As Don walked fascinated with his experiences, he began making notes,scribbling in his small diary.His mind was buzzing with these experiences and he found it difficult to think of a start. There were so many ways but he couldn’t come up with a start which he liked perfectly.How does his story begin? The bus stop or the first bend or the people...he just could nt decide.
As he walked further,he spotted a small hut on the hill. The back drop was just beautiful and the hut as if accentuating the beauty of the hills stood their in petite silence.
Some villagers were sitting around the small area in front of the hut. A faint cardamom smell drifted through the air, signaling the presence of a tea stall. He put his diary back into the bag and walked over.There were 4 people sipping tea and 2 who smoked while the tea stall owner did everything, smoked, sipped and brewed as well.
Upon his arrival a brusque welcome greeted him. Don felt a bit guilty disturbing their tranquility. But his mind took over and asked for some tea. The owner nodded and gestured him to sit down. There was silence.An uncomfortable one after some moments passed by. Don thought of cracking up a conversation.
‘does it always rain suddenly here’? He asked politely. Silence followed.
‘I mean does the weather always change so quickly?’ - Silence persisted.
Don was getting a bit uncomfortable, and perhaps a tad irritated.
The owner came out of his tea brewing enclosure and handed him a small tea cup.
‘thank you’ Don said but the tea stall owner looked blankly him without a hint of recognition.
This time Don felt a little insulted. What wrong did he do? After all the tea stall is there for people to have tea and maybe a polite conversation.What else was there to it. His mind raced with various possibilities while sipping the hot tea.
‘Maybe they think city folks are bad people. Maybe they don’t like the way I am dressed or the way I talk.’
'maybe they re just plain ignorant rude people'...illiterate rude people how would they know any manners?'
Don sipped a bit too anxiously and burnt his upper lip.
'darn - I am done - I think I shouldn't have stopped here' He looked around to find blank pairs of eyes still looking at him
without a flutter.
Just then a small boy came running from across the road towards the tea stall. He was panting and gesturing something to the villagers. He was trying to say something in sign language.
Realization struck Don. Very hard.He cringed.
The set of people were at the tea stall had lost the ability to speak or hear.They just couldn't understand what Don was saying all this while.
As if that was not enough, Don looked at the boy and finally understood what he was trying to say.
To the people who could hear, the child’s voice said ‘ please help ! The storm has broken our homes.’
The villagers got up and helped the tea stall owner close his shop quickly.They worked in remarkable organised fashion.Each silently diving their share of labor.Helping each other at a time of crises with perfect calmness and composure that even the most trained folks cannot.
Don stood there dumbstruck. It was his turn to be speechless.
They rushed out before Don could say anything or pay them anything. As he picked up his bag to leave, he took out some money and put it inside an empty tea cup and hid it beside the stove.
He walked away with a loaded heart, loaded with self realization and reflection of his vocal past.
Gyanban thoughts - we speak and speak so much,that as time passes by we listen lesser and lesser till we dont listen at all.Our eyes seize to see the evident and we become blind to the immediate realities of life.We are the deaf and mute and blind really - not them. We are the ones who need help - not them. We are the ones who need to save our homes and lives and ourselves from our self created barriers. When will we wake up and listen ?
Don's impatience had severed so many ties.His inattentiveness to his own voices had created so many broken roads.His path to clarity wouldn't be easy.The ability to listen to his inner self was something he had lost along the way. But there was hope.
He was nearing the end of the climb.Destination was in sight...with that he set foot on hairpin bend number 6.