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The Midsummer Evening

About Kathakali Mukherjee

Kathakali Mukherjee, born 1971, was a student of Sanskrit – Epigraphy and ancient Indian history. But her interest in language and literary studies led her learning another couple of European languages as well.
She worked for media libraries in Kolkata; also spent several years as technical translator, process and team manager with German and Indian software companies in Bangalore. Currently staying in Gurugram or Kolkata, she is engaged with reading and writing.
Apart from experimenting with short stories, she works on literary translation of fable and fairy tales as well as historical fictions. She is exploring the treasure trove left by esteemed Bengali and German authors between 18th-19th centuries these days.
She writes poems during her busy days when time does not permit her to sit at the writing desk.
Her blog: https://medium.com/@KathakaliM and https://www.indiblogger.in/kathakalim
Her self-published works:
"You and me" is a collection of poems https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01NCSMHK9/
And her effort of translating a selection of articles from Lokrahasya “Secrets of the Humankind – Satiric Articles by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay,”: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ebook-kathakali-mukherjee-secrets-humankind

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Part 1

In midsummer, when the earth in the Northern lands is as fresh as new bride, when the ground is contented, when the spring still bubbles in cheer, when the flowers of the meadow are still young and upright, when the birds still sing under golden sunlight, the dove comes out of the forest. It sits down in front of the hut where the ninety-year-old grandmother lies in bed.

The old lady has been lying there since twenty years. Through the window beside her bed, she sees all that happens in the yard, everything her two sons take care of. However, she sees the world and the people in her own special way while her windows are painted in all the colors of the rainbow. She only has to turn her head a little to see everything appearing one after another in red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

In the days of winter, when the trees stand in the frost as if they are wearing white silver leaves, she turns her head on the pillow. The trees turn green for her. In summer, the field looks yellow, the sky turns blue, even if it is grey. She believes that she can do magic this way. She never has a reason to experience fatigue.

But her magic glasses offer more. They are concave; hence what is outside can be enlarged or reduced. Once in a while when her elder son returns home spiteful and shouts outside, the old mother wants to see him small and good boy like before. And the moment she wishes so, she sees him so small. When her grandchildren dance outside, and she imagines how they would look in future, she just counts – one, two, three – through the magnifying glass she sees them grown up as big men, as large as giants.

But in summer she lets the window open. The window-glasses cannot show the outside as beautiful as it really is. And now on the Midsummer Evening, which is most beautiful day of all, she is lying on her bed looking out at the fields and meadows.

*****

That day the dove was singing a melodious song. She sang wonderfully of Jesus Christ and of the joy and glory of heaven that welcomes all sincere and arduous people.

The old lady was listening; she was thoughtful too. The earth seemed as beautiful as the heaven – and she wanted nothing more.

The dove flew over the meadow towards the mountain orchard, where the farmer was digging a well. He stood deep below the ground. With three cubits of earth above his head, he looked as if standing in his grave.

The dove sat down on a spruce and sang a song on the joy of the kingdom of heaven. It was certain that the man below the ground, who did not see the sky, sea or meadow, would yearn for the pleasurable heaven.
“No,” said the farmer, “I first have to dig a well, otherwise my summer guests will not get any water, and then the little unfortunate woman will go away with the child.”

The dove flew towards the beach where the farmer’s brother was busy pulling his net. It sat on the cliff and began singing.
“Oh no!”- said the fisherman. I have to get food for home; otherwise the children will cry in hunger. Later – later we will give time to heavenly affairs. Life comes first and then the death.”

 

Part 2

The dove flew to the large hut where the little unfortunate woman lived in summer. She was sewing with her hand-machine sitting on the veranda. Her pale face under the red felt-hat looked like a white lily while the hat itself looked like a poppy flower on her hair as black as berry-leaves. She was sewing a beautiful pinafore that her little one would wear on the Midsummer Eve. The child was sitting on the ground near her feet and cutting the cloths that her mother had given her to play with.

