Not much revamped the olfactory sensation of piquant, disseminating from every house, perceived the little nostrils of Shiva, notwithstanding his very absence for about eleven years, his egress when he was sixteen; whereas the stains of the shadows, of the heretofore poverty-stricken huts with hundreds of holes in rooftops, through which bounced the hottest photons in May, glimpsed the finest moonlight in December, and splattered the densest silver-daubed rain in August, across the edges of punctures, had been engulfed by the shadows of the much stronger cement buildings.
Ecstasy stirred in Shiva's little grey cells. The small south Indian village witnessed itself the great change; supposed the tilt silver louver of rain-drops dribbled real silver, while the heaven wide-opened; supposed the glimpses of the moon-light tumbled real diamonds; supposed the shimmering sunlight lobbed the real glimmering gold.
He thought, no more stains of the old shadows lingered.
At every little veranda rimmed to every little house, a smile mixed head-shake followed by a beacon, at the young Shiva, who recognized some old men and some old women, some uncles and some aunts; some uttered his name loudly, some tried to call with one of his pet names, as a memory he had in splashes while sixteen or so; now this young man of twenty-seven was in great spirits, sighed a satisfaction within, one could easily discover the aroma of bliss, he had been scattering in his trembled cheeks and twitched lips. Happy spirits he held, the man of twenty seven. Such as, a smoke proves a fire, a thunderbolt proves a lightening.
"Hey, son of a miser!" he listened someone say it, swiftly. All the good spirits evaporated in a flash.
Now the first stain of the old shadow appeared, dimly, at first; then clearer and clearer and clearer, to the crystal clear, finally. Negative, the spirits were now. An imaginary needle pierced his head, two inches inside, and stirred at a corner, where sat all the connecting memories, waked up.
Now Shiva was a ten years little boy.
Different people of different age groups were calling him with different names: some rude and some funny, some bad and some worst, some small and some big.
His blood boiled, but evaporated upon the weak tears. His fists tightened for a punch, but ended at his own ribs. His eyes fumed, but before fired up, watered for the flood of tears.
'Son of a miser' was the worst of all, that hurt him a lot. 'Son of a miser.' But when it was called by children of his own age group, but taller and stronger than him, his heart had been mounted suffering.
And while people of age group, just above his, stabbing with words such as, 'your sister slept with this man and that man,' that was more than too much for the little heart, especially for he had a 'girl's heart.'
"The Worst of Times," cried the boy. "Only The Worst of Times."
As the flash of memory stroked, Shiva, the man of twenty-seven, was walking deeper into the village quite difficulty, quite thoughtfully, and quite suspiciously. He glanced at his old house, in a new paint. A neighbor gazed at him and beckoned.
"Hey, Man with Girl's Heart!" cried he, astonished. "Where have you been all these peculiar years of transition?" Shiva was quiet. Not even nodded his head in response. Anew a pierce in the heart and a flicker of reminiscence caressed.
One day when a boy, who was about his age but double fit and strong than him, came hastily and told all the rumors upon his sister, Shiva wanted to punch him but couldn't. He suffered himself for many days. In dream, he hit him to blood, many a time, but all in an imagination. Couldn't he share nor could he fight. The piercing pain was what grown and grown within.
The more he thought to forgot it, the more he remembered, incredulously.
Dubious he was upon himself: 'what kind of a boy am I?'
'Am I a boy?'
Of course, yes. He was absolutely a boy. But the heart--
Ah... Here came the problem--the heart was a girl's. It wasn't made up of blood and sand, not plastered with pride and power. While it was crafted completely with emotions, except those rims were partially aggressive.
Now, more it was a woman's heart.
Now he understood why his grandma saw a lot of his mamma in him. And so much like his mamma, wasn't for the analogous nose, nor for the matching face; but for the heart, as it was his mamma's.
But he hated his mamma (and didn't know why. Might be for she died before his memory established) as much as he loved an imaginary figure that always visiting his corners of brain, being part of the grey cells; but until now never he recognized both were same.
He never knew her, nor remembered a memory of her. All that known it was a big portrait fantastically drawn and artistically arranged in a corner in the closet, along with the great collection of photographs where rested numerous gods and goddesses.
Now he remembered, to whom his aunt daily lit a lamp, not praying to return the lost light, but to stay as a constant light in the hearts of him and his brother and sister.
Anew Shiva waked up from his memories. Verified himself, his thin legs through the flat breasts. Not a boy he was now. He was a man. A man of twenty seven. Now pressed his own chest with his tough fingers, to see how the heart was beating. It did not race, unlike it did when it's owner was a little boy. Shiva smiled himself mechanically and thought, 'a man's heart it is. A man's heart.'
Pulled the gate of six feet height and four feet long, at the entrance, through which sighted an old man sunk in a rock-chair in the veranda; a pince-nez dropped onto his nose, and a local Telugu newspaper laid on his lap; wilted his neck as the pupils down the sixty years old eyelids, finding the words written in an ant-size. All of a sudden a young lady appeared with a china bowl and handed it over to the old man. He smiled and clutched with his quivering fingers. She disappeared in a flash. Now appeared a young man, who would be in late twenties, bowed to his knees and touched the feet of the old man and softly slid back and walked towards the front-gate. He must be in a profession he liked the most, or he dreamed all through his life, for his persistent smile on the lips without a counterfeit wrinkle concealed in it.
