Bamboo Flower, a novel – Part 40
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 previous Sunday
‘Yes and yet these hills are characterized by changelessness only. The greens have remained as they have been with only the shades changing with the change in the seasons,’ Rajen replied.
‘And there will be very few to congregate if there are temples here,’ he said more to himself again.
Not knowing what else Nini was other than writing on nature, made him not to say anything more then to wait until she started talking straight.
It was only hours earlier that they had been very close. They had shared what only a man and a woman who trusted each other did. Or was it only the physical act of lust? He was not going to find answers easily.
What had led to the togetherness? Would anyone believe this? Wasn’t it the rats? And now there was this abandoned village as barren and mutilated as a small piece of land all burrowed out by rats.
Yes, they did find an antidote to his rats menace, according to her. Would there be respite from the rodents? Only time would tell when the bamboo twig brought from the hilltop was put to use, as only Nini knew how. He of course was prepared to follow the prescription.
Rats. The hairy dull dark grey little living objects were such a sight. He wondered if there was anybody who liked them.
But nature, Nini kept on saying, also produced these creatures.
Rats meant little to others, but they dictated his life, he could not ignore.
How real and true were his worries - could the simple and innocent, according to many, garden rats be such a difficult menace? For him there was something large. His worries were definitely real. Otherwise, how else would he be here away from home without anyone knowing his whereabouts? And with someone who was a partner one moment, a stranger at another.
They were walking side by side. He could not say what was in her mind. He was not interested in knowing; she of course did not appear bothered how long they were going to be on their feet before reaching the foothills.
Or was he getting only self-centered. They came to these hills to find solutions. She had volunteered to help him even though however, she did not say how long it would take.
And again, he was not thinking anything else. All he wanted to do was to communicate his welfare to his family. He wanted to let Leima and his mother know that he was safe. How soon would he be able to do this was all that was in his mind.
To him, it was obvious that Nini was now only an accessory. Was she already feeling that way, he could not be sure. He had expressed his immediate desire of getting to a telephone booth during every little conversation that they had during the descent after they left Bem and her mother-in-law.
After what had happened the previous night, Nini probably wanted something different to talk about, thought Rajen. But he could not bring himself up to such a conversation. And for whatever reason, Nini was quieter that day.
However, with what he saw in an “abandoned village” and his companion’s silence, his mind traversed to several things. And this possibly made him to wonder aloud, ‘Why is it that these places have so many rebels?’ that surprised him because he wanted to engage her conversationally on lighter issues.
Then, for a while, he wondered if he had used the right word. He began to correct, ‘Ah! Well, revolutionaries, meaning who rise in arms to liberate themselves.’ He could not, of course, bring himself up to state liberation from whom or what. Certain things in these places were left unspoken, as a matter of habit.
Nini smiled back without saying anything. It was a long suppressed smile. After a while, she only said, ‘Doesn’t the word Revolution promise changes towards freedom and modern ways?’
‘And well, of course, there is a price in order to achieve the changes. How expensive it all is going to be is only in the realm of speculation,’ Rajen observed.
Rajen now knew that there would be more bonhomie. How strange! They could not bring to talk about themselves. On their onward journey it was the rats and nature that made them great pals. Now it was going to be rebellions, revolutions and national movements. So this was it. There had to be something like this for the two of them to be close.
He now said, ‘these movements are known by different names. Some call them revolutions. Others call them national liberation movements. Some others call them insurgencies. And in fact, in the very early stages, they were uncharitably called hostile activities by some’
‘And no one seems to have called them Communists or Nationalists separately because all of them sound both Right and Left at the same.’ He continued.
So he said, ‘It’s left or right or right or left. And both the left and the right have slipped on them.’
‘Why? Do political movements always have to work on either of these two extremes? And never ever willing to merge the differences.’
‘They sound ultra-leftists at times and at another time do they sound fundamental rightist. And they all leave us confused.’ He spoke all these but was not sure if he had made himself clear to Nini.
He then paused for a while and thought there possibly was a Gandhi or a Nehru lurking behind those bushes. There possibly was a Subhas Bose as well; he added in this mind.
Rajen then could not resist adding, ‘Mao’s Revolution in China possibly influenced these insurgencies at some stage or the other obviously because of the physical proximity.’
He was not sure if there was going to be a reaction from Nini.
She did not let it pass as she said, ‘So, here the countryside is going to encircle the towns.’
She did not stop with that.
‘What do you want them to be – the left or the right?’ She asked him.
He touched his hair with his right hand for a while and said, ‘Well, I really do not know.’
‘Yes. It is such an unequal world.’ He continued
‘May I say that it’s these inequalities that caused conflicts?’ Nini cut in
‘And may I say that the common thread in all is the assertion or emergence of pride and that yearning to restore that intangible commodity called PRIDE when felt that it has been lost or threatened?’ He said at one go.
‘So, we agree that national movements are on. Now, imagine! A stooped Gandhi with his stick emerging out of those bushes’, Nini continued.
To be continued
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