Thursday, 2 October 2014


Team Alphabet Soup

Chapter-20

He started walking towards the woods. The child was in deep slumber on his shoulder with a shawl draped around her. He was balancing the child in one hand and making his way through the bushes with the other hand. Small, loose stones littered on the path made him trip while he was trying to drive away a wild cat which crossed his path. He immediately balanced himself from falling down, but the shawl covering the child, revealed her face. He looked at Roohi’s innocent face and smiled. He picked up the shawl and covered her again. He increased his pace of walking by muttering to himself, “I can’t be late.”

After a while, he reached his destination. There was a giant boulder in front of him.
“So easy to deceive anybody with this”, he chuckled, as he walked behind the boulder.
He entered a cave spacious enough to accommodate a small group of people. There were men in ochre robes holding prayer beads in one hand and carrying out their daily routines. A tall, lean man was sweeping the floor, another man was walking out of the cave with two pots in order to fill them, a short puny man with a long beard was preparing a potion. He looked up at the man holding the child and smiled. He nodded in return.

The Swami was seated in the corner reading something under the dim light which flowed through a lantern hung over his head. He saw the man enter the cave with the child, kept his book aside and spoke to the man in front of him, “Ramaswamy, You found her.”
He smiled feebly as his eyes casually screened the shoulder of the man in front of him.
“Yes Swami.”
The Swami pointed his finger close to where he was seated and told the man to lay Roohi down beside him.
He then looked around and ordered another man draped in ochre robes, “Shivaswamy, make something nice to eat for this doll, we have to keep her comfortable here and we can’t afford to cause any kind of discomfort to this girl.”
He looked at Roohi with a piercing gaze and in a high pitched voice said, “Be nice to this girl. The last thing I want here is a cranky little girl who screams to the heavens.”
Once again he shifted his gaze towards Shivaswamy, “Don’t forget to add that herbal medicine in a sweet.”
After giving out the necessary instructions, he got up from his seat, while Roohi giggled in her sleep. One last time he uttered before leaving the cave, “It will be better if she doesn’t see me. Amme, make it easy.”

Roohi opened her eyes and looked around her. She was sleeping on a bed of leaves. Men in ochre robes were busy doing multiple chores. She wondered whether she was dreaming and closed her eyes again. She recalled the events before she fell asleep on a man’s shoulder. She remembered speaking to her mother over the phone and walking with a man towards the temple just as her mother had instructed her. The man had given her a chocolate which she ate immediately. After walking a few yards, the man offered to carry her to the temple office and she willingly hopped on his shoulder and fell asleep.
She saw Ramswamy sitting opposite to her and watching her with a smile. Rubbing her sleepy eyes and looking around, she innocently asked him, “Where is mumma?
As though waiting for her question, his smile stretched further, “Did you sleep well sweetie pie?”
Roohi remembered who this man was, and immediately recalled her mother’s words about trusting friendly strangers.
Roohi now wide awake and alert, asked him, “Why did you take me here? Where is mumma and papa? This is not my hotel room or temple office.”
He looked at her in the most affectionate way and said “Doll, I told you, I am your mumma’s friend. They are busy finding the thief and asked me to take care of you till they finish their work, so you are here, safe with me.”
“But, I have never seen you before, you can’t be mumma’s friend, I know all her friends.”
“ I am their new friend.” He said, hoping his tone was convincing enough for Roohi.
“How can you be a friend? You gave me a chocolate. And I fell asleep on your shoulder after eating it.” she looked at him with her round eyes giving an accusatory look.
“No baby, you were tired after playing with kids in the village, that’s why you slept off. As you were in deep sleep, mumma said not to wake you up. She waited for long but Roohi didn’t wake up. She had to find the thief. So she left before you woke up”. He explained patiently.
“Can I go out and play with my friends again? I left the game midway and I promised them that I will come back after lunch.” Roohi pleaded with the man. While she uttered the word lunch, her stomach started rumbling with hunger pangs.
“Sure kutty, but first like a good girl eat your lunch then you can play as much as you want.” He replied with a smile.
Shivswamy brought a plate filled with some cut fruits and a tumbler of milk which he handed it to him.
“Roohi doll,come here and sit on my lap, I will feed you the lunch.”
Roohi obediently, went and sat on his lap. He started feeding her and also kept her busy with childish talks.
After finishing eating a couple of pieces, Roohi said, “That’s all I can take, I am done.”
“Have a little bit more doll.”
She pointed at her stomach “See this tummy, it’s so small and that is all it can fill here.”
“Okay sweety, at least have a glass of milk.”
She drank few sips of milk and walked away from his lap. Out of curiosity, her eyes wandered around the cave. A swamy pinched her cheeks and she smiled at him. Another swamy winked at her and she smiled at him too. There wasn’t much for her to see. The dim lights from the lanterns hanging around, strained her eyes. Soon, she lost interest in the place very soon.
“Can I go out and play with my friends now?”
He sighed and muttered to himself “This is not going as I expected.”
Looking at Roohi, he said “Why don’t you play with us doll?”
Adamant about going out, Roohi said “No, I want to play with my friends.”

He wondered how to deal with her while, Roohi raised her voice again and spoke-“I want to go out and play with my friends!”

“But your mother has told me strictly not to send you out.” Said the master while signaling to a man who was behind Roohi.
“Ok, call up my mumma, let me speak to her and take her permission, I know my mumma will never say No to me.”
Shivaswamy got a small bowl filled with payasam which he had prepared earlier as per the main Swamy’s instruction and gave it to Ramaswamy.

“Doll, come here and see what I’ve got for you.”
Roohi reluctantly walked towards him and peeped into the bowl.

“I want to talk to my mumma, call her right now!”

“Ok, first have this sweet and I promise I will call your mumma and seek permission to send you out”.
Roohi thought fora few seconds and stretched her small palm towards him, “Pakka promise?”
Taking her tiny hand to his hands, he said “Yes, pakka promise!” and put a spoon full of payasam in Roohi’s mouth.
Roohi had a few spoons of the payasam and her eyes started feeling heavy, “Call my mumma now’’.
She yawned.
 “Okay, now count till 10, and you can talk to your Mumma.”
Roohi innocently started counting-“1,2,3,4…..” she took a pause and uttered “5’’ by then she fell asleep on his lap.
The main Swamy was watching Roohi from outside the cave. Seeing her falling asleep, he sighed and said, “You sleep in peace while we find a closure to our mission little doll, you are precious and we can’t afford to lose you at any cost.”
He walked towards her and he gave her a fatherly peck on the forehead, as though he was in love with the little innocent girl.

“Ramaswamy!” the main Swamy called.
The former came close.
“The visitor will be here anytime. You know what to do.”
He nodded, looked at the child and left.
“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.” 

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