PrEm Ji

VILLAGE OF LOVE (Short story)

 

 

VILLAGE OF LOVE

 

‘Tomorrow is our tenth wedding anniversary,’ wife reminded me in the evening… ‘Shall we go for an outing?’

‘Surely’

‘And I would like to visit a temple too…’

‘O.K… I will take you to such a place which serves both…,’ I told while hugging her tightly.

‘Children may see it… leave me,’ she tried to resist.

‘Let them see… the intimacy of parents is their future asset for leading a happy life!’

‘Is it?’

She hugged me tighter! 

It was a Christmas day. 

‘krr..ning… kr….ning,’ my mobile phone started ringing mercilessly in the morning. Ajit, my bosom friend, was on the line. 

‘Good Morning Boss’

‘Don’t you allow me to sleep peacefully even in a holiday?’ I was getting angry... ‘Anyway Happy Christmas’

‘Premji, I didn’t call you up to greet ‘Happy Christmas’

‘Then?’

‘I have some sad news to share with. Pradeep met with a deadly bike accident last night and he is now admitted in the intensive care unit of Love-dale Medical College in Tiruvalla… Poor boy… His right eye is crushed and there is internal bleeding from two or three places in the brain... And the situation is very critical,’

‘Didn’t he have any helmet?’

‘Yes… but, the accident was deadly…’

‘Drunken driving?’

‘That I don’t know… but, possibilities are there… O.K… then… I just passed on the information… Now, you can sleep peacefully,’ he kept the phone.

‘Idiot!’

I was in deep anguish as Pradeep was my right hand in the department. As almost every morning train had left, I was forced to postpone my journey to the next day. 

When I reached Love-dale hospital on the very next day morning, his mother was sitting alone in the lobby next to the ICU.

‘How is he, now?’

‘O! He is still unconscious… Sir… and the internal bleeding isnot yet stopped,’ replied the old woman.

‘Is it so?’

‘If the bleeding is not going to stop, they might be forced operate his brain’

‘Will you please tell me what had happened exactly?’

‘He was on the way back home after meeting a friend… I don’t know what had happened exactly after that…,’ replied the old woman.

‘Where is his wife?’

‘O, she went to the pharmacy… Almost every one of his friends was here till yesterday evening… You know … the situation was really bad…’

Soon, silence encompassed us.

‘Any relatives of Pradeep?’ a beautiful nurse, who had just emerged out from the intensive care unit, cried out.

‘Yes… yes…,’ got up the old woman.

‘Only two people can visit him,’ said the nurse. ‘Please come in Amritha,’ told the nurse to a beautiful girl around twenty standing in front of the ICU.

‘Sir, please come with me,’ told the old woman.

‘You please go inside… I will wait here,’ I was unable to face his crushed face, still unconscious.

Amritha, the young girl, came out after two minutes and she started walking downwards. Pradeep’s mother was back after five minutes.

‘I am sorry… Sir, I didn’t notice your presence so far,’ Ranju, his wife, who was back from the pharmacy, told me. 

Amritha, wearing cheap but tidy clothes, was back with some medicines. She knocked softly on the glass-door of the ICU and the nurse showed up her head.

‘Chechee… (elder sister) He seems much better today,’ Amritha told Ranju.

‘Thanks God’

‘And how is Arun?’

‘Today also… he cried silently,’ the young girl said painfully. 

‘Everything will be al-right, Molu*’

*daughter…

‘Let’s hope so,’ Amritha walked away.

‘Who is she?’ I was so touched by her serene beauty.

‘She is Amritha… Arun, her husband, is lying next to Pradeep in the ICU… He too had met with a bike accident…,’ said Ranju.

‘So sad’

‘Really sad… He is just twenty four… You know… His body is totally paralyzed… Poor boy… He cannot even move a finger except his eyeballs…’ 

‘Poor girl,’ I said…. ‘By the way, do you have enough money with you?’

