Dan Angin membisikkan…

[Jawatan ini adalah terjemahan saya cerita pendek yang sangat baik oleh salah satu pencerita paling berbakat masa kami, O.V.Vijayan. Terjemahan dari Malayalam adalah satu usaha yang lemah, kerana terjemahan yang jauh itu bukan semata-mata antara bahasa, tetapi budaya. Ungkapan tidak boleh diterjemah bertanda dengan asterisk. Nikmati!]

Mencapai Kanjikad dari Palghat oleh Coimbatore jalan. Dari situ pada, ia adalah jalan tanah tidak berturap ke pegunungan. Malah teksi kasar Jeep mendapati sukar untuk mengambil. Ini adalah lawatan kedua Theyunni di sini dalam sepuluh tahun yang lalu dan ia tidak mempunyai aduan mengenai kekasaran sekarang.

“Parit di hadapan”, Pemandu berkata, sambil mengerling ke arah jalan tanah di hadapan.

“Jika anda ingin berhenti di sini, ia baik-baik saja”, Theyunni ditawarkan, “Saya boleh berjalan.”

Ia kira-kira dua batu daripada sini. Biasa kerana dia adalah untuk keselesaan tunggangan limosin antara lapangan terbang dengan bintang, prospek kenaikan keras tidak menggalakkan Theyunni.

“Tutup. Kami akan pergi perlahan, duduk ketat.”

“Okay.”

Jeep teliti dirundingkan jalan gunung penggulungan. Theyunni melirik lembah liar seolah-olah buat kali pertama. Cahaya matahari yang disejukkan oleh lereng bukit, angin timur tunnelled melalui pas gunung dan gemuruh terhadap Palghat…

“Pokok-pokok yang semua pergi, tidak mereka, Pemandu?”, Theyunni diperhatikan.

“Semua dijatuhkan. Adalah hutan ini sehingga kira-kira lima tahun yang lalu. Gajah digunakan untuk turun.”

Ya, Kali terakhir ketika beliau di sini, terdapat pokok-pokok besar di sebelah sama ada. Pokok dia tidak tahu nama-nama. Terdapat cengkerik di sekeliling menjalankan dengan orkestra nyaring mereka. Theyunni balik perjalanan yang. Beliau telah kembali ke Bombay selepas perjalanan Eropah dan isterinya di lapangan terbang. Beliau berkata, “Ada surat dari rumah, kelihatan seperti tulisan tangan * Brother ini.”

“Tertanya-tanya apa yang berlaku. Adakah anda tidak membukanya, Phoebe?”

“Anda tahu saya tidak membuka surat anda.”

Apabila kereta itu bergerak ke arah Juhu, Theyunni mencuri pandang wajah Phoebe di belakang roda. Seperti ukiran marmar sempurna dengan menari rambut emas dalam angin. Ia adalah bertentangan dengan budaya dia membuka surat suaminya. Terdapat banyak perkara dalam budaya mereka yang menarik dia — keberanian yakin beliau dalam mencium dia di taman bahawa beberapa tahun yang lalu, mengisytiharkan, “Saya suka anda”. Jika hubungan ini adalah untuk bertukar masam pada tahun-tahun akan datang, kejujuran dan integriti yang akan membuat dia berkata, “Saya tidak suka kepada kamu lagi, kita perlu bercerai”. Ini adalah cabaran yang diilhamkan beliau. Dia ingat perjalanan rumah untuk memberitahu *Bapa bahawa dia adalah cinta dengan Phoebe, sesama pelajar di Stanford. Bapa tidak berkata apa-apa terhadapnya, hanya tersenyum manis beliau, senyuman yang bernas. Ia adalah *Ibu — “Kami mempunyai horoskop Devaki memandang…”

Devaki adalah saudara jauh. Anak perempuan dari beberapa petani di-tanah. Menyembunyikan menghina beliau untuk horoskop, Theyunni terhibur Ibu, “Bahawa tidak banyak, Ibu. Kami tidak memberikan perkataan kita.”

Tiada siapa yang berkata apa-apa untuk seketika. Kemudian Ibu berkata, “Tidak memahami sebesar perkataan? Ia seperti Devaki telah berkahwin anda di dalam hatinya.”

