A hearty meal of Ryan’s favorite mutton and rice, followed by chutney and sweet curd, in the lunch made Ryan’s day. Grandma had taken a lot of care to cook all these special food items and she lovingly looked at her grandson as he ate. A stomach full of lunch strongly provoked Ryan to take an afternoon nap. But all things in our lives are determined by destiny, so was Ryan’s siesta. Just as his eyes were getting involuntarily closed by the magical spell of the Goddess of Sleep, there was a tapping sound on the window. With everything closed, all doors and windows, it was difficult for him to figure from where the sound was coming. Before he could make a second attempt to fall back on his cozy bed, there came the second tap on the window, followed by a whisper.
“Ryan, Ryan. Sleeping, eh?”
It was Krishna’s voice.
“Yeah, I want to sleep. Why are you calling now?”
“Wanna go for fishing?”
“Yeah, it’s the best time.”
Ryan was again divided by his thoughts: nap or fishing? fishing or nap? He could not decide. He opened the window and peeped outside.
“Krishna, take this coin and toss.”, giving Krishna a Re.1 coin.
The toss was done. Tail won. So, Ryan bid farewell to his siesta (whom he was longing for at that time) and sneaked from his house to meet Krishna. He saw his new friend, standing with a jute-stick-made fishing rod on one hand while the other held a small bucket.
“So, where are we going?”
“Does that pond belong to someone? If my father comes to know that I am fishing from someone’s pond, I am sure I’ll be beaten black and blue.”
“Don’t worry. It’s for everyone. I know the secluded corners of the pond – there we’ll easily get a catch.”
The two boys started off for their fishing mission. Rath-er Doba took hardly 5 minutes to reach. The pond was surrounded by bamboo trees, coconut trees bending towards the water, an old banyan tree and some clusters of banana trees.
Krishna took a small ball of the dough he had made and stuck it to the fish-hook. He then allowed the thread and the hook to sink in the waters. It was the time of absolute silence. No one spoke a word. Two pairs of eyes were just focused on one point – the small white stick, attached to the thread of the fishing rod, whose movement would send the signal if a fish was eating the bait. One-two-three-four-five minutes flew, nothing happened.
“I am bored. Nothing’s happening,” Ryan complained.
“Shh. Don’t talk. We may miss our prey…”
Before Krishna could finish his sentence, the white stick slightly moved and immediately he pulled the fishing stick towards them. It was a Puti fish, struggling incessantly to get relieved from the hook – the first catch of that afternoon. Krishna freed the fish and put in the bucket.
“Here Ryan, that is a gift from me,” Krishna said, pointing at their first victim, “now, it’s your turn to catch the next one.”
Ryan was happy about his latest prize. He took the jute-stick-made-fishing-rod, attached a small dough at the hook and threw the thread in the water. Now, it’s again the period of endless silence and patience. “But how long?”, Ryan wondered.
“Krishna, when’s your birthday?” Ryan asked softly without looking at Krishna.
“Why can’t it be tomorrow?”
“I didn’t expect that to be so soon.”
A big pause. Tireless wait: examination of patience of mind and hand. Ryan’s eyes lingered here and there – from the waters where the shoals of fish are playing in their own world to the immediate surroundings of the pond, the village road, the houses and rice fields that stretched miles hitherto.
There was a sudden movement of the thread and Ryan pulled the rod immediately. Luck failed him! There was no fish and no bait either.
“Your fish was quick and clever enough to fool you, kid.” Krishna chuckled.
Ryan had no option but to digest the sarcastic comment. “I am in the trainee period, Krishna should understand,” his mind comforted him. All he did was to try for a second time.
“You should be careful, your mind, right hand and eyes – all focused together.”
Patience always bore sweet fruit; within many minutes of rapt attention, Ryan succeeded to get his catch. A Koi fish, trapped in the hook, broke Krishna’s fishing rod, as it wriggled in pain.
“Mr. Koi, especially for you, Krishna. Your birthday gift.” Ryan smilingly said.
Venue: Ryan’s terrace
Both the friends lay on the dusty floor of the terrace, their eyes lingering at the stars that glittered the clear, blue sky. It was the other form of peace. A soulful darkness that enticed two little hearts. No one spoke but both enjoyed each other’s company, while submitting themselves to the sky’s enormity.
“What?” Ryan broke the silence, seeing Krishna pointing towards something very distant.
“That’s the Great Bear constellation. Looks like a question mark.”
“Do you know about the constellations?”
“I read about them in a book. But I find it very difficult to locate them in the sky.”
“That’s the Pole Star.”
