Continued From Here
Nitya. That was what she said her name was. He had first seen her atop the mango tree near the river when he had come there to get some mangoes for his grandmother. He stood beneath the tree and looked up, locating the mangoes on the high branches while shading his eyes using his palm, protecting them from the harsh sun. That’s when she shouted at him, “Don’t you know you should not stare at girls? Have your parents not taught you anything?”
Mukul stared harder, trying to locate the origin of the voice when she landed with a thud on the grass beneath the tree. I’m here, she had said, trying to mask her giggle.
“Hi I’m Mukul” the gentleman in Mukul introduced himself to her as he held out his hand for her to shake.
‘Nitya’ she had said and playfully hit on his extended palm with the small twig from the mango tree she held in her hands.
‘Why are you here? Who are you? How come I have never seen you?’ A dozen questions were raised in a single breath.
Mukul chose to ignore them all and asked her a question in return, “Will you teach me to climb trees?”
‘Why?’ the question was short, her gaze upon him knew she would not leave without an answer to this one.
“I want to climb this tree and get some of those mangoes. My grandmother.. she loves them and I want to thank her for everything she does for me.
‘Fine, I will teach you. But you must pay me gurudakshina.’
“Alright. What do you want?”
“You must meet me by the village pond today night just before midnight. There I will tell you what I want.” She was very clear on what she wanted.
Mukul was not sure of the idea, but he wanted to get those mangoes for his grandma. After making him swear on God that he would come, she showed him how to climb the tree.
After a few unsuccessful attempts, he finally managed to climb up high enough to get the mangoes he needed.
He deposited the ripe fragrant mangoes in the basket of his bicycle and rode off home, promising Nitya that he would meet her by the village pond at night.
His grandma was so pleased at his show of affection that tears of joy welled up in her. Mukul too felt very good having made her happy. That night, he ate light. He did not want to fall into deep sleep and break his promise to his guru.
Around 11.30, he sneaked out of the house and rode off into the darkness as silently as he could. He enjoyed the cool breeze on his face and noticed that more stars were visible in the sky in his village than what he saw from his 8th floor balcony. Mukul was not sure she would even be there. He had heard how girls in the village did not go out after sunset.
Nitya surprised him again by being there before even Mukul reached. She looked pleased to see that he had indeed kept his word.
Come, she took his hand and walked ahead towards the pond. There she showed him the white flower that had just bloomed.
“You can swim right? I saw you in the river in the afternoon.” Before Mukul got a chance to reply, she continued, “I can’t swim, but I want that flower.”
It was not a request, it was an order. Since Mukul had promised her, he decided to go for it.
As she took the flower in her hands and brought her nose closer to enjoy the fragrance better, she got some yellow pollen on her nose. The yellow looked cute on her chocolate coloured nose and that made Mukul smile.
“Don’t stare. Go home.”
More instructions. He had never seen a girl like her before, someone who thought that the whole world was waiting to serve her and her alone.
“Come and practice tomorrow. You have to get better at climbing trees if you want the sweetest mangoes.”
More instructions, but for a change she was not being selfish, or was she? Mukul could not make up his mind as he mounted his cycle to go back home and get some sleep. He felt that this summer vacation was just going to get more and more interesting.
Gurudakshina: paying the fee or serving the guru in exchange for knowledge received
My friend Leo and I are writing on the same theme for the AtoZ2015. The word for the alphabet N that we've chosen is Night.