Love or Death – part 3
At the farm I showed her around the different places and at last we reached a place covered with trees; Teak, Tamarind and Rose Apple. The trees made the spot a little island of shadow where only little of the sunlight penetrated during the daytime. “In summers when I came to the farm, this was my favourite place. It was almost like a sanctuary to me. The harsh summer heat dared not to penetrate through this protective covering of nature. I sat here and thought for hours. When all the children sank into the safe refuge of their homes avoiding the scorching heat I used to come here.” As I said this I pulled her between the trees.
These were my friends, among the best I ever had. They always supported me. Just the sight of these trees standing there infused a confidence in me. They gave me a feeling that some things in life are best if kept unchanged.
“William Wordsworth once said ‘Nature never disappoints her lover hearts’.” When I said this she blushed. “Jealous?” I asked. The question annoyed her. “Why would I be?” she replied. I knew she was jealous.
We returned to the village. I promised her to take her to Bet tomorrow, but no later then 1 o’clock because one needs time to explore the place. I started experiencing a feeling of attachment towards her. I was confused what that was ‘do I love her?’ the question occupied my mind the whole night. I was confused.
Next day we reached the banks of river Narmada. From there we had to take a boat to reach Bet. “I have never taken a river boat ride.” She was stirred up as always “although I have been to Bhopal where I have taken boat rides in lake but this is first time in a river.” I tried to recall my first riverboat ride, but probably I was too young to remember the ride.
We reached Bet in ten minutes. The island was covered with heavy vegetations. The wild grasses with blue and red flowers greeted every passing person. There were stairs to climb up the slope of the island and a large temple of lord Shiva at hilltop. Ghat was situated on the other side of the island.
“It’s so peaceful out here.” She said looking at the butterflies flying around the wild grass. The settings of that place isolated you from the sounds of the outer world, as if a curtain has been pulled over. Ever word spoken carried a different tone. The place had different sounds, the buzzing of dragonflies, the chirping of birds, the chirring of insects and a distant trill of a peacock. We climbed up the stairs and the temple complex stood in front of us. We entered the complex and went across every temple situated inside. Then we went to the ghat and sat along the river. The small waves in the river moved up and down and the sunrays falling on them created an illusion of twinkling stars in bright daylight.
“I am so bad. I have engaged you for two whole days. By the way if you were not with me what would you generally do?” She asked. The question surprised me. I was not expecting such a self-accusing act from her. It was also surprising to find out that, despite of the time we spent together and the amount of discussions between us, the two of us knew very little of our daily lives.
“Well If I was in Indore I would spend half of my day in college and rest half is unplanned. If I come here I visit Naageshwer, Bet and my farm, which we have been doing since yesterday. So there is no question of my routine been disturbed. Apart form this I have only missed soccer, which I play whenever I come here.” I finished explaining her my routine. The part of my routine at Dharampuri was unchanged since very long time. “What would you do, if you were not here?” I asked. “I would attend the classes. Then at home I spend some time with Jimmy. Actually a lot of time. If I have any time left, I study. Then I have my dinner and sleep. It’s as simple as that.” She answered in one breath. “OK so who is Jimmy?” I asked the very instant she finished explaining. There was a hint of anxiousness in my voice. For a second I thought, it would be better if I don’t know who is Jimmy. “Why are you jealous?” she asked with a mischievous smile “don’t worry. He’s my pet dog.” I was embarrassed. I kept looking at the river. “What did you thought, who he was?” now she started to take on me. I didn’t answer her.
“Hey look at that.” She was pointing towards a peacock. It had come to the river to quench its thirst. It was quite far from us. “Don’t move or it will run away.” I told her. “It’s so beautiful. Is it going to dance?” she asked it with innocence as of a child. “Do you want to see more of them?” I asked her. She nodded in reply. “Stay low and let it drink. When it goes back we’ll follow it.” I instructed. This was one thing I had mastered. Since my childhood I had spent a lot of my time following peacocks to their musters, here in Bet. It is a tedious job and takes patience. I was not quiet sure she would be able to do this. “Look you need to be very patient and no noise at all.” I told her. “OK” she said.
We waited till it started back for the jungle. Its legs made clear and deep impressions on the sand. It was quiet easy here but the tricky part was when it goes into the jungle. Dry leaves and splinters of wood spread all over the ground crack with a noise when you move on them. Also the bird turns its head randomly to check whether a predator is following it. If you move at that time, the bird will fly away. Although, peacocks are not the best flyers, but in a forest a jump of 20 feet comes in very handy. Once the bird knows about your presence it’s unchasable.
“If you make any noise the bird will fly away.” I warned her once again. “But peacocks don’t fly.” She came in with a trivia that irritated me. “Yeah, I know that. But when they flap their wings, they can make it as high as 20 feet. Once they are on the tree top, you can’t chase the damn creature.” I explained.
