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Saturday, 27 July 2013

“SAVERA – Part 3”

“SAVERA – Part 3”

An art of unrequited love

Sobhan Pramanik

I was in the plains but my soul remained in Manali. Somewhere amidst those mountains and the pine forest; learning to play the Harmonica from Savera…

My patience was undergoing the test of time. I wanted to leave my college midway and return to Manali. I wanted to sit by the rumbling stream of mountain water and listen to her play the harmonica. I wanted to lie down on the grass by her and see the sun play hide and seek with the clouds. I wanted to spend every single moment of my awaiting life with her….

I could barely concentrate on things around me. My mind was saturated with images of my love, Savera and the beauty of Manali. My ears had turned deaf; Pal pal dil ke paas kept reverberating in it. Mountains were calling me. I longed to get back there and I just wish that Savera will be waiting for me too.

But I didn’t know that it was a wish not destined to meet the reality… My love story never had the luck to see wish and reality merge into one.

Every morning of my life in the city began by practicing harmonica in her memory and ended with the joy that I have travelled one more day closer to meeting Savera. I was going insane to see her and this longing finally chose the artist in me to channelize the emotions. I would return from college late in the afternoon and after which I would sit on the terrace and work over the sketch I initiated during my vacations. A pair of mysterious eyes lined by charcoal on a spotless white art paper. I would observe the calm evening sky going from violet to crimson red before the sun finally took a plunge in the far west. The swift breeze at the sun set drifting across the terrace had the smell of charred fuel smoke released by the vehicles marching the road. It would be quiet sometime after the sunset that the light of the day continued to linger in the sky before it was finally overpowered by the growing darkness. Occupying the night setting sky will be flocks of birds making way to their nests. Their collective chirping would bring to me the images of early morning spent in the mountains. I could almost feel the cold stream of water wetting my feet, the smell of the dew drenched branches of the pine intoxicating the air and the tune of harmonica playing in my sub-consciousness. It was only Savera’s absence in my arms, when I lay on my back on the terrace looking at the blackened night sky with its half-moon hidden behind a thin sheet of cloud, which made me feel that I wasn’t in Manali. I would lie there for quiet some time with my drawing sheet carrying an incomplete Savera pressed against my chest beneath my folded arms, before finally heading back home.

After days of hard work I have finally completed the masterpiece I dreamt of. The masterpiece that would fulfil Savera’s absence around me to a certain extent. I have managed to capture the image of me and Savera lying on the green grass in each other’s arms surrounded by towering mountains kissing the clouds. I rate this painting to be my finest creations ever, not because I can’t draw any better than this but because every stroke behind this art had originated more from my heart and less from my imagination. It’s not the creation of an artist. It’s the creation of an artist who had fallen in love with the subject of his painting. It’s not just a painting. It’s a medium that my voiceless emotions had chosen to convey my affection for her. It’s not just a medium. It’s is something that would keep her with me every moment even though we are miles apart from each other. It’s not just something. It’s everything. It’s love…

The painting rested on my study table leaning against the wall. Every now and then I would look at it and it would isolate me from the bustle of this city life. I would be elated from this place and will be taken amidst the hills of Manali where I would be sitting by the ledge intently listening to Savera.

My hope to see her soon had finally helped me cross the ocean of time. Summer had touched the plains. The Gulmohars had strated sprouting new leaves and for me the air had started to smell the essence of love. Manali was calling me… Savera beckoned me… And leaving the plains this time I had learnt to play the first stanza of Pal pal dil ke paas. I wish to play the full song by the time I return.
…But frankly I don’t want to return. I want to spend my lifetime with Savera lying on the grass atop the hill, admiring the clouds shift in the voluminous blue sky above us.

The train drew into the station the next morning and the cacophony of vendors selling wild berries interrupted my sleep. I was happy to be back in Manali. The excitement to see Savera had set me up on toes. The screeching halt of the train was yet to drown as I found myself entering the Fiat outside the platform.

I reached my grandparent’s place later in the afternoon and they were really happy to see me back right at the beginning of summer. They expected a longer stay with them and I wished to spend more time with Savera. I never disclosed to them my actual reason behind my early visit. I never felt the need to do so. They were happy. I was happier. Chapter closed.

I remember last time I confessed my love to Savera, she said that she can’t do that. I wanted to know the reason but I never asked. I believed the next time I will be here talking to her about my feelings for her, she will certainly agree to it.  And with that belief I am walking towards the stream with the painting in my hand that I had drawn with so much of devotion. Manali has not changed a bit. The same mountains, the shallow cascade, those erect pines and my tenderness towards her

I sat down on the pebbled shore and tossed a pebble into the water. The sound of the pebble sinking into the water made a hibernating squirrel scamper over the rocks and disappear into the forest. I sat there waiting for her. The painting lay beside me on the shore framed by mahogany streaks. I wanted to give that to her and talk my heart out. I wanted to tell how much I missed her and how incomplete my life is without her.

