Post Series: Ila’s flight of fantasy

Is Ila standing at the cross-roads of life or is this just a flight of fantasy? Read Ila’s two part story.

Ila’s flight of fantasy – Part 1Close to the city of Paithan, in a small village called Sauviragram, which lay along the banks of the great river Godavari, lived a woman named Ila. Being cotton farmers, her family was well-to-do, but not among the richest in their area. It was the harvest season, and cotton had to be picked from the plants. The wholesalers and traders from Paithan would be arriving in just a few weeks, carrying gold and goods for barter. They would exchange what they carried for the cotton that the farmers grew. The bales of cotton had to be ready in time! Work was at its peak!

But Ila was not to be found in the fields. She wasn’t working. Instead, she was sitting by the banks of the great river Godavari.

‘I am sick of this!’ she grunted loudly.

The intense humidity before the impending rain seemed to be resonating with Ila’s own discomfort within.  ‘What does the future hold for me? After this year’s crop is done, the 12-yearly Pushkarraj mela would return and it would be time for solemnising my promised matrimony with Gopalnanda from the adjoining village of ‘Sirnoha.’

The clouds roared and started a light drizzle around her. The little drops were caressing her body but not her tumultuous mind. The wind picked up speed but her thoughts were stuck as is. She saw no excitement in her future ahead.

Ila’s flight of fantasy – Part 1Just then, a harmonious melody reached her ears. She lifted her eyes over the vast horizon across the massive Godavari and saw a robust boat with its hilt fashioned like a swan’s face being rowed by a handsome, well built boy. He had dark curly hair and a very well built frame which seemed more chiselled in the constant downpour. His solid gold earrings waving with the rain and the kanthi on his neck as well as the kadas on his hands moving in tandem with his effort to row the boat mesmerised Ila into a stupor. She kept staring as the boat rowed past and soon she was looking at the rain lashing at his rock-like back and finally the tail of the boat.

What was this, a dream? Or was it a sign to help realise her dream? Who was he? Pondering over these thoughts she gradually trudged back home.

Ila started visiting the river daily at the same time with gradual changes in her demeanour. Her clothes showed more colour and variety now, hair more groomed and decorated with flowers.

It was the seventh day since Ila had seen the boat. She was losing patience and as time ticked by she became melancholic, removed the flowers decorating her black tresses and tried to forget it as a dream she had seen with open eyes.

Suddenly, she saw a glimpse of the smiling swan. The same handsome boy, with his curly hair playing with the wind was rowing the boat forward effortlessly. She couldn’t stop herself and shouted out unabashedly, “Pranaam…………….”

The boy, who seemed to be oblivious of Ila’s presence till then, turned around in surprise and greeted her with a gracious smile, “Pranaam!”

Ila Ka Khwaab - 1

Ila could barely ask, “Will you come again the seventh day from now?”

The boy replied, “Yes, the same time, every seventh day,” as his boat drifted past and went too far to allow any further conversation.

Another six days went by. Today, Ila took out the beautiful pearl necklace and the ornate armbands with delicate hangings. She did her hair in a sassy style and decorated it with a beautiful gajra. The flower garlands and the deep black kohl lining her eyes gave her a beautiful glow.

Ila’s mom was surprised to see the special shringaar she had done. Ila filled a cloth pouch with modakam, garghutti and metkut, the choicest delicacies now available in her house freely and sprinted to the Godavari.

Her mother followed her quietly at a distance. Ila rested herself at the platform under the huge Peepal tree, considered holy by all. Her mother noticed that Ila lit a traditional lamp and sat in padmaasan, the traditional pose of meditation. Her face immediately showed the calmness of a person in conversation with herself, satisfied at unraveling some of the puzzles. The mother saw these expressions and feeling proud of her daughter’s righteousness, returned back home immediately.

Unknown to her, the swan boat floated to the river bank at that precise moment. Ila left the platform in one leap and stood next to the river bank, waiting….

Ila’s confidence and her intellect reflected on her face while her natural tenderness and feminine beauty made her look vulnerable.

“Pranaam”

“Pranaam”

Both of them smiled and acknowledged each other with folded hands and a bow of their head.

“My name is Ila. I am the daughter of the cotton farmer Narayan,” Ila introduced herself.

“I am Satyaswaroop, son of Satyanand from the Pravara village.” The boy introduced himself. “We too, have cotton farms in Pravara.”

“Then how come I see you on this boat every week?” asked Ila, beside herself with curiosity.

He smiled and replied “Well, I used to work on the farms with my family for a long time. But, I was not happy being restricted to a small place. I wanted to explore the world and travel as far as my cotton did. I took my family’s blessings, gained some knowledge of the trade, built this boat and now I travel between Pravara and a number of villages along the Godavari.”

He seemed in a trance, reliving his experiences as he spoke about Purna, Manjira, Pranhita, Maner, Peganga, Sabri, Basara, Dharmpuri and Manthai, the villages he had been frequenting for some time. He talked about their people, their markets and most significantly about the glorious and magnificent temples built along the river bank. Ila stood hypnotised, soaking in all this information like a dry sponge. She hadn’t stepped beyond the river bank at Sauviragram in her entire life.

Will Satyaswaroop and Ila finally become friends? Read the second part of the story next month…

Word meanings:

  • Impending: about to happen
  • Solemnising: to perform ceremony
  • Tumultuous: loud, excited and emotional
  • Stupor: condition in which someone is not able to think normally
  • Melancholic: becoming sad or depressed
  • Tresses: long locks of hair

Values learnt:

Read this story in Hindi

Ila’s flight of fantasy – Part 1
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