“Why doesn’t papa come home?”
That was a question difficult to answer. Her mother did not find an answer; probably her father too could not. He was staying in a foreign land far away – grieving his separation from family probably more than her mother.

The sewing machine was not working fast, but she continued working – her needles stitched as much as a human heart can bear before it bleeds to death; and each stitch tied every thread of the cloth tighter.
“I want to go to the village today, mama!” said the little one. “Also I want to see the sun – here it is so dark!”
“You can go to the sun afternoons today, my dear!”
Darkness prevailed between the high cliffs on the beach in this island; and the house stood in the midst of the dusky spruces those blocked its view also from the sea.
“Then I want you to buy me lots of toys, mama!”
“We are so poor my child! How shall we buy much?” – said the mother lowering her head more towards the chest.
And she told the truth. They were changed from rich to poor; so poor that now the mother had to do all household works alone. They did not even have a servant for summer.
However seeing the child’s sad face she held her up and made her sit on her knee.
“Give mama a hug.” – said she.
The child did so.
“Give mama a kiss.”
She got one from the half-open mouth of the kid that looked like a child-bird’s. The mother looked at the child’s eyes – those were as blue as the half moon. The face glowed with innocence of childhood. She was cheerful like sunshine.
“Here I don’t want to sing the song of heaven.” – The dove thought, “but I will help them if I can.” And then it flew towards the sun-village. That was what she had to do.

*****

It was afternoon. Taking the basket in one hand and holding the child in another, the little lady set off. She had never been to the village before. She had heard that the village was located where the sun sets – on the other side of the island. The farmers had told her that one could reach there after crossing six gates in six climate-zones.
Therefore she walked and walked.

On her way, first came a footway craggy with pebbles and tree-roots. She had to carry the child. That was not at all easy, but the doctor had forbidden the child to put its left foot on uneven ground; her foot was so soft that harsh ground could twist it.

The young mother almost collapsed carrying the weight. The drops of sweats appeared like pearl-beads on her face. It was so warm in the woods!
“I am so thirsty, mama!”- complained the kid.
“Have little patience, my dear. You will get water after we reach the village.” And she kissed the tiny dry lips of the child. The child giggled forgetting her thirst.
But the heat was scorching and the air unmoving in the forest.
The mother said, “Now you should try to walk a little.” She held her hand making her stand on the road.
But the tiny legs twisted and the kid could not walk any longer.
“I am so tired, mama!” – complaining, the kid began crying.

At the same time they saw a beautiful tiny bud of a red-rose smelling like an almond on the ground. The child had never seen a flower or a bud like that; she giggled again. Her happy face gave her mother the strength to walk again taking her in the arms.

 

Part 3

They reached the first cross where the first gate stood; carefully she lifted the bolt of the fence. All on a sudden they heard a loud cry – actually whining of a horse that rushed towards them. It came closer, stood in the middle of the road and whined loud. Answers to its whine came from all sides of the forest – left, right and middle. The ground roared, the branches of trees knuckled and the stones pounded. And the seemingly abandoned horse stood before a troop of wild horses.

The child hid her face in her mother’s chest and her little heart ticked in fear like a clock. “I am so scared!” she whispered. The next moment they heard a blackbird singing sitting on the spruce. At the same moment, all the horses ran off to different directions – the forest became calm again.

*****

They arrived near the second gate and opened the lock of the fence.

It was a fallow field. The sun was blazing hotter than it was over the forest. They gray lumps of earth were lying in long rows. While walking through, they spotted a sudden movement in the clods – it was the backs of a flock of sheep.

Sheep is peaceful animal; especially the lambs. But rams are not so quiet; these are little naughty. These attack even those who didn’t do any harm. Hence few of those rams came straight on their way. Facing them they lowered their heads and walked backwards preparing to charge.
“I am so scared, mama!” said the small one – her heart pounded hard.
“O kind God of heaven! Help us!”- Sighed the mother looking at the blue dome of sky while praying.
They saw a little lark sitting on a lump of mud fluttering like a butterfly. As soon as it began singing the rams vanished in the grey clouds.