My reverie was nudged by the strong light of sun on my forearms. Morning had raced into afternoon but Savera didn’t come…

I went back home supressing all the negative thoughts, sternly hoping that she will be back tomorrow and we will be lying in each other’s arms once again. Thoughts of worry didn’t leave my mind. They were haunting me all the time. I chose to talk about it with my grandma. That night after dinner as we went to bed, I asked her.
“Granny, do you know a girl named Savera who used to play harmonica?”
A sadist expression hit her face. My heart almost stopped beating.
“Yes I do…” she replied softly and kept caressing my forehead.
“I met her last time by the stream but this time I couldn’t find her…” I continued.
Beta…she is no more. Some people say she committed suicide and some say she fell off the hills while taking her cattle’s for grazing.”

“What? Why….?” I fell short of words. Grandma’s words like a lighting had struck my heart and had burnt to bits all the tender buds of emotions that were yet to blossom. My within was writhing in agony but my face had a blank expression. Tears wanted to overpower the banks of my eyes and flood my face with sorrow but they couldn’t.

“She loved a boy named Kundan from a nearby village but her parents didn’t support their relation. They secretly saw each other often and one day they were caught in the forest. The girl’s father was threatened to be thrown out of the village if her daughter doesn’t stop seeing that boy. And with the grief of not being able to live with her love, she ended her life…” Grandma paused. And with it I came to know why she can’t love me. My life seems meaningless now. I had just turned to the other side after wishing grandma goodnight that tears in continuous stream started to run down my cheeks and disappeared into the pillow.

It was that night whose Savera never arrived…..

I left the hills sooner than usual. I had lost my reason to be in Manali. My grandparents did ask me the reason of my early departure. I satisfied them by saying that my semesters are supposed to start early this time.

Wo toh meri ummed thi jiske sahare mai apni zindegi guzaar raha tha…
Magar meri hakikat ne toh us umeed ko v chhin liya tha…
Mai toh jaane anjane me usse pyaar kar baitha tha…
Magar afsos toh is baat ka hai ki mere taqdeer me us pyar ke liye koi jagah hi nhi tha…

I am back in the plains. My Savera is still in my arms in that painting that has been kept leaning against the wall. I am sitting by the study table caressing Savera’a cheeks. I try to smile seeing her. I think I smiled…as drops of tears leave my eyes to fall on the table and disperse into several tiny droplets.

Fifteen years later:-

I dropped out of college to peruse my dreams of becoming an artist. I joined Academy Of Fine Arts and achieved a degree in Indian Classical Painting. My paintings since then have gained global recognition and today it’s my first ever exhibition. I am really excited about it.

The hall room broke into a thunderous applause as soon as I entered. The entire space was filled to its full capacity. People from different parts of the country have gathered at my exhibition. In one word my exhibition is a grand success. I couldn’t have expected more. Very few artists have gained such an enormous response at the very first exhibition. I feel glad to be one of those few.
It has been hours I am roaming around the place talking to various attendants who have turned up as I notice a young girl patiently examining one of my painting. I walk across to her.

“Hi.” I said standing beside her. She was wearing western attire; halter neck top and black trousers.
Hey. This painting is really wonderful. What’s the name of it.?” She asked.
“Thank you so much…” I greeted back and pointer my index finger to a small placard placed beneath the painting with its name .It says, “An art of unrequited love”

“Oh! I see. But why is it unrequited?” She asked me with curious eyes. Mysterious eyes.
“Because the boy’s love met a tragic end…” I replied to her imitating a casual smile.
“I don’t think so. This is the perfect ending. I always dreamt of being in Kundan’s arms and this painting fulfilled my wish…” she paused.

“Sorry! Whom did you just mention??” A tremor ran all over my body.

Kundan, I have heard this name. Yes. He is the one Savera loved.

“No. Nothing.” She avoided my question with a courteous smile. “I will buy this....” she said and proceeded towards the counter. I was still in daze. I couldn’t believe what I heard.

Savera? How come? I guess she is no more.

Minutes later she was leaving through the main exit as I called her out.

“Excuse me! May I have your name please…?”

She looked back. Her sombre hairs amiably covered a good part of her face. She was smiling as she replied, “Savera”.

I could not believe my ears. I ran out of the exhibition hall but Savera was nowhere….

My bewilderment kept me on toes for the next few hours. Cherished memories all of a sudden had emerged out from the coffin of bygone days and played themselves in the sub-consciousness of my mind. I remembered the joy of meeting Savera the first by the stream beneath the pine tree. I also relived the pain I went through after her untimely departure.

But today I feel happy at heart, an unusual airiness is engulfing me. Even today I don’t have my love with me, despite the fact I am happy.
I am happy because my unrequited love had given a happy ending to a person’s love, whom I loved more than anything else….
The exhibition was concluded by a harmonica performance, as I played Pal pal dil ke paas fully for the first time ever.

Thank you Savera! I really wish to be yours someday….

Many thanks for taking time to read this story. Hope you liked it.
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Sobhan Pramanik.

Author- Sobhan Pramanik,  
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