Next day, Lucy did all the usual stuff on her terrace. She expected Peter’s presence but he did not turn up. Lucy glanced at Peter’s terrace, he was not there. He was nowhere.
Every day, Lucy used to go to the terrace, take bath and looked for Peter. But Peter had vanished, he was missing. For many days, Lucy couldn’t find Peter on his or her terrace, not anywhere else.
More than a month elapsed. One late evening, she rushed to Peter’s house.
“Peter, you are missing since long, on terrace…” Lucy tried to talk to him.
Peter neither reacted nor replied. He starred at Lucy, with affectionless stares.
“Would you be my friend?” Lucy asked. She extended her right hand towards Peter. He passed a drear glance at her black palm and fingers.
“But, you are a black girl. The color of your body…!” Peter uttered breaking a long silence.
“The color of my skin is black, but the color of my soul is…”
Peter sparked before Lucy could complete herself. “I don’t like black people.” He said angrily.
“The people with black skin are not human beings? Don’t they have any affection? Don’t they possess a heart in their chest? Are their hearts without beats? Don’t they feel happy, sad, sensation like white people? Black people too are human beings, they live! They are not dull idol of stone.” Lucy wanted to lash back at Peter, but kept quiet. She just smiled.
Her smile, natural smile, disturbed Peter; again.
“Black people are black only. I know …” Peter kept talking.
“People are not black or white. In fact, their thoughts and thinking are black, like you. The white skin with black mind!” Still Lucy didn’t look offended. She threw a sweet smile at Peter and left his house.
Since then, Lucy never looked at that house or at Peter. For her, that house was barren, where no one was residing.
After a long duration, one fine morning Lucy observed some movements at the door of Peter’s house. He was with a white girl.
Both were busy loading some stuff in the car. They finished, settled in the car and the car vanished for some destination not known to Lucy. Jack locked the house. Lucy never asked Jack about them, nothing ever.
She smiled alone, closed her eyes and stayed lost in her house, naturally. She took it easily.
Around three years passed. Lucy was on her terrace, drinking the ocean of nature. A car stopped at the door of the nearby house. Lucy found that it was the same car in which Peter had left the place with a white girl.
Peter came out of car, the white girl followed. She was with a little baby, white baby like Peter and his white girl. The baby was cute and healthy. But the girl was looking weak and ill. Her body was so dull, as if a life was waiting to die under her body.
Jack unlocked the door. All three disappeared inside the house.
Lucy told herself, “No one was residing in that house till now and no one is residing today either.” She vanished inside her house.
Lucy gazed at her baby, bent down, lifted her, hugged her and showered her love, for long. The baby was blessed under the spring of her love. Time stopped its journey for a while to look at both of them.
During these three years, Lucy had got married. Her husband was a soldier in the Air Force and used to come to the forest during his leaves. Lucy had one baby, black like her, who was now 6 months old. The baby was as inherent as Lucy.
Lucy fed her milk to her baby. Some liquid born inside her, turned into spring that cut through the black mountains and flowed!
The white spring flowing from the black mountains was setting in to a black valley. The baby gratified with the white spring, embraced Lucy and fell into a deep, calm sleep. There was divine peace on her face. A cold breeze, the wind of memory of her first meeting with Peter, waved inside Lucy’s heart. Lucy remained calm and cool; inherent as usual.
The cry of a baby from nearby house was knocking her heart, at regular intervals, which was reminding her that someone was residing there. Lucy persuaded herself, every time, that no one was there. But, the white baby was reminding her continuously that he was her neighbor, he was staying there, in the same house where Peter was residing.
Gradually Lucy got accustomed to the cry of another baby, who was her neighbor.
More than 15 days had passed since the baby arrived. Mean while, Jack informed Lucy that
after his marriage with the white girl, Peter had settled at the City. Her wife Julie gave a birth to a baby. But, with her birth, Julie was caught by some weird disease. Doctors tried hard, but couldn’t diagnose her disease. They couldn’t treat her. The health of Julie was deteriorating rapidly. Julie envisaged that she has a life with very little time.
“I don’t want to die in this City, take me to…” One day Julie cried to Peter. Peter put his fingers on her lips and remained silent. