Neha’s eyes are quiet as she waits for the bus;
quiet like they have been a few years now since the day everything changed and he went away. Nothing really has been the same, not with whispers going across the village where they lived by the sea at Koppa; here where there are no secrets.
She braids her hair into a long coil : her one friend through the years, through the loss of her baby,and the changes that took them by surprise, when the rains did not fall and the rice never grew. When their coconut tree stooped and faded into a mellow brown.After they took him to jail. For the “theft’, they said.
The bus is late ; will he be there? Won’t he?
She hides behind a sudden grin, hoping no one saw what she did that morning at 6 am by the village well. Shimpli had given her a Gift, said it came in from the city to the new store . It was a small soft white bag with two bottles and her brother ( asst. at the store!) said it did good things for bad plaits (Braids); neither Neha nor Shimpli could read English,but they did what they knew to do : rinsed, soaked, waited,rinsed.
It is nice and clean now. It had become like the rope going down their well, rough and suddenly not like she used to know it. What happened when you grew up? You forgot how it used to be ? How he used to watch her go to the village school ; later he said it was her long lush braids that had tricked him into gazing at her! Aha.
The sadness begins to seep away, like soap suds down muddy drains sunk in fresh new grass, at things the heart learns to leap at. Would their lives return to normal again ? Would she be able to forgive – would he be the same ?
She remembers his gentle face, not the one he became with the need for better things. They said he was a criminal, but it was over now. The theft paid for, he was coming home. Oh if only he is at least a little like she remembers him when they first met : his eyes tender, warm, filling with Light.
The bus arrives; she runs then stops. Her braid falls loose and swings in little waves down her neck and arms. He steps down the old black bus, his feet worn with walking up and down the cell just counting the years before he could see her again. Neha, forgive me, it was just Rs 5000/- and some. You were tired, all I wanted to get you was a little soap, and tassled ribbons like you used to have, and a trinket for your hair. And bangles. And a little more for the Wedding chain we had to pawn. There were other things : it was our first anniversary..
What had she gone through when he was away? The thought fades : is that her? Like Light in the darkness that had taken his very soul. She smiles like she used to, her loveliness cascading down the stone path between them. And Peace like a Dove mingles their past, their present, their future in one unbroken touch of Love.
The village stares, then smiles.
All is well.
for more : The Miracle of of Dove