Mother ran to me hysterically when she saw me from afar, and hugged me.
“Where did you go without telling us…?” she wept.
I realized how she must have felt all night, when I was missing. Eventhough I tried to conceal the bruises on my body, some of them were too blatant to hide.
“What happened here…?” She asked me, touching the wounds on my face, on my cheek and near my right ear.
“It’s nothing, mother. It happened while I swam… some twig or so hit me…”
Father was actually angry. He was about to beat me for wandering in the rivers and forests. But, mother and Velappan intervened and saved me. Mother applied another medicine on my wounds. I felt within an urge to tell her everything that had happened. But, because of the fear that she would be deeply upset, I kept silence. When she held me close to herself, I made a decision in my mind that I would no more fight with anyone.
I told no one, except Mani, what had really happened. Mani cautioned me to be very watchful in every step. He promised me to accompany me on my way to and way back from the school. The next day, neither Hamsa nor Vishwam were seen in the class. Actually they were not seen for a few days.
Hamsa turned up after four days. This time he did not dare to look at my face. It seemed he had a major set back. I had grown in confidence. But, I was careful not to give him a chance for another encounter. He too evaded me. I did not know what was in his mind. Was he plotting, or had he accepted defeat? I never knew the answer. However, there was never again a move from Hamsa and his gang. And my school days went on peaceful.
It was in a monsoon that I turned nine. But that was also the saddest year in my life. Because it was in that year I lost my mother!
Monsoon came with its blessings and curses. It began with blessings. Rain fell from heavens into the heart of the scorched earth. The ever-enchanting monsoon rain!
Rain was everywhere…the omnipresent symphony of rain!
Rain drizzled. Rain hustled. Rain chuckled. Rain sparkled. Rain splashed. Rain dashed. Rain rollicked. Rain revelled. Rain roared. Rain rocked…! Rain did everything. Rain touched everything. Rain was everywhere…! River overflowed. Brooks and canals overflowed too. Water revelled everywhere. Water overran our courtyard. Water crept into our house. Water sneaked into our room. I welcomed the water warmly, and was buoyant with the nature.
It was a festival for Mani and me. My little brother and sister also joined us in the rain celebrations. We made tiny canoes out of leaves and papers, and put them in water, and watched them sailing away. Rain fell upon leaves and dripped like dew in the mornings after rainy days. Sun sparkled on the droplets. Rain was irresistible for me. It awoke a deep indefinable longing from within. Rain had many faces, many expressions. The blessed rain of my forgone childhood!
(to be continued…)
By A. Fraizer