Tag Archives: hillock

BOOK REVIEW: TOPAZ BY RUSKIN BOND

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Ruskin Bond as we all know, is an Indian author of British descent. He has made exemplary contribution in the field of children’s books and even ghost stories. Topaz is one such story that I’ve picked up for you. The story is set up in the backdrop of Himalayas. It is written in first person. Where, at a point the narrator or the protagonist confirms he is a writer, and that, in a way also confirms that it is the author himself narrating the story.

    The story opens in the pine-clad slopes of the Himalayas. The protagonist, is, in his room, listening to some music that reminds him of the strains of “The Blue Danube” and concurrently the wonderful sight of Pine-clad slopes of Himalayas. He has a new record player with old records that he has picked up from the junk-shop behind the Mall.

    Below the pines there are oaks. Surprisingly, one oak-tree in particular catches his eye. It is the biggest of the lot and stands by itself on a little hillock below his cottage. There is breeze but not strong enough to sway its heavy branches. There is also something moving, swinging gently from the tree, keeping pace with the music of the waltz, dancing ….

    It appears as if someone is hanging from the tree.

    A rope oscillates in the breeze, when a dead body turns slowly, turns this way and that way, is when he sees the face of a girl, her hair hanging loose, her eyes sightless, hands and feet limp; just turning, turning, while the waltz plays on.

    He turns off the player and runs downstairs.

    Down the path through the trees, and on to the grassy hillock where the big oak stood.

    A long-tailed magpie takes fright and flies out from the branches, swooping low across the ravine. In the tree there is no one. A great branch extends half-way across the hillock, and it is possible for him to reach up and touch it. But a girl could not have reached it without climbing the tree. He thinks.

    As he stands there, gazing at the branches, someone speaks to him from behind.

    ‘What are you looking at?’

    He swings around. Only to see a girl standing around in the clearing, facing him. A girl of seventeen or eighteen; alive, healthy, with bright eyes and a tantalizing smile. She is indeed lovely to look at. He hadn’t seen such a pretty girl in years.

    ‘You startled me,’ he says. ‘You came up so unexpectedly.’ he added.

    ‘Did you see anything—in the tree?’ she asked.

    ‘I thought I saw someone from my window. That’s why I came down. Did you see anything?’ said the writer.

    ‘Oh no!’ She exclaimed and shook her head, the smile escaping her face for a moment. ‘I don’t see anything. But other people do—sometimes.’

    ‘What do they see?’ asked the writer.   

    ‘My sister?’ she replied.

    ‘Your sister?’ rebounded the writer.

    ‘Yes she hanged herself from this tree. It was many years ago. So, sometimes you can see her hanging there.’ She answered in a mechanical fashion.

    She spoke matter-of-factly: whatever had happened seemed very remote to her.

    After which they moved some distance away from the tree. Above the hillock, on a disused private tennis-court (a relic from the hill station’s colonial past) was a small stone bench. She sat on it: and, after a moment’s hesitation, the writer too sat down beside her.

    ‘Do you live close by?’ he asked.

    ‘Further up the hill. My father has a small bakery.’

    She then discloses her name as Hameeda. She also says she has two younger brothers.

    ‘You must have been quite small when your sister died.’ says the writer.

    ‘Yes. But I remember her. She was pretty.’

    ‘Like you.’ interjects the writer.

     She laughs in disbelief. ‘Oh, I am nothing to her. You should have seen my sister.’

    ‘Why did she kill herself?’

    ‘Because she did not want to live. She was to have been married but she loved someone else, someone who was not of our own community. It’s an old story and the end is always sad, isn’t it?’

    ‘Not always. But what happened to the boy—the one she loved? Did he kill himself too?’ asked the writer.

    ‘No, he took up a job in some other place. Jobs are not easy to get, are they?’

    ‘I don’t know. I’ve never tried for one.’

    ‘Then what do you do?’

    ‘I write stories.’ said the writer.

    ‘Do people buy stories?’

