Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

Milchar

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Milchar
April-June 2002 issue

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

  Story
Charu & the Witch - Part 2
... Uncle M.K. Raina
<<< Part 1

M. K. RainaCharu needed help, but there was nobody who would and he did not have the flying horse either. Charu kept his calm. He did not reveal his dream to anyone. Of now his only mission was to rescue Gulu. He collected as much information as possible about Vismainag, from people in the village.  ďWhat if I donít have the horse", thought Charu, "I still have Tara, whom I can rely onĒ. He carried his pet white dog, Tara to the banks of Hapatara, where they always played. He related the episode of Guluís vanishing, to him. He repeated it several times, presuming that some day, Tara would understand and help him. On each occasion Tara would bark  for a while, and then sit at Charuís feet and lick them, as if consoling him. 

 Charuís parents were very much worried about their sonís mental state. He would not eat or dress properly.  Every time, he enquired about Vismainag, they would pray him not to think about that place. But they were sure, he was determined to go to find Gulu. 

 One sunny afternoon Charu and Tara were sitting at the bank of Hapatara. Tara, as usual, was licking Charuís feet. All of a sudden Tara stood up, looked at the pond across and dived into the waters of Hapatara. He swam across, and ran towards the pond. He smelt its water, and raised his head high and barking loudly, disappeared into the bushes. Charu was shocked. Tara, his only hope, was also lost. He wept bitterly. 

 Charu was fast asleep when he felt someone pulling his leg. He was overjoyed to see Tara at his feet with an amulet in his mouth. This was Guluís amulet.  He took it into his hands and kissed it. Tara was staring at Charuís face. Charu patted him. Tara turned towards Vismainag and barked, as if telling his master that he had found the amulet there. Charuís joy knew no bounds, for, Tara had returned alive and that too with Guluís amulet. Charu thought, time had come to sneak into the witchís domain. 

 Next day, Charu met his friend Ketak and told him about his secret plans of rescuing Gulu. Ketak thought, it was suicidal to even think of going to Vismainag. But he promised not to divulge Charuís plans to anyone. Charu decided to set out for the mission on the Poornima day, just 3 days away, for two reasons. One, he would get ample time to make necessary arrangements for the journey, and secondly, if he were late in reaching witchís fort, moonlight would help him trace the path. 

 Charu collected all he thought was necessary for the mission, in an animal-skin sack and hid it in the bushes in his backyard.  He kept awake for the whole night, lest he may miss the opportune time of departure. Tara stood to accompany him. 

 It was early dawn. Charu saw the first rays of sunlight, faintly illuminating the periphery of a big cloud, in the eastern horizon. He stood up and looked at his parents, who were fast asleep. ďThey would never know of me and my plans, if I do not returnĒ, thought Charu. In the heart of hearts, he felt sorry for them,  prayed for their welfare and left silently. He collected his bag from the bushes and started towards his destination. Tara followed him. It was dawn when they crossed the Hapatara. They moved quickly so as to reach Vismainag as early as possible. Tara led the way.

 Much before noon, they reached the deep ravine at the foot of Vismainag. Width at its banks was not much but, yet, one could not jump across. Going deep down the ravine and climbing up  the other bank, would take them most part of the day, as the slopes were very steep and they had no time. Charu looked around in dismay and to his surprise, there were two huge trees on either side of the ravine. He had carried a rope along but how would he tie it to the tree across? Charu looked at Tara. Tara barked softly, as if telling his master that he was ready to perform any feat.  Charu tied one end of the rope to the tree on this side and threw its other end across. He did not succeed at the first attempt and repeated the exercise again and again till he succeeded. As he looked down the ravine he saw Tara running fast, on his way down and then up to the bank, near the tree. Tara wound the rope around the tree as firmly as he could do. 

 Charu tied the bag around his back, held the rope with his hands and began moving across the ravine, while Tara kept a vigil. Slowly and steadily, Charu moved along the rope and finally reached to the bank across. His palms were bruised, causing him a lot of pain, but he was glad to have passed the first test. 

 After having rested for a while, he looked around. He could not see beyond a few trees. Charu had heard that the witches were capable of transforming living beings into any other form. In order to avoid confusion he tore a piece of cloth from his shirt and tied it to Taraís limb. Tara then moved ahead,  sniffing around, followed  by Charu. Going up the hill was tough and the worry of being traced by the witch made it all the more tedious. 

 By noon, Charu was half way to the top. He decided to rest and so climbed on to a tall tree to avoid wild animals. Tara as usual kept guard. After taking some rest, Charu decided to continue his journey ahead. He was about to climb down when he heard Tara barking gently, looking up the tree. Charu heard some noises. He tried to listen very carefully but nothing was clearly audible. He kept his breath low and signalled Tara to hide himself in the bushes near by. In a moment, there was a strong wind blowing. All the trees started swaying. The wind was so strong that Charu felt he would be thrown off the brach  any moment. He held the branch as firmly as he could. A passing cloud covered the sun. It was dark, yet Charu could see through the tall trees. He looked in the direction of the sound and there, at some distance behind the trees, he saw a white cloth swaying.The very next moment, he could see a long arm rising from behind the bushes, and then emerged a tall figure with apparently two horns over her head. In one of her hand, she held a white dog by his ear and walked away towards the top of mountain. Charu was baffled. Was it Tara? This very thought drained out all his energy. He was startled when he heard mild bark below. He looked down and was glad to see Tara coming out of the bushes with the piece of cloth still tied to his leg. Dark cloud passed and it was bright again. He climbed down and embraced Tara.  Tara tugged at Charuís outer robe as if telling him that there was no time to waste.

 Both Charu and Tara walked up the hill quickly. Charu did not stop on the way to eat or to rest. He was determined to reach the top before nightfall. He finally reached there by evening. On the other side of the mountain was a mild descent leading to a vast lush-green plain. But there were no birds around. Perhaps the wicked witch had eaten them all. 

 There was no trace of the witch, but Charu could see smoke emanating from a chimney at the farthest end. He looked carefully. He saw a cave like structure, surrounded by trees. Charu was sure, this was the abode of the witch. He ate some fruits after giving Tara his share, and then set again towards the cave.

 Charu did not take the straight path but chose a steep descent onto a stream below, which he was sure, was Hapatara. He quenched his thirst first and so did Tara. Then Charu rested on a boulder while planning his next move. Tara was having fun meanwhile. Charu cautioned him, for, he feared the witch may locate them. In the moonlight, they started moving in the direction of the cave along the row of bushy trees, which had grown all along the right bank of Hapatara. 

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