By Anindita Baidya
Anand, Gujarat, India
Anand, Gujarat, India
The silence was broken by a faint call from somewhere very far. But it was very distinct and she recognised the voice immediately. And the realisation sent a chilling wave down her spine! “It couldn’t be him! How on earth is it possible?”
Samay ke uss paar se bhi awaaz deta hai koi?
Tera naam doosre jaha se bhi pukaartaa hai koi?
Annelise ignored the voice and treaded ahead. It was a dense forest and the cold windy morning in January made it difficult to move very fast.
She again heard the voice, “Ann..........................!!!!”
She almost started sweating in spite of the harsh cold wind. Annelise now decided to hurry back to her resort.
The resort manager had informed her that the beautiful Sunrise Point in this part of the Shivalik hills was closed for tourists, since last thirty years! The tourism department had sealed this part and notified the place as ‘UNSAFE’.
She very well knew, why!
Annelise tried to shrug off the thought of the voice calling out her name. Her very own name, ‘Ann’. And there has been only one person in the world who ever called her by that name!
Sahir! Only Sahir!
Sahir and Annelise, the star struck lovers, the prince and princesses of a fairy tale love story, a tragic love story. They both belonged to very rich families. The two families in the same neighbourhood had built fortune over the generations and their wealth, splendour and dazzle could speak only a small part of the enormous power and strength they had built in the society.
And so, undoubtedly, the highly regarded two families could not allow the two lovers, belonging to different culture and religion, belong to each other. They were like the two banks of the same river, nothing in the world could allow them to meet.
There were tears, there were pleadings, there was violence, house-arrest and unlimited pain and woes at both the sides. Ann and Sahir, however, could not bring their families into a mutual peaceful contract. Soon Ann’s powerful brothers arranged a hasty matrimony for their sister, ignoring cruelly her tears and heartache.
It was with the help of a cousin that Ann managed to sneak out of the busy house and meet Sahir at a remote lane. They had decided to board the next train to the neighbouring station. But hell soon broke loose and both the families discovered that the lovers had left! There was a chase, a bad chase, a long chase and Sahir and Ann headed straight towards the forest, with no idea where the road would lead to! After an hour of chase, they clearly spotted Ann’s brothers and Sahir’s family running towards them like a group of mad elephants. It had not taken long for them to decide the final fate! They looked at each other and knew what they had to do.
In another moment, the two lovers jumped off the high cliff, down, down the rocky hill, rolling past high trees, thorny bushes and steep rocky edges.
Fate had different plans for each of them.
Ann was rescued by a group of trekkers. They tried to help Sahir too but he did not live long enough to even reach the hospital. Ann had remained in coma for a day and much after she had regained her senses, that she actually realised what a crooked game her fate had played! Death had embraced Sahir while her own life had deceived her and death had deserted her!
After recovery, Ann left the town for good. She lived the years in her own captivity, in some lonely hilly village and had never returned to her homeland. She punished herself for not having crossed the boundary of life and death along with Sahir.
Thirty years later, she planned a rendezvous with the long lost moment and landed up in a small tourist cottage, not having even informed her family. She had borrowed the cottage owner’s car and had headed towards this place, knowing very well that treading inside was forbidden.
Her thoughts were once again shattered by the same faint call, ‘Ann....’ and she now started perspiring badly on her forehead. In the almost freezing cold, she felt very hot with her cardigan and shawl around her. She tried to walk faster but the thick fog made viewing very difficult. Her own legs seemed like heavy pillars and hands trembled badly.
And then....her heart almost stopped beating and she tumbled over a rock. About twenty feet away, on a rock, she saw her scarf, her very own red silk scarf which had her name beautifully embroidered in blue, at one edge.
Ann had tied this scarf around Sahir’s neck just before they plunged themselves downhill. Her cousin had informed that Sahir was buried along with this scarf; a small, last piece of regard for his love, shown by his repenting family.
Ann was in no way looking forward to any more chilling surprises. She ran towards her car and drove it very fast.The car pulled along recklessly through the forest, cutting through small herbs. Her hands were shivering so badly and had almost lost control.
In all her panic, she missed the ‘Forbidden path’ signboard on the way and drove into the path, still sweating and fighting hard to look through the thick fog. She had avoided looking back or sideways while driving. Some vehicle lights visible through the rear view mirror caught her attention and she looked back while driving at the same speed.
She did not notice the deep valley just ahead and in no time Ann’s car along with her, dived into the deep valley, knocking against the rocks, tall trees, thorny bushes and steep rocky edges........!!!!!