Chandan Chhaya – A Short story in English
Written by Swati Joshi
August 31, 2018
“Baba…….!” Chhaya calls Puran.
Puran is working at a site decided by the forest department where the villagers have to clean up the area by cutting the marked trees.
“Baba, tell me one thing; have I eaten up my mother?” little Chhaya asks with lots of curiosity in her eyes.
Puran looks a bit shocked than surprised. He can’t understand, why is Chhaya asking such a question suddenly?
He takes her under a tree giving her water from his bottle; he inquires who has told her such a thing about her mother. Chhaya in reply tells him that her classmates at school were talking that Chhaya has eaten up her mother and she will also kill her father soon.
“Is this really true; Baba? Will you die soon? What will I do alone?” Chhaya (Worriedly)
Puran laughs aloud on listening this silly stuff. He tells Chhaya that nothing will happen to both of them and her mother has gone to meet God just to bring blessings for them. Chhaya looks relieved now. She still is not satisfied with the answer so she again draws Puran’s attention to a hard to answer question that why hasn’t she any sibling in their house? Puran while walking towards home gives her few excuses but it seems that none of those have worked. Chhaya sleeps with few unanswered questions that night.
The very next day, Puran thinks to clear Chhaya’s head getting her a permanent solution of all her questions. He manages to bring home a sandalwood sapling. He plants it in an open place in front of his house. Puran, taking Chhaya to the plant tells her that her mother showed up in his dreams last night giving him this younger brother for Chhaya. Chhaya’s eyes wide open gazing the sapling, suddenly she jumps near it touching the plant gently as if she has accepted her little brother and now welcoming him home.
“Baba, will he now stay with us forever?”
“Yes, till the day you take care. The day you’ll leave him, he will leave you. So, from now onward; it is your duty to take good care of him. Will you?”
“Yes baba. I’ll feed him, love him and save him as you are doing for me.”
Puran is pleasantly surprised to see that the little girl has so much of consideration for whatever he is doing for her. He feels contended today.
“Baba, What shall we call him? What’s his name?”
After thinking for a moment; Puran: “Chandan.”
Before he could ask Chhaya if she likes the name or not, she just has disappeared to tell her friends about her brother.
Now, this sandalwood tree has been the center of her life. Chhaya waters it, sits by it for hours talking about whatever she feels, plays with it, tells him stories and she even studies under the tree just to give her brother little knowledge! Puran has a family now. He runs around the tree with Chhaya to make her feed. They play, they sleep under it and look at the sky thanking Chhaya’s mother for sending Chandan into their life. Time is also running fast as if it’s having some competition with this growing trio! Puran has started growing and graying. Chhaya has completed her schooling and Chandan has also flourished into a sizable tree.
We human are so special that we can grow affinity towards anything and can make the other love or hate us voluntarily. In these many years, Chandan seems to have reciprocated Chhaya’s care, love, affection and warmth. He has stood by her in every up and low of her. People have noticed the tree feeling for her. Nature is so amazing to give them such sensibility. He evidently has shown his presence by casting off the leaves when Chhaya felt gloomy and whenever she is happy, Chandan has also a manifested lush green spring on him. Whenever Chhaya has come with her results, she has embraced Chandan; at that time Chandan must have missed his hands just to entwine her in merriness. Puran also has found assistance in Chandan to handle the girl emotionally.
Years have flown by. Chhaya has finished her masters in agriculture from the university. Today she has gone to have an interview for the post of an assistant professor in the same department she was studying. Puran and Chandan are equally restless. Puran is walking constantly while Chandan is accompanying him with rustling of leaves.
Here comes the bus. Chhaya literally leaps out of it and her footsteps confirm that she has hit the home run. She has got the job. Puran can’t see her face clearly due to his watery eyes. Chhaya has opened the gateway to the world of his dreams. But, the news has another side too. Chhaya will have to leave Puran and Chandan as she has to live in city now. Puran without waiting for a moment has granted her to leave them because this is the time for what he has waited lifelong. Chhaya cried a lot hugging Chandan, the day she left.
It has been six months now that Chhaya has shifted to the city in the staff quarter, she has been allotted. She comes every weekend and talks about how is life there, her experiences, the people and so many things. Chandan and Puran come alive every weekend.
Today, Chhaya has brought a friend home. Yaman works with her in university. He is senior to Chhaya. Puran’s old eyes have read the unwritten on their faces. Yaman has visited them for several times now. In few months, Puran has allowed Yaman as well as Chhaya to change their status!
Chhaya has got married today. The guests have left, leaving Chandan and Puran behind. Puran has advanced one more step fulfilling his dreams. Chandan witnesses Puran’s up gradation silently, standing by him firmly. A year has passed. Yaman and Chhaya visit them regularly. Yaman also has developed fondness for Chandan. He also treats him as a family member.
It is one of the mornings in monsoon. Chandan is enjoying showers. Puran is not feeling well for last few days. Neighbors have visited once or twice trying to help him if he wants something. But, Puran has started asking for Chhaya today. That is kind of unusual for him. Someone has called Chhaya. But, before she reaches, Puran has started his journey to the other world. Chandan and Chhaya have lost their sunshade today.
Chhaya has returned to the city after completion of all the rituals. Chandan is standing alone. In two months, Chandan has changed so much. Solitude not only affects humans, it grabs anyone who can feel it. It has wreathed this tree also. Chhaya could not visit the place for last two months. Chandan has started shedding his leaves. There is no one for him to share and care, the two most important things for anyone to give a reason to live!! People have started talking that Chandan will die soon.
One morning, the village awakens with the roaring sounds of machines. Hydraulic pressure machines are advancing towards Puran’s house. The whole village gathers near the house, wondering about what the machines are for.
Yaman and Chhaya appear in few minutes. People rush to them to know what is going on.
Chhaya: “I have taken little longer in coming back but I was up to something and today I have come to fulfill one of my duties……”
People are not getting what she is talking about.
“…… all of you know that after my mother died, I and my father were the only family but by bringing Chandan, my father has completed a family for me. This tree has given us many reasons to laugh and cry together. So, now when it is real time to care for my family member, how could I leave? Chandan is my responsibility now. I have come to take him with me.”
People are amazed to see this bonding. The team Chhaya has brought with her has started working. They are going to restore Chandan in the courtyard of her house in the city. In a few months, Chhaya is sitting beside Chandan, telling him that there is a new member to join their family. Chandan rustling the leaves shows his happiness, sharing this news with Puran!
It’s not the name that makes a family; the emotions, care and accountability towards each other is the foundation.
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