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Short Stories
Kokila Devi
       The day was nearly over. The setting sun cast an unusual glow of vermilion. Hundreds of red gold lotuses bloomed in the vast empyrean. Notes of farewell resonated in the four corners. Birds returned to their nests, their parting melodies resounding in all directions. The indigo of the distant mountains gently merged into the vast azure. Soon the blue of the forests turned dove gray. Hundreds upon hundreds of bats hanging from the branches in clusters, made the hollows of the trees look fearful. There was darkness everywhere. Darkness covered the heart. A dark curtain suddenly dropped. All became still and immobile.
       All on a sudden, the Tandava dance of Nature stopped. The heart overflowed with joy. In uneven rows, millions of stars ascended and escorted the queen moon to the sky. Moon beams flooded the earth. It was as though the nature Goddess had recovered her youth.
       Sitting in the courtyard in front of our house, I was lost in thought. Suddenly my blood quickened and the stupor was gone. I heard the conversation of two persons at the wall facing the rear enclosure to the house. The voice was soft, the tone indistinct. Slowly I got up. I craned my ears in the direction of the voice and yet could not grasp everything. Driven by curiosity, I listened more attentively.
       A Man and a woman. The woman said in a thin voice: "Why do you deceive me any longer?"
       Whispered the male: "Why should I dupe you, my dear? Billi! Am I such a knave that I'll set you adrift in the shoreless seas?"
       The female: "I have no faith any more in your words. Chhi! Chhi! Why was I ever born? Me, the fallen one! Oh Hari!"
       There was nothing left for me to imagine. It was agonizing to wait till the curtain was finally drawn over the act. The dikes of my patience broke. I could not restrain any longer and called out: 'Jagu! Jagu! Jagu did not reply. Only the murmur of the dry leaves was heard. Along with that the running feet of the two in a state of breathlessness! Suddenly the world reeled before me. Instead of the softness, beauty and grandeur of a moment ago, there now grew in me a revulsion towards the world. I wondered how there could be so much of evil in such a beautiful earth laden with fruits, flowers and creepers? How could the same earth bear bestiality where the child partook nectar in the lap of the mother, the creeper rose supporting itself on the trees, and the cuckoos thrived in the nests of the crows? Could this be the same earth where the brothers went to peaceful sleep with trusting hands around each other, where clouds and lightning played together, where the hills and skies joined hands, and the sky with that of the ocean? How can such injustice exist here? Is this the same earth where the heat of summer becomes cool by rain, moon beams kiss the arid land and lotuses bloom in the muddy pond? How can such blindness exist? Is this the same world where the child laughs in the bosom of the young widow and diamonds drop from the mouth of a baby, brightening a poor man's cottage. What utter cruelty! What travesty of Truth! I found no answers to such questions. Where was the end to such ugliness? A great desolation arose in my heart. It seemed as though the world would plunge into bottomless pits that very moment, leaving behind a huge deluge with only sharks and alligators.




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