*****

This way they reached the third gate.
The ground began sinking here. Their feet became moist and a crack was seen on the ground. The holes on the earth looked like small graves filled with white flowers – flowers made of wool and cotton. They had to cross the area with caution to ensure not falling into the ditches. They saw bushes of black berries. The child wanted to pluck them. She did not know that those were poisonous. She got sad because her mother did not allow her.

While passing through the area, they saw a piece of white cloth being dragged through the trees. The sun was hidden and white fog covered the entire area. In that uncanny white raised a head like a white star that had two horns – and then, the head roared.
Soon more heads came up. They were coming closer.
“I am so scared, mama!” cried the child, “They are scary!”
The mother took a step backwards. She slipped! They sank in the mud between two holes.
“Oh gracious God, have mercy on us!” – Cried the mother from the depth of her soul.
And they heard the wind blowing – the strong sea-wind coming through the forest. The trees bent humbly before the Great Spirit. A young pine bent down over them as if someone whispered from her crown in the ear of the distressed mother and child. She stretched her hand to grasp the branch with one hand, the pine raised erect and lifted the desperate woman from the cave.

The fog cleared immediately. The sun shined again and they stood in front of the fourth gate.
The mother had lost her hat; she wiped the tears of the child with her black hair. The small one’s cheering at this illuminated the poor mother’s heart. She forgot all the terrible experiences she had on the road. That is how she also regained the strength to reach the fifth gate.

The view there made her feel light. She saw red tiled roofs and flags on those. Along the way, snowballs and wild roses stood one after another as if they were lovers embracing each other.
The white snowballs and dark red roses charmed them. The child could walk to them now. She plucked a basketful of flowers so that her doll Lisa can have nice dreams while sleeping inside that on the Midsummer–night.

They walked in a playful mood unworried. They saw only one birch hedge near them. The road went up to a small hill. They started climbing and turned left – and in the middle of the road stood a large bull!

Running away was impossible. The exasperated mother kneeled down keeping the child before her on the ground, bending own head protectively on her, so that her long hair wrapped the child like a black veil. She spoke a silent prayer raising her hands. Sweat of fear dripped down from her forehead on the ground like drops of blood. “O Go! Take my life, but save the child.” – She prayed.

They heard sound of wings flapping. As they looked, the saw a white dove flying towards the village, and the beast immediately disappeared.

The mother found her child plucking blood-red strawberries at the roadside. She understood from where the colour of those ripe fruits came.

They went through the last gate and walked towards the village.

 

Part 4

The white church with the big red belfry stood in the green bay of the hill, under the large linden and maple trees, and the sun. They saw the priestly court, the post office and also the gardener’s home – all were so bright. The flags were flying. Small boats lined up in the shores and jetties. They reached their destination by the time it was almost Midsummer evening. They felt happy.

But they met no human being. They wanted to do some shopping at first. But even before that, the small one needed something to drink.
As they came near a shop, it was closed. “I am so thirsty, mama!” – Cried the child.
They went to the post-office; that too was closed.
“I am so hungry, mama!”
The mother went speechless. She could not understand why everything was closed there and why no people was seen.
She went to the gardener’s home. Even that was locked! Only a large dog was sleeping at the door.
“I am so tired, mama!”
“I am tired too, my dear! But we have to search for a sip of water at least.”
They wandered from one house to another. Every home was locked. The child could not move further. Her little feet felt the fatigue – those were aching.
When the tired mother saw the little beauty so much in pain, she sat down beside the road with the child on her knees. And the little one fell asleep.

The mother heard a dove singing in a birch-bush nearby. It sang of the joy of the kingdom of heaven and of the eternal worry and anguish of the earth.
The mother looked at her sleeping child. The crest of white edge of her cap bordering her face resembled the petals of the white Lille. And she thought she had the kingdom of heaven in her arms.
The child got up and asked for water.
The mother found no word to comfort her.
“I want to go home, Mama!”
“Go back through the same terrible path? Never ever! I will prefer to go to the sea.” – She replied.
“I want to go home, Mama!”
The mother stood up. She noticed a row of young birches behind a hill little far. Looking at those she realized that the trees had began to move. She understood that it was people who had broken birch foliage for the midsummer’s foliage halls. She made a move targeting them where she would find water.

