Page 76 - January 2021
P. 76

He showed me the village around; it
                was  unimaginably  small  and  snug,
                just adequate for a few families with

                limited  needs.  They  reared  cattle  up
                in  the  slopes  when  there  were
                greener  pastures.  They  made  fur
                clothes  with  sheepskin,  which  they
                sold  in  the  market  downhill  during
                winters. At the rear end of the village
                was  a  small  temple  where  they
                worshipped  the  hill  deities--  Ringali
                Devi and Lal Devta. I recalled having
                read  somewhere  about  the  secret
                enshrinement  festivities  of  these
                deities    every     year    in    remote
                Himalayan  ranges,  a  custom  carried
                out  in  presence  of  selected  priests              I  took  the  return  path  through

                and not open to outsiders.                            the  village  once  more,  which
                On  my  way  back  from  Ringali  devi                looked  like  a  daydream,  with
                temple  my  heart  craved  for  tender                beautiful    homes       lying    in
                juicy  apples  that  I  knew  were                    peaceful  slumber  waiting  for
                abundant  here  during  the  temperate                the fairy touch to wake up and
                weather  —  Dharali  and  Harsil  being               see the light of the day. All of a
                famous for the Himalayan apple trees                  sudden,  I  saw  a  very  pretty
                which  produced  the  best  apples  in                woman  standing  next  to  the
                the  country.  Now  the  leafless  trees              door  of  one  of  the  cottages.
                stood  like  lifeless  sentinels  all  over           She  seemed  like  an  illusion  at
                the place.                                            first,  but  gradually  a  sweet
                                                                      smile graced her petite face and
                                                                      I  knew  she  was  for  real.  She
                                                                      spoke  in  a  husky  mountainous

                                                                      dialect  and  conveyed  that  she
                                                                      was yet to leave
















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