Darkness crept in like a snail between the dense foliage, putting an end to the incessant chirping of birds. I lay down on my bed. I could have heard a leaf swaying in the gentle breeze. Nothing can be more musical than Mother Nature, I had bragged in a blog. Well, time to eat my words! When one is alone in a cabin, somewhere in a godforsaken forest, nature’s orchestra is the last thing on one’s mind. However, my faith in Lakdi Baba was etched in stone. I pulled the bedsheet over me and drifted off to a blissful sleep.
The bright sunny morning cheered me up instantly. Humming an ad jingle, I put some water to boil and added a teaspoon of tea leaves.
Arpita Kumar storms the literary arena with her ‘I am Tumpa… and other poems’, and has made it to the Amazon Bestsellers’ List, sharing the spotlight with Twinkle Khanna and Chetan Bhagat.
A hissing sound jolted me back to reality, and I switched off the gas.
As the aroma of black tea hit my nostrils, I leaned back against the chair. I would never give up. To hell with Satya! I was sure I would find another publisher.
“Arpita”, he whispered, clearing his throat, as his eyes remained fixed on his mobile. “I decided to help you out because you are my college friend. But….”, his voice drifted off.
“What’s wrong with my poetry?” I demanded to know.
“Erm… Listen…I don’t know how to put this diplomatically. But here you go.”
He then read out one of my poems.
“My name is Tumpa,
And your name is Bumba.
Together we will eat fish,
And fulfil our last wish”
“That’s not complete”, I defended my masterpiece.
“I don’t even want to continue reading.”
I stared at him; eyebrows raised.
“It’s not a poem. Just some nonsense words strewn together.”
“Exactly”, I thundered, as I banged my fist on his table, startling the goldfish in the bowl. “It’s a nonsense verse. Come on, man. Every Bengali knows about it. Remember Sukumar Ray?”
“Thank God he is dead”, Satya muttered under his breath.
A sudden thud made me jump in my skin. I looked up. Phew! I wiped the sweat from my forehead.
I took out my green diary. I wrote Monkey and underlined the word with red ink. I sat there, straining my ears to note down every single noise they made on the roof. Just what Lakdi Baba had ordered!
The saintly man had made quite a name for himself in my town. Maa swore by his power to make any dream come true.
“Baba. I am not finding any publisher for my poems.”
Lakdi Baba waved his right hand in the air and snapped his fingers. He then extended his hand towards me and dropped a wooden pen on my lap.
“You have to stay in a cabin. Alone. Preferably somewhere in a forest. I will instruct you what to do. Have faith in me.”
Who knew that the universe was capable of churning out such a discerning variety of sounds! My notebook was almost half full.
Monkey – Thud.
Leopard (?) – Grrrr.
Leaves – Hoosh.
Wasp (or was it a bee) – Frrrrr.
Rattlesnake (I am sure it was one) – Trrrrkkkkt.
I closed my notebook. Thesaurus would do the rest. With that, I retired for the day.
Just one more day and a night! With a spring in my step, I strode to the kitchen. I had stuck a green coloured note on the counter.
Nature is your muse. Now go and compose. Did you note down what I had told you to do? Let your imagination soar. Also, look around your surroundings.
Why didn’t I think of it before? It was just so easy, composing a poem. Just wait. That Satya would have egg in his face!
And with that, I fried an egg, drank black tea, and sat down to write.
Time stood still. Tongue protruding out, I scribbled furiously, striking off the irrelevant ones, and underling the catchy ones. I looked out of the window. A bird was feedings its chicks.
I took out my mobile. Lakdi Baba had insisted I should not possess any gadgets during my stay. Well, it had been in my handbag. So, I did follow his instructions.
I shot off a mail to Satya.
Here are two of my latest compositions. Hope you will consider your decision.
Sample 1 –
I heard a leopard,
It made a ‘grrrrr’ sound.
Along came a cowherd,
Who scared it away,
By making a ‘frrrrr’ sound.
Sample 2 –
Oh, momma birdie,
I am so hungry.
Feed me worms quickly,
I want to fly like momma birdie.
When can we discuss?
Thanks & Regards
I wasn’t really hungry, but then, I have always been the practical one. So, I rustled up a simple lunch of rice and some stir-fried veggies. Oh, how I missed fish! Once out of the cabin, I will go directly to the market and get some prawns.
The reply came faster than a Messi goal.
I stared at the mobile screen. No! this couldn’t be happening to me. I spent two days and three nights for this. And to think, that Satya had the audacity to reject my offer like this. Lakdi Baba was right. This was indeed a world for the mediocre.
In desperation, I called Baba up. His plan had failed, and to think he had demanded as his ‘fees’ one kilo of ghee, two big sacks of raw rice, five kilos of sugar, ten packets of cashew nuts, and twenty bundles of coriander leaves. Baba never took cash. Money is the root of all evil, he used to say.
“Baba. Arpita here. It didn’t work out.” I burst into tears.
“Relax, child. It will. For some people, it takes more time. Just extend your stay for seven days in the cabin.”
A week without fish. Ah! There went my wish!