“Sometimes, I lie on our yard just to watch the night sky embedded with stars. Their dazzling makes me feel they are diamonds.”
“You’re lucky to see the whole sky. I could never see in from our apartment’s terrace. Most of the time it’s locked.”
“Why don’t you come here frequently? Then you would have enjoyed all. You wouldn’t have to be so sad.”
“From next time, I am sure I’ll come here during the holidays.”
Krishna smiled: he knew that his new friend would just not vanish forever in the concrete jungle.
“May I ask you something, Krishna?”
“Hey tell me, Ryan. Why are you so afraid?”
“Have you ever lied to anyone?”
“Once. I lied to my mother that I lost my money in the school which she gave me for buying a note-book. I actually ate some sweets with that money. I thought my mother would scold me a lot. So, I never dared to tell her the truth. But the lie always pricked me and so one day, I told her everything.”
“What did she say then?”
“She didn’t scold me at all. She understood everything. She only said that lies hurt the person who told them rather than the person to whom they were said. That day I kept my head on her lap and slept peacefully.”
Ryan said nothing. He knew Krishna’s mother was right. Krishna was free from all his guilt after he confessed. So, he decided to get rid of all discomfort by confessing to Ms. Polly that his family never had plans to go to Kausani; he just said that in order to impress all.
“What do you do there in Calcutta, apart from studying and watching TV?” Krishna tried to divert Ryan’s mind from the tough duel between lie and confession of truth.
“I play video games.”
“In my computer too. Angry Birds, Temple Run. Sometimes, I play Candy Crush in Ma’s phone.”
“Hmm… don’t you play football, cricket or volleyball?”
Ryan had no answer to this question.
“All my friends play these. But my Baba watches football, especially Indian Super League, Euro Cup, World Cup.” he somehow managed.
“Oh! In our school, we have football matches nearly every evening. And the older students play volleyball. If you ever visit our school ground, then you’ll see a lot of people thronging to see the volleyball matches. It’s a lot of fun.”
“I wish I could go with you to your football ground.”
“Nah. It won’t be possible this time. We’ll be leaving tomorrow evening.”
Krishna remained speechless; his eyes still counting the number of stars in the sky.
The next morning was quite busy. Ma was packing their bags, Grandma was packing some special food for Ryan and Baba was having important discussions with Dadu. The sudden haste for going back to Calcutta made Ryan extremely sad. He was loving the soberness and calmness of this place. But deep down his heart, he knew he would miss Krishna. Now, where was Krishna? He should have met him in the morning. He should have understood that Ryan might not get much time in the afternoon too. Ryan even didn’t know his home for everyday Krishna used to come to their place. Meanwhile Ma asked Ryan to get bathed and advised not to get dirty after that. Ryan waited for some hours at their doorstep, chewing fruits and watching people passing by. Reluctantly, he then went to take a bath and had his lunch. But Krishna never came.
After lunch, Ryan got dressed and again waited for Krishna. He suddenly had an idea. Ryan met his Grandpa and asked,”Dadu, do you know where Krishna lives?”
“Yes. Walk towards the rice fields, then take the left and their house is the fourth one. Why?”
“I want to bid him goodbye.”
“Okay but be fast.”
Ryan ran fast, following Grandpa’s directions.
Krishna’s house was a one-storied building that stood on one side of the yard and there was a cow-shed on the other. Random things like bucket, a shovel, hay bundles lay here and there on the yard. A cat with white fur lied on the shadowy place in front of the cow-shed. Ryan’s foot steps woke it up. The cat purred and leaped in the bushes.
“Krishna, Krishna.” Ryan called.
Krishna came out.
“Where have you been all the day? I was waiting for you.”
Saying these words, Ryan hugged Krishna tightly. Krishna hugged him back.
“Your clothes will become dirty, Ryan.”
“Let them be. Who cares?”
Ryan’s first letter to Krishna:
My dear Krishna,
How are you? I am fine.
Do you know how much I miss you? That much when you stretch your arms in the open air.
Baba has bought me a football. Every evening, I play football in our housing complex’ play ground. Generally, my old friends do not come out to play but I’ve made some new friends too. They are from other apartments and together we play a lot. Yes, we have a lot of fun. This time, when I’ll go to Tarakeswar during the Pujas, I’ll surely play with you. Bring your other friends too.
And one thing, I had forgotten to
saywrite: I confessed the lie that I had said to my teacher. She forgave me. Now, I am free of all guilt and have vowed not to lie again.
Today I watched the film Krish. I was thinking all about you while watching. May be someday, you’ll also become Krish, the superhero!
I am waiting for your hand-written letter, my friend. Post it soon.
With lots & lots of love,