Time slips away from our hands talking with it our beloved childhood and childhood memories.
Kabir has been away for a decade from his beloved village to study in the city school. At the age of ten his father sent him away to his aunt’s house to study in the city school. Kabir had cried his lungs out but his father did not melt. He said nothing should compromise a good future.
Kabir went to his aunt’s house and with time he slowly got adjusted with the city life. But the memory of his village never left him though it did fade away with time. For ten years his father did not let him come home for he thought the carefree village life would destroy his discipline. Twice a year was Kabir visited by his father but Kabir had no attachment for him. He did not care if his father came once, twice or never to meet him. Kabir missed his mother very much. She was only allowed to meet his mother once every year for his father thought the over arching affection Kabir has for his mother would make him week rather than strong.
Kabir had completed graduation. He decided to go home and surprise his mother and his little sister kavya. Without informing either his aunt or his father Kabir set out for his village. After five hours on bus and two on train, Kabir reached the Toai River. The memories floated back to him. Toai had such clear water that it reflected the sun, moon and even the white cottony clouds. Toai had knee high water in summer but in monsoon it flooded its sides. Kabir remembered playing with his sister on Toai’s waters. Whatever the weather would have been they would without fail set boats on the river and with a stick try to push it to the other back. Sometimes they also caught tiny fishes from between the river bed rocks. In monsoon they competed on who would catch the biggest fish. The river water also reached the rice fields and submerged half of it. Kavya and Kabir used to chase the tiny fishes that got into the rice fields.
Like every Thursday on Toai’s bank was the weekly fair. Shopkeepers from the city and different villages used to come several things like cloths, flowers, cows, goats, rabbits, parrots, sweets and roasted nuts. He went into the fair and looked for the dark skinned, pot bellied middle aged man from whom his sister and he used to steal handful of roasted peanuts and run. They ran to the lonely woods nearby hid their and enjoyed their newly stolen meal. He also remembers the man got hold of them once and took them to his father where they had got a good beating. He did not remember the pain of beating but the happiness of eating the nuts. All these memories flooded his eyes.
Walking through the fair he spotted the shopkeeper from whom his routine was to steal. He sat in the same place. Kabir was shocked to see how old he had grown. It seemed not ten years but hundreds of years. He was not even sure he was looking at the same man. He kept staring at him. The man looked up. He too was startled. He grabbed a handful of roasted groundnuts and stretched his hands towards Kabir. Kabir laid out his palm and the shopkeeper kept the nuts on it with a smile. Kabir was very happy that the shopkeeper had recognized the ‘little chor’.
Kabir started walking towards the village. He wandered whether his little sister, Buri ma of the next house, Kalu, their neighbourhood dog, Khoka Jetha of the diagonally opposite house, fulki mashi their domestic help would recognize him. Just like he has grown older they have grown old too. He hoped they would recognize him.
He turned left to the earthen path but the path was not there instead it was a pitched road. He could not recognize the road. He asked some one for the direction and then moved on. He reached his house finally. It was a story higher. Half of the houses in village were of cement now rather than mud. The village was progressing, that was good but he could not identify with it anymore. He went to Buri ma’s house; the new owner of the house told him she had died six years back. Khoka Jetha could not recognize him. When he gave his identification he was very polite to Kabir but very formal as well. Kalu too had died long back. Home did not seem like home.
Finally he entered his house. He was overwhelmed to see his mother and so was his mother. The décor of the house had changed beyond recognition. He walked round the house and spotted a photo frame. It was Kavya in her wedding dress. Her face was same as when he left just a bit older. He was shocked to see the wedding picture of his teenager sister. He had never even been informed about the wedding not even by his mother and sister. His mother tried to justify his father’s deeds, that his father thought it would divert his mind but futile. He grabbed his things and left. Not only the village and the villagers, his family too seemed foreign to him.