A Skyful of Balloons by Santosh Bakaya will make you laugh and cry with the characters, the vicissitudes in their lives will tug at your heartstrings; you will savour the beams of the rising sun, and the romance of the setting sun will tickle you into a beautiful morn. An extract.
“How will you go? Come back. Where are you going?”
But, with a dangerous pout, she hastened in the direction of the Nageen Lake, and Vivek caught up with her in two quick strides.
Near an almond alcove, stood a group of domestic tourists, and a couple loudly arguing; the belligerent looking wife not able to understand why her husband had settled for a houseboat in the Nageen Lake, and not the Dal Lake.
“Look, why don’t you understand, the Nageen is less crowded.”
“But, it is far from the airport. We might miss our flight.”
“Oh come on, it is 15 kms from the Dal Lake and 23 from here. I researched everything, it is not much of a difference.”
Their heated exchange got drowned in the loud banter and boisterous laughter coming from a group of foreign tourists standing a little distance away from the arguing couple.
Under a multi-colored canopy, stood a middle aged man, with a humongous paunch, ringlets of auburn hair, cascading down his panama hat, and the typical, bronze, leathery skin of one who has, presumably spent too much time, in the sun.“Just returned from Goa”, he gave the unsolicited information, tilting his hat a little, and smiling broadly. Under a canvas awning, there was a small wooden table, with four chairs, on which sat a group of youngsters from France.
“I am from Puerto Rico, but I simply love it in India, man”. The man with the Panama hat said to the two, and waved out to them as they raced towards the pier.
She hurled herself in a shikara, which Vivek furtively noticed, was being rowed by a breathtakingly handsome young man. Vivek jumped next to her, refusing to be cowed down by her fiery glares and the killer looks of the boat man.
“Did you see the paunch of the one with the Panama hat, and did you notice that young, handsome French guy – the one who was smiling at me?”
“May I have an oar?” Vivek asked the good looking boatman, who bent down under one of the seats, and pulled out an oar for him.
He took the oar from him, thanking him profusely, absolutely ignoring her remarks about the handsome looks of the French guy.
“You should not make fun of people. Who knows he might be suffering from some serious illness?”
“The handsome French guy? How can you be so mean? Are you hinting that his handsome looks are because of some serious ailment?”
“No, I am talking about the one with the paunch.” He said with a lopsided grin on his face.
The shikara moved on, in sync with the music of their banter.
In the all-encompassing darkness the cicadas grumbled, the leaves rustled and whispered, a hen suddenly broke into a series of raucous squawks. It was indeed a bright, talkative night, gabbing away, twenty four to the dozen. It talked and she listened. Not to them, but to her own sounds. The stars hobnobbed with the clouds, the pine trees confabulated with each other, the snoozing birds, once again burst into a string of chirps woken from their forty winks.
One fidgety owl flew down from the tree and perched on her window sill, tapping at it. “Talk to me talk to me toohootoohoo”, it said, and she continued to listen. To her own sounds. In a sudden flash of clarity, she realized that the person moving around the house morosely, was not her, the person plodding through life in a somnambulistic trance was not her. The ear-callousing silence at home wasn’t her either. The trouble was, she herself did not know what she was anymore. The girl who once babbled on with a bright-eyed-exuberance, suddenly turned extremely quiet; she had her hallucinations for company, and a nightmare which clung to her resiliently, making her scream every night. Wordlessly. Why did the garrulous girl suddenly turn absolutely quiet? What devastating twist, what tragedy engulfed her, throwing her life into turmoil? Read on to find out.
A Skyful of Balloons will make you laugh and cry with the characters, the vicissitudes in their lives will tug at your heartstrings; you will savour the beams of the rising sun, and the romance of the setting sun will tickle you into a beautiful morn.
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