Nature’s furious, the clouds are anger-dancing, the trees are trembling, surrendering, oh trees you say, oh here the mighty mountains are kneeling, falling flat, many many streams erupting singing jingling hymns, begging for mercy, but the nature god has turned its back on us.
Charu, eight, hears the elders saying such things, quite animatedly, and she thinks of a solution immediately, “they should simply walk to the side where the nature god is looking… and talk.”
But now, here she rushes past them all, there she climbs the mud wall, then the tree, and then gets scolded by her mother. Ya-hoy! She lands splashing a puddle and there she runs away.
When the rain stopped, all the children in the village came out to play, seeing this, all the frogs high jumped away, leaving the centre stage for them.
Not lamenting over the loss of time – most still couldn’t tell time, it didn’t exist from them – the kids were happy with this break; they didn’t miss the school walls, exercises, question-answers, fill in the blanks, class-tests or the teachers.
Books were all packed nicely, kept safely in the trunk, kept under the bed, in that room which the children rarely entered.
But lo, what is that sound, oh, who is’t cometh this way? Charu stares at the turn, the fog lands quickly to add to this mystery.
Through the cracked, broken, muddy trail that was once a kacha road, that now rejected vehicular traffic bluntly, who dares to come to their village?
And then sauntered the Knight or so did Charu thought, but the Knight was missing, rather a humble yet dashing horse emerged when the fog folded itself up like opening curtains; treading carefully, neighing, the horse moved, making sure the trail didn’t deceive him.
Charu, amazed, rushed-then-slowed-down, towards the horse, the village kids followed her.
“Look, the horse is carrying something”, said someone and Charu shouted, “oh, it is coming our way, it is coming our way.”
The horse neighed and the kids thought it smiled; they clapped but then became quiet.
Stopping right in front of the group, the horse said, “Kids, are you doing well?”, and then immediately shouted in excitement, “Yes-yes, for I welcome you to the horse library.”
Charu and her friends went round and round the horse, “these books”, “are they for us”, “picture books”, “oh, yes-yes kids”, “this one is about animals”, “hey, look the seven wonders of the world”, “see, told you Octopus has eight arms”, “and legs?”
The children sat around the horse, who asked them to read leisurely as he stood grazing the fresh green grass. And the children sat reading different books, some together, some by themselves, quietly travelling forward, backward in time and space, cherishing the moment.
Some pack-full of hours later, the horse left, promising them to return in some days, hoping they would finish reading the books by then, colouring the black-white drawings, sharing each with the other.
He had also said, “and when I come back next, I will bring a fresh lot of readables… because kids, vegetables and readables are very good for health.”
Charu, since then, has lived many lives, visited the world in eighty days, went on an expedition to the south pole, and also fought for reading and colouring the underwater world with her village friends.
Aunties with toddlers and cows, goats and dogs, and some oldies have also now joined their semi-circle party, offering them to gather in this or that courtyard if it is raining or is too cold or too windy outside.
They all remain, to this day, good members of the horse library.
When the horse returned (Charu not missing the knight) with the new books (the readables), each book appeared to be shinning, announcing the arrival of the saviour, the hero, the magician, the joker, the pied piper and many others from all over the world.
It is a beautiful bright day, at some good distance a sheet of clouds is slowly covering the sky, the semi-circle party has gathered again to read and narrate, the horse, happy and calm, stands nearby grazing and some folks, passing by, are talking about the nature.
This post is inspired by a real life fantastic story (that is still unfolding), read about it here –
- Essentially Gold, The Lavender Hill Mob
- The Source
- In The Sundarbans
- The Knight’s Missing But The Horse’s Here
- Temple Food