The sky was cloudy yet beautiful. Gauri realized though that something without color could still be beautiful, like a hidden window of a fairy land. She took a deep breath to make sure she was alive on this earth. She often wondered why she was here in this world where she felt she did not belong.” Must be a reason that she has yet to discover. After all she was not Sankar who already knew why he was here. Sankar! Gauri had no answer for what Sankar to her. But he was the one who inspired her to live, grow and bloom. Whenever she thought about him, she got an instant energy in her soul; her life seemed to be so colorful and cheerful. Sankar had discovered her hidden wings and made her realize that she was as a butterfly. Now she is in her late forties but still she could feel the thrill when she thought of the first meeting of The Free Man.
One day in the afternoon, high School Final result was out and Gauri failed. She was frustrated and annoyed. She came out from the house and started walking aimlessly about. At a times she felt like the house was a skeleton, carrying all dead souls. But nobody realized she was alive yet. She had a secret dream world that she discovered when she was child. She couldn’t remember the details but after then she was never alone. She was turning sixteen. She was expecting lots of gifts from her parents but now she knew this was going to be her worst birthday ever. Damn… Suddenly she almost got awoken by a cold breeze and she realized she was inside a Mango Grove that was a little far from her house. Green trees, around her, no noise, a pleasant aura, little birds were playing around, their chirps tuned a sweet melody. ‘Oh, this is must be a fairy world. I could search for a rabbit’ she thought. She was amazed by the pleasant appearance of the natural wonders around. A smile speared on her face. She started singing and waving her hands, stepping her foots in rhythm. And then she saw the boy.. Sankar He was walking carefully and following something. His concentration has made Gouri curious. He was unaware of everything around but a butterfly. Gauri followed his eyes and just saw it. The wings of it were dark red color and yellow spots. Sankar’s eyes was gazing at the butterfly and shining with its beauty. The butterfly was dancing happily ignoring the existence of the two humans. The wings were opening and closing in a rhythm. Gauri yelled ‘WOW’ and the boy jumped with surprise and looked at her.
The butterfly didn’t like the interruption either, it flew away quickly from there. Gauri fainted, she couldn’t understand what to do next. The boy was gazing with amazement at her just like he did the butterfly. He asked, ‘Who are you?’ Gauri told him her name. ‘Hummm’ he reacted. Now Gauri observe him closely. He was probably two or three older then her. His rough hair and cloths shows his weak financial condition. But yet he had shinny eyes which seemed to be alive and wise. Gauri never met a boy in her life like him. He started walking. It was odd for Gauri. All boys she knew at school all admire her beauty and her friendly attitude. And he just seemed to deny her existence. That hurt Gauri’s ego so she decided to follow him. “Heay, wait for me, what’s your name?” Gauri yelled. “Sankar’ he said carelessly, ‘and you shouldn’t be here better you leave now’ he added. “This is not the place for a rich and soft girl like you”.
Gauri was irritated and angry with his rough behavior. She never met such a rude person like him in her life, who didn’t even have the courtesy to behave gently with such a lovely girl, ‘Ridiculous’ she mumbled. But again, she was also curious about him. So she ignored his words and asked ‘So you always follow the butterflies?’ Sankar didn’t expect that the girl to follow him. He got little annoyed, he basically didn’t like to entertain anyone to his secret world. ‘Yes’ he answered. ‘Why?’ Gauri asked again. Sankar was surprised and now looked at Gauri with attention. ‘Her spirit was like a butterfly, in fact a beautiful butterfly’ told himself. ‘Butterfly don’t harm’ then he thought a while ‘That would be fun to introduce a butterfly to others’ so decided to tell a little secret with her. ‘So, you didn’t answer my question.’ She demanded. With a deep breath Sankar answered ‘Coz I love them.” ‘Oh’ Gauri reacted and asked the next question ‘Why don’t you get a cage and put them so that you needn’t to wonder around them.’ He smiled for the first time and said ‘Did anyone tell you that you ask too many questions?’ Gauri replied with a smile ‘Yes, Many.’ Now Sankar laughed and said ‘I appreciate it. Do you like butterflies?’ ‘Yes, the one I just now that we saw’ Gauri answered. ‘OK, follow me.’ Sankar started walking slowing ahead guiding Gauri.
