Once upon a time in early summer holidays, Suriya and
Prakash along with two of their kith and kin Pruznaw and Dina went for a couple
of days outing to their hill side land. There they camped in the open on a vast,
desolate plateau along with a group of village friends from the out of sight
villages down below and flanking the Kareva (Plateau).
On the southern side, the plateau was crowned with snowy
mountains slopping down through crimson-blue rocks underneath pinewoods
embroidered with sapphire margins of flowery meadows. It commanded a marvelous
view of rural Kashmir down below in the distance.
There being no source of water on the plateau, utensils etc
had to be cleaned on a tiny little far off spring down below. The two
adolescents were assigned the job and the village friends supplied the fuel.
Suriya and Prakash cooked the rice and vegetables the party had carried with
The sky was clear and starry. The moon shone bright and
shed its soft, silvery beams of light calmly to help them share the dinner with
the merry group of their village friends. Folksongs and folklore and local folk
dances and Banda-Pather Banda-Pather is a form of local drama of Kashimir
entertained the party throughout the welcome moonlit night studded with
scintillating stars. Breakfast, lunch, dinner became a routine matter and
moonlight merriments too as expected.
While Suriya and Prakash remained busy with their own
business and local strolls, the two adolescents Pruznaw and Dina went down and
up to the other plateau to their maize fields. There they busied themselves in
picking up apples and walnuts, gorging out the Kernels from the latter and ate
them with relish with self baked maize from the fields.
Sitting at ease and enjoying eating the fruits of their
hard work. Pruznaw and Dina scanned the various aspects of scenic beauty of the
terrain that surrounded them each according to his own appreciative capacity.
While doing so they were attracted by the sight of silver crown rising like that
of the colorful crest over a heoposh's head and shining like the spread out
feather's of a peacock amongst the crimson blue background of giant rocks walled
below by needle green pine woods that guarded the riot of colors of the waving
flowers tossing their heads in the pleasant breeze blowing from the whistling
woods over velvety glens of emerald green, The charming panorama that used
diffused its perfumed fragrance all around.
As the fragrant air entered the nostrils of the robust
youths, they were charmed and bewitched. They felt as if they were beckoned on
for a welcome visit and adventure. They couldn't resist the temptation and
prepared to respond positively the next day.
The collegian Praznaw collected some walnuts and ruddy
cheeked white apples to be presented to his old school teacher and Principal en
route at Gogji Pather where he and
his father had gone on summer holiday to live in two single storey simple huts
on one side of Nilnag facing the woods across the lake.
Soon after breakfast and lunch early the very next morning
they set on to their trekking journey for purposes of exploration in the hither
to unknown terrain for them.
On reaching Nilnag, Praznaw entered the compound keeping
Dina outside with the said load of fruits till he could obtain his old teachers
consent to accept the respectful present. There he saw his old teacher and his
wife sitting on the verandah of a small single story hut engaged in
Praznaw walked around and took his first step to enter
without seeking permission according to the British custom and style of
etiquette. No sooner did he so than he was harshly shouted out.
Praznaw was stunned and remained immovable for a few
Regaining his wits, Praznaw retraced his steps and came out
crest fallen still ruminating over what had happened. On his way out in the
compound, he encountered the Principal Father and son occupying two humble huts,
one behind the other on the slope of the plateau overlooking the lake and pine
forest across on the opposite side-as said above. The principal affectionately
reciprocated Praznaw's shaky greetings and asked how he happened to pass that
"Hello my boy! How do you do? What brings you here
Praznaw in an uncertain low tone, replied.
"Sir, How do you do? My cousin and I had planned a
trek this way from our land, a few miles away. I had thought of paying my
respects to my old teacher, Mr. Eric and make, a regardful present of sweet
apples and walnuts to him.. ... "
C.E. Tyndale Biscoe was happy to know this and jokingly
"Where is your cousin?"
Praznaw, "Sir, he is waiting outside with the load of
the said present."
"And, is there nothing for me?" retorted the
Already perturbed and puzzled, Praznaw stood mum like a
statue. He fumbled and failed to respond to the kind query saying goodbye quite
curtly he departed out still emanating over the surprisingly wild behavior of
"Has the seclusion in the wilderness of the wild
disturbed his mind? Has the darkness of the forest darkened his vision? Or has
he lost his power of recognition or has loneliness given rise to suspicious mind
Praznaw's return back continued lurking in his mind and
haunting him on the return trek.
What a clash of psyches and conflicting attitudes!