Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Ghat Revisited

He was standing at the end of the flight of stairs that led to the river. Storm was coming. His nephew, only eight months of age and annoyed for he was standing for the last five minutes, was nudging him as hard as he could. He was supposed to move around.

He started to walk.

Fifteen years it had been since he visited this Ghat for the last time. He remembered the day vaguely. he came with his uncle and bought a toy monkey with a cigarette in it's mouth. That was his favourite toy, but he lost it years ago.

He went down the stairs and walked along the riverbed towards north. The old houses were towering over the river under the setting sun. Once they witnessed him walking with his uncle. His old school was visible against the crimson tint on the sky. There was an old brick wall separating the school and the Ghat. They used to climb up the wall and escaped through this Ghat during the second half of school hours. The wall had been reduced to a few bricks kept together by a thin plaster coating, with weeds and roots of banyan trees all over it. His nephew gave a joyful laugh, holding out his arms at the wall. He will never get a chance to jump over it to escape school.

Darkness was falling quickly with the ascending mounds of clouds. A burst of wind blew southward, and the cap of the child flew away. His uncle withdrew the cap from over a bush, and came back to take shelter under the stall of Jilabi ran by an old man just beside the temple. The old man gave him a toothless grin and a wink to the child. He knew the boy. When he was a kid, he used to come with his uncle. His uncle died a couple of years ago. He was a good man, his uncle was. Never forgot to talk to him when he came to the Ghat. He gestured the boy to the bench, and went back to his customers while talking to himself inaudibly. Reminiscence is delicious, specially at the old age.

Rain started to fall thick and fast. The child gave another cry of delight and started trying to catch raindrops in his outstretched arms. The crowd around the stall started to thin. The shopkeeper covered the remaining Jilabies, took two hot Jilabies on a piece of paper and smiling widely gave them to the boy. The boy stood up to pay when someone shouted his name from behind. His mother had come with umbrellas to bring them home.

The boy paid for the Jilabies, got hold of an umbrella and started to walk along the muddy road, his mother carrying the child at his side. The circle of life has been completed.