On the way she found a small hut behind a green fence with a white gate. The door there was open – as if it said a friendly welcome to all passers-by. They entered crossing the gate and arrived in the garden of Pine and Columbine. Now she noticed that the curtains were down in front of the windows. All of the curtains were white. Only one window in the attic was open.
A white hand waved a little white cloth in the midst of touch-me-not plants, as if waving to someone who wants to travel.

She went up to the porch. There was a wreath of green leaves with white roses. But it was too big to be a bridal wreath. Stepping in the corridor she asked if anyone was there. Getting no answer, she entered the room. There was a silver studded black coffin lying in the forest of flowers on the ground. Inside the coffin she saw a young girl with a bridal wrath on her head.

The walls of the room were made with new pine boards – those were all glazed so that all the branches were to be seen. The dark branches in the oval holes looked like eyeballs.

Seeing the walls, the child said, “See, so many eyes are there, mama!”

Those were eyes of all types – beautiful, eloquent, serious, little children’s shining eyes with a smile, evil eyes showing much white, open and aware eyes that looks at the heart, and in the middle it was a large eye of the mother, which looked at the lifeless girl with heartfelt love shedding tears of pine resin, which was sparkling red and green like a diamond in the rays of the setting sun.
“Is the girl sleeping?” The child asked as she discovered the girl in the coffin.
“Yes, she sleeps.”
“Is she a bride, mama?”
“Yes, she is a bride.”

The mother recognized her. That was the girl who was supposed to get married on Midsummer Day after the sailor’s returning home. But the sailor’s letter had broken her heart. He had written that he would be able to be back only after autumn. And she didn’t want to wait till autumn because then the trees would drop the foliage and storms would start growling.

She had listened to the songs of the dove and understood its meaning.

Now as the young mother left, she knew where she was going.

Keeping the heavy basket outside the gate she took the child in her arms. She made a move to the next meadow, which separated them from the beach. The meadow was actually an ocean of flowers that murmured and whispered around her white skirt. And her skirt was coloured with all sorts of colourful petals. Bumblebees, bees and butterflies flew singing spreading their wings making a single cheerful golden cloud. She walked down the beach in light steps.

She saw a white boat sailing straight towards the jetty, though none was seen at the wheel. Bathed in flower-petals and floral aroma, she waited further – her skirt looked like a flowerbed painted with many fine colours.

She came down at the pasture of the sea-shore and stood there under a tree. She saw a bird’s nest between the trunk and the branch. The tree began swaying in the evening breeze; also the three chicks of the great crested grebe swayed along. The child wanted to caress them.
“No, baby.” – Said the mother: “Never disturb birds in the nest.”
As they were standing on the stones of the strand, the white boat stopped there just in front of them. No, there was none inside.
She boarded the boat with her child. Immediately it turned towards the bay and sailed away from the beach.
They were sailing by the hills where the church stood. Seeing them all the bells in the church started ringing fast and joyful. The boat left the bay and came to the wide area from where the open ocean was seen.

The view of the deep blue gentle ocean delighted the little girl. And then, it was no longer water on which they were sailing. They saw blossoms of flax all around them. The child could easily pluck them stretching her hands. And the blossoms raised their heads and then bowed making little waves whispering against the boat. Infinite floral waves spread before them, but then were covered by a mist; and sound of the ocean waves was heard.
They were amazed when they heard the songs of a larch from deep inside that mist.
The child asked, “How come there is a larch in the sea?”
“The sea is so green that the larch believes is to be pasture.”- replied the mother.
The mist disappeared after sometime. The sky came out as a blue as the flax field and the larch was flying over that.

