The Dew Collector
One of my seasonal hobbies is strolling through the country side, exploring the nature, the people and their lives, during December. December helped this yearly endeavour in many ways. The weather, which in Kannur is usually hard during rainless time, in December gets a little mild and cold and the availability of time due to the one-week Christmas vacation after the schools and colleges close for holidays: a factor that is supported by the weather. I was a student of literature, who believed himself to be miraculously close to the identity of a writer.
I remember reading somewhere that the basic quality of being a writer is to find a sense of wonder in the world around oneself. But, let me tell you my friend, it is very difficult, unless some wonderful encounter pushes you though a door—a door that exists every where but one that you would never notice to have the ability to take to the world of wonders.
One of such visits was through a village called ‘Nayattupara’ or ‘Hunting Rock’. There was a story behind this name, but that was not a December story. December stories should be sweet, mild, and affable. The story about the name of the village is gory, terrible and will scare us. What I am going to tell you here is a different story—a story about a wonderful encounter.
It was one hour almost, since I had started my yearly ‘karma’, my walk. I realized that I felt thirsty. I should have taken a bottle of fresh water and some snacks or some cooked tapioca and curry chicken—uhmm, a delicate combination. Hey, wait a minute, I thought of food, which simply meant I was hungry too.
It was a country side where there was not a single restaurant, good or bad. Hopeful to find, at least, some water, I knocked at a door. An old man opened the door. I presented myself and my need fairly well. The old man smiled; called someone by name—“Neeli.” An old woman came from a room that very much can go along with the guess—a kitchen. There were two chairs in the verandah of that moderate tile roofed house. The old man motioned me to one of the chairs with he occupying one. I thankfully accepted the offer and smiled at the peeping old woman. The floor was plastered with cow dung and it gave a very nice cooling effect.
“You come inside and sit here.”—the old woman said. The old man nodded in consent. And I went in. There I found a dining table with two chairs around it. The old couple seemed to be the only inhabitants of that house. And both of them though in their graying hair don’t seem beyond 65. I found a steel mug there on the table. I took it, thinking that I could use it for drinking water when the woman came back from the kitchen. There was some water remaining in it. I was about to empty the mug, when I heard a shout—that was a scream—“No.” The old man was looking at me from the verandah with an expression I read as an extreme form of agony. He stood up, ran inside and snatched the mug from me. I felt somewhat guilty, as if I had broken something valuable and precious in that house though I could not really make out what the reason for the scream was.
Then the old woman came in and joined the bizarre moment. But by looking at the mug in the old man’s hands, as if realizing the intricacy of the moment, the old woman smiled sadly at me.
And then I heard a story that I had never imagined or came across, in my whole lifetime as a writer.
“This is the soul of my son.”—the old man said. His eyes started glowing. “He died in the
Himalayas, serving the nation as a soldier. But no one could recover his body from the snow. His soul might have merged with the snow. We collect the dew drops early in the morning from the flower petals and grass blades, every day. We both believe that this dew is the soul of our son. Look we have collected half a bottle from the last one year. And thus the soul of our son always remains with us.”
I thanked them for the water of rejuvenation, both for my body and mind, and walked out inheriting an eye for seeing souls in dew drops.