"Shiva!" cried the man in late twenties, looking at Shiva who stood at the other side of the gate. "Dad, Shiva came! Shiva came!" Jumped and jumped the elder brother hitherto normal, popped firecrackers, as if discovered a gold-mine in his ten-acre field, bowled over gazing at the long-vanished little brother. Hugged Shiva by affection paramount. Tears rolled-in in either's eyes, inadvertently, inevitably.
"I missed you Ram," said Shiva through his tears.
He walked to his old father who stood with the help of a stick, and bowed to his feet as his brother did a while ago, and touched his feet for blessing. The old father patted smoothly on the fluffy hair of his younger son, whom he didn't see for about a decade, whilst a few drops of tears fallen from those faded, dreary eyes on Shiva's head, who could feel the tenderness in them.
Ram had introduced his recently-married wife to Shiva. "Namaste, sister-in-law," he greeted for the greeting smile of her.
In the evening, Shiva sat in the backyard from where the sunset sighted as like as it did when he was an young boy, beside a pile of sand.
Afresh a stain of an old shadow flared.
A whistle from a corner, for the sight of eye, bustled over the wheat fields laid all over the vision spread, that they were bending to one side by the smacking wind; now dancing, now dangling; now bowling, now howling; a feeling for those sighted eyes, seemed, they would unearth all at once to death.
Those eyes were bigger; bigger than any other contemporary eyes. Those were the eyes of Shiva: the boy with square-face, long hair, sharp nose, tiny nostrils, narrow lips, red cheeks, large ears, small ear-holes, square-shoulders, scrawny fingers, velvety skin, short hands, long legs, and fleshy chests but a girl's heart within.
Sinking himself amid a pile of sand and face to face with the serine sunset, Shiva, who must be about ten, with his bony fingers clutched a small, thin wood, and glanced at his accompanied friend that evening, who had been standing at a distance showing his back; so that the little Shiva could conceal the small wood somewhere in the load of sand, and once he done hiding the wood, his friend had to find it in a given time. Neither of them knew the name of the game, nevertheless they had been accustomed to it playing for sundry weeks, every evening after their school.
While the sun had been stooping into the enormously stretched sea; looking at his own, round, worn-out face after glimmering all the daylong and drowning into the other side of the sea, just beside it half-whitish and half-yellowish full moon with few grimy stains put on a pedestal. Both had smiled at each other for exchanging their shifts: one to the other side to bring back the dawn, and the other to night-watch the dusk.
For a while Shiva stared at the tête-à-tête going on between the sky-brothers, though quite opposite hearts in the sky. Just like himself who was quite cool like the moon and his brother who was quite aggressive like the sun. Whereas not yet comprehended his sister's attitude and all the stuff, or else whatsoever you may name it--or compare her with the great sky over which both the sun and the moon reside in.
"Hey monkey!" exclaimed Geeta, the fourteen year old sister of the little boy. "Grandma is home and she wants to see you."
"Oh grandma!" cried Shiva. "Tell her I am sleeping, or say her I was away to woods, or lie her I was out of the station; oh grand ma! she came!"
"You know her, don't you?"
"Ah..." puffed the little boy and shrugged his square-shoulders. "She asks me to kiss her on her filthy wrinkled cheeks."
"For--" she said, puzzled. "Not must be that, as something underneath, tell me."
"Ah... every time she visits, she wet her eyes remembering mom, and only by looking at me, she remembers. All the stuff she says, 'your mom is this good, your mom is that good. Have to save you, god only. You are precisely like her--your eyes--your nose--your lips--your this--your that.' Finally she wants me to join her wail."
"Mom, my foot--"
Broken the memory upon the call of his sister-in-law, who brought tea for him.
"Dreaming for my sister?" said the lady and chuckled. Shiva was quiet but smiled as a reply.
Before the supper, he sat in the lounge along with his brother.
"Ram, where is sister?" said Shiva and listening curiously, what would be the answer. She was the human he liked the most when he was a little boy. Even Ram knew that.
"She got married, for years," said Ram puffing his cigar. "About a decade it has been."
"Where does she live now?"
"She didn't like to go out of India."
"Human thoughts are like clouds: once full, once empty; once stable, once move."
"But sister isn't a cloud."
"Yet she is a human."
"I know who the cloud was."
"No... Not dad."
The discussion was more or less went close to an argument, but mostly monotonous and monosyllabic.
The next morning, Shiva went to Gowri aunty, who should be around forty-five now, to discover the precise reason for why his sister, Geeta went to States as none in his house told straightly. But before the discussion instigated, Shiva's memories drifted.
Anew a stain of old shadow flickered.
"Gowri," she listened her uncle's voice, but smoothly and respectfully. "Tea, please. Aching my head for the long-wait in the bank."
"Two minutes, uncle."