Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On a winter night

Life has taken Rajneesh Vaid of Pendra Road to an unwanted flight of gloominess on the chilly night that he would remember for his life time because there are few things that happen in life only to haunt you forever…as told to Rashmi Drolia.
I can never forget the frosted fate that night contained in its breast for me and him as well. It’s even harder to forget those helpless and complaining eyes begging in front of me.
It struck exactly two at midnight when I stepped down on the Bhilai Powerhouse railway station. The chill and fog soon hogged up the passengers who boarded off with me on the station. I was supposed to move to my brother’s place but I didn’t, first, because I didn’t want to disturb him midnight, second there were no conveyance available and ofcourse, the night really seemed like a virgin bride.
Excited to enjoy the beauty of night I walked towards the lone tea stall to give myself a warm quaff of ‘ispesal chai’. Though the tea stall was more of a man with teapot and stove but he looked like a warm lifeline to me. Highway beside the stall was attired with smoke of boiling tea merged in the thick fog that gleamed occasionally with running vehicle’s light, stabbing the smog till the other end. I have always loved this facet of night when I am able to see it from this close that slowly slips away into dawn.
I asked the chaiwala to make it strong while I lit up my cigarette. The first whiff was as soothing to chest as was the ‘kiyukiyu’ sound of that puppy to my ears from across the road. I continued hearing without looking at him. Chaiwala placed the grubby glass in front of me when the sound painfully pitched with the bone-chilling wind. Oh! He must be whimpering due to cold, I thought. Chaiwala noticed me glancing at the shivering puppy and he offered to explain “Saheb I have already covered it with a sheet but as it’s frigidly cold for that baby, he is moaning. In fact he had 4-6 siblings who succumbed to cold, this one will hopefully survive as the season is soon going to end and also he has a quilt now.”
Suddenly I whistled towards the pup while listening to chaiwala, once, twice..the baby dog lazily moaned to stand and stretch only to lie back on its cozy quilt. Returning the grubby glass to chaiwala I stood up holding my shoulder bag and whistled again towards him. This time he sluggishly stood on the quilt and played with its fur on head. Meanwhile desire to have one more glass of tea took over and I was struggling with thought of having it or not. It was then that the puppy looked at me as if asking “what dude, whom are you whistling at, is it me?”
I ordered for another tea and affectionately whistled at him. Affection is something that even an animal understands. His eyes almost glittered with fondness and he stepped towards me. He was on mid of the road when those two lights glared from between the fog and stamp-crossed the squeal that still echoes in my ears. My heart stopped beating! I raced towards him where his rear legs and half of stomach were stuck flat to the road and he groaned to full strength standing on his front legs. He looked at me for the second time. A stare that urge suicide. His gaze begged for life, pained with complains and questioned me “why”.
My eyes refused to see it anymore and I looked away but couldn’t bury the groans he made breathlessly. I cursed myself. I was mumbling a doom’s prayer within. It was granted soon when two lights flashed again and stamp-crossed another wail of the same pup. The highway turned lifeless. And without exchanging looks with chaiwala I went away, the shoulder bag then seemed gravely heavy.

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