“Gone are the days when people from all walks of life used to gather at ‘Ghoor’ & get their nerves soothed from winter chill”, whispered shivering Satyam while adjusting shawls on his shoulders with one hand & taking a cup of coffee with another one.
It was a perfect winter morning for the professor couple who were rejoicing the chill in their palatial bungalow in the heart of Delhi, Civil Lines facing Khyber Ridge amidst cool breeze blowing across the landscape. The breeze was so numbing that Satyam couldn’t withhold the urge of recalling his village days.
Though Mridula being the daughter of Colonel, was brought up in the cantonment, Satyam had spent his teens in villages.
At the outset, the archaic word ‘Ghoor’ surprised her. But before Satya, as lovingly addressed by her, could react noticing her expression, she nodded in affirmation by saying “That’s true Satya. But don’t you think what practice our forefathers followed, we seldom do with the same zeal. Previously we were used to treat our neighbors as near & dear irrespective of one’s pedigree but time has eclipsed all the bonhomie thriving amongst us.”
“However, leave it all…tell me what’s brewing inside? Why all of sudden, paying obeisance to the village lifestyle? Are you not happy here? Mridula fired a slight salvo at Satya’s village rhetoric.”
“See, it’s not infructuous talking about the lifestyle where one was pampered by parents but the loneliness through which we’re left to suffer despite having a young grown-up son, is something which crops up in mind whenever we find ourselves at despair. Had it been village life, we’d have been taken care of by neighbors, if not our son. But here only assistance which can be taken is from Police who if cajoled to, will appear for the sake of duty but not to address our issues,” interjected Satya, discerning her discomfort.
“That’s right Satya but what the hell broke loose on us that you’re tagging it as despair. We’re independent parents. We can manage things as per our necessities. If you’re finding difficulties, then why not plan for an enduring holiday to the southern peninsula.” suggested Mridula by drawing Satyam’s attention.
“That’s a great suggestion, but don’t you think it came late?” asked Satyam.
“Better late than never,” she quipped.
“Then let’s plan today itself to spend a few days in the coastal area,” added Mridula, showing a gentle grin on her face.
They finally agreed to tour Kerala. Two days later they were at a resort on the bank of Periyar river. The booked suit framed with wooden logs was beautifully decorated with sea shells & ornamental plants.
While checking into the suits, the clock had already struck 2230 Hrs. Fatigued couple took light dinner & retired to bed.
A moment after, Mridula overheard frightening sound reverberating through the window. She got up & gasped in horror after perceiving that sound was nothing but hiss of snakes.
“Satya, Satya…its Snake…Snake… get up fast… Snake has entered inside,” shouted Mridula, bending towards Satyam.
Flabbergasted, he got up & looked carefully. He saw a big reptile coiling over a wooden roll of the window.
Fearing that the snake may move further & harm them, he sneaked out & sought help from a caretaker. But none came. Instead he got surrounded by hooligans. The hooligans were inebriated. Scuffle broke out. In the milieu, they locked the door from outside.
It was sufficient for Satyam to perceive that the snake in the room was nothing but the fake snake implanted by these louts to scare them. Before he was taken to their hideout nearby, he was hauled up and handcuffed.
On the other hand, Mridula was horrified and was awaiting to get rescued. Minutes, hours passed by but he didn’t turn up. The moment was very restless for a single lady confined to the room with the sights of Snake in front. However, the snake didn’t move further. She bravely moved closer only to find that it was nothing but fake-one.
Perplexed, she rushed to open the gate & to inquire about Satyam but the door was locked from outside. She kept on trying but to no avail. Despite all jostling, her efforts to venture out went in vain. Distraught Mridula spent the whole night sobbing inconsolably.
It was 11 am the next day when she saw a man through a transparent window walking along the riverbank. Immediately, she screamed for help but the person was unresponsive. She had no option left except retiring to her fate as it was sound-proof.
Meanwhile, Satyam was taken to an undisclosed location. He was coerced to call his sons demanding a ransom of one Crore.
Distressed Mridula, helplessly sat on the sofa & switched TV sets to find an update. The whole day she was glued to the news but nothing was in sight. Sitting anguished, she slipped to sleep. Next morning, first news flashed out that police have zeroed on kidnappers after complaints of rowdy elements creating ruckus was filed by an unknown person. The fear was palpable but news of kidnapping startled her. But she had nothing to act. Police investigation was the only consolation for desolate Mridula.
She glanced at the clock. It was 1130 hrs. It was the longest period when she had not taken any food. But defence background had made her stronger in her resolve of not getting cowed down rather face the situation bravely.
Eventually, pangs compelled her to take some dry fruits in the evening. But her penance bore the fruits as well, as PTI flashed the news that kidnapped elderly got released. He will be accosted and handed over to his son in Delhi.
Mridula sighed a sense of relief on hearing news. On getting information that Mridula is still stranded there in Periyar floating suits, her ticket was arranged. She spent the whole night eagerly waiting to catch an early morning flight from Trivandrum to Delhi to have a glimpse of her soulmate after an un-fateful winter sojourn which ended abruptly.
Note: “Ghoor”: A burning Dunghill.
Photo Credit: Sara Dubler from Unsplash.