The Butterfly Effect Titli / Des Raj Kali
Butterfly:- Come the sweetness of the month of March and one gets rid of the unwelcoming freeze in the air. One does not like to be trapped indoors … especially when one is alone. Loneliness eats one like a termite from the inside. that is the reason why the wise say, may not even a tree be alone! Otherwise the evenings of the month of the March are quite resplendent. I too bored of my loneliness come out in the lawn and sit on the swing. I command Chotu to make tea and meanwhile scan my surroundings. Maybe if I am lucky, I can spot a neighbour and then the whole evening will let loose in gossips. Perhaps it is good, at this hour only kids are playing outside, that too little kids.
The cool spright of the breeze is soothing both to the body and mind. The season of germination led to the budding forth of little tender green shoots from the branches of the trees. The fresh hue of the new leaves alike the glow of a newly wedded bride appeases the mind. In only this season the myriad manifestation of colours and an array of varied flowers makes the creation more soulful. The fondness of flowers makes me wish that the world’s bounty of flowers should blossom in the lawn of my house so that I may stare, savour, and speak with them to forget my own loneliness.
“Bibiji chai” Chotu said giving me a glass filled with chai. I get back from the world of fragrant flowers to that of reality.
While drinking chai I get distracted by a butterfly. A brown hued butterfly moves from one flower to the other. Suddenly looking at the butterfly I was reminded of a tall professor at the college. It is just a play of monkey mind, at one moment it is here, in another it weaves dreams of future, and at times it surreptitiously gets lost in the memory of the past.
The memory of the dreamy days of college fills the heart with fragrance. How beautiful were those days when the only worry was only of studies! We used to attend all the classes, but never thought of bunking the classes of this professor. He had tall, lean, and lanky posture and a tranquil visage with deep eyes as if could fathom one’s inner recesses. When he started teaching even a common thing used to turn to an incredible one. While teaching literature he used to be one on one with it. During poetry recitation the whole ambience used to be soaked into rasa. Never did I understand poetry to that a level ever before in my life. Beyond the literal meaning, when the magically allusive meanings of poetry were evoked like the stroke of lightning thunder the mind would reach at a transcendental level. He was very amicable with all his students. If any curious minded student posed a question, he would explain things to them in detail and would suggest additional books too.
Because of this inquisitiveness, I would also look high and low through the library. After finding an interesting read, I would catch my breath only after finishing it. Reading became even more fruitful when I used to discuss it with the Professor.
Talking about books we would discuss politics, religion, values and what not. The connection from the class slowly and gradually crawled to his room in the Punjabi Department. At times we would go to have a cup of chai with him at the canteen. Such an alluring personality was always surrounded by the students. Rejoicing the happy moments, he would just smile. His smile, serene as a lake could not overshadow the sadness latent in his eyes. Even after the classes got over, he would keep sitting in the departmental room or the library to study. It seemed he was never in a hurry to leave for home … perhaps there was no one at the home waiting.
On one of the college events he made us meet with his wife. She was a sparkling fair looking Kashmiri girl with the red blossoming hue of a Kashmiri apple. She was short, but still enchanting. I do not understand why I desired to be close to that Kashmiri girl … perhaps my curiosity to know about the Professor was on the increase. By the end of the event we both chatted like good friends. I bid goodbye after promising Madam that I would meet her after she invited me to her home.
I found an uncanny tranquillity all over the face of Professor Sahab, I wondered whether it was because of his praise at the department, or because of the mention of his books, or for some other reason? There was altogether a different spark in his eyes.
Now whenever we discussed books, we also talked at a more personal level with each other. I would ask about the welfare of Madam and their two kids. Both their children were very intelligent. His daughter was eldest, and son was youngest, listening to his ten-eleven-year-old kids he would be overjoyed. But at the mention of Madam his face would stretch with a shooting pain of a wound. Oh my God! … Can a man with such a beautiful wife and blessed kids be sad like this. Whenever I would try to broach the topic he would digress.
I had promised to meet Madam that day. It was evenings, Madam and I sat outside on chairs in the lawn. After the obligatory talk she asked me about my studies. The warmth within her talks was quite comforting to me.