They looked on and on. Finally, they saw a green island with white sandy shore, where people in white cloths walked holding each other’s hand. The setting sun illuminated the golden roof of a pillar, where white fire was alight below sacred sacrificial bowls. A rainbow of rose-red and forest-green was seen above the green island.
“What is that, mama?”
The mother did not know the answer; however she tried to, “It is heaven about which the dove was singing.”
“What is heaven, mama?”
“That is a place where all are happy. There is nothing called worry in the heaven, no discord as well.”
“Then I want to go there.”- The child said.
“I too want to.” – said the tired, abandoned mother, who was supposed to find answers to all the questions, finally.

In midsummer, when the earth in the Northern lands is as fresh as new bride, when the ground is contented, when the spring still bubbles in cheer, when the flowers of the meadow are still young and upright, when the birds still sing under golden sunlight, the dove comes out of the forest. It sits down in front of the hut where the ninety-year-old grandmother lies in bed.

The old lady has been lying there since twenty years. Through the window beside her bed, she sees all that happens in the yard, everything her two sons take care of. However, she sees the world and the people in her own special way while her windows are painted in all the colors of the rainbow. She only has to turn her head a little to see everything appearing one after another in red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

In the days of winter, when the trees stand in the frost as if they are wearing white silver leaves, she turns her head on the pillow. The trees turn green for her. In summer, the field looks yellow, the sky turns blue, even if it is grey. She believes that she can do magic this way. She never has a reason to experience fatigue.

But her magic glasses offer more. They are concave; hence what is outside can be enlarged or reduced. Once in a while when her elder son returns home spiteful and shouts outside, the old mother wants to see him small and good boy like before. And the moment she wishes so, she sees him so small. When her grandchildren dance outside, and she imagines how they would look in future, she just counts – one, two, three – through the magnifying glass she sees them grown up as big men, as large as giants.

But in summer she lets the window open. The window-glasses cannot show the outside as beautiful as it really is. And now on the Midsummer Evening, which is most beautiful day of all, she is lying on her bed looking out at the fields and meadows.

*****

That day the dove was singing a melodious song. She sang wonderfully of Jesus Christ and of the joy and glory of heaven that welcomes all sincere and arduous people.

The old lady was listening; she was thoughtful too. The earth seemed as beautiful as the heaven – and she wanted nothing more.

The dove flew over the meadow towards the mountain orchard, where the farmer was digging a well. He stood deep below the ground. With three cubits of earth above his head, he looked as if standing in his grave.

The dove sat down on a spruce and sang a song on the joy of the kingdom of heaven. It was certain that the man below the ground, who did not see the sky, sea or meadow, would yearn for the pleasurable heaven.
“No,” said the farmer, “I first have to dig a well, otherwise my summer guests will not get any water, and then the little unfortunate woman will go away with the child.”

The dove flew towards the beach where the farmer’s brother was busy pulling his net. It sat on the cliff and began singing.
“Oh no!”- said the fisherman. I have to get food for home; otherwise the children will cry in hunger. Later – later we will give time to heavenly affairs. Life comes first and then the death.”

To Be Continued in part 2….

The dove flew to the large hut where the little unfortunate woman lived in summer. She was sewing with her hand-machine sitting on the veranda. Her pale face under the red felt-hat looked like a white lily while the hat itself looked like a poppy flower on her hair as black as berry-leaves. She was sewing a beautiful pinafore that her little one would wear on the Midsummer Eve. The child was sitting on the ground near her feet and cutting the cloths that her mother had given her to play with.

“Why doesn’t papa come home?”
That was a question difficult to answer. Her mother did not find an answer; probably her father too could not. He was staying in a foreign land far away – grieving his separation from family probably more than her mother.

