The Song of The Mist
The first few drops of rain brought with it the mist.
It was through the mist that I saw the speck of color and heard shallow laughter.
The rain washed fir gently swished its branches, as the reeds swayed in the air. The river of eternity flowed with renewed vigour, its icy whirlpools rising and falling, milky crests carrying debris and forsaken blossoms. Broken, dead leaves and twigs, like fallen soldiers, were carried along to a higher plane of existence while the willows lining the bank sang their elegy.
In a valley, one’s life revolves around mystery. It’s like a rift between the unseen wilderness of mountains and the familiar effervescence of life!
That monsoon, the rain came early, filling the golden skies with dark clouds, and bringing the mist. As Mist trod over the valley with her dainty feet, she wrapped them in a cold embrace and held them firmly to her bosom.
It was a melancholic day. The mist made everything look eerie. Humming a mountain song, I kept gazing outside the window at the blanketed world, as the rain pattered against the roof.
The fact that Ramu had had the wisdom to bring in my weekly supplies beforehand impressed me. He was indeed a man of the valley! He could feel nature’s pulse better than any weather vane.
The laughter was soothing to the ears, sweet and lulling. Was it the willows whispering to the birches, the river gurgling with its new inhabitants?
Or had it simply been an upthrust of my fancies, invigorated by the playful mist?
However, beyond the smoke from my fireplace and the mist, a speck of tangerine had greeted my eyes. Could this be an illusion too?
Then that I heard the song of the mist:
...As the harsh river swept-
the blossom with its tide,
The helpless willows wept,
and her albino mother cried...
Again that laughter!
In a trance, I left the porch and yielded my jacket.
Who could it be at this hour of the day, amidst this rain and mist?
As I crossed the threshold of my ancestral villa and walked out, a cold blast of air hit my face.
Again, the lulls of a melodious voice drifted back. This time, it seemed guarded, as if aware of intrusion.
...She travelled a long, dreary way
From the valley to the meadows
And cried and cried all day-
Till she befriended the shadows...
Again, there was a cry of laughter!
...Will the mist be her song?
And the flowers adorn her hair?
As the church hits its gong-
In the hours of despair...
I was transfixed. Who was singing, if there was nobody? Just then, I heard the throaty cry of a cicada.
It was drizzling and the mist had cleared some. But where had the voice disappeared?
Then, I heard it again, sure and steady.
...And cried and cried all day-
Till she befriended the shadows...
Just as I was about to begin this chase again, there was a sudden deafening boom of thunder. Before I could gather my senses, my eyes fell on a fleeting speck of red, rapidly disappearing into the woods.
"Who are you?" I screamed into the mist. There was no reply but by then, my eyes were focused.
I was surprised by what I saw: a little girl in a tangerine frock! Before I could call out, she disappeared into the woods, giggling and singing.
I considered going after her and helping her back home when the weather was better. Then, the thought struck me: I was the only person living here. For miles, there wasn’t a soul inhabiting this desolate corner of the valley.
Apparently, I was wrong. The girl must have had been from the woods! What parents let their children play around in such unfriendly weather? I made a mental note to go to her house, when the weather cleared and rebuke her parents about such carelessness.
The mist was settling in again, this time bringing a tinge of frost and my teeth started chattering. So, with a silent hope that the girl had reached home safely, I decided to get back.
Back in the warmth of my parlour, I sat with my art portfolio and some hot, steaming coffee.
Frequently, I kept looking out of the window, as if somehow expecting that strange girl to materialize again.
I wrote the day’s diary entry before retiring to bed that night. After some hesitation, I added the song of the girl from the woods, in long cursive letters.
The next day, I woke up to the grating calls of the bulbul and the sunbeam dancing on my eyes.
After too many days of rain and mist, the golden rays painting the skies with glamour came as a sweet release.
Ramu came early, apologizing for the last day’s delay and cursing the weather. "It’s going to get worse Sahib! I can smell it." Seeing his dramatic expression, I grinned.
During the course of the day, Ramu did his chores while I enjoyed the last day of my stay, before returning back to Delhi. At around noon, I remembered the previous day’s curious happenings.
"Ramu, who lives in those woods? " I asked.
"In the woods?" he hesitated. "None, Sahib."
"Are you sure?"
"I swear on Him. There is nobody in there. None that I know of!"
Seeing my grave expression, he must have had figured out that something was wrong.
"What’s wrong, Sahib?"
In a nutshell, I told him everything.