‘I can manage, Sir…’

One week passed and Pradeep was back into senses. He was so violent that the nurses were forced to tie down his hands and legs on the posts of the metal cot in the ICU.

It was a Saturday morning and I stood there in front of the ICU along with Ranju. Soon, a chubby nurse showed her face through the glass door.

‘Sir, please come in… I hope, you can pump some energy to his weakened mind… He is an ardent fan of you…,’ said Ranju.

‘I will meet him by next week,’ I told while my eyes were busy searching for someone.

‘Are you looking for Amritha?’

‘Yes’

‘She stopped visiting him,’ said Ranju painfully while walking inside.

I sank into the chairs placed outside of the ICU and closed my eyes. 

Amritha sat next to me. What a serene face!

‘We are from Parumala, an interior town nearby,’ Amritha started talking with me… ‘Arun is my childhood friend and I am in love from the very day we had met for the first time’

Arun Thomas, a twenty four old handsome boy from a local Christian family, was running an electrical shop in Parumala town. He used to work as popular electrician in the nearby areas. He lost his father when he was just seven. His poor mother was incapable of providing him better education. Unfortunately, he lost her too in a local bus accident.

It was the early hours of Sunday morning and he was carefully examining the burnt out coils of an electric motor. Amritha appeared there with a painful, still beautiful, smile on her face.

‘Hi Arun..’

‘Hi…Ammu… how come you are here in the morning?’ the young lad asked.

‘They are going to fix my marriage,’ there was bit uneasiness behind her voice.

‘Good news’

‘But, it doesn’t sound that good to me,’ she protested.

‘Then?’

‘I know just one thing, I will live with you,’ she said in a firm voice… ‘I will…’

‘Have you gone crazy? My god! I don’t have even a home…,’ he cried out… ‘Ammu… Please don’t spoil your life!’

‘That I don’t care…,’ she walked away.

Two months passed event-less and one more day was left with for her marriage. A huge shamiyana (temporary hall made of canvas decorated with colourful paintings) was erected in front of her house and her home was in a festive mood.

‘Mom… let’s go to the Devi Temple,’ said Amritha in the morning.

‘As you like…,’ mother told while coming her long hair.

Everyone has a reason to pray!

‘Please save us…Holy Mother,’ prayed Amritha. 

‘O! Holy Mother… Please, bless my daughter with a wonderful married life,’ prayed her mother silently while standing near the sanctum-sanctum of that ancient temple.

‘Are you happy, my daughter?’ the mother asked while they were getting into the car.

‘Mom… Let me see her once again… I will be right back…’

‘The holy mother?’

‘Yes…’ Amritha nodded her head and headed to the temple. 

Ten minutes passed and there was no trace of Amritha.

‘Did you see my daughter?’ enquired the mother to a beggar who was quite familiar to her for many years. 

‘I saw her going out through the other gate with a girl… Is there any problem, Madam?’

‘Let me check,’ the mother started running towards the other gate.

By that time, Amritha had covered at least three kilometers in her friend Anitha’s bike.

‘Arun, where are you?’ Amritha enquired through her friend’s mobile phone.

‘I am at work… Is there anything important?’ he asked casually…

‘Yes… Please come to ‘Pranayagramam’… the village of love’

‘What are you doing there?’

‘I am just waiting for you,’ she cut the phone.

‘She is crazy!’ Arun started wrestling with his old bike… and it came to life after the third kick.

‘Pranayagramam’ aka the village of love was founded by Anil, a filthy rich man, in memory of his beloved. It is a huge beautiful orchard spanning around ten hectares. To be very frank, it’s a commune of lovers as they are safe inside the huge walls of Pranayagramam. 

There are no written rules as the language of love is alphabet-less. Everyone’s income, however small that be, is added to a common pool and the needs of everyone was met with. The unemployed women cultivate nature fresh vegetables and fruits. They enjoy a collective living protecting their own individuality. Forty two couples were living there with a minimum of fifty children. It’s a magical world. It’s the last haven of true lovers! 