The sewing machine was not working fast, but she continued working – her needles stitched as much as a human heart can bear before it bleeds to death; and each stitch tied every thread of the cloth tighter.
“I want to go to the village today, mama!” said the little one. “Also I want to see the sun – here it is so dark!”
“You can go to the sun afternoons today, my dear!”
Darkness prevailed between the high cliffs on the beach in this island; and the house stood in the midst of the dusky spruces those blocked its view also from the sea.
“Then I want you to buy me lots of toys, mama!”
“We are so poor my child! How shall we buy much?” – said the mother lowering her head more towards the chest.
And she told the truth. They were changed from rich to poor; so poor that now the mother had to do all household works alone. They did not even have a servant for summer.
However seeing the child’s sad face she held her up and made her sit on her knee.
“Give mama a hug.” – said she.
The child did so.
“Give mama a kiss.”
She got one from the half-open mouth of the kid that looked like a child-bird’s. The mother looked at the child’s eyes – those were as blue as the half moon. The face glowed with innocence of childhood. She was cheerful like sunshine.
“Here I don’t want to sing the song of heaven.” – The dove thought, “but I will help them if I can.” And then it flew towards the sun-village. That was what she had to do.

*****

It was afternoon. Taking the basket in one hand and holding the child in another, the little lady set off. She had never been to the village before. She had heard that the village was located where the sun sets – on the other side of the island. The farmers had told her that one could reach there after crossing six gates in six climate-zones.
Therefore she walked and walked.

On her way, first came a footway craggy with pebbles and tree-roots. She had to carry the child. That was not at all easy, but the doctor had forbidden the child to put its left foot on uneven ground; her foot was so soft that harsh ground could twist it.

The young mother almost collapsed carrying the weight. The drops of sweats appeared like pearl-beads on her face. It was so warm in the woods!
“I am so thirsty, mama!”- complained the kid.
“Have little patience, my dear. You will get water after we reach the village.” And she kissed the tiny dry lips of the child. The child giggled forgetting her thirst.
But the heat was scorching and the air unmoving in the forest.
The mother said, “Now you should try to walk a little.” She held her hand making her stand on the road.
But the tiny legs twisted and the kid could not walk any longer.
“I am so tired, mama!” – complaining, the kid began crying.

At the same time they saw a beautiful tiny bud of a red-rose smelling like an almond on the ground. The child had never seen a flower or a bud like that; she giggled again. Her happy face gave her mother the strength to walk again taking her in the arms.

To Be Continued in Part 3…

They reached the first cross where the first gate stood; carefully she lifted the bolt of the fence. All on a sudden they heard a loud cry – actually whining of a horse that rushed towards them. It came closer, stood in the middle of the road and whined loud. Answers to its whine came from all sides of the forest – left, right and middle. The ground roared, the branches of trees knuckled and the stones pounded. And the seemingly abandoned horse stood before a troop of wild horses.

The child hid her face in her mother’s chest and her little heart ticked in fear like a clock. “I am so scared!” she whispered. The next moment they heard a blackbird singing sitting on the spruce. At the same moment, all the horses ran off to different directions – the forest became calm again.

*****

They arrived near the second gate and opened the lock of the fence.

It was a fallow field. The sun was blazing hotter than it was over the forest. They gray lumps of earth were lying in long rows. While walking through, they spotted a sudden movement in the clods – it was the backs of a flock of sheep.

Sheep is peaceful animal; especially the lambs. But rams are not so quiet; these are little naughty. These attack even those who didn’t do any harm. Hence few of those rams came straight on their way. Facing them they lowered their heads and walked backwards preparing to charge.
“I am so scared, mama!” said the small one – her heart pounded hard.
“O kind God of heaven! Help us!”- Sighed the mother looking at the blue dome of sky while praying.
They saw a little lark sitting on a lump of mud fluttering like a butterfly. As soon as it began singing the rams vanished in the grey clouds.

*****

This way they reached the third gate.
The ground began sinking here. Their feet became moist and a crack was seen on the ground. The holes on the earth looked like small graves filled with white flowers – flowers made of wool and cotton. They had to cross the area with caution to ensure not falling into the ditches. They saw bushes of black berries. The child wanted to pluck them. She did not know that those were poisonous. She got sad because her mother did not allow her.