“Ia adalah keputusan kanak-kanak itu, Madhavi,” Bapa kata, “Kenapa anda mahu untuk mengatakan itu dan ini?”

Ibu menarik diri sendiri, “Saya tidak berkata apa-apa…”

“Jangan bimbang tentang aduan Ibu, Kutta. Jadi, adakah anda seperti ini Phoebe?”

Theyunni agak malu, “Ya.”

“Adakah seorang gadis Amerika suka tinggal di ini rumah keluarga lama kita, Kutta?”, Ibu bertanyakan.

“Mengapa tidak dia akan?”

Bapa kata, “Ia tidak seolah-olah mereka akan datang hidup di sini, adalah ia?”

“Jadi Bapa dan Anak telah membuat keputusan itu juga,” Ibu berkata, “bahawa mereka tidak mahu tinggal di sini?”

“Di mana sahaja kita hidup, kami akan datang ke sini pertama, Ibu.”

Theyunni melihat mata Ibu dan sehingga. Selepas berkat Phoebe dan ingin Devaki baik dalam hidupnya, Ibu berkata, “Saya tidak akan meminta anda menukar fikiran anda. Tetapi, anda akan menjaga Bapa, Kutta?”

“Sudah tentu.”

“Anda masih ingat bagaimana beliau pernah menjadi? Badannya semakin tua…”

Bapa campur tangan sekali lagi dengan senyuman beliau, “Madhavi, kenapa kamu berkata demikian dan membuat dia tidak berpuas hati? Jangan membayar apa-apa perhatian kepada beliau, Kutta.”

Malah semasa kebaharuan cintanya, Theyunni dapat merasakan makna sebenar * Dewaki dalam beliau *desa jantung — pengantin perempuan petani yang akan menyapu lantai dan menyalakan pelita malam. Ibu berkata, “Hanya ada satu perkara yang pada fikiran saya — kakak ipar anda tidak dapat-bertubuh. Kalau Dewaki, ada harapan bahawa dia akan menjaga ayahmu dalam masa tuanya,…”

Theyunni tidak berkata apa-apa kemudian. Walaupun pada peringkat ini, dia tidak dapat berkata apa-apa tentang itu. Phoebe, yang tidak pernah dibuka surat suaminya, memandu mahir melalui jalan-jalan di Juhu. Apabila Bapa jatuh sakit tahun selepas perkahwinan itu, Phoebe dinasihatkan, “Bandar kecil anda sebenarnya sebuah kampung. Kenapa kita tidak membawanya ke hospital yang baik di bandar yang? Kita boleh dengan mudah mampu itu.”

Apa Bapa diperlukan adalah mendekatkan diri dan sentuh untuk mati secara aman. Theyunni pulang sahaja dengan orang-orang dan melihat dia off. Ibu juga meninggal dunia di rumah keluarga lama. Phoebe kembali di Stanford kemudian. Beliau menghantar telegram takziah rasmi. *Dewaki'S bermakna lagi diisi fikirannya.

Di Selatan, Theyunni membaca surat Brother. “Saya tidak melakukan terlalu baik, Kutta. Hanya untuk membiarkan anda tahu. Saya tidak akan meminta anda untuk mengambil cuti jadual sibuk anda dan datang dengan hutan-hutan ini. Cuba fikirkan saya, Kesan yang sama seperti yang melihat. Adakah tidak membiarkan Sreekumar tahu. Saya bimbang bahawa dia mungkin akan cemas dan mengambil perjalanan — tidak mudah untuk datang ke sini dari Cambridge, adalah ia? Jika hanya kakak ipar anda masih hidup… Kelemahan hati yang lama…”

Jeep terus itu perjalanan susah payah berunding sebuah parit dan longkang sekali-sekala.

“Maaf mengenai masalah yang, Pemandu,” Theyunni cuba menghiburkan pemandu.

“Tutup, hanya menjalankan tugas saya.”

