.........................it looked as though a woman's body had been gifted to a small kid ... that was only when she was acting , when she wasnt , you could see the melancholy in her eyes , a longing , a void that couldnt be filled up with all the material pleasures in the world ... today though , as she lowered her hand , he saw with a start that the eyes had none of the usual beauty they possessed , today they only had a savage look , a look that a hunter has when his prey is near , but at the same time he could see a flicker of the hunted too .... it was as though she was the hunter and the hunted ! He could sense her anger , sadness and all the other emotions that she had kept so beautifully wrapped up in her beautifully set face erupt all together ....
and then ....
He desperately searched the village and was about to turn back when he saw a dim light in the far end of the village , hopeful of finding her there , he ran towards the light but was taken aback to know that he was going towards a graveyard ! before he knew it , he was surrounded by graves on all sides and in front of one of them was Payal on her knees while another woman stood at her shoulder with tears in her eyes . The scene was almost surreal ; one woman whom he had seen and thought to be perfectly rational and another who by her looks seemed like a woman who had lived through an entire age in the middle of a graveyard at night in a seemingly deserted area ... He wanted to scream out loud but his voice failed him ... he could only manage a dry croak and the minute the sound escaped his lips , it was as though the moment that was held together in the scene , broke into fragments and the magic that was woven just spilled out! He hid himself behind a tomb stone before any of them could see him and from his hiding place , he could see her walk back as silently as she had knelt down there , the older woman seemd to have taken the other path.
later .... or it is earlier?
"Arri , I told you to go and take a bath ! Shaitan , what are you doing here ?" Parul scampered off to take that bath .
"Why does maa have to scold me always ? "She sobbed inwardly , "She never calls those chachas and kakas anything ! " (She had gotten slapped by one of them when she had called him mama , mother's brother) ... "Even though they come when she is tired and coughing and they tear her clothes and even beat her sometimes , she only smiles at them and talks to them in a softer voice than she does to me ".... She ticked off all the people who spat at her in the morning and came to give her sweets in the night . She had her own secret though and giggled at it ! She had nick names for each chacha and kaka came to visit them. She ticked off her fingers the nocturnal visitors she had supressing another giggle ,
The Chameleon - you never knew from which side he come into the house.
The Rat - always trying to scare her away but begging in front of her mother
The Bison - She hated him the most ! Her mother would shudder and shiver when she knew the bison would come.
The Tortoise - So old but would never allow her to call him daddu. (He had obscenely asked even the child to use the name that her mother used)
The Cycle - He was the village mukhiya , his moustache was as big as a handle of the cycle !
He would come to her home , give her his kurta and ask her to fold it . If she had folded it neatly , he gave her a pinch on the cheek and a coin. If she had draped it around her because it was too cold in the night outside , he would laugh in his booming voice and remark to her mother that she was rearing the child in the right direction .
She never understood the joke that he cracked , but hated the joke because , after that her mother , though tired and half dead would take a thick stick and beat her.