Bamboo Flower, a novel – Part 42
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
A rebel, he silently said and suppressed a smile. He could not have disagreed more. He generally verbally expressed many things. He had definite views on many issues. But he had never thought that he had ever rebelled against anything. Yet he probably was not a conformist. But he had never felt the need to rebel strongly against anything. If he were to categorize himself between a conformist and a rebel, he would only probably fall in between.
So, was there something different? Did he need to know what others think of him, he wondered. But then, wasn’t it the opinions regarding an individual formed by others, which really mattered since the individual had to interact with those very people who had formed the opinions. So now he was faced with a dilemma. He had always seen himself to be an observer of all that was happening around. He enjoyed recording events and commenting on issues that according to him were confronting the society and on subjects who could be rebels. This also possibly explained his choice of career. He did not therefore want to be a rebel and become a subject himself.
Those simple words of Nini had made him think. Possibly he was a rebel, after all. He did not know why he thought that it would be a good idea to explain how he felt about that observation of Nini. Then he had his doubts if it at all was necessary. What difference would it make, if he were different from whatever opinion Nini had about him, he questioned himself. In any case, he was not sure if she really meant what she had said. And after all, it was not possible to explain all his views on all matters to everybody he came in contact with.
In the course of their conversation while walking, he remembered, he had also said that he did not expect any of his dreams to come true because he had too many dreams and all of them were real dreams and would remain so.
Possibly, all that he had said, some after some thought and many after without much thought had made Nini form an opinion about him. So, the rebel must be one adjective she was going to use about him. There must of course be many others. He had however only hoped that she had some good impression about him after what had happened between them the previous night.
This was one relationship he would not be able to define, he had thought. He would not be able to dismiss this as what others might call as some kind of a one-night stand. In any case, he had never known what it was. This was going to be a more complicated relationship because he had always thought that a physical relationship followed meeting of the minds first.
Yet he felt good about knowing her. The independence and confidence she exuded all along were to leave the strongest impression on him.
‘Here we are. I know you want to leave. Let us get cracking’, Nini was all spirits.
By now, however, Rajen’s only desire of reaching home at the earliest seemed to have taken a backseat. His mind was now busy thinking about this newfound friend who was so different from anybody he had met so far.
They started to drive back. After a short while, it was Nini who pointed out a telephone booth after they had reached Kangpokpi. He noted that they had driven only for about fifteen minutes. Half-heartedly he stopped the car and walked in to call home. It was through with the first try although he would not have cared if the line was busy or it did not get through at all.
His mother was on the line, all worried. He very briefly told her that he was okay and would be reaching home in the afternoon. He said afternoon thinking that he could spend some time with Nini after reaching Imphal.
He did not know what to say after he returned to the car. In fact, he also did not know how he felt. Then he thought that he had done what was expected of him. There was certain blankness in his mind. Yet, he noticed that Nini was also quiet and only looked at him blankly.
After a short while, after he had started the engine, Nini began to talk. She had said things about the difficulties in these hills and valleys before she began talking about similar movements in other parts of the world. Then she went on to mention about East Timor - the troubles there with Indonesia and how it attracted world attention. Rajen was generally quiet except for an occasional nod.
‘Thanks for everything. Here’s your antidote’. With those words Nini handed to him the small bamboo twig. Then she said, ‘Keep this at the place that is most affected by those rodents. Your problem will soon be over.’ This was when Rajen had hardly switched off the car when they reached the hotel.
There could not have been a more abrupt parting.
Before he could react, Nini was already running towards the broad stairs to the hotel lobby. He was hurt and he had to swallow every little pride as he reluctantly reversed gear to turn.
He had driven slowly towards home but somehow he did not want to reach home immediately. He did not want to be in a hurry: he had already spoken home. He now decided to be alone to clear his mind.
The aimless slow drive was helping him to be on his own.
He soon remembered his early childhood. When he was old enough to listen to stories, he heard that bamboos in the neighbouring hills were flowering. Many said then that flowering of bamboo did not augur well for the place. There would be rats in the hills that would soon reach the plains to devour all the crops, they had said. Famine would, then, not be far off, they had also added.
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