Two streams

Two streams

All the grandchildren gathered around Sastri ji and started pestering him, “Tatayya, one story please!”

All the grandchildren gathered around Sastri ji and started pestering him, “Tatayya, one story please!”

Eighty plus, a toothless wonder Sastri ji opened his empty mouth and looked up as if contemplating what would be the story for this occasion.

“Say something,” said the children, already yawning and pulling his hands.

“Alright, then”, said Sastri ji and started, “One day…” the children around were shouting “Ooh… Ooo!” And the eldest of them a college going, grandson now studying in the town also started to listen closing the book till then he was engrossed in.

“Many years back, when I was newly married….”

“…that means is it after my birth?” asked the youngest grandson.

The grandpa laughed boisterously and took the kid into his lap and started again.

“I was returning from the fields near the Peddintamma Temple. Both the sides had fields spread endlessly in verdant expanse as if there is a green carpet spread on the earth and lissome earth wearing a green saree in folded drapes, I went around the fields.

Quenched thirst at a flowing tract and entered the thin path under the canopy. The moment I crossed the mango groves or not, the rain started pelting.

Drops came down in a rush and looking above I saw that the sun had run away somewhere, and everywhere, black clouds were running helter-skelter. The lightning came in dazzling white like a dagger held at the waist of a woman wearing a black saree.

Atop the yonder Vaikuntapuram Hill, in the east, a thunder crashed and the rain gained momentum. Now it is a steady, heavy drumming downpour. I have not taken the umbrella and was thoroughly drenched. For that matter why at all you need umbrellas and rain covers?

When the spring from the farthest skies is coming down to embrace the mother earth, who is this speck of a man in the middle to cover himself with umbrellas.

Suddenly the clouds gave out a reverberating thunder. That cacophony was akin to the sound of the chariot wheels of the rain queen. The receding sound of the thunder is like a horse neigh when moving away to distant fields.

A great lightning suddenly, makes one remember the refulgence of the crown of the queen. When just the dazzle of the crown is so blinding, how it would be to see them in person, and look at them face to face?

Feet caught in the mud, formed all of a sudden, on the narrow ridge down the canopy, and finding it difficult to walk, I removed the slippers and took them into hand before moving on.

Then I felt “What a pity when the spring mother from the skies is drenching the whole earth instead of cooling me, why I sought protection with the old shoes? Now the rain is pouring on me.

It is pouring through me. It is coming down in fast showers and sharp bursts. The coldness of the cascading sheet of water is washing me in and out and my every cell.

That coldness is creeping into my veins and causing warmth. Oh how come such a feeling, even hundred baths will not give that experience! How many holy dips will be equal to this state of elation? I felt mad that the whole rain should fall only on me and should submerge me.

Then listen, hey, I stopped walking and stood amidst the fields on the ridge path. From that side rain on the fields of peas crop and the whole fields were swaying in mirth.

From this side rain on the coriander crops filling the area with fine aroma of the leaves, and corn crop is shaking all through, with cobs bloating in the incessant rain, the millets are shining through the water curtains, and the paddy is nodding stalks heavy with grain, the saplings of red gram, and yellow gram are joining the assembly of players.

The groundnut plantation opened its entrails and received the rain deep into the recesses. The whole earth and the crops all over were in abundant ecstasy, treated by the rain. It seemed that rain on fields has relented a little.

To my right side, I saw, the rain was quite heavy on the river Krishna, and in no time I started to the river bank.

Don’t ask me now why I felt like that. Passing the field of Rangavajhala family, I reached the river bank and there “Wow! wow! wow!” I saw the fusillade of the real torrent.

Into that foaming, frothing and enlarging body of water, the invisible rain canons were sending further loads of water. Water into the water; torrent into the torrent! And water body entering the water body.

The rain waters are fondly embraced close by the elder sister Krishna, with goosebumps forming all over the river frame, triggering delicate vibrations to distances in the rushing and gushing waters.

Like a little dimple on the cheeks, with a blushing smile, there it disappears now, again a drop and again the dimple, again and again, the drops of rain, and again and again the little dimples now in millions forming all over the river Krishna, the whole river is a river of dimples, and the whole body of water is full of rain drops.

Rain drops on the sand, one drop for every grain of sand, falling sharp, shooting down in flowing blades, like arrows whizzing past, the drops that shake the banks, the drops that kick the banks, the drops in pitter patter, splitter –splatter, like slaps, like twigs, breaking ,

snapping, and exploding around drops and drops everywhere, in the river, on the banks, drops and drops alone, like two streams merging, and as if stating that the earth and sky are nothing but on and as if proclaiming there is nothing else in the world but the sheets of water, and this aqua form is the basis for rest, of the genesis, call it rain, mother Ganga, Krishna or ocean, or by any other name that suits you.

When I was standing like that, lost to the world in the middle of the endless waters, there came some four boatmen and said, “What Sastri ji! What are you doing here?”

Then I landed back into reality, and sensing that if I persist about continuing my stay there, perhaps they will treat me as a madman, I retreated and along with them, came to the village.

“Tatayya, don’t say that the rain had stopped,” implored my college going grandson, who only is awake by now. Rest all are in blessed sleep. No, sonny, the rain still continued. It continued unabated.

As the house drew nearer, my concern increased, since your grandma, is a new bride at our home, and more so she is the fond daughter of Kucthery clerk in the town and unfamiliar with the vagaries of the nature,

I was worried to the bone that she would develop severe cold and an incessant blowing nose because of the inclement weather.

She was not to be found in the verandah, not in the drawing room, not in the kitchen also. I shouted her name, and there was no response.

I rushed into the back yard, and I saw her there, at the farther end, looking at river Krishna. Watching the rain mingling in the Krishna, and the Krishna mingling in the water, there she was lost in the downpour, blending in the rain, with hands held high, there she was drenching all through.

Translated by Rama Teertha

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