    ‘Why not? If your father can sell bread, I can sell stories.’

    ‘People have to have bread. But they can live without stories.’

    ‘No, Hameeda, you’re wrong. People can’t live without stories.’

        By now infatuation had made way in the writer’s heart for Hameeda. He couldn’t help loving her. Although, no fierce desire or passion had taken hold of him. He was happy by just looking at her, watch her while she sat on the grass outside his cottage, her lips stained with the juice of wild bilberries. She chatted away—about her friends, her clothes, her favourite things.

    ‘Won’t your parents mind if you come here every day?’ the writer asked.

    ‘I have told them you are teaching me.’

    ‘Teaching you what?’ he asked.

    ‘They did not ask. So, you can tell me stories.’

    As a result the writer told her some stories.

    It was midsummer.

    The sun glinted on the ring she wore on her third finger: a translucent golden topaz, set in silver.

    ‘That’s a pretty ring,’ remarked the writer.

    ‘You wear it,’ she said, impulsively removing it from her hand. ‘It will give you good thoughts. It will help you to write better stories.’

    She slipped it on to the writer’s little finger.

    ‘I’ll wear it for a few days,’ he said. ‘Then you must let me give it back to you.’ he added.

    On a day that promised rain the writer took the path down to the stream at the bottom of the hill. There he found Hameeda gathering ferns from the shady places along the rocky ledges above the water.

    ‘What will you do with them?’ he asked.

    ‘This is a special kind of fern. You can cook it as a vegetable.’

    ‘Is it tasty?’ he asked.

    ‘No, but it is good for rheumatism.’

    ‘Do you suffer from rheumatism?’

    ‘Of course not. They are for my grandmother, she is very old.’ she said.

    ‘There are more ferns further upstream,’ he said. ‘But we’ll have to get into the water.’

    They remove their shoes and start paddling, up stream. The ravine becomes shadier and narrower, until the sun is completely shut out. The ferns have grown right down up to the water’s edge. They bend to pick them up but instead find themselves in each other’s arms; and sink slowly, as if in a dream, into the soft bed of ferns, while overhearing a whistling thrush burst out in dark sweet song.

    ‘It isn’t time that’s passing by,’ it seemed to say. ‘It is you and I. It is you and I …’

    Post that the writer waits for her the following day, but she doesn’t come.

    Several days pass without, he being able to see her.

    Is she sick? Has she been kept at home? Has she been sent away? He doesn’t even know where she lives, so he cannot ask. And, if at all, he is able to ask, what would he ask?

     Then one day he sees a boy delivering bread and pastries at the little tea-shop about a mile down the road. From the upward slant of his eyes, there is a slight resemblance with Hameeda. As he leaves the shop, the writer follows him up the hill. And, when he comes abreast of him, he asks: ‘Do you have your own bakery?’

    He nods cheerfully, ‘Yes. Do you want anything—bread, biscuits, cakes? I can bring them all to your house.’

    ‘Oh of course. But don’t you have a sister? A girl called Hameeda?’

    His expression changes suddenly. He is no longer friendly. He looks puzzled and slightly apprehensive.

    ‘Why do you want to know?’

    ‘Because, I haven’t seen her for some time now?’ replies the writer

    ‘We have not seen her either.’

    ‘Do you mean she has gone away?’

    ‘Didn’t you know? You must have been away a long time. It is many years since she died. She killed herself. You did not hear about it?’ said the boy.

    ‘But wasn’t that her sister—your other sister?’ asked the writer.

    ‘I had only one sister—Hameeda—and she died, when I was very young. It’s an old story, ask someone else about it.’

    With that he turned away and quickened his pace, and the writer was left standing in the middle of the road, with his head full of questions that couldn’t be answered.

    That night there was a thunderstorm. Writer’s bedroom window kept banging in the wind. He got up to close it and, as he looked out, there was a flash of lightning and he saw that frail body again, swinging from the oak tree.

    He tried a make out the features, but the head hung down and the hair was blowing in the wind.

    Was it all a dream? He thought.