While passing through the area, they saw a piece of white cloth being dragged through the trees. The sun was hidden and white fog covered the entire area. In that uncanny white raised a head like a white star that had two horns – and then, the head roared.
Soon more heads came up. They were coming closer.
“I am so scared, mama!” cried the child, “They are scary!”
The mother took a step backwards. She slipped! They sank in the mud between two holes.
“Oh gracious God, have mercy on us!” – Cried the mother from the depth of her soul.
And they heard the wind blowing – the strong sea-wind coming through the forest. The trees bent humbly before the Great Spirit. A young pine bent down over them as if someone whispered from her crown in the ear of the distressed mother and child. She stretched her hand to grasp the branch with one hand, the pine raised erect and lifted the desperate woman from the cave.

The fog cleared immediately. The sun shined again and they stood in front of the fourth gate.
The mother had lost her hat; she wiped the tears of the child with her black hair. The small one’s cheering at this illuminated the poor mother’s heart. She forgot all the terrible experiences she had on the road. That is how she also regained the strength to reach the fifth gate.

The view there made her feel light. She saw red tiled roofs and flags on those. Along the way, snowballs and wild roses stood one after another as if they were lovers embracing each other.
The white snowballs and dark red roses charmed them. The child could walk to them now. She plucked a basketful of flowers so that her doll Lisa can have nice dreams while sleeping inside that on the Midsummer–night.

They walked in a playful mood unworried. They saw only one birch hedge near them. The road went up to a small hill. They started climbing and turned left – and in the middle of the road stood a large bull!

Running away was impossible. The exasperated mother kneeled down keeping the child before her on the ground, bending own head protectively on her, so that her long hair wrapped the child like a black veil. She spoke a silent prayer raising her hands. Sweat of fear dripped down from her forehead on the ground like drops of blood. “O Go! Take my life, but save the child.” – She prayed.

They heard sound of wings flapping. As they looked, the saw a white dove flying towards the village, and the beast immediately disappeared.

The mother found her child plucking blood-red strawberries at the roadside. She understood from where the colour of those ripe fruits came.

They went through the last gate and walked towards the village.

To Be Continued in Part 4…

The white church with the big red belfry stood in the green bay of the hill, under the large linden and maple trees, and the sun. They saw the priestly court, the post office and also the gardener’s home – all were so bright. The flags were flying. Small boats lined up in the shores and jetties. They reached their destination by the time it was almost Midsummer evening. They felt happy.

But they met no human being. They wanted to do some shopping at first. But even before that, the small one needed something to drink.
As they came near a shop, it was closed. “I am so thirsty, mama!” – Cried the child.
They went to the post-office; that too was closed.
“I am so hungry, mama!”
The mother went speechless. She could not understand why everything was closed there and why no people was seen.
She went to the gardener’s home. Even that was locked! Only a large dog was sleeping at the door.
“I am so tired, mama!”
“I am tired too, my dear! But we have to search for a sip of water at least.”
They wandered from one house to another. Every home was locked. The child could not move further. Her little feet felt the fatigue – those were aching.
When the tired mother saw the little beauty so much in pain, she sat down beside the road with the child on her knees. And the little one fell asleep.

The mother heard a dove singing in a birch-bush nearby. It sang of the joy of the kingdom of heaven and of the eternal worry and anguish of the earth.
The mother looked at her sleeping child. The crest of white edge of her cap bordering her face resembled the petals of the white Lille. And she thought she had the kingdom of heaven in her arms.
The child got up and asked for water.
The mother found no word to comfort her.
“I want to go home, Mama!”
“Go back through the same terrible path? Never ever! I will prefer to go to the sea.” – She replied.
“I want to go home, Mama!”
The mother stood up. She noticed a row of young birches behind a hill little far. Looking at those she realized that the trees had began to move. She understood that it was people who had broken birch foliage for the midsummer’s foliage halls. She made a move targeting them where she would find water.

On the way she found a small hut behind a green fence with a white gate. The door there was open – as if it said a friendly welcome to all passers-by. They entered crossing the gate and arrived in the garden of Pine and Columbine. Now she noticed that the curtains were down in front of the windows. All of the curtains were white. Only one window in the attic was open.
A white hand waved a little white cloth in the midst of touch-me-not plants, as if waving to someone who wants to travel.

