With the rains finally ( and thankfully ) over, after 3 months or so I am finally in a position to think and to write and so I decide to pour my heart out about the much loved: rain
I somehow fail to understand why people are so obsessed with the “beauty of rain”: the poets who’ve written poems on it and musicians who have found their strokes of inspiration in it; writers write better when it rains and readers find it ( and an overrated cup of coffee ) a perfect companion for their favourite books; rains are a much liked and overly fancified backdrop for Bollywood movies and their song and dance sequences.
But, despite these exaggerated attempts to glamorise rain, the rain reality of the country remains far from fantasy as rains continue to wreck havoc in the lives of commoners year after year: it disrupts everyday life by making getting out of the house or even opening the window a battle against the odds; it makes the already-in-bad-condition roads of our country much worse ( giving the tea-stall parties an opportunity to revisit the topic of corruption ), infact some of these narrower roads become so unbearable you will find yourself fighting an urge to puke; and don’t even get me started on how badly it hits the poor: the quality of their previous years’ prayers is directly related to whether their house is able to withstand the wrath of the rain-gods or gives up under the pressure.
So, you can enjoy the rains as much as you want and dance when it pours and threatens to submerge the entire town, I will not be okay with it until I get the option to simply hibernate in the monsoon season.
“I remember well, madam. He was a well built man who owned a lot of farms in our village. His age would’ve been 42-43 at the time when his son died after which he became addicted to alcohol so much so that his maternal brother had to come and take him to his own village so that he could be cared for. A few days later, we came to know of his death post which, his brother came in to look after his farms” he said.
“And how many years ago did he die?” I asked.
“Umm.. It must have been 30-31 years, I think” he said.
Hemaram’s story turns out to be much more sinister than I thought. And with the same thought I decide to pen this story down.
So this was the final part of the story. Hope you liked it. Do share your thoughts in comments.
“This is all I know about the incidents” I told my cousins who’d been all listening ardently to this old local tale. Though I’d been only 10 years old at that time, I remember watching, with increasing curiosity, the entire drama unfold.
A few weeks hence, as I was sitting at a tea shop on the outskirts of the town on my way back from my evening-time stroll, I was joined by a man. His name, I discovered, was Kumar and he soon got engaged in a conversation with the tea shop owner. Just as I was making to leave the shop I overheard him say the name of his village: Shyamgunj. I froze. Shyamgunj. The word sent a chill down my spine. I immediately turned towards him and asked “Then you must know about Hemaram?”. “Hemaram?” he pondered upon the question a little “Naturally. I would have been 15 or so at the time of his death but I remembered it well” the man said.
I suppressed a desire to laugh. This man clearly knew about no Hemaram if he in his middle age was claiming that he had been 15 year old at the time of his death, which occurred only 13 years ago. But he seemed to be in full mood to narrate a tale and I was in no hurry to return home. Thus he began:
Then, on the morning of the sixteenth day, Hemaram was seen walking towards his house looking as if he had walked all night all the way from Shyamgunj. His appearance was dishevelled and unkempt and he smelt of liquor. Walking with great difficulty, he went straight to his house without paying any heed to the excited chatter of people who had gathered outside their house to talk about this scene. Once inside his hut, he bolted the door from inside and slept through the day. In the evening when he woke up, he was hysterical. He tore his hair and banged his head and screamed and cried till his lungs no longer allowed him to. By this time every man, woman and child in the vicinity had gathered near his house, shocked and scared. A warning was henceforth issued to every child by their parents never to be seen anywhere near this man for they were certain he was possessed by some evil spirit.
By the next day, it became known through some anonymous source: that the spirit that had possessed him was that of his father who had died a few years back and the unaware Hemaram could not attend the funeral. He even managed to anger the spirit furthermore by attempting to sell his ancestral property. The angered spirit decided to extract its revenge from Hemaram by driving him mad.
Later that night, the gardener hanged himself on the Mango Tree and died.
Hemaram was from a faraway village lying in the remote regions of the Ranakpur forest and this was also his qualification for the job because it was believed that he should posess abundant knowledge about flora in general given that he had spent years amidst them. He was a fifty-ish , well built man who had spent a good eighteen years of his life looking after the garden and by the look of things, he was here to stay. The garden itself was big, lined with trees and
with a large patch of lush, green grass in the middle. In the extreme corner of the garden stood the mango tree and a few feet from it was the gardener’s house. There was also a flower patch near the tree which was extremely well-cared-for.
Things were going on very smoothly form Hemaram until one day when it occurred to him that despite his good mental and physical health, he was nearing the dusk of his life. So, he decided that he must visit his village Shyamgunj once before dying. And so, the next day, he packed his belongings and took the first bus in the morning to Sadari, the town closest to his village.
A fortnight passed and there was no news of Hemaram.
My first attempt at fictional writing. Originally posted on wattpad. Do comment and let me know what you think about it.
It has been thirteen years since that incident took place and that lone mango tree, standing in the abandoned corner of the garden still inspires fright in the minds of those who have been here for thirteen years or more.
Just as the mango tree is feared, the house of its gardener has also become a well known haunted place of the town after whatever happened there all those years ago.
Although no mysterious sightings or strange apparitions or clouds of bats seen circling the house after midnight or manifests of any ghostly presence as such have ever been reported, the gossip-hungry people of the town, like those of every other good town have fabricated numerous stories around the aforementioned mango tree and the gardener.
Now, I have consented to tell you the story of the gardener or at least the most consistent of those stories only on one condition: that tomorrow, should the spirit of Hemaram, this being the gardeners name, come haunting, looking for the source of such rumors, you must not blame it on me for I, like you, have received this story from someone else who in turn, has received it from someone else.
This story begins with the only tangible, definite fact of the story: Hemaram was the gardener of the public garden of Indunagar and lived in the house adjacent to it.
Today, I went cycling through the town.
Well, “through the town” is a bit of an exaggeration really, but traveling 9 kilometres non-stop did seem like traveling the length of the town to me. You see, I’m a very unathletic person.
Despite this, given a choice between walking, cycling, driving and flying I’d choose cycling anytime (unless flying is flying on a broomstick, of course).
You could think it’s rather boring: something we did when we were young and had nothing else to do but to me cycling is discovering: discovering new roads to the same old destination; discovering new shops at the same old markets or maybe if the ‘odds are in your favour’ discovering something about your own self ; only when you escape the ordinary can you discover something extraordinary.
I see the long stretches of time between leaving home and reaching back home as the time to sort my thoughts. The idea to write this blog and many others also came to me while cycling. Maybe it’s the company of Dauntless (my cycle) that is fairly favourable for my thought processes, but I would still attribute it to cycling.
Pedalling through crowded roads and lonely ones; busy markets and quiet colonies; scarce, small patches of greenery and seemingly never ending expanses under the blazing sun; areas where the rich live in their palatial mansions and where the poor reside in their humble dwellings and for reasons beyond maintaining your body is happiness to me. A happiness I often equate with freedom.