the lake...there’s only pining
By Jeannette Cabraal
The bungalow across the lake glittered in all its
glory, lit up like a veritable fairyland. Hazy, gauzy curtains danced
in the breeze revealing a glimpse of a sparkling Christmas tree.
Now and then children would run out to light firecrackers which
cart-wheeled and rocketed and the greeny blue droppings of the sparkles
animated the faces of the little ones who held them. The joyous
shouts of childish mirth interspersed with the admonishing shouts
of the elders would gather momentum and then die away. But all the
time it was activity, activity across the lake.
sat on his haunches gazing across the lake at the fascinating scene.
How he wished he were there, even as a servant. However, he had
a vicarious pleasure sitting here in the gathering gloom witnessing
on this side of the lake was abject poverty. Sunil and his mother
living in squalor weren't sure of even a meagre meal sometimes.
But across the lake it was affluence and opulence. Sunil sat there
till darkness enveloped the sky, taking in every bit of the panorama
before him, straining his eyes, a smile touching the corners of
there was a commotion. Children came running to the edge of the
lake pointing, screaming in excitement. To Sunil's wonderment he
heard strains of music. There was a boat on the lake, gaily decorated
with balloons, all lit up. And the centre of attraction a Natthal
Seeya dancing to the jolly beat. The music wafted across the lake.
Sunil's excitement knew no bounds. He jumped and somersaulted as
the boat neared. On the other side richly dressed children danced
about at the water's edge awaiting the central figure.
this side, lone Sunil enjoyed every bit of the scene hopes rising
within him too. As the boat neared Sunil screamed, "Natthal
Seeya, Natthal Seeya ! I'm here! I'm here!” The rowers heard!
Natthal Seeya heard! But they could do nothing. This was part of
the organisation for the children's party across the lake. They
could not reach out to the boy, whoever it was, screaming in the
darkness. The boat was loaded with gifts wrapped in sparkling paper.
Sunil was sure Natthal Seeya would give him a gift too. He had heard
of this generous seeya who distributed gifts on the 24th night.
Here was his dream come true.
it was not to be. These were gifts for the children across the lake.
Not for the likes of him. The boat veered closer perhaps out of
curiosity on hearing the excited screams but steered away when there
was a shriek of protest from the other side. Sunil expected the
incredible to happen. Natthal Seeya only threw him a balloon and
drifted on . Sunil was puzzled. There were loads of gifts in the
boat. Why didn't the Natthal Seeya give him just one? He watched
while the gifts were unloaded across the lake. Tears streamed down
his face, he broke into sobs.
were such a lot of gifts, surely he could have been given just one
small gift. The balloon which he listlessly held in his hand burst
and dropped from his fingers. He wiped his eyes on his sleeve and
went back to his hut.
is true what mother always says that things would never come their
way. "Where have you been all this time?" his mother asked.
Sunil said not a word, accepting a shrivelled bun which his mother
gave him, he lay down on his well-worn mat to quietly sob himself