Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh
Canon, August 2017
I know not if you will receive this letter, but I found some old papers to write on, and I have ample time.
You all have left years ago, and don’t intend to come back anymore. You live in places where stairs move on their own, and I have only seen trains do. Your skies are only covered with buildings. So you talk about your city, and never mention the village. And this house? Only a couple pillars and half a room along with a pile of rubble remain of what was once a mansion coated in lustre. Only I have remained here, as decayed as this brick baggage, and witnessed chunks of plaster crumble, the storeys give in. But the crisp gold sunlight still shows on the beautifully carved mermaid fountain, even though she has lost her nose, and one of her arms. The mango tree at the end of the courtyard occasionally gives me tiny unripe fruits. They are pretty useless, but help me recall how you all raced barefoot to collect plump mangoes during storms. I accidentally dropped a steel bowl the other day. The earful clank increased tenfold and echoed everywhere in the middle of the night. The sound was strangely familiar to the sound of cymbals, during Pujas. I loved the sound of cymbals as a child. It echoed in my brain until I drifted off to sleep, smelling the fire mixed with sandal, and camphor; dreaming of clay pots and vermilion. These days I seem to accidentally drop the small steel bowl more often as I walk in and out of my room, waiting for something to collapse.
Via Daily Prompt:-
Raman stared earnestly at the conveyor belt, his face, a clear reflection of anxiety. A resident of the rural town of Mannpur, this was the first time Raman left his town, and travelled to the city on a plane. Dressed in a spotless white dhoti, Raman slowly and carefully went through each procedure until he got into the plane.
Sitting stiffly with his seatbelt on and eyes closed, Raman somehow spent two hours and hurried outside as soon as the flight landed. With a lot of help from the ground forces, he found the conveyor belt. He was awed at the mechanism of the flat, moving belt carrying everyone’s luggage. He decided that collecting his stuff from the conveyor belt would certainly be the most fascinating part of his journey. After missing his luggage, and mistaking another’s for his own a few times, Raman finally gathered his bags after half an hour. The place was almost empty. But he soon realised that he didn’t collect his box of mangoes. He frantically started looking for his box around him. It was nowhere to be seen. The empty belt kept moving in a single direction. He tried looking for the flight staff, but he was the only person standing around the moving belt. Raman walked all the way to the other side, then back. Didnt find his box of mangoes. Frustrated, he even tried peeping inside through the rubber strips. In a moment of wild despair he considered climbing on the belt and take a look inside, but decided otherwise. They must’ve stolen it- Raman thought. But he had heard that airport authorities take special care of passengers’ luggages. But what else could’ve happened to his mangoes? After waiting for ten whole minutes before the mesmerising belt, he turned around walked towards the exit with a heavy heart. He was convinced that his box was stolen. Raman was almost at the exit, when a solitary cardboard box came up through the rubber curtain. The lonesome box took a full round and a second one and came up for the third. Raman was already on a taxi, on his way to his hotel.
“So, are you ready to do me a personal favour?”, she ask me. I stood still, I did not answered. I was scared. Mother taught me to run from business like this. Mother told me that God loves good people. But I think I am good no more. I stealed. But I was so hungry. I got no food for three days and three nights. Nobody give me money when I beg. So all I take was one apple! That lady has so many apples. Look like a mountain of red. Then she call me a thief. She said she will call the police to put me in jail. But if I do her work, she won’t call the police. I say I will do her work, because I don’t go in jail. Think I can’t say no, even if she ask me to do some bad work for her.
“So now that you have agreed, meet me tomorrow outside my house early in the morning and I’ll give you a packet which you shall deliver, at a certain address”, the shopkeeper eyed the young boy sharply. He was clearly nervous, but she knew he wouldn’t dare budge from his promise. He was too scared to be put behind bars. She smiled scornfully at the ‘thief’.
When I reach her house this morning, she gave me a big brown paper bag. It was sealed. She didn’t say what it has inside. Just give me an address. When I ask her, she looked at me angrily. So I kept quiet. I started walking. It’s a faraway place. I has to walk fifty miles outside the village, eastwards. Today she gave me two apples to eat on my way. Maybe she isn’t that bad. Maybe she’s just acting around nice because she knows she given me bad work to do. But what’s in the parcel? I shaked it too many times on my way. Nothing. No sound, no movement. Alright, I don’t want to think. I feel very scared though.
As I walked and walked in the told direction, I finally reach a house. It was old, almost falling apart. Trees grew around it, the windows have no glass. I knocked on the door three times as she said to do. After some time, a man opened the door and look at my face. He was confused, but he smiled broadly when he saw the parcel in my hand. Grabbing it, he rushed inside. Meanwhile, a small dirty boy came and stood behind him and watched me curiously. He ask when the man left, “Who are you?”. I wanted to ask him the same question, but I said, “I am the delivery man.” “But mother never had a delivery man!”, he blurt out. Shocked, I ask, “Who mother?” The child replied happily, “My mother has a fruit shop in bazaar. Every month she sends fruits and sweets for us. But she broke a leg a few days ago, so we thought no sweets for us. But she remembered.”
I manage to ask, “Why don’t you stay with her?” The man called out to the boy at this point. Scared, he look back. Before hurriedly closing the door, he quickly whisper to me, “Because we are her sons from the other father.”