Nephew

 

 

At times, especially on weekends, I enjoy relaxing being plunged into the easy chair placed on the hanging verandah of my room located at the corner of top floor of two storied Rest House.
It’s a hilly area and the green hills cascading up to the ridge line of about thousand feet high almost adjacent to the Rest House. There are some cultivation of paddy on graduated terraces built into the slope in the hills. It’s almost harvest time and the paddy ears with mixed green and golden hue sparkles in sun rays as the breeze blows. They seem to be happy for impending event of giving up everything they have. True happiness lie in giving. The thought gives an abstract feeling.

Born only to give whatever one afford,          fulfillment only in offering to Lord. 

Is that His game tact,         or enigma or mundane Act?

I’m mere a marionette of God,          only play in His tune, just or flawed.
One day the sun will set that I bet,              ending the game with no regret.

Giving is fulfilling to the core,           senses won’t grasp that no more
Getting makes living secure,          but ends in losing for sure.
Giving makes life pure,       keeping peace alive in soul to endure.
Giving is nothing great,           but merely paying all debt
Earth takes plant as toll for her,          and paddy for toil goes to Farmer.

I am neither plant nor paddy or barn
I am only to play in His tune no loss, no earn.

It’s about a week that I joined my new station. I am residing in the Rest House as my family quarter is not yet ready.
It’s a hill station. Rest House is located in a plateau by the close proximity of tall hills. Family Quarters are located nearby.
It’s calm and quiet place amidst pure nature.
My office is about a kilometer away from the Rest House. Office timing is from 7.30 in the morning up to 2 o’clock. Playing some games, sports or taking a walk is the schedule in the afternoon.
Waste water drained from Rest House coalesced into a man-made hole and irrigated into the terrace farming by makeshift treadle pump.
The sight of matured sticks of paddy with golden hue distracts the mind into a bizarre feeling of zero sum game. Final wait before giving up! The thought belie the conventional meaning of life.

Sudden cracking sound of bamboo clapper scares away the birds from the paddy field, quite a cacophony in this serenity, jerks me out of my thought.
A stilted shanty hay thatched hut is seen on the slope. A multi-color patchwork rope line is seen stretching from the hut to the bamboo clapper stuck erect in the paddy field. Someone is working the clapper to shoo away the birds by pulling the rope from inside that hut.
It is faintly seen that someone of tender age is working on the clapper system sitting in that hut. He seems to be very attentive in his commitment. He does not allow a single bird to tarry in the field.

It was after a week at about eight o’clock morning on a weekend, my six years old son, Sky was goading his mother to give breakfast and dress him up quickly.
-Do it fast mom, nephew would come right now, and I would go down to play with him. 
I got inquisitive and wanted to know who the nephew was?
What I could make out of Sky’s blabbering that he indicated the boy who pulls rope from that hut.
He scooted out of the room in a hurry telling that our servant boy, Zulfu Mia asked him to call the boy with that name as I inquired about that queer name.
I went out and sat on the verandah in a while.
I saw a soiled and tattered clad scraggly boy, with pitch dark skin in unkempt hair and with a protruding belly full of worm, playing with Sky. He would be about same age of Sky but much shorter than him.
My son and the boy are bursting into sporadic laughter while playing by the side of Rest House building. His present playful childish attitude does not betray the dutifulness he displayed sitting in the hut while pulling the bamboo clapper.
They are deeply involved in fun and frolic.
Intermittently the boy is taking rest and gasping out his tiredness by panting with his tongue out.
The birds are pecking and chirping in the paddy field unhindered almost by their side.
My boy servant, Zulfu Mia is also playing with them. I asked Zulfu Mia with a shout to pelt away the birds.
My shout also attracted the attention of the boy. He paused and took a look at the paddy field. But that did not bring any change in his playful attitude. He engaged himself in the frolicking regardless.
-The intensity of attention he displayed while on duty has completely evaporated as he came down from the hut. It appears that he has got back to his actual age group after getting off from his duty post.

I thought about the boy sometimes in my leisure. I feel bad of thinking that the age when he should engage in fun and frolic like my son but stark need of living coerces him to engage in work.
Very look of him reveals that he is sick. I thought of taking him to our departmental doctor and get him some medicine. I planned to call him on some holiday and also ask him about his parents.
I thought of asking his good name also at that time.