‘Ammu… come on… I will drop you at home,’ Arun told her calmly. 

‘I am not going anywhere,’ she replied boldly.

‘Then?’

‘We are going to get married right here… right now…’

‘What?’

‘Yes…,’ she pulled out a small piece of Gold from her purse. ‘Thali*’

‘You are crazy…’

‘Yes… crazy after you!’

*a symbol of marriage bond

Soon, their marriage was solemnized in presence of every inmate of Pranayagramam. A simple meal was served and a small room was allotted for the couple. 

‘Now, please switch off your mobile phone,’ Amritha cautioned him while switching off hers… ‘They should not track us.’

‘Bloody cheat,’ her mother couldn’t control her anger when she received a message from her ‘once beloved’ daughter… 

‘You have insulted us forever… My curse will follow you all life…’ Her Mom typed her reply message.

‘Sunnichan, kick him out from your shop,’ Amritha’s Dad ordered his best friend.

‘There is nothing to worry, dear Arun… We are destined to live happily,’ Amritha tried to console him.

‘But, how?’

‘Everything has a way out… Never worry about the problems… Think of the possibilities…,’ she pressed his fingers.

‘O.K… let’s empower the women here!’

True woman is a river of hope…She can cleanse your soul every moment!

A small scale industry to manufacture quality electrical equipment was soon opened in Pranayagramam. It was an all-women initiative and Arun started working as its technical advisor and chief marketing man.

‘Tomorrow is our first wedding anniversary,’ Amritha told him late in the afternoon. They were desperately making love, the poor man’s inexpensive enjoyment, for a pair of little legs! 

‘Do you have any plans…Ammu?’

‘Nothing special… I love to distribute some sweets among children…’

‘Where is Arun?’

Night grew darker and darker like the impatience of Ammu. She started dialing his number.

‘The mobile number you are calling is switched off,’ she was shocked to hear the reply from the other end.

‘O! God!’ Samuel, the oldest member of Pranayagramam cried out when located Arun lying unconscious on the roadside. The sweets were drenched in a pool of blood… His bike was crushed by some heavy impact...  ‘He might be knocked down by some huge truck owned the illegal sand-mining mafia…’

‘His mobile phone, purse and a Gold chain are missing,’ one of his friends pointed out… ‘Somebody even tried to remove his wedding rings too!’

‘Malayalis are real bastards…,’ Samuel couldn’t control his anger. Soon, he was admitted to the Love-dale Medical College.

‘We have removed two clots from his brain… another two more is remaining… I hope, we can dissolve them through medicines,’ Raman Nair, the head of Neurology department opined… ‘Almost every main bone in his body is broken… Liver is crushed…’

‘Sir… whatever may be the situation, please save him,’ requested Samuel.

‘But, the treatment is quite expensive…,’ the doctor walked away.

‘It seems your son-in-law had met with an accident?’ the middle-aged driver told Amritha’s mother while she was entering into the e-class Mercedes Benz.

‘My daughter is dead, long back,’ she replied arrogantly.

‘Madam… but, she is your one and only child… and she needs financial support now,’ opined the driver.

‘Tell me: what is your duty?’

‘To drive’

‘Then do that…,’ she slammed the car door out of anger.

Arun opened his eyes on the seventh day… Unfortunately, he could move only his eyes.

‘Arun, please try to move your fingers…,’ Amritha tried to encourage him. But, tears started flowing down, like torrents, from his painful eyes.

‘Arun… please…’

Unfortunately, there was no response. Soon, her financial sources started getting dried. 

‘He is a member of Pranayagramam… and we know how to arrange funds for him… we will try to give him maximum care we could offer,’ said an elderly inhabitant, while handing over her gold chain.

Days went on…and the tear-flow from his eyes kept on accelerating… 

It was a windy night and Amritha was about to sleep on the cold floor in front of the ICU.

‘Daughter…. Why do you sleep outside in the night?’ asked an elderly woman whose husband was admitted there for a bypass surgery.

