sign of nimble feet and delicate form dancing over the rocks and grass land.

As evening came Raju’s movements became slower and his footsteps became sluggish and he dragged his feet along the thick grass and fell into his cottage. Raju dreamt of the hills, mountains and valleys and he walked up a grassy meadow which seemed endless and at the top of the hills a lovely form was waving to him and try as he might will all his strength an immense weight was dragging him down the hill side and after what seemed like an eternity he dragged himself up the grass and reached the top and fell into the arms of the female form and kissed her lips and the view faded out and receded and went far far away from his reach and he was far in the sky and she was waving at him and receded away to became a small speck and vanished.

The soft glow of the morning sun drifting in from the fir trees and creeping in from the small window of this cottage fell on his face and woke him from his dreams and he lay for a long time pondering over his dream, it seemed so real as he could still feel the touch of her lovely form on his face.

Raju was well and truly smitten and his heart missed a beat as he saw the familiar form coming down slowly over the hills with her flock of sheep and settled down by the meadows sloping down to the river near his cottage. Raju slowly meandered down the slope and shyly renewed his acquaintance and, time stood still for an eternity and there seemed no beginning or end of time only the sun was going down in the skies with an orange flow and Kajal beat a hasty retreat and vanished from sight as the shadows of the pines trees lengthened and cast an eerie spell in the twilight and a soft mist filled the air and the ghosts came out to drift among the pine trees.

Days passed and weeks passed and months passed and there was nothing in this world or the next that did not pass between the 2 bodies or souls.

All good things in life will end sooner or later, sooner in most cases.

As silently as she drifted into his life Kajal vanished and floated away like the visiting spirits of the evening over the pine trees and hills and not a sign not a whisper not a shadow in the twilight and deep woods, dark nights.

Raju was heartbroken and spend his days silently watching the hill tops and his mind played games on him and he saw her form in his dreams and when he reached out his hand to touch her it was only the cold mountain mist his hands clutched at .

 Raju made inquiries and heard from the villagers Kajal had moved with her parents to a far away place no one knew where .

The years passed Raju waited as his heart of heart he knew she will come back one day to meet him.

Many rainy seasons, winters passed and one bright sunny day Raju woke up with a strange feeling, that it was a fateful day and something was going to happen.

As Raju went down to the river he saw out of the corner of his eyes a fleeting reflection in the waters beckoning him and as he turned his head it vanished as if a figment of his imagination.

He laid down in the afternoon and dozed off and woke up startled by the touch of soft fingers on his face and came to his senses and lay puzzled as he was all alone in his cottage there was a touch of moisture on his face and silence all around only broken by the whisper of the wind among the pine trees.

As the evening came and shadows lurked among the stones and valleys an eerie feeling went up his spine and the small hairs stood up on the back of his next.

Raju knew then she was coming back for him and wandered out of his house among the pine trees and gazed at the reflection of the moon on the flowing river and walked in the cloak of soft moonlight on the grassy meadows. The silver moonlight reflected off the flowing waters as it cascaded over the small rocky terrain and made a thousand signs and spoke in the language of the river to the hills and the valleys.

The air become filled with her fragrance and Raju knew she was near and very close to him.

Tiny footsteps and an anklet sound broke the stillness of the night and Raju looked around but all around only the silver moonlight and the play of light and dark shadows moving in the soft glow.

The winds whispered softly “I never ever left the hills, I was always beside you”

A leaf drifted out from the stillness of the night and caressed Raju’s face and fell on the ground. Raju saw it was same leaf she used to tickle his face in good times, when he lay on her lap and looked into her eyes.

A deep calmness came to Raju as he felt engulfed by infinite love, he felt his life fulfilled and he sat down on the rocks where they used to sit.

The wind blew stronger, whirling around the tree tops and rose to a crescendo and blew the top of Raju’s cottage and went howling into the night over the hills.

A storm build up over the hill tops like a storm never seen before in the hills and the wind howled and shirked the whole night and the villagers huddled in their huts in fear.

And the storm vanished as quickly as it came and in the tranquil morning all was quiet.

The villages later whispered, they see at times 2 forms sitting on the rocks late into the evening and on misty winter nights they could see them in animated talk. No one ever saw Raju after that fateful night.

Only a broken silver anklet was found lying on the hill slopes between two rocks.

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