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There was a little girl who loved the countryside which seemed full of all the beautiful things life offers. Could this Paradise last for ever?
She was a little girl, full of life, energy and zeal. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was very different from childhood in these days. Most of one’s time was spent with friends, cousins and extended family. The limited exposure to the digital world was a blessing in disguise. She waited for the school vacations impatiently. Because they gave her the chance to escape from her elementary family life into the life of being herself; feel the grass under her feet, play in the cool waters of the pond, climb the mango trees, go fishing in the ponds, cross the mighty river bare feet, and just sit on the banks of that river and watch the water flow; cascading almost silently with a faint gushing sound in the background. She loved the countryside and she loved everything in it; more so because of her cousin brothers and sisters.
Electricity during those days was a luxury for many, especially in the countryside. But she did not mind the power cuts. Because it was during these power cuts that all of them would sit in a circle near the flickering lamp and sing songs and dance around it. It was the time when jokes were shared and the house was filled with boisterous laughter. She loved those times when as the youngest one in the entire joint family she demanded the attention of all the elders. She could lie down in anyone’s lap, or sit on one of them; nobody complained, no one grumbled.
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It was one of those vacations, but this one was different. Her grandmother had passed away. She did not know her granny much. Her granny was suffering from dementia for pretty much a decade. There were times when she did not recognise her sons. But they didn’t mind for as soon as they told her their names she recognised them. Her granny would often cry when her son, the little girl’s father, told her that the little girl was her grand-daughter. She would slip into moments of voracious howling and sobbing, holding the little girl’s hands in her frail, wrinkly and trembling hands. They were often cold and it would send a quiver through the little body.
Her grandmother wouldn’t come out of her dingy room sometimes for days, yelling and screaming if someone else tried to make her come out against her wishes. More often than not it was the little girl’s father, a doctor himself, who would try to bring his mother out into the light. But in turn she would turn eccentric and hurl something at him although she never hit, not even once; she was too weak to aim correctly. The ruckus and the pandemonium that accompanied the entire fiasco of bringing her granny into the light and giving her body some Vitamin D was quite amusing for the girl.
Her grandmother’s insanity engulfed much of her childhood memories about her. The little girl practically did not know how she had been when she was sane. So her death didn’t matter much; it didn’t change her life drastically either, except for the loss to her parents, especially her father. For the little girl it was another opportunity to go loose, to explore, to search, to relish the best times that life had to offer.
She was having a bad stomach ache that evening. Her father had reprimanded her for devouring the little mangoes in excess and not abiding by his rules. She hadn’t even bothered to clean her hands either, before eating. There was something satisfying about being coarse and crude; sometimes the most rudimentary ways of living life are the most fulfilling ones. And although her father had chastised her for being a rebel, she did not mind being a non-conformist. It was how she was and the trips to the countryside unleashed the maverick in her; something that city life did not bestow.
So she narrated her somber story to her cousin, a 17 year old. He consoled his bereaved sister and offered his lap to her to rest her head on. There was the familiar power cut and a flickering earthen lamp was lit in a corner. She was lying down on the wooden bench on her cousin brother’s lap and he was gently stroking her hair. It wasn’t long that toll of the day’s leaping and sprinting around started to descend on the young soul.
A sudden touch woke her up. She did not know how long she had been sleeping. She felt a cautious movement of a hand, slowly going down from the neckline of her dress and touching the top of her bosom. She thought she was just imagining it. So she went back to her slumber. Suddenly the hand moved a little further and groped her breast. The sudden turn of events baffled her and she suddenly sat up, still recovering from what just happened. She looked at her cousin and saw him leaning his head backwards, eyes closed, trying to sleep.
The sudden rise of the twelve year old and the fixed gaze made him restless. On the pretext of some ‘sudden urgent’ work he quietly left the patio. She was still contemplating what had happened and if should she tell someone about it. The elders were still recovering from the loss of their mother. She wasn’t sure whether she had herself got the right side of the events or was on the wrong side. And then she decided to keep her feelings to herself because it’s hard to find someone sometimes who understands.
Going to the countryside, walking on the grass, climbing the mango trees and eating the tiny raw mangoes, feeling the cold water of the river, curling her toes and watching the sand in the river bed slipping away slowly but steadily, singing songs in the dimly lit rooms wasn’t her thing anymore. She did not love the country side as she had done; in fact she did not love anything in it. The simple things in life which she always wanted to cherish and hold on to weren’t that simple after all; a lesson learnt the harsh way; an innocence lost the bitter way leaving the little girl feeling vindicated.
Image of a little girl via Shutterstock
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