The Broken Promise

“Good things happen in luck; Great things happen in time”

The evening sun was about to set in the warm blanket of that dark hollow, illuminating every object in the horizon with its brilliant sanguine , worth a long questioning gaze from a jeweler. The huge expanse before him was filled with pines, tall and blue , except the withered tree which stood at his back as a companion to his ideas, old leaves shed only to be replaced by better, refined ones, capable of doing what they do, but better.

The creek flowed ever so quietly and lazily, almost competing with a clock for the ardent job of a timekeeper. Grey rocks half submerged in water, half covered in moss, seemed like pieces of play on the blue-green watery board in a game of Go. Legs dipped in water, imbibing the cool of the flowing liquid, he held his ukulele and played along to the tune that he hummed .The musky air made his nose twitch and he rubbed it hard. Growing next to the withered tree, where his slippers lay, were shrubs of wild cannabis which covered the area densely. The aroma of cannabis, the rhythm of flowing water falling in place with his fingers strumming the wooden acoustic and the blood golden beatific expanse that surrounded him blended to form a cocktail that could stop the sands of time.

The hum picked up pace and so did the fingers striking the vibrating nylon strings until the rhythm was frantic. Eyes shut, he yodeled, his voice emanating from unknown depths, filling the congress with tales of an era of bliss long past. He sang of days and of nights that would wipe the winter of lone away, of companions that would kindle the long gone mirth again and of the maid that would make his heart sway. He sang until his ears heard another rhythm, of hands that beat together in applause. His eyelids lifted up ever so slightly to let a shadow take shape. There she stood, Tara, the girl from the village below, clad in her roughly spun maroon Kurta and a smile on her face.

“You get better with every passing day!”, she exclaimed

“So does everyone at everything they do”, he replied with a weak smile.

“But that is not a reason for me to rejoice. My bliss is in watching you play and reveling in your soothing voice, not in worrying about the comings and goings of the world and the success of people.” Tara argued in a hushed voice, taking off her slippers as she sat beside him.

He laughed as he held her hand and cupped it between both of his palms, rubbing them softly for warmth. He gazed into her eyes which were sparkling with the reflection of flowing water and the sanguine sun. Her high cheekbones and a Duchess nose with an addition of Goldilocks lips made her a face to be proud of. She was beautiful yet carefree, elegant yet adventurous and simple yet rich. It had been years since they had known each other and yet every day, he reflected on how fortunate he was to have her in his life.

“Sing to me the song you sang yesterday”, she whispered, turning her beautiful face towards him. His heart skipped a beat as it did every day and yet he maintained his composure and replied, “But why do you have the same request every day?”

“Because that is the song which led me to you…”, her voice was as nimble and soft as the rustle of leaves in a gentle breeze. She withdrew her hand gently and rested her head on her palms, her knees supporting her elbows and the breeze unfurling the strands of her hair on her face.

 She adjusted the strands behind her ear with a gentle flick of her finger and tried to cajole him again, “Please, just this once again and I will listen to another one tomorrow, I promise”.

He smiled and rolled up his sleeves, picked up his uke and started a series of mellow and bright melodies. He watched her face go pink, whether from emotion or the sanguine sun, he couldn’t tell. He hummed and played, plucked the strings and started playing again, singing along the scale of his ukulele, singing of forgotten lovers. His song,melodious and blissful, of happy days he sang again until the days of yearning replaced them and so did the blues, shredding the mellow away causing his eyes to close again and let go of a tear which left a trail on his cheek. He sang until his heart was drenched with the pain of the forgotten lovers and his mind reaching out to her for comfort. In a frantic flurry of chords and strings he ended his song on a note that now choked as he opened his teary eyes.

The tears fell off the eyelids and let the shadow in front of him take form. The withered tree stared back at him, as still as his heart was. She was gone. Tara was gone. Just as she had gone the previous day and the day before that and since what seemed like the beginning of time. He yelled out to her so that she could hear him even in her village down below but the water, the moss and the grey stone were what ‘ was’ down below. He tore his hair, pulled out the shrub of cannabis and threw it into the water, cursing that he would pluck them all but there were too many for him. In a fit of agony and pain he lifted his uke again, ready to toss it into the flowing creek. But then his hand grew weak, for he was meek and he let his agony pass. He caressed the wooden acoustic and held it against his chest draining his heart of the pain, for tomorrow would be another day and another sanguine sun which would light and rekindle the happiness that had been lost before it had begun. She would be there again begging him for the same song and breaking her vow, the promise she had been breaking for years.

With this he wore his slippers, swung his ukulele on his back and started back on the trail. What remained behind was a withered old tree, the shrubs of cannabis, the flowing water and the bloody sun ready to descend into the dark blanket of comfort.




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