I had just completed writing the last paragraph of the very first chapter for my project Ajner Kolegargh when the weather outside began to turn gloomy. The clouds had covered the clear blue sky and it was going to pour any minute. Thundering intensified the setting and it looked like a perfect retreat for my tired nerves. I stepped outside in the terrace to soak in the beauty of the village and to feel the first drops of rain on my skin. What made the rains so soothing in this tiny, obscure village of Punjab as compared to the torrents that I had experienced for years in my home town at Australia? Was the pure air casting its spell? Or was it some distant association with Gurneet, which tugged at my heart strings? Who knows! Whatever the reason be, the rains were right now nothing less than a blessing for me. As the aroma of the tea brewing in the kitchen wafted towards me, I spread my arms out wide and looked up at the sky to let the drops of rain wash away all the weariness. Ah! How soothing this is!
A month ago when I had reached Ajner, just outside my humble, temporary dwelling, right next to the post office, on the banks of the river, I had spotted this young lady listening to the news on her transistor. She wore a rusty red Patiala and had her head neatly covered with a matching dupatta. Her luminous skin was a total contrast to her eyes which mirrored hope and melancholy. Of a cheerful disposition and a lively demeanor, Gurneet was the first friend I made at Ajner. We often explored the vicinity of the village in our free time and listened to Punjabi folk songs over a cup of tea. I had grown to enjoy her company. It felt like home, away from home. We didn’t understand each other’s language but that didn’t seem necessary. Apart from a transistor for company, Gurneet also found solace in making wicker baskets and adorning it with pretty yellow flowers.
One day while taking a stroll in a field nearby, we happened to cross a tall, sturdy tree which made Gurneet uncomfortable. She was talking about something and on sighting the tree, she stopped midway. Her face mirrored a sense of worry and disappointment. A minute later she turned away and ran towards her home. I kept calling – ‘Gurneeeeeet, Gurneeet, Wait! What happened?’ She kept running…until I couldn’t see her anymore…
…to be continued