The sun was setting on the February sky throwing its tired orange hue over the mountains. The red of palash had colored the wood surrounding the Town. In that setting sun orange it seems the wood had been set on fire.
“Galpo Dadu, Nayantara has come to your abode for the first time; are you not going to treat her with a story…” Ruby said.
Ferdouse was looking over the jungle; he without turning said “he is tired Ruby…don’t ask for a story from him…”
Dip was arranging the offerings of the day at one side; from there he said, “yes…and she had been listening to his story…not today…but for last few months…”
A was sitting on a rock and thinking something; in a aloof voice he said, “but is Dadu tired…Dadu, are you…”
Nayanika was helping Dip in the arrangement. She was going to join in, when Dadu said “who says I’m tired…Nayantara is here for the first time at my abode…and I am not only going to treat her with sweetmeats…come here…all of you…”
He sat down on a boulder that was at the edge of opening in front of the cave. This one hides the entrance to the cave from others.
Everyone sat down on the gravel bed in front of the boulder in a circle.
“So what are we going to listen to Dadu…” Nay asked; she was little bit of excited.
The old storyteller looks around. The red-colored wood was surrounding the Town, serene and calm with smoke swirling up from some chimneys. The mountain around was reddish orange. From distant whistle of a train was heard. He saw someone was coming up the swirling mountain path.
“Oh Dadu…where did you got lost…” Nayanika asked.
“Rakshit is coming up…let him come up…let him join us…Rakshit, hurry up son…” he called out Rakshit like a father calls his children.
Rakshit ran up for the last few steps and sat down beside the boulder squatting on his knees. He was panting. Nayantara passed him a sweet from her split. He smiled and started chomping on it slowly. Dadu looked at this as well others. A got up and brings water in a clay pot use for tea, and put it down in front of him.
Dadu cleared his voice and started saying in his heavy broken voice, “that time it was a time of turmoil…”
The time was a turmoil one. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was at the throne. There were war and killing of innocents and royal blood holder. At that time a group of five from the emperor army decided to abandon all this war and chaos. There leader was…He was thirty years old and much smaller in age than the other in group. But he was chosen because he was an educated one as well as a witty fellow.
Their chief commander when heard to their abandonment through his spies he was enraged and ordered the kill at sight all of them. When they heard the news they decided to gather and fled at once.
The night was amabashya that is of the new moon. The sky was star lit with a constellation across the sky. The path was dark; they to avoid being spotted had not lightened a flambeau or lantern. They were guiding their horses to hoof silent and neigh in low. Though sometimes the hooves of the horses were crashing down some pebbles or gravel; their neighs sometimes making a noise like that of nocturnal birds.
They were just few miles away from their camp when an owl hooted startling one of the horses, and its neighs out loud—enough to arouse an inattentive guard to regain his attention.
“Whose goes there…halt…at this moment…” the guard from the tower howled (Dadu heavied his voice clasping his mouth).
They kicked their horse belly to gallop. They cut through the wind galloping at the highest of the pace. They could hear soldiers were out in pursuit for them….looked beyond and saw a group of horse riders was chasing them. He shouted to his companions to speed up more. Few arrows passed them; one goes away touching his shoulder—a ping of pain he had felt. But there was no time to look after it.
All the night they, he and his horse ran; sometimes at first he was looking beyond to check on his companions and chasers. After, but, when the arrow touched him away he was not able to look beyond. He was bleeding profusely. Before he faint the last thing he saw there were no one else, except he and his horse and the darkness of the night. He couldn’t decide where they were heading to. He faint on his horse back who understanding they were out of peril halted for a while. As he was panting a ripple reached his ears. He jolts in a new energy and starts moving slowly and softly towards the noise.
He had not to walk a lot for the water. For last few moments he was also experiencing something down his noise. He dipped his nose at first and looking at the water getting colored, it got scared. He moved back a little; but his tongue was perched and dry. So he closed his eyes and start drinking. As he was drinking he felt his back becomes light. He put up his head from the water and looked beyond. His master had fallen on the grass and was not moving. He licked his face, that was still warm, but he makes a noise as he does when he was asleep and a fly or mosquito disturbed him.
He looked around, and neighed in low but deeply. He was scared. He decides to have the grass around not leaving his master out of his sight. Yes, you all can see how witty the horse was as if he was a man. And yes he thus exist it is not a figment.
…when woke up saw the false dawn breaking. You might not know the false dawn. It was just before the dawn break; this dawn fools the animals and birds of the jungle. Sometimes the rooster also makes his call mistakenly at this time.
So where I was…yes when he woke up he saw it was the false dawn. His horse, let’s give us a name, to honor him. Chaand, let’s us call him that. Chaand was drowsing at the bank of a rivulet. His white body was smeared with red colored blood of him. His nose was bleeding which had clot between his nose and mouth. He crawled to the rivulet and dipped his face in the water. The cold of the flowing stream made him feel soothing. Suddenly a jerk brought him out of the water. It was Chaand. He had thought his master was drowning.
…again fainted. Next time when he woke up he found himself in a room. He looked around getting up on his elbow, but couldn’t hold that position falling on the bed again. A moan came out of his mouth in pain. The noise brought an old woman in the room. She smiled—though she was toothless. And took up a clay bowl and helps him to drink it.
A month passed away.
…became accustomed with the old woman and her family and people. She was the oldest woman in the group of a nomadic tribe. They had picked him up from the side of the rivulet with Chaand. Chaand had also regained his strength and has become acquainted and comfortable with the other horses and the caretakers of the stable. The tribe was not a crowded one; there were hardly twenty people there.
By the order of the new king (Aurangzeb it was) their jungle was cut down to make the path to the battlefields and to used the lumbers and the cut-down trees to form weapons and to use as fuel. That time, during they were escaping, the tribe was of above hundred. After moving together for few weeks, their leader decided to split up and find a home for them in a suitable place. Calculating the chart and reading the position of the stars, they decided to meet where they are getting separated. The time was six months from them. When they found…, they were moving to decided meeting point—it was fifth month of the decided time.
They waited in the jungle for the three or four months.
….doesn’t got separated from them. He became one of them. Three months passed from the sixth month. In this four-month they had set up a village there. When they understand that no one would be coming, they sat down on a meeting. The old woman was very much ill and was spending her day most of the time lying down on her bed. I forgot to say of her granddaughter.
The granddaughter was about sixteen years old. She was not beautiful as you must expect but there was a magic in this no-beauty of her. Her father and mother had gone with the other tribe while she remained behind with her grandmother who decided to be with the one who will remain close to the meeting point. It was she who while taking bath in a rivulet saw Chaand and discovered his master—lying in pool of his own blood. He was breathing slowly and his beats were very slow. She called other and carried him to the hut of her grandmother’s.
Yes, when the meeting was happening they were in love. What else can have happened. So, after discussion minced with debates and angry words, it was decided that they will settle down there at the foothills of the mountain. It was also decided there will be a marriage.
The night of the marriage was of full moon. The season was spring. The breeze smelt of nocturnal spring flowers and the bluish silver moon light was signing all over the vale. Like to-eve.
The old storyteller stopped here.
The evening had really arrived. They haven’t realized when this happened. The moon was full and shining brightly in the early spring eve. A wind was blowing from the mountain on the opposite and becoming breeze while passing over the wood and Town reaching them.
The silence was broken by Rakshit; he said “and thus a town was born in the union of the moon and the wind.”