She went up to the porch. There was a wreath of green leaves with white roses. But it was too big to be a bridal wreath. Stepping in the corridor she asked if anyone was there. Getting no answer, she entered the room. There was a silver studded black coffin lying in the forest of flowers on the ground. Inside the coffin she saw a young girl with a bridal wrath on her head.

The walls of the room were made with new pine boards – those were all glazed so that all the branches were to be seen. The dark branches in the oval holes looked like eyeballs.

Seeing the walls, the child said, “See, so many eyes are there, mama!”

Those were eyes of all types – beautiful, eloquent, serious, little children’s shining eyes with a smile, evil eyes showing much white, open and aware eyes that looks at the heart, and in the middle it was a large eye of the mother, which looked at the lifeless girl with heartfelt love shedding tears of pine resin, which was sparkling red and green like a diamond in the rays of the setting sun.
“Is the girl sleeping?” The child asked as she discovered the girl in the coffin.
“Yes, she sleeps.”
“Is she a bride, mama?”
“Yes, she is a bride.”

The mother recognized her. That was the girl who was supposed to get married on Midsummer Day after the sailor’s returning home. But the sailor’s letter had broken her heart. He had written that he would be able to be back only after autumn. And she didn’t want to wait till autumn because then the trees would drop the foliage and storms would start growling.

She had listened to the songs of the dove and understood its meaning.

Now as the young mother left, she knew where she was going.

Keeping the heavy basket outside the gate she took the child in her arms. She made a move to the next meadow, which separated them from the beach. The meadow was actually an ocean of flowers that murmured and whispered around her white skirt. And her skirt was coloured with all sorts of colourful petals. Bumblebees, bees and butterflies flew singing spreading their wings making a single cheerful golden cloud. She walked down the beach in light steps.

She saw a white boat sailing straight towards the jetty, though none was seen at the wheel. Bathed in flower-petals and floral aroma, she waited further – her skirt looked like a flowerbed painted with many fine colours.

She came down at the pasture of the sea-shore and stood there under a tree. She saw a bird’s nest between the trunk and the branch. The tree began swaying in the evening breeze; also the three chicks of the great crested grebe swayed along. The child wanted to caress them.
“No, baby.” – Said the mother: “Never disturb birds in the nest.”
As they were standing on the stones of the strand, the white boat stopped there just in front of them. No, there was none inside.
She boarded the boat with her child. Immediately it turned towards the bay and sailed away from the beach.
They were sailing by the hills where the church stood. Seeing them all the bells in the church started ringing fast and joyful. The boat left the bay and came to the wide area from where the open ocean was seen.

The view of the deep blue gentle ocean delighted the little girl. And then, it was no longer water on which they were sailing. They saw blossoms of flax all around them. The child could easily pluck them stretching her hands. And the blossoms raised their heads and then bowed making little waves whispering against the boat. Infinite floral waves spread before them, but then were covered by a mist; and sound of the ocean waves was heard.
They were amazed when they heard the songs of a larch from deep inside that mist.
The child asked, “How come there is a larch in the sea?”
“The sea is so green that the larch believes is to be pasture.”- replied the mother.
The mist disappeared after sometime. The sky came out as a blue as the flax field and the larch was flying over that.

They looked on and on. Finally, they saw a green island with white sandy shore, where people in white cloths walked holding each other’s hand. The setting sun illuminated the golden roof of a pillar, where white fire was alight below sacred sacrificial bowls. A rainbow of rose-red and forest-green was seen above the green island.
“What is that, mama?”
The mother did not know the answer; however she tried to, “It is heaven about which the dove was singing.”
“What is heaven, mama?”
“That is a place where all are happy. There is nothing called worry in the heaven, no discord as well.”
“Then I want to go there.”- The child said.
“I too want to.” – said the tired, abandoned mother, who was supposed to find answers to all the questions, finally.

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