    It was impossible to say. But the topaz ring on him glowed softly in the darkness. And a whisper from the forest seemed to say, ‘It isn’t time that’s passing by, my friend. It is you and I … ‘

    So that’s all for today. It’s a neat little story with a tinge of enigma for you to discover. I would give the story seven out of ten.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

SHORT STORY: LESSON FROM THE DONKEY

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

    Once a washer man was going along with his donkey and a bucket filled with clothes. It was pitch dark. They were walking around a small hillock when the donkey fell into a ditch. After falling in the ditch the donkey went into a shock and could not stand properly and so it started braying (hee-haw-hee-haw).

    The washer man who was very attached to his donkey. Could not stand the braying of the donkey. So, he decided to bury it thinking its half dead. He soon started throwing bucket full of mud in the ditch to bury the donkey. But after sometime the washer man was shocked to see the donkey limping out of the ditch slowly and soon he started striding as usual.

    What had happened was, whenever, the mud was thrown in by the washerman, the donkey used to shake it off, and the mud became steps for him, and stepping on those steps the donkey came out.

Moral of the story: Don’t get disheartened when people throw muck at you. Just shake it off as that will further strengthen you to go up in life.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

CONSCIENCE & CONFESSION

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

    It reminds me of a time when I used to go to a park every day, early in the morning. The place was still and quiet—reminding you of those dreaded words—pin drop silence. It was a long morning walk, from where I stayed and also mid-way for me. Where, I use to take a break. The park was located on the embankment of the river which was about twenty feet high from the river water and in between the two there was a steep gradient. To, secure the area from anyone, falling into the river. A rugged railing had been raised only recently. The other end of the park touched the busy road. Coming all the way from the airport and passing into the main city. Beyond the river, there was a tall dark and handsome hillock that gave a great sense of scenic fulfillment.

    All around, it was lush green, especially, during the monsoons. When, the water level at times used to rise and ripple past the edge of the gradient to enter the park. I normally sat there each day for about ten to fifteen minutes. Just for some meditation and introspection that refreshed me to take on the tough day ahead. I had relocated to the city some six months back as an Inspector in the Police Department. Out there. I also found many health freaks coming for morning walk. But some just to lollygag.

    Close to the main gate of the park. There was also a small tea stall. I guess it grossed all its major revenues, early in the morning itself, while serving the morning walkers.  Once in a while it also served hot pakodas that tasted deadly, with that hot dhaba tea.

    I had become a little pally with the tea stall owner who was young and appeared somewhat educated. There was always a newspaper lying around the stall. Where, tea buffs often rushed through the headlines and exchanged informal barbs.

    As a regular visitor I had started recognizing quite a few faces. Gradually, I even got to know the names of some. One out of them happened to be an old person. About whom I noticed, was normally quiet. One day the stall owner who knew, I was a police inspector, introduced me to him. His name was Robert.

    In a matter of days I started interacting with him and referred to him as ‘uncle.’ He must have been around seventy. He spoke very less. But whenever he did, he was to the point. He was normally in his own world and nothing amused him.

    Days passed as usual. One day he came up to me and asked,

     ‘Are you in the police?’

    I said, ‘yes.’

    ‘Then, can you do me a favour?’

     I said, ‘what favour?’ He looked at me for a while and said.

    ‘Many years back when I was young. While playing in this park I had a fight with my best friend and that unfortunately escalated. As a result of which I pushed him down the slope over there. He fell into the river. It was monsoon season. When, the river was in full spate and he was swept away, and never returned.’

    ‘So, then, did you tell the police, that you had pushed him?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘But why?’

    ‘Because I was scared I’ll be arrested. So the police registered a case of accident, that he didn’t know swimming so he drowned.’

    ‘So then, why are you telling me your story now and that too after so many years?’

    ‘After fifty years to be exact. To, clear my guilt or you could say conscience. Because, you’re in the police and if you want, you can arrest me now for the crime.’

    ‘But have you told this to anyone else?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘But why?’