Next half an hour went by as we reached the muster of the peacocks. There were 2 or 3 peacocks and peahen twice of that. They flocked quiet deep into the jungle. We were very cautious in moving. It took us very long to reach there because we had to maintain a distance from the birds. We crept slowly towards them. “Is it going to dance now?” she asked. “No that’s mostly in the rainy season. You know why do they dance?” I asked. “Yes, they want to impress the females for mating.” She answered as if she was going to do a mischief. “Let’s get a closer look.” I said. I waved my hand signalling her to follow me. As she moved a dry splinter cracked underneath her body. The sound was enough to alarm the muster. The birds flew away blowing a gust of dust all around.
The Sun was now declining towards the west and the shadows started stretching. It usually sets early in winters. It was then when I realised that as the sun sets temperature will drop and we have no arrangement of winter. “I think we should leave.” I suggested. “As the Sun sets it would get cooler and also the last boat leaves after the evening Aarti.” There was a panic in my voice.
“OK, we have more than an hour for getting back. So meanwhile show me around.” She was very casual about this entire affair. “But, there is nothing except this jungle and the temple …”I tried to convince her. “So let’s explore the jungle.” she moved deeper into the woods as she said this. I was very annoyed by this attitude of hers. I didn’t understand why she was that reluctant in going back. “You don’t want to get back, do you?” I asked her angrily. “If we get back you’ll go to your place and I to mine. I want to spend more time with you.” I went speechless at this reply of hers.
We were deep into the woods. “Why is it that always male has to persuade female into a relationship?” She asked me. We were talking about the male female relationship existing in nature. Our encounter with the peacock led to this discussion. “No it’s not always true. Yes but in case of birds and most of the mammals it is true. I suppose it is because of the fact that the female knows that if male wants his gene pool to survive, which is the primary motive of any species, he needs her. Also that the female makes the choice of the best father for her children which gives her the upper hand in choosing the partner.” She had very cleverly shifted my focus from the problem of going back to the village to the male female relationship. I was now into explanatory mode. This was my biggest weakness. If you ask me to explain something, I’ll leave everything aside to make you understand that. She knew this.
“If we look at human society the converse is also true. I mean if you look at the scenario fifty or so years back mostly the male was the one who made the choice, especially in Indian society.” She questioned. Her question drew me deeper into it. “If you see initially at some early stage of evolution, say in case of big cats and apes, the social structure emerged with the dominance of male. What led to it was the fact that when a male is not allowed to mate with the partner of his choice, he goes violent. This led to insecurity of females. Then females started looking for a stronger companion, the one who can protect them from most of the other males. This was when the ball came to the male’s court. If the female needs protection it has to abide by the male’s charter. Now the stronger males started picking up the females for them. You can see that in most of the apes like chimps have leader who is male and has a harem of females. Same is true with the lions and the tigers.” I thought it was enough to appease her query. “The basis of your explanation is that female is weaker of the two. Is it true? Your are being biased in your opinion.” She opined. The Sun was setting and the light started to get dim.
“What I feel makes the female weaker is her responsibility towards the offspring. On the other hand males are hardly bothered about the children. Or you are right I might be biased.” I was a bit submissive in front of her, had it been another person I would have never admitted my biased opinion.
“According to you what is the thing that drives a males towards a female?” she asked another question. And during the conversation I had lost my sense of direction and now she was leading the way, through the woods. “The thing that drives a male to a female is the need to reproduce. Every species wants to bring a new generation to survive in this world. This is why and how we have reached to this stage of evolution. This has led to our evolution. If this tendency was not there the only creatures on this planet would have been microbes.” I was a bit arrogant in answering to her. “So according to you the basis of relationship between a male and a female is sex, right? So what about humans? Where do our emotions stand?” she was agitated by my answer.
“As far as I think, the emotions which we carry are the representations or rather manifestations of our instincts developed during our course of evolution.” I was now stepping into an uncomfortable territory of thoughts. Emotions have always distraughted me. “So what about your emotions?” she was questioning me and I to myself. “For you love is just a manifestation of your sexual desire?” she was kind of furious to know my opinion on emotions. All this shook me. Before I could answer her previous questions she fired another one. “Do you love me?” she asked. It didn’t surprise me because I knew at some point this was coming our way.
It was this question that has unsettled me the most throughout my life. I was never able to figure out what exactly is love or any emotion. The best answer that occurred to me was the one explaining emotion as manifestations of our instincts. Fear, for example is due to our instinct to avoid any fights with the one who is stronger. It saves our life. “I don’t know. I’m confused. What do you think about love?” rather than answering I asked a question. I thought the best way to avoid the answer is to ask another question. “For me love or any other emotion is what makes us connect to each other. Love connects us to God. It is giving all that you have, even your existence. For me love is death.” Her face shined and sparkled as she said this. Then she looked down at me. Her expressions suggested that she was disappointed with me. I was not able to comprehend what she said. “Love conquers all; let us too yield to love.” I tried to lighten the mood by saying this. She smiled.
“Look its dark already we should start back.” As soon as I finished saying this the temple bells started ringing. They made such a great sound that you can hear it from a mile. This meant that the Aarti was about to end and soon the last boat will leave. I grabbed her hand and pulled her with me. We started running towards the sound of the bells.