Bamboo Flower, a novel – Part 36
By Akendra Sana
“Bamboo Flower”, serialized here, is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
contd.. from last sunday
He then noticed that she had raised herself with a small piece of bamboo from the water. And what a sight! The light sheet covering her frontal body downwards and her shapely body had water dripping on all sides. And there wasn’t any suggestion of any undergarment under the sheet.
She did not seem at all concerned of the impact she was making on him as she said, ‘I have gone all around searching for this particular type of bamboo. This will be the only antidote to your rats.’
This was the first mention of rats by her. He could only say, ‘What?’
She continued, ‘If we could get a sapling, the solution could be permanent. Now, since the piece I managed to get is only a drifted piece, you will have to keep this at the place where those rats are most active.’
‘If we could get a sapling you can try to grow this variety of bamboo in your garden. And if you manage to grow it, then you can be sure of complete relief from the rats’, she went on.
‘But the climate?’ Rajen could only attempt to raise a word of doubt. He reasoned in his mind that there must be some reason that the particular variety she was referring must be necessitating a certain environment particularly climate. Nevertheless, he did not pursue his argument.
‘See, what degradation of our natural resources has done. It should not have been a problem to get any number of saplings at this time of the year. The early rains have already come and small shoots should have been there’. Nini was unstoppable.
Rajen asked how was the small stick-like bamboo was to be kept to drive away the rats. She only replied that the rice storehouse should be the natural choice since the rats must be most numerous and active there. She also said that he could make the bamboo stick part of the north-western wall of the storehouse. Some sure ritual coming his way, his mother would be pleased, he thought.
He did not as yet want to think how he was to explain his absence. He had always been faithful. Now, this was something different and new. Or was it something which was to follow with more such escapades, he was not confident of himself. Was it his weakness or was there enough provocation, he knew he would never be able to find the answer.
One bright spot, of course, was the possible remedy or was it going to be a part remedy to the rats nightmare, he had to concede. And indeed Nini did say that this might not be a permanent solution. But so what? He had to give her credit. A solution is a solution, however temporary. So one night of straying must be understood and forgiven, he reasoned. But was this something he was to reveal to his family? No way, he mused.
So what was it that he was going to tell his family, he had to have some good reason. He was quick. He was planning to tell them that he had gone to get first-hand information on the aftermath of the Naga-Kuki ethnic conflict and because of difficulties which he would not elaborate, he had to spend the night at the village he had visited and there was no way he could contact them since all the telephone lines were down. However, the mental transformation he had undergone might reveal more than he could handle, he was concerned. For one, he knew that every second sentence he spoke after reaching home would not be on the rats. As far as the he was concerned the rats had now receded into the past.
However, he did not, as yet, want to worry about something, which was at least a few hours away.
Nini had, by now, dried herself and was changing into her clothes. She had the sheet she was wearing spread out on the flat surface grass to dry. There were also smaller towels out in the early morning sun to dry.
‘This is the only place where this variety of bamboo is found,’ she explained.
‘And though, we do not know how it acts against the rats, experience is the best teacher’. She also stated.
‘I wish I knew half the things you know about nature and its manifestations’, Rajen said, not knowing what he should be saying but wishing the conversation to continue. He was experiencing new things. There was a very fresh Nini, radiant in the mild yet bright early morning sun.
‘Well, I don’t think you should sound to be flattering me. I do not know anything more than I should know. Nature is the guide and nature is the healer.’ She replied.
Rajen, now, did not have any expression to make. He only nodded although the vision of whatever happened the previous night and the sight he saw when he woke up kept coming back to his mind.
He also then washed at the shallower parts of the clear pond and was soon ready to leave. In fact, there was an air of urgency. It was no time to make anyone wait for him, he told himself because nobody knew what was in his mind. The company was good, the experience had been extraordinary, but there were more important things to attend to, he reminded himself.
With all these agitating his mind, it did not take long before he began to make a mental calculation. Considering that they took nearly five hours of climbing and walking, the descent, if a little faster, would take at least four hours and another hour to reach the hotel, he noted. He would drop Nini at the hotel and go home, he planned. So it would clearly be afternoon by the time he reached home, he concluded.
How his family had taken his absence was something he again avoided thinking. Only he told himself that he would handle all that on reaching home.
Nini, now ready, came up to him extending her right hand and held his left arm as she stood by his side and smiled saying, ‘Let’s be on our way.’
Demureness had set on her he was not familiar.
Hand in hand, they began the return journey.
They, of course, shared some water that was still left in the bottle.
He could not, of course, be expecting morning tea.
( To be contd...)
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