Mesti menjadi satu lagi batu dari sini. Ia adalah selepas kematian isterinya yang Brother memutuskan untuk meletakkan jawatan daripada perkhidmatan dan berpindah ke tanah yang tinggi. Theyunni sekeras-kerasnya menentang keputusan yang. “Why are you moving to this god-forsaken land in Palghat among leopards and wild boars? Lebih-lebih lagi, you could be in service for another 10 tahun. Even after retiring, you know that a nuclear physicist can do so many things…”

Brother’s reply came, “There are debts that one owes — to one’s country, one’s community, one’s family. I feel that I have repaid my dues to the best of my ability. There are some other obligations that I have to take care of. That’s is why I’m seeking refuge in these valleys.”

Brother never mentioned what those obligations were. Theyunni didn’t inquire either.

The soft-spoken Brother took a decision only after much reasoning; it was not easy to make him go back on them. Kemudian, Brother wrote about his camp-site: about four miles off the road, there were fertile lands lying just outside the woods. Brother built a house there, among coconut palms, vegetables, mango trees… Dirt walls, wooden ceiling and roofs of clay tiles. It was at some distance from anywhere. Walau bagaimanapun, there was a farmer, Ponnuswami, living in a hut nearby. Brother could ask Ponnuswami for help if needed. Apart from that, he was quite alone in that valley. Theyunni could not figure out the meaning of that penance and forgot about it. Years went by. But when Phoebe handed over that unopened letter, he suddenly felt that he should go there in a hurry.

“Baik, Phoebe, I’ll go and see what’s going on.”

“What is the name of that place? Kanjikad, bukan ia?”

“Ya.”

“Brother had invited me to go and see the mountains.”

“Ya, I remember.”

“Must be a perfect place for get-away vacation. But it’s dangerous to get sick there. Why don’t you bring him here? We could have him treated at Jeslock or something.”

Phoebe was repeating her suggestion on treatments. Theyunni remembered the last time the suggestion was offered and it made him uneasy.

“We can’t get inside his mind, Phoebe. I’ll go there and see.”

That was how Theyunni came here for the first time, ten years ago. Not only was he anxious about Brother’s health and solitary life, he also wanted to give Brother a piece of his mind about the untimely penance. When he took a taxi from Coimbatore airport to go to Kanjikad, his mind was filled with impatience and hard feelings towards Brother. The driver got discouraged by the sight of ditches and gutters in the dirt road. It didn’t take too much to provoke Theyunni.

“I could break the axile if I drove up this way,” complained the driver who was Tamil.

“How much does this stupid car of yours cost?”

“Sorry Sir, didn’t mean to…”

“If your car breaks, let it break. I’ll give you what it costs. Drive.”

When he got off the car, Theyunni saw Brother taking a walk in the field — looking bright and healthy.

“Why did you come all this way, Kutta?”, Brother commented on the advisability of the trip.

“You can say that. Living in the forests, writing letters about getting sick, how could I ignore it?”

“Come in.” Brother took him inside the house.

Theyunni looked around and found everything unsatisfactory. “Why do you punish yourself like this?”

“Do I look as though this is punishment?”

Tiada siapa yang berkata apa-apa untuk seketika. Then Theyunni inquired, “Who treated you while you were ill?”

“Teat?! Nobody!”

“What am I supposed to say about that?”

Brother smiled, “You don’t get it, yang anda, Kutta?”

“What do you do for food?”

“I have asked Ponnuswami’s wife to show up. To cook something for you. Me, this is all I eat.”

He pointed to the husks of two young coconuts in the basket. “That was breakfast. Two more for dinner.”

“That is you diet?!”

“Not just diet, medicine as well!”

When it got dark, Theyunni wanted to know, “Brother, what if some thieves show up?”

Brother laughed heartily, “Four white *mundu, four cotton shawls, two towels and some clay pots. That’s all this house holds. The thief is quite peaceful by nature, it’s our avarice that makes him do this and that!”

After dinner, they laid down to sleep — on the floor, on sleeping mats. For Theyunni, it was the first time in a long while without the air conditioner. The winds roared outside the house. Through the mountain passes, like the loud waves in an uptide.

“Kutta”

“Ya, Brother?”

“You hear that?”

“The winds, betul?”

“Ya, but to you hear them?”

“Ya, Saya buat. Why do you ask?”

Brother was silent for a while in the darkness. Then he said, “Jangan, you don’t hear them.”

