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The Milkman of Patiala ……Part 1

***** The Milkman of Patiala ***** – part 1

A Story By- Pradeep Mohan in Tales of Simla in FaceBook

Pind in Punjab

Give me a peepal tree around a village pond with black buffaloes and sugar cane blowing in the balmy breeze and the tinkle of bangles on the slim village belles in colorful shapely Salwar Kameez, and their shy saucy impetuous side glances, their charming half smiles as they tease with flirting fluttering eyelids.
You keep your concrete edifices. I will seek solace in the soft bosom of my pond in the pind in panjab.
What I remember from the pind, is the warm breeze of spring. It blew across the khet while the crop is a dark deep green and not yet tall. It carries the sweet songs of the birds and the birdlings that have just begun to fly, the chatter of the bright green parrots in the trees, the lows of the black buffalo majhs in the distance, and the echoing sound of some kisan shouting to his mate. This is Baisakhi time in the village.
The crops dance in the wind with a gentle swaying motion, back and forth, with the hope and promise of spring.
The chunnis of the villages lasses billowing in the breeze is a rainbow of bright translucent colors.
When the fever of spring grips your belly, your heart begins to race with the restless excitement of youth. You feel deep inside that this wind has come bearing its joy and motion from a faraway land from across the high mountains, and swept across the wide plains of the land of your ancestors of the five rivers.
And when the spring breeze flutters in your face with a warm gentle caress, you look skyward with that special feeling of baisakhi, a feeling of rebirth, of starting anew, of overcoming the past, and connect with the fertile soil, and your sunburned brothers, and your strong graceful sisters, the lively children, the wise grannies, and the kind nanas.
And you breathe in deep the smell of the earth, and the loam and the kikar trees, and the heat and the dust that is to come in the furnace of summer.

The milkman always knocks twice

The milkman lives five miles out of town. He is over thirty. A few hair in his ragged loose beard have already turned grey. His turban is unshapely and crudely wound around his head. He is always covered in dust and his clothes of homespun cotton and his worn leather chappals are a badge of his poverty. But he is a gregarious man full of dignity and cheer. All of us kids love him and he tells tales of his village, his cows and his bulls, of the open fields, and the wide blue skies, and the soft evening breeze in his little eden of tranquility.
And he loves me – the little boy. Because the little boy has a twinkle in his mischievous eyes, and affection in his joyful smile, and inquisitiveness in his endless questions, and uncontrolled energy in his constant nervous movements. And sometimes the milkman will bring for the little boy some small gift that his wife has made. Sometimes it is a sweet pinni and the round sweet ball with jiggery and herbs is heavy and filling. Sometimes ears of corn, or a sugarcane, or fresh eggs.
And the little boy begs to see the magical village from whence this man of the earth has come – this man who has no guile or cunning, this man who is the milk of kindness, this man whose face lights up when he saw you. And the milkman said sure, that would be great. And the mother said sure it would be great, but let’s wait until you are a bit older.
But there is sadness in the milkman’s eyes. He has been married for ten years but there is no child. The wife is depressed; for a barren woman in a little village is a forlorn cursed women who is pitied and judged. And the barren husband is unhappy and desolate. And their childless future will be empty and filled with hollow silence and the long dark nights and the eternal gloom of old age and mortality will not be soothed with relief – that the fruit of your loins will live on forever.

The Trip

One evening as dusk is falling the milkman comes down the lane, pushing his bike with the metal canister of milk. He jokingly asks the little boy, so when are we going to the village. The little boy says my mother says I can go anytime that you are ready. Go ask your mother, the cow man says. The boy rushes in and the man sees him gesturing and pointing to him as the boy looks up and with great animation talks to his mother. The boy rushes out and lies, my mother says its ok. I can go with you. And the poor farmer from the little village is gullible and believes the deceitful little boy.
It is five miles to the village and the little boy sits on the back of the rickety old bicycle behind the canister of milk. He shorts cover his spindly legs, his shirt is rumpled and his hair is in disarray from playing with his friends. Soon the dust covers his face and he becomes part of the convoy of milkmen heading home to their villages , like a flock of crows at dusk.

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Namita Sunder
2 months ago

Lovely description of rural background, scenes. I can i8nhale the fragrance . But now I am worried , will the poor, milkman have to bear certain dire consequences when the boy would be found missing?

Suresh Rao
8 months ago

The Story by Pradeep Mohan in Tales of Simla in Facebook is well narrated. Thanks for bringing it to this forum.

Ushasurya
8 months ago

Beautiful start!! Looking forward to read the next episode..
The description of the village and the fields and the Nature’s gifts is just beautiful !! You have painted a vivid picture with the words !!
Now I am wondering as to what’s going to happen when the kid is taken to the milkman’s home !!

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