    ‘Because he was my next door neighbour.’

    ‘So how does that matter?’

    ‘It matters, because, years later, I married his sister.’

    ‘But does she know you were the one who pushed his brother?’

    ‘A few years back I did tell her. She couldn’t bear the shock and expired within weeks.’

    ‘And what about your children?’

    ‘I have two sons. Both are in Australia. They don’t know about my crime. But maybe you can tell them after I’m arrested or I’m gone.’ After this he got up, picked his walking stick and started walking. Perhaps, he was heading home.

    After the conversation a couple of days had passed. I had not seen Robert. One day when I reached the tea stall. I was informed by the stall owner that Robert had committed suicide. I was shocked at the news. Perhaps, he was preparing for it mentally when he told me about his act of crime. I attended his funeral where I even got to meet his two sons Richard and Simon.

    Thereafter, I continued with my morning walk as usual. One day when I reached the tea stall. The owner gave me a sealed enveloped that Robert had left for me. I opened it. There was another sealed cover in it with the name and address of Richard in Australia with a request to send it across through a reliable courier. Which I did.

    Robert after losing his wife couldn’t have taken a chance on his sons. But anyhow he wanted to confess about his crime to his children. Which he did after he was gone.

    Moral of the story: Your conscience is the most long-lasting jury in you.

****

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

*****

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF NATURE

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 Each morning as I walk up to the flowing rivulet near the steep hillock that lies above my picturesque hamlet I get to feel the power of silence. Looks like everything around is trying to say something by remaining quiet. My steps take to the natural rhythm … on my way up. It gives me a supernatural feel as if the hillock is the insurmountable head of Shiva, and the flora and fauna around are his deep rooted jatas and the rivulet is the humble adornment of Namami Gange. Where, both are in a stance to bless me. Perhaps, they are also saying something when you distinctly hear the dribble upstream.

    Everything around is so very still. Is when, you get to feel, silence is the loudest explosion on earth. Very faintly at a distance you can now hear the horn of passing car that was not there earlier. Man has made mechanical inroads to most hideouts of nature. There is a chirping shemozzle that sounds like music in the bird’s camp that is only ratcheting up as the dawn is broadening. Some of them really don’t know what to do except for fluttering here and fluttering there for want of food. Few mongrels have just got up as the morning rays strike their eyes when they start stretching themselves. The flying butterflies as if have started a troupe dance to honour the morning rays of the sun. And one can indistinctly hear the mooing of the cows from the barn that only tells you that the village has woken up to the day.

    I halt to catch my breath is when I turn back. The hamlet looks much smaller than its actual size. Sights at times change even when reality doesn’t. I continue with my walk. There are no human beings here so there is no ruckus. I’m all by myself. This is how I came and this is how I’ll go … all alone.

    I leisurely reach the top from where I get the divine view of my beloved village down below. I wonder what it must have taken Almighty to create this wonderful settlement. Perhaps, even exotic creations are a small thing for him. There is a sudden drift in the direction of the breeze that only tells me to accept the ensuing change. There is no reason to feel lonely. For there is enough in the nature to give you company when there is no human company around you. But you need to explore it.

    And like every day, I sit there for some time, interacting, with my mother of all times, that is … mother earth. This is where she caresses me. The intensity of which is equivalent to the intensity of the aromatic breeze that touches me all over. The shrill calls of some mynahs that have just landed there, give me a feel as if she’s trying to say you are not alone and I’m there for you. I feel rejuvenated. But it is time to head home now. So, I start the descent back. Where, on the way I come across a few goats and some cows as if giving me a standing ovation to my victory over loneliness. Is when I start humming the evergreen song of Kishore da … ‘Zindagi ka safar, hai ya kaisa safar, koi samjha nahi koi jana nahi.’

   (In today’s day and age loneliness is a huge social problem. It is not always possible for parents to be with their children and for children to be with their parents. But you still need to live it out, and live it out well. So move out of your loneliness by exploring the nature. For it has a cure for every life situation).

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****