‘Unfortunately, I cannot afford a room,’ replied Amritha.

‘You can stay with me as long as I am here… now, come with me…’

And in the same night, Pradeep was thrown in beside her husband. She stopped visiting Arun several days later as she couldn't stand his tears.

It was the second Saturday in January and we were standing in front of ICU.

‘Does he have any health insurance?’ I asked Ranju.

‘I don't think so... you know... He will be shifted to the ward, tomorrow,’ Ranju told me 

‘Ranju, have you seen Amritha?’ the chubby nurse, peaked her head out from the ICU, asked.

‘No...,’ she replied.

‘She is standing downstairs,’ I told.

‘Will you please call her?’

I started walking downstairs swiftly.

Amritha sat next to him in the bed and started patting his lean fingers. A huge expanse of calmness started shrouding his tear-free eyes. And after several days, Amritha could feel uncontrollable wetness in her eyes. She planted a parting kiss on his pale forehead. He tried to smile desperately and closed his eyes forever. Soon, she too leaned on his body and her long hair strands started tickling his dead eyelashes. 

Pradeep slept peacefully unaware of all these happenings. Ranju tried to go beside Amritha.

‘Please don't... let her cry for some time,’ I stopped her quickly.

Fifteen minutes passed and the doctor appeared from somewhere, panting. He was a retired professor from a government medical college. 

‘Amritha...,’ he called out... ‘Please get up dear... let me check him,’

Unfortunately, she didn't respond to his words. 

‘My God..,’ the old man cried out as she had lost her pulse... ‘Cardiac arrest,’ 

By witnessing two deaths simultaneously, I felt like fainting... Heavy-hearted, I started walking out...

At last, their bodies were released from the hospital. When the ambulance carrying their body was about to move, the vehicle was stopped by Amritha’s parent’s car.

‘Release my daughter’s body,’ she cried out.

‘If you want, take them both,’ the crowd started shouting.

‘Release her body… otherwise, we will complain to the police,’ her father started threatening the inmates of Pranayagramam… ‘She is our daughter….’

‘You can have her body upon my dead-body,’ Samuel, the commune leader of Pranayagramam started getting angry… 

‘Whose daughter? Your daughter is dead long back,’ their driver gave way to the ambulance…

‘They will kill you on the spot if you open your mouth again,’ he threw the car keys at her feet. ‘I quit…’

The men and women from Pranayagramam washed their body covered them with fresh cloths. So serene were their faces, which glittered in the evening Sun. She resembled a bride, sleeping; At last, they both started their eternal sleep, together, in a freshly dug grave under a huge Banyan tree. Even the breeze stopped blowing at Pranayagramam. We all were wet by a light, unexpected, rain.

‘Have you seen Tajmahal?’ my wife asked our boys.

‘No… it seems somewhere in North India,’ my younger son poured out his general knowledge.

‘It is here…,’ she told them while lighting a small oil-lamp in front of the grave of Amritha and Arun, which was converted into a small shrine… They remain the gods of Pranayagramam… ‘Do you know the meaning of Amritha?’

‘Deathless… eternal… Am I correct?’ asked my elder son.

‘You are right…then what about Arun?’

‘Arun means the Sun,’ shouted my younger son.

‘True love is eternal… trillion times brighter than the Sun!’ I hugged my family...

Soon, we were drenched by a drizzle, quite unexpected!

 

PREMJI

 

 

  • Author: PrEmJi PrEmJi (Pseudonym) (Offline Offline)
  • Published: June 16th, 2021 08:35
  • Category: Unclassified
  • Views:

Comments2

  • Fay Slimm.

    That village of Love sounds like a magical world Prem but what a tragedy for Arun and Amritha - true love is certainly deathless - a very well told and memorable read.

    • PrEm Ji

      Thanks dear Fay

    • L. B. Mek

      so much depth
      thanks for sharing

      • PrEm Ji

        Thanks dear Mek



      To be able to comment and rate this poem, you must be registered. Register here or if you are already registered, login here.