That was after a couple of days, I was delaying to go to bed as it was night before weekend. My son, Sky lied beside us and was also trying to sleep.
I don’t know why the face of the boy dawned on me.
-Son, how about your nephew? I asked Sky just like that.
-Nephew does not turn up for the last few days. Sky responded while yawning.
-Nephew does not turn up? I was a bit startled.
-Why does he not turn up?
Sky did not reply as he fell asleep and he is also not likely to know that. I thought.
It was not that late at night. I came out on to the verandah for a stroll.
The waxing crescent moon just before its first quarter is yet to sink beyond the western ridge line of the hills.
The hills of different height are standing cringed in cold winter. The home slope is illuminated with the blessing of moon light. Darkness has coalesced on the far side of the slope.
The ripe golden spikes of paddy are grinning in the moon light, appearing to be happy to immolate fulfilling its mission.
-It’s almost time for harvest. Now is the high time to shoo away the birds and the boy is absent! He must have fallen sick. I thought of myself.
Zulfu Mia sleeps in the followers quarter across a field from Rest House. It is clearly visible that his Room light is still on.
I just thought of calling him to know about the boy while strolling.

-Sir, do you need something? Zulfu Mia’s voice.
He must have seen me looking at his room and came out. I thought.
I learnt from Zulfu Mia that the boy lives on the other side of the ridge. His father, Kalu Mia works as a permanent labor in the horticulture farm under Admin Officer. His wife also works in different houses in officers’ quarter.
Admin Officer has a special liking for Kalu Mia and he unofficially permitted him to erect a hut on the other slope in govt. land. Firstly, it’s convenient for both of them to go back after day’s work, secondly, they can spend long hours on this side as it’s not much of difficulty to go back on the other side even it is late.
Admin Officer has cautioned Kalu Mia that in no way his hut on the other slope must be visible disturbing the natural beauty.
-Kalu Mia, terrace farming is officially rented to you, so, that’s not a problem but be very careful about your living hut, that is built illegally. I won’t have anything to do if reported by someone. You should live in a way that nothing is there.
Kalu Mia and his wife reside in that hut with utmost caution, keeping up with the warning of Admin Officer.

-The boy is not their own. He is son of Kalu’s brother. The boy lost both his parents when he was a baby. Kalu Mia brought him as they could not beget a child. They love him like their own son. Zulfu Mia informed.
-Nephew is not his name, Kalu Mia could not yet manage time to name the boy. He calls him ‘nephew’ and thus all call him by that.

I felt an uncanny whisper in my ear and next morning I went to see Nephew  along with Zulfu Mia.  
A narrow footpath winded up to the ridge through the cultivation.
It was quite tiresome to climb following the circuitous foot trail.
It’s full of jungle on the other side. It’s unlike the sight of hills I observe sitting on Rest House verandah.
After crossing the ridge line having descended few hundred feet, I noticed some orchard peeking out of the bushy undergrowth. A tin thatched hut was visible in thick fog under shade of tall trees. Those are plantation by forest department.

By that time, though the morning sun sucked the dew drops from the leaves of plants and blades of grass grown on the home slope, but on this reverse slope the chill dew drops were still growing bigger and thumping on the tin thatch of Kalu Mia’s hut.
The nature balked in stark silence and listens very carefully counting all the falls of reinforced dew drops.
A muffled sound of moaning wailed in the air as we got close to the hut. I balked, the moaning was so soft appeared to be coming from a distance.
Makeshift door of the ramshackle hut was open. Kalu Mia’s wife was moaning squatted on the bare dank floor.
The moan was feeble enough not to create any disturbance to the uninterrupted reign of nature. The nature stood dumb totally inebriated in the moan.
Kalu Mia was seen crouched beside a freshly dug heave of earth looking blank at the sky.
His bare body was completely soiled with fresh earth. A soiled shovel was lying beside.
A faint sound of wail wafted in the air.
Kalu Mia was sobbing silently. Lest that disturb others around.

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A fry is ever complacent for outwitting the big fish engrossed scanning in deep water for big target who couldn’t care less of the fry.  # Meher’s Quote.

Category: English, Short Story

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