At Neela Malai...

April is a busy month at Lorens Music school, London - admissions for the next year had began.  Scheduled today were interviews for applicants of free scholarship - poor, deserving, talented students from across the world have been flown in for it. James the head music teacher, has been chairing the interview panel for a couple of years now. But every year the entire process gave him jitters cause he knew that it could make or mar somebody's entire life and that was not a responsibility he took lightly. The first interview of the day happened to be a boy from India - as James was sieving through the attached tidy handwritten cover letter what caught his eye is the address of "Neela Malai" in the letter. The very name of "Neela Malai" brought a sudden rush of emotions in him....

 "Neela Malai" was where James had spent a few months as he was hitch-hiking through India. Hardly in his 20s then, James was a typical music-hippie who doubled up as a music teacher to help earn some quick cash when the finances ran low. This current assignment in a residential school in "Neela Malai" was one such hiatus! It was here he met Aarohi.......

Aarohi was a Montessori teacher in the school. All of 21, She has spent all her life  in this quaint little town situated right at top of blue mountains. Her world revolved around this town and its inhabitants. She was whiling away her time in the school until next Christmas when she was to marry her first cousin who lived down the street. In the eyes of this open guileless girl, James seemed "exotic" what with his long blond hair, tattered jeans, funky bracelets and a guitar slung carelessly across his shoulders! She couldn't get her head around why a seemingly talented, young music teacher would want to find a job in this God Forsaken Town!

As days in the calendar flew by, the "Exotic" quotient of James grew by leaps and bounds in Aarohis eyes as she heard of his travels- James had been to countries and cities that she couldn't even pronounce. And the music he  played on his guitar, stirred emotions that Aarohi didn't even know existed in her! Around the head of guitar was strung a talisman that James  fiercely guarded - he had told her that it was simply a wire threaded with coins from the countries he had visited. Aarohi had added a one paisa copper coin to this collection - assuring him that it is a rare one as it is long been out of circulation!

Though Aarohi dismissed herself as a "quintessential" Indian girl with her dusky skin, waist long hair - this very Indianess made her "Exotic" in James eyes. Soon they could be seen spending every waking moment together... 

Few days later, James received a telegram from embassy informing him about his fathers death. He had to leave immediately - He promised Aarohi he would be back soon. But once James was back home he was lulled into a complacency  that normal everyday life brings with it - going back to Neela Malai to marry the girl of his dreams seemed too wild and drastic. All the postcards he kept receiving from Aarohi were torn without even opening them. Though as years passed, James always wondered about "What ifs" he had gone back........

James was broken from his reverie by the knock on the door. His secretary ushered in the applicant from "Neela Malai" - the first thing that stuck James about the boy was the stock of blond hair that so vividly contrasted his Indian face. But moment his eyes fell on the talisman tied to the boys guitar, James voice got stuck in his throat! The last he had set his eyes on this talisman was a good 20 years when he handed it over to Aarohi as a parting gift........
 

This is a fictious story written as a response to the write tribe contest 

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PS: Neela Malai is a fictious hill station named after the famous NeelaKurinji blooms :)

14 comments:

  1. Ohhh wow... Me loved this story :) :) :)

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  2. OMG! That's a stunning story. Enjoyed reading it. All the best for the contest, Meena. :)

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  3. wow the ending is super cool . I loved it !:)

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  4. Wow! Our past never leaves us, does it? Nice story! :)

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  5. That's a very nice story Meena...our past alwyas lives with us!! Good luck with the contest :)

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  6. Wow...beautifully carved the relationship between James and Arohi...but the ending seemed to be a bit tragic...

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  7. Amazing... what an ending!! :)

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  8. Loved your story - I hung onto every word.

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