Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Bell...

Walking through the moldy wooden gate brought the memories rushing back...each one as crisp and clear as the leaves on the bushes by the side of the road, freshly washed by the recent showers. The smell of wet sand coupled with the moody patter of raindrops took him back twenty years, to a time when he was just a little boy...

"That is my pencil!"

"NO! Get your hands off...it belongs to ME!"

"It is MINE I tell you...unghh.."

"Aaah! You're hurting me...let it GO!"

"AAAAAAaaarrrrrrrrghhhh!!"

The scream of pain still echoed inside his head...his scream of pain. He remembered that day as vividly as if it were a feature film.

He could hear the frogs in the distance croaking loudly and then splashing into the murky pond water to avoid becoming a meal for the hungry kingfisher birds.

He was always the first in line when his class went on nature walks around the school. He would run ten steps ahead so he would be undisturbed in the wild lap of nature, free to explore before the rest of the expedition came crashing through. This was his africa, his Kanha and his Gir and he loved it.

Dong Ding Dong....Dong Ding Dong...Donnnnnnnnng

He could hear a bell ring in the distance and he smiled to himself wryly. The bell was a symbol of freedom. Pavlov couldn't have defined it better because, within seconds, the quiet lane was filled with fussy parents milling about, looking for their children. The children, on the other hand, were doing their darnedest to avoid their parents so they could sneak just a little more gossip and fun out of their day. School was closed for the day.

He could see the old banyan tree with it's great earth colored trunk and roots harboring those beautiful green and yellow leaves. He could see the children wearing colorful clothes running about without a care in the world. He could see...he really could!

He could almost forgive the boy who, in a moment of desperation, took away his eyesight with the freshly sharpened pencil. He couldn't remember how he looked...just the pain and the screams that still woke him up in the middle of the night sometimes.

'Not that I would know the difference between Night and Day' - He sighed...

There was a certain dignity in his steps as he turned off the path towards another smaller moldy and broken gate leading out of the school. He looked younger than when he first came in...he looked revived. This was his routine and he followed it without distraction. For him every day ended with the school bell.

With carefully measured steps he walked away from the school. People who knew him stopped to say a few words and some of them would walk with him for a bit. They always knew where to find him...

They never could understand why he walked through the old school that had been closed for almost ten years. There were snakes and thorns and he didn't seem to care and he always knew his way. They always thought they should tell him it was too dangerous for anyone, let alone a blind person, to be walking through the untended path alone...but they never came around to having that conversation with him...

'He'll be back tomorrow anyway...' - they thought

Then one day he stopped coming...

He was never to be seen thereafter. Nobody missed him too much anyway.

Anyone walking past the broken wooden gate in the evenings however heard a distant sound of a bell ringing inside the old school grounds...Those brave enough to walk through the hedges and up to the building never found a bell...


It rang everyday all the same...

1 comment:

Bh said...

woah! Ram Gopal Verma would like this story. Nice blog