“I enjoy watching Butterflies flying with freedom, I love freedom. I don’t like any kind of string. Not for me, not for anyone”. He continued his walk and Gauri followed. Gauri couldn’t understand properly the meaning his words. But she liked it anyhow. She just liked the company of Sankar whom she met just twenty minutes ago. Sankar stopped his walk and asked her to close her eyes, so she did. He held her hand and moved her softly and whispered ‘Open your eyes.’ She slowly opened her eyes. And she was amazed with the beauty of the nature. It was a small lake with clean blue water. Beside that all kind of bushes and filled with different type of colorful orchid. He asked softly ‘Like it?’ ‘Love it’ Gauri said in a deep voice. They exchange a smile. ‘Look’ her eyes followed the direction, a white color with brown border. She was opening and closing her wings. Like opening and closing the doors of heaven. ‘Wonderful, what’s its name?’ Gauri asked. ‘Name?’ Sankar looked at her in a puzzled manner. ‘Oh, Ok I named it Dream.’ ‘OK?’ Gauri wanted to have Sankar’s approval with a big question mark on her face. Sankar knew it was crazy but just wanted to do it for her. He smiled and nodded his head. A wide smile speared in Gauri’s face and Sankar suddenly felt he could do anything for her smile.
They spent the remaining time just gazing upon the butterflies, orchid, and lake. There was a silence between them though their hearts were contented by each other’s company. There was no need of any words to share their hearts and their world. They didn’t notice when it became dark. They both suddenly had awakened by the sound of moving something fast in the grove. He suggested to Gauri and guided her to reach the main road that leads to her house. Gauri didn’t say a word, her heart just was heavy as she was leaving such a wonderful place and going back to her house, the afternoon fear came back to mind again.
They started meeting often. It has been four months or so. Gauri used to get something nice home made dishes for Sankar. In return Sankar used to tell her stories, stories from different corners of the world. He claimed he almost gone everywhere in this world. Gauri couldn’t believe all that Sankar said, but she enjoyed the stories and she never bothered to discover the fact.
Gauri was not the same again. She was filled with joy and fully contented. She was OK with all the ignorance of this world. She was experiencing first love. Something in side of her heart was squeezing hard. His absence was a huge void and his presences made her world brighter like heaven. It was something like cursed and blessed at the same time. How life could be so wonderful and sad at the same time. She wanted to fly like a butterfly and fly away to Sankar. But she was also feeling so shy to face him. She wanted to see him so badly, when ever she got time she used to visit that grove, in the absence of Sankar, she used to spend time with his butterflies.
And one day when they were playing Dream. Sankar told her that he had to go for long time. He told her that he had no privilege to give the answer where he was going. Gauri was shocked and surprised and for the first time she started thinking who this Sankar was. Sankar disappeared where he has gone, no one knew. Gauri enquired about him but couldn’t find a satisfied answer. It has been six months that Gauri didn’t see him. Sometimes Gauri doubted whether she really met the boy Sankar? Or was it just an obsession. She didn’t know to whom she should ask for information. Gauri’s world was void without Sankar. She was restless and unable to control her emotions she was feeling for Sankar. The more she wanted to forget Sankar and more deep she fell for him. She was almost in a subconscious stage and often she used to visit the secret world of Sankar. Speaking to butterflies, sitting beside the lake used to give her little peace. The butterflies seemed to be missing Sankar too. Then one day she was about to walk towards home and he appeared. Gauri’s face was filled with joy. She wanted to ask so many things but she couldn’t. Her face turned red and she felt like her ears are burning with hit. Sankar was surprised and glad to see Gauri’s reaction but he hid his expression.
They just sat at their favorite place, after a while. ‘Where have you been?’ Gauri asked. She wanted to tell Sankar how badly she missed him, but she couldn’t cross the line. He didn’t answer for a while then said ‘Was wondering around’. The answer was clear and with many answers. Gauri didn’t say anything with a heavy heart she was just thinking with whom she has traded her heart. But she must know where she stood. ‘Dream missed you’. Sankar looked her with puzzled eyes. ‘The Butterfly’, Gauri reminded. Sankar face was bright for few seconds and then it was sadden he turned his face towards horizon and said ‘I’m a free man, butterfly should know this. I gave her freedom to live her life and I want the same thing from her. And I missed her too.’ The message was clear. But Gauri didn’t feel bad; she understood the depth of his thoughts. Sankar’s absence made her to understand Sankar more. He was not here but he was. Now he was here and again he was not nearer. This time Sankar didn’t wonder around butterflies, they just sit for hours without talking to each other the sun was disappearing, and smooth breeze touching them both. The clouds were changing color orange to blue. They birds were flying back to their home. And it became silent as the sky got darker. Silence brought them nearer. They were watching all the things around them. Gauri thought the world was so beautiful, so peaceful. She felt complete inside, she was hungry for this for years. Hours turned to a day and days turned to months and years.