At times I used to go to her home in the evenings. Now the work of studies became even more playful … all the time my heart leaped up with joy … every time it gave me a sense of achievement … I was full of gratitude for this magnificent persona who evoked and sculpted the spright to read and write in me and widened my horizon.
The whole family socialized well with me. Madam also steadily started pouring her heart out to me. There was an uneasy estrangement because both the individuals were not on speaking terms with each other.
Both had done their master’s degree together … the camaraderie of classmates turned into friendship, friendship into love, and love culminated to marriage. Boy of Jatt Sikh’s and the girl of Kashmiri Sikh’s. The family was against their relationship, but love had its way out. They had kids eventually, but gradually they both could find more imperfections in each other than goodness. The intoxication of love soon vanished into thin air. The hearts that swung and swooned each other with their honeyed talks now were slyly suspicious of each other. The lips that whispered love to each other now had turned acerbic with accusations.
Time sure was flying with wings on. In a flash the last year of master’s degree was about to complete. Because of examinations I was busy studying and most of my time went into library sittings.
After getting the message from the Professor Sahab I went to his department room to meet him. “Where were you? It’s been long you didn’t even come to home?” he said with a difference in his tone.
“Sir, slightly I wasn’t well, then I also had to prepare for exams” responding I sat on a chair in front of him.
“I have some notes lying with me, pick them some time from home ….”
“What happened you are looking sad today?” Sir said, looking at me Argus-eyed.
“No, just like that, this companionship will not last long now, then who will share great learnings with me?” I said with a lump in my throat.
“Do you know when you speak it seems as if your voice is coming from the depth of a well … very deep and calm indeed …. you are quite different from others, I also miss students like you, losing you will also be saddening for me”.
I could not understand, how was Sir talking today. He never spoke to me on such personal terms before. My mind was restless, Professor Sahab’s eyes did not have the old expression.
Days went by … exams were over … today with a light heart I went to return Professor Sahab’s notes at his place.
The vermillion sun was set to spill and sidle over the veil of the dark night. The birds were also taking a flight back home. Professor Sahab and me sat outside in the lawn on the chairs. Removing my sandals, I was enjoying the cool nudge of the wet grass.
“Is Madam not there?” I asked after there was no sign of any movement from inside.
“She has gone to the bazaar with kids. Tomorrow is daughter’s birthday. Today you have to make your own chai” he said looking at me.
“You keep on sitting Sir; I’ll make chai” I went to kitchen informing him.
“Sir chai”, listening my voice brought him back from some distant lands.
The sips of chai are quite placid amidst natural ambience in the soft-cool breeze of the month of September.
Professor Sahab was lost in some deep thoughts. With the change in the wind flow the water from the fountain moved toward me. The slight peppery spray of water was welcoming. The loveliness in the weather and even the ambience could blow one’s mind. Because of the culmination of examinations even the mind was much relaxed. I thought after taking a break for few days I would settle to study the novels of Dalip Kaur Tiwana.
Keeping the glass of chai on the table my chunni touches the blossoming flowers growing in the furrows. My carelessness maybe disturbed a butterfly there. Blossom hued butterfly that was sitting on those flowers’ flies to the next cluster of flowers.
Professor Sahab also looks at that butterfly. He was looking at it with great interest.
“How beautiful the butterfly is! … How beautiful … full of finesse … How beautiful are its colours!!! … I feel like touching it … but I know if I tried to touch it, it will fly away” he said with a question on his face.
It seemed as if my ears were brimming with multiple noises. It felt as if the blood was rushing to my brain. The wet grass that caressed my feet felt like pricking … it seemed scorching. What kind of a situation was it?
Why did I feel as if Professor Sahab said this to me and not to the butterfly … no, no, this was not possible …? Such a decent and rational being like him could not think like this. I shirked away the thoughts troubling my mind.
Professor Sahab fixed his gaze on me as if he were looking for some answers.
The ring of the telephone brings me out of the mirage. The twilight of the evenings was ready to embrace the darkness of the night. May be the wind stopped and the mosquito bites swelled my feet. Just now the cool sheen of the moon will out bloom the night queen flowers. I do not feel like going inside, but collecting all my memories, I get up from the swing to go inside and listen to the telephone call.