Thursday, March 13, 2008

HANDS (a little short story i wrote about 2yrs back)


None in sikkim had seen and none could imagine that could ever be more beautiful pots in the tranquil hill-station or anywhere at all for that matter. No trace of fine lines, no finger prints, they seemed to have come out of some'big city machine'. Such was the skill of Shyamala but the irony of the situation, no one had ever seen the hands which created these beautiful pots, no body had ever seen Shyamala at all! Living in a very remote area in Sikkim, poverty stricken Shyamala's pots were so popular that nobody bought pots even to store water from anywhere else,and why would they,where else would they get such a bargain, such beautiful pots for such small a price.
Living in a small wooden house with no windows,the door of which was never opened to strangers,never to anyone at all. It was always locked from the outside and the keys that opened the lock belonged to her 12 year old son,Bhishu. Bhishu was in-charge of selling the pots his mother made. Every morning he carried on his head a basket full of pots of different shapes and sizes and colours and displayed them in a corner in the market floor. He did not have to make an effort to sell them.One by one people would come and buy the pots priced such that, never once did anyone complain and try to bargain with the young lad.In fact even tourists who could not resist but buy these were sold the pots at the same price."what a fool,you can easily sell these to the sahabs for triple the price.God knows why your mother sends you to sell them when she can earn a fortune with a bit of marketting skills" fellow shopkeepers would say,but Bhishu never bothered.he was doing what he had been asked to.
A group of tourists visiting sikkim were recommended by their guide to 'surely' buy atleast one pot from the village as it was as good as buying a souvenir."everybody buys these pots didi,they are simply beautiful,nothing like have ever seen before".Renu dissaprovingly replied,"yes, yes,of all things in the world i would spend my money on breakable pots.Are you suppose to be getting some sort of a commission out of this?."No didi,not at all, they are very cheap, only Rs 15 per pot". "we will see" said renu and ended the discussion.
The next day, on a visit to the market place the guide did not urge Renu to buy the pots but simply took her from the way the little boy sold his mother's masterpieces. What followed came as no surprise to him.Renu stopped at the sight of the pots, stunned.having an eye of an artist herself she could not believe her eyes. Ten pots lined one beside the other. One painted yellow, the other green, the third red and so on. Their shapes so usual, yet so unusual. Each pot looked diffetent from the other. One had a high neck, the other a square bottom.one had a wide opening and the other a beautiful wavy texture.Renu wondered what it was that made these ordinary pots so unordinary,why was it that they seemed to ask its onlooker a thousand questions? There is something to this.I must meet their creator, she said to herselfand urged the guide to ask Bhishu to take her to his mother. "you ask him madam, he understands hindi".Renu did ask bhishu who coldly replied in his broken hindi, "ma nai milega,lena hai to lo nai to idharse jao". "see madam" said the guide,"he says this to anyone and everyone who wants to know about his mother. I did not ask him again as i have repeatedly done so, so many times that I feared being insulted by the little boy this time" Renu was not going to give up. She planned to spend the rest of the day in the market keeping and eye over him and planned to follow him when he finished . She could not imagine going back to Kolkata, her hometown without seeing Shyamala or atleast without paying respects to the hands which created such pieces. She had a lot going on in her mind. she was even planning to take the woman whom sha lear'nt was called Shyamala and her son to the the city which has always welcomed talent and appreciated it."What if she says no"she muttered to herself. "Never mind, then i will buy all her pots and urge people to see her or atleast buy a piece! or maybe i can earn some money for myself too in the process.Buy this beauty for Rs 15 each and sell it for atleast a hundred and fifty in the city and i can also send Shyamala a part of the profit" she said to herself,"or even better/ i will make her a partner in the business,that would do her good too,living in such remote and harsh coonditions as she is which such a talent.What a pity? Engrossed in her thoughts she forgot all about Bhisu who left just an hour and a half before she came back to the real world."Tomorrow perhaps" she muttered to herself.
The next day Renu started a little late as she an idea about when Bhishu will go back home. She went up to the market at around 2pm and saw bhishu getting ready to leave just an hour later. She followed him quietly. Bhishu climed down the slope singing a sweet local folk song. Renu was careful to keep a good distance as she knew that a single mistake on her part would mean depriving her eyes of witnessing those hands.Bhishu walked fearlessly through sleep hill slopes,crossing waterfalls. He had been quite used to this road now,after all he had been using it since his father died in a road accident when he was only six years old. Renu could now see a hut at not much a distance and her heart was now beating with great speed.Careful though, she did not let her heart take-over her mind and hid herself behind a tree in front of the house.it was a secluded place.she could see no one around, but the boy. She saw Bhishu unlock the door and vanish inside the darkness of the hut.She had to go inside to see those hands and tell their master of their true worth!she banged open the door and was awestrusk.There was Shyamala sitting and making pots, but there were no beautiful hands. Shyamala had no hands at all! she was sitting there making pots with her legs! Renu ran out of the hut and up the hill to her hotel.She had to go back to that hut tomorrow and ask Shyamala to forgive her.for what?Shew knew not.The next morning she walked up the same path leading to Shamala's hut. She knocked at the door and her knock was surprisingly answered,it had never ever been answered to any stranger before.From inside came out somebody unfamiliar. It was Bhishu's chacha Ram."i want to meet shyamala" she urged."There is no shyamala here" he angrily answered."you mean there is no shyamala here who makes pots with not her hands but...", before Renu could conclude Ram asked her to come in.He told her that Shyamala who lost both her hands trying to save her husband being knocked by a truck did not ever come out in the open as she did not want to be sympathised with and wanted to lawfully earn her own bread without anyone's help.
He also told her that because Renu saw her, she has gone to some other place without telling a soul,including him,with only her potters wheel!

8 comments:

behind brown eyes... said...

Splendid!!! and very very touching...i suddenly prize my hands (and feet) like never before :)
but all my sad jokes apart --- really really beautiful :)

Mariya.... said...

:) :)

Wizard OfCourse said...

very very touching. extremely engrossing. honestly...a splendid piece.
hmmm...you're not just insane...you can think different too. wow!
:D
keep more coming in...

Megha said...

really heart warmin.. wow... u really hv sumthin 4 the physically-nt-able ppl...
great piece of tribute!! :) keep writin...

Royal Bengal Tigress said...

What a lovely story! :)

Whats in a name.......... said...

I m glad you liked it tigress!!

shilpi said...

hey ur story hands... is too gud.. very touching and a beautiful one... keep writing so that can get a chance to compliment u agn...

shilpi said...
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