All of us figured out at the time Krishna fell in love. It was pretty obvious, and as we lived across the street, we could see things, that her family couldn’t. You see, they were blinded by trust. She’d return with him on his cycle, their arms entwined. The elders told her that Steve ain’t a nice guy. These goras were all hot-blooded, and they were known to get dirty with so many women, you couldn’t count. But Krishna wouldn’t listen to any of us. What more could anyone say?
The air was fuelled by tension. It was the time of partition. Independence didn’t seem so far away. One could have expected exhilaration around, since two hundred years of slavery was about to end. But then the political turmoil was engulfing one and all. I heard it in the radio the other day that Jinnah and the Congress are at loggerheads. There was curfew all around, and the Hindu- Muslim tension was palpating. Our village was relatively untouched by the riots, given its remote location, but when and where things could go awry, only time could tell. Amidst all this tension, the blossoming love story went relatively unnoticed. How Krishna and Steve would escape to the empty shack by the sea, nobody knew. Their romance grew in the backdrop of the lapping waves. I saw them running there, trying to be as subtle as possible. But I wouldn’t tell. My mother never liked Krishna, but I always liked the girl. She was something, I wish I could be, and if she was in love, so be it. Secretly, I always supported their romantic endeavour, but dare I say that loud.
It was the 20th july, late night, I believe. All of us were retreating to slumber after the reporter gave us the last piece of news on the radio. Suddenly, we heard a commotion across the street. Krishna’s father was screaming furiously at the top of his voice. All the neighbours had gathered around them, and I couldn’t really understand what was happening.
The next day, mother was busy mumbling to herself.
“ Serves her right. Filthy girl, is this the way to behave. Bringing your family’s honour on the street”.
“What happened, maa?”
“She was caught, in her own house, in her own bedroom, doing what not with that gora fellow. How could she?”
I felt really bad for the two. They seemed to do well together, and I knew Krishna’s father would never let them be together again. All during the day, Krishna’s house presented a gloomy picture. That made me sad.
The next day, I woke up to find an empty house. Maa had gone to Krishna’s house, and I saw her consoling Krishna’s mother, who was wailing. Krishna had eloped with Steve. She wrote saying that that is where her happiness lay. I thought she did right, but I stayed mum.
Our village stayed untouched by the riots. The few ripples that were created by the innocent love could still be seen. True love in the backdrop of the riots was such a pretty thought. I wished the elders would understand. As for me, I still stay mum, often going back to the love that I witnessed, which I’m sure is blossoming somewhere still.
P.S. the pic is from a movie called Before the rains, starring Nandita Das and Rahul Bose. I'd label it as a must watch.