It was with the same dissatisfaction at Brother’s life in the wilderness that Theyunni went back to Bombay. Brother said, seeing him off, “It was a mistake, Kutta. A weakness. Felt like writing to you when I was ill; I won’t bother you like this again. There aren’t any illnesses that these valleys can’t cure. And if there are, do humans have medicines for them?”

Sekarang, it was ten years after those words that Theyunni was coming back. Phoebe was not with him any more. She showed her natural honesty and told him that the love between them had dried out. Theyunni did not fly from Bombay. He took the train to Palghat along with numerous other people. Like in his childhood, in second class. Two day journey. Hills and woods and rivers and villages slowly went by in the window as the train ambled towards Palghat. The old family house was no longer there. So he rested in a hotel and set out for Kanjikad the next morning. His gruffiness during the last journey ten years ago had disappeared now. Theyunni felt that his peacefulness was spreading to the fellow passengers and even the landscapes.

The Jeep driver also was friendliness personified.

“Hard trip, bukan ia, Pemandu?”

“Tutup, we are quite used to these. A little worried about your trouble, that is all.”

Brother’s fences and steps appeared at a distance.

“Over there, Driver.”

“Isolated house, bukan ia, Sir?”

“Ya.”

Ponnuswami was waiting by the house. He stepped down to welcome Theyunni. They looked at each other; Ponnuswami wiped his tears.

“He had asked me not to telegram, that is why I wrote a letter instead.” Ponnuswami said, “I am sorry.”

“Not at all, you were respecting Brother’s wishes. I understand.”

Ponnuswami walked over to the backyard. There was a small plot where a Thulasi plant was beginning to take root. Ash remnants of the pyre around it.

“This is it,” Ponnuswami said. “The bones were dropped in the Peroor river. If there are some other rituals you want to do… Tetapi,…”

“Ya, Ponnuswami?”

“He said that no rituals were necessary. That he had uprooted the rituals. I am not educated, just thought that he was talking about some sacred state.”

“That must be what he meant.”

“Is Sreekumar coming up?”

“I had telephoned him from Bombay. He is not coming. He had told me one thing — that this land and house are for you.”

Ponnuswami had gone beyond such earthly things. “He also had told me the same thing; I didn’t want to tell you. Tetapi, I don’t need any of this. You or Sreekumar could sell these…”

“Brother’s wishes, Ponnuswami. We must respect them.”

“Baik, if you insist.”

“How many children do you have?”

“Four.”

“Baik, this will be a good place for them to grow up in.”

Ponnuswami bowed once again, “If you ever want to come back and live here, my family and I will get out of here for you.”

“That won’t be necessary, Ponnuswami.”

I don’t deserve to live here, Theyunni said to himself. They got back into the house.

“You take rest. I will get you a young coconut from the fields.”

“The driver is waiting in the Jeep outside. Ask him to come inside and have something to drink.”

When Ponnuswami brought the young coconuts, Theyunni said, “You can go home now, if you like. I’m fine.”

Ponnuswami left. Theyunni said to the driver. “Do you think you can stay here overnight?”

The driver expressed his disagreement through silence.

“Didn’t plan that way when we set out,” Theyunni said. “This is Brother’s house. I came here because he died, couldn’t get here before.”

The driver turned attentive. Theyunni continued, “Feel like sleeping here for a night.”

The driver’s disagreement melted away silently. “I can stay.”

“I can pay you whatever you want for staying.”

“That won’t be necessary.”

Time turned red and went down on the hilltops. Theyunni went inside and went through Brother’s wooden box. Three white mundu’s, laundered, three cotton shawls and two towels. Theyunni’s sadness dripped into them. When he went to bed, he was not sad any more, a kind of gratified grief. A fulfillment of love and traditions. He slept with the childhood dreams of fairy tales. Late in the night, he woke up. He listened to the music of the winds. After this night, it would be the trip back to the city. Theyunni could feel Brother’s kindness in the winds. The winds muttered the unknown *Manthras that marked the end of that kindness and life, some *distant baby voices… A night full of sacred whispers, this was the *justification of lifetime.

Theyunni listened to the whispers and slept, awaiting the morning.

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