Home coming

Coming home in holiday is both pleasure and pain. Plesure as my village is serene and starlit, and laziness marks the days and nights.peasants all poor, and their talk circles around daily living chores.Freed from city’s noise and hurry, false promises and myriad injustices, pigeon holes, nauseating smell of garbage heaps, filth and squalor,cheap police, squatted shop keepers, demoralised humbugs,papers full of filthy stories of corruption and politics. Pain I feel hearing sudden demise of many a familiar faces, some neighbours, some near and dear ones, long forgotten. Almost each time I visit home I hear the news of some funerals,Hindus, Muslims were they. In my infancy I spend wonders with them.Stories of brave men, ghosts, witches–all so dear to my heart I sucked. Usually the place of the tales was the front yard of our house.Peasants gathered after sunset and sat on the cart and began the story. I tiptoed there and with a chadar I covered myself and heard the strange stories of the Sahibs,indigo cottages, their hunting and disciplines. Especially the evening when stories of ghosts I heard, my heart shrank and I sat still and was often accompanied home by an elder and when walking I looked back and felt the sound of the footsteps of haunted me.I walked,he walked. I stopped he stopped. I often gasped and reached home somehow. Among childhood stories one was of particular interest. I was eight or nine. There was a marriage ceremony in our neighbourhood that night. I came outside of our house for urinal. It was ten pm or so. A group of the bride party asked me to accompany them to a pond or river for nature’call. I accompanied them to our river, five kms away from home, by the outer side of the village. Meanwhile I was nowhere. My parents and uncles began a search in the bushes,nearby water bodies, in the adjacent mango and banyan groves. But they all failed to trace me. Mother began walllowing. She thought I was carried away by “huloo”, a local variant of ghost. Later more people joined in the search with fire and knives. But of no avail. And during this shock, the neighbours saw me accompanying the strangers of the night from the river side to the village. I was snatched away from the party and the bride men were showered with torrents of abuse.They all asked forgiveness and our neighbourhood forgave them. Reaching home,as it was a wintry night, I was shivering and my mother folded me with a warm quilt,caressing me again and again, her lost child came home.