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Tushar Mandhan

Drama Tragedy


Tushar Mandhan

Drama Tragedy

Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind

8 mins 696 8 mins 696

Today when I am going to the valley, I am wishing for strangeness. Every gust of wind reminds me of them. When I breathe, the warmth of the air reminds me of my mother's amiability. When I am hearing the aeolian, I think Priyanka is whispering some secret in my ears. And when the breeze is gently messing my hair, I'm thinking of him. Every touch of the zephyr is similar to his innocent touch. Even my heart is up in the air.

Some wounds do not leave scars but rather they never heal. They never ache, but rather they always hurt. Such wounds do not infect but rather they vitiate.

It seems like just yesterday. Everyone was very excited about my elder sister, Priyanka's marriage. The smell of fresh paint was wafting through the house. Dad was busy placing orders while mum was sending invitations and shopping for the marriage that was supposed to happen the next month. Our house was occupied by most of our relatives. It was such beautiful chaos that we barely realised the difference between Ante Meridiem and Post Meridiem. I wish everything went that way. We would have enjoyed the wedding rituals. Priyanka would have been happily married, maybe have had babies. Mum and dad would have retired and lived peacefully. But fate had other plans. Priyanka's mother-in-law, Rita decided to have a family trip to Amarnath. We all readily agreed. What could probably go wrong on a pilgrimage? The idea was seen as an opportunity to firm the bonds between the two families. But we all forgot that light exists only when darkness fades. And we were going to be engulfed into that darkness.

The next day after we discussed the idea, a bus was booked. We packed our clothes, food and some instruments to play music. I was looking forward to pull Priyanka' leg and teasing her husband, Dev, after all it was my right being his only sister-in-law. Dev decided to bring his friend-cum-used-to-be-roommate as well. Our family trusted him because of Dev's believe in him and he also knew to play harmonium (reed organ) which was a plus-plus. He was this tall, nextdoor guy. How could someone resist falling in love with him. The way he took care of Dev's grandma and the way he started to feel so belonged within a couple of hours made him the perfect choice for me, in mum's eyes. I knew because I could tell from the way mum was curious to know more about him and his family.

I sat with Priyanka while he sat with Dev, opposite to me. I could sense that he was feeling shy but so was I. I also think that he might be regretting his decision to accompany us because he was never left alone. At any given time, someone would be asking him questions about his occupation, family, monthly income, interests etc. Though I wanted to stop them because it was embarrassing me but I still secretly heard everything. His name was Apoorva. His worked at Archaeological Department and had previously served in the Indian Army. Apoorva also had a great sense of music. Though he was kind of interrogated but he never lost his charming smile and confidence. 

As the journey proceeded, we started singing hymns and folk songs to praise Lord Shiva. Though Priyanka tried to sing but she had to stop because she realised how horrible she sounds. She knew it but somehow she forgot. Then my mum started singing and when she exhausted Dev's mum started singing and when her throat needed rest, Apoorva stepped forward. He paid gratitude to God and then started to knit his voice with the timbre of harmonium;

Satya hai Ishwar

Shiv hai jeevan

Sundar ye sansaar hai

Teeno lok hai tujhme teri

Maya apram par hai

Man mera mandir shiv meri pooja

Man mera mandir shiv meri pooja

(God is true

Shiva is life

this world is beautiful

The whole world is yours

I don't have words for your greatness

My mind is a shrine

Shiva is my prayer)

Suddenly, there was peace in the bus. No one was speaking, rather everyone was lost in his voice and in devotion of Lord Shiva. He didn't feel exhausted until we stopped to have dinner. We got off the bus and went to the restaurant. I must say that I realised how ignorant Apoorva was, at that restaurant only. He didn't realise that I was staring at him, not at the fountain as I told him. He even didn't notice that I ordered tea only because he did though I hate tea. I really wanted to scream at him that I was having a major crush on him but I couldn't. Now I wish I had the courage to speak.

The next morning, we again started our journey. Though Priyanka was about to get married but it was me who was having a bride-to-be glow on my face. I was praying to God that somehow he likes me too. What could have been a better way to find a loved one than on a pilgrimage. Though there were moments when I was reconsidering my decision like maybe it was way too fast or when I heard his snorts but everytime I would find another reason to love him even more. Like his sense of humour or the way he grilled maize for us or the way he talked to waiters.

After about two days we reached Anantnag district. We were quite tired, so we decided to stay at Nunwan base camp. I wish we would have travelled a little bit more or maybe we had reached there like five hours late. I wish. I hope. But I cannot change anything now. Dad was having headache so he asked me to get medicine from the bus. Apoorva accompanied me because he needed to take Dev's grandma's medicines. I thought it was the best time to confess to him. We entered the bus. I starting searching for dad's medicine in his bag and so did Apoorva in grandma's luggage. I found it. But Apoorva was still struggling to find grandma's. I thought it was the best opportunity. I would help him find the medicine and then give him a clue about my feelings. As I stepped to help him, he held my hand and pushed me down and then signed me to keep quiet. Before I could ask him anything, I heard gunshots and screams. I was petrified. We crawled to the back seat of the bus. I started to gasp. I was not able to move my limbs. "Stay here!" he told me and then left through the window. I couldn't understand anything then. I was hoping that it was a dream. A horrible dream. ...Mum...Dad...Priyanka...Dev. Where were they? I couldn't sit there when I knew that they were in danger. So, I also jumped off the window. 

"What are you doing here?" said a voice. For a moment, I thought I would die before I could answer but luckily it was Apoorva with Dev's grandma. We helped grandma jump into the bus through that window.

"You too go inside." He said and then left.

I tried to get into the bus I couldn't. Even the thought of losing my family was killing me and the screams were just adding more to my anxiety. I started to walk after Apoorva and crawl when he did. I knew he wouldn't notice me. We crawled up the slope. As soon as he untied an end of tent, I realised that it was my mother in that tent. 

"Mum!" I cried.

"I told you not to..." Apoorva was telling me but he stopped as he saw something. Before I could say something, he pushed me to the other side and then I experienced the most horrible moments of my life. I heard a series of gunshots but not even a single scream. Time stopped at that moment. Though I was alive but not less than a corpse. Before I could understand anything, Apoorva rolled down the slope with me. When we landed, I realised that he was covered with blood. 

"Run! Please run....for me." he stammered. "Please!'

I could not. My body didn't move. My life was stuck in a tornado, I didn't know a way to escape through. I couldn't leave him there to die. "This way ma'am!" a voice said. I looked up. He was a soldier. "We don't have time." he added.

I don't remember what happened next, except for every second started to feel like a century to me. When I got my conscience back, I was lying on a bed and lights were flashing in my eyes.

Now, I can see the camp. The tents are new. The soldiers are patrolling. The stones in the valley are heavy in weight but smooth from the surface. The plants are growing but I can't see any of them flowering. I can also see the flowing water but it is only flowing in one direction. The air is trying to blow me with it whereas the water is trying to pull down and the mountains are calling me to climb up. Now that I am standing in the valley. I'm feeling strange belongingness.

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