Five years has been passed Gauri passed out from the college and now she was going to marry soon. She happened to meet Sankar a few times. Not much talk between them, they talk in silence. They just sit together and not even touching each other… And sometime they follow butterflies. Sometimes Sankar would to tell her stories of his journey; they were always mysterious and far away from this world. Gauri never believed them but loved to hear his stories. They are dreamy and mysterious like Sankar’s eyes. Gauri named a few more butterflies but Dream remained their favorite. Colorful butterflies. Free butterflies. Red with the white dot is Beauty, blue with the yellow dot is Venus and the one that contain tiger spots is Hercules. Sankar enjoyed them too. Gauri was glad to be a part of Sankar’s world. She wished if she could be a part of it for forever. But dreams are only dreams; there is no connection between real life and the dream world.
When her mother asked if any one was in her mind for marriage, she went into deep thinking. She didn’t understand what relationship she has with Sankar. Was there any relationship at all? With teary eyes she was sitting at their favorite place. Sankar was in deep thoughts. He didn’t say a single word. Gauri was not able to control her tears, she hated herself for crying in front of an emotionless rock that didn’t have any feelings but still couldn’t control it. Last night she drew a butterfly, with colors of her dreams, she put her every emotions as colors; sad, happiness, hurt, love everything into the wings of the heart shape and put it into a bar. Inside the bar of a heart of free man, who hated to be caged? As their meetings were near to impossible from now she requested him to accept the painting as a gift. He agreed and in return he gave her a board or a frame with various butterflies wings in it. This is only the precious thing which belonged to him. Gauri was surprised. He was thinking something deeply; his dreamy eyes were lost somewhere in the sky. Then gazed at her and said ‘you are the most beautiful butterfly I ever seen please take care of yourself.’ Gauri couldn’t stand it anymore. She didn’t want to do anything beyond her set boundaries, she ran away from the grove with teary eyes.
Another six years had been passed. Gauri now married blessed with two little angels. By her satisfied smile people could guess how happy she was. She came to visit her father with her two daughters and for the first time her husband couldn’t accompany her, he had to go for aboard for work. Many times Gauri thought of visiting the grove and meeting Sankar; but often a guilt feeling preventing her to do so. After a lot of war in her mind she decided finally not to visit the grove.
Next day he was there in front of her with the same shinny, dreamy, mysterious eyes. Except her youngest daughter and a maid, every one went for a party. She was shocked, she realized the flow is still there in her; the flow of his love, it never died and still was fresh as she felt when they met first time. He was manlier than before and the appearance was still reflecting of his weak financial condition. He bowed and showed respect to Gauri. Gauri thought ‘what do you want now?’ His head was down like a slave; he mumbled ‘Sorry I couldn’t attend your marriage, I had to go somewhere.’ Gauri could only thought of one word “Liar”. Sankar again started ‘Here is a gift, for your marriage.’ Without looking to her eyes sitting on his nee. He raised a little box towards Gauri. Gauri was confused about expecting the gift from him. But the maid was there she was gazing both. She took a decision first and accepted the gift. She asked the maid to get one glass of water. Sankar got a look of relief in his face and said he was waiting for her since two years ago. He was going far away. The grove was destroyed and most butterflies died. He discovered another garden but that one was far away from here. He might not come back and came here to say good bye.
Gauri was blank, was standing like a statue, she controlled her tears. Sankar looked into her eyes with deep love and pain and left quickly. She became conscious when the maid called her. She opened the box. It contained a little pearl. Blue Pearl. It must be a costly one, Gauri thought by the shape and finishing of it. And had a peace of paper in it contain a sentence ’‘To a butterfly, which lives in the heart of free man.’
Tears came out from her eyes with joy and pain. A free man who taught a butterfly how to live and love and yet to be free that he has learnt from his butterflies.
Note: This poem has been published in local magazine by Aabheri -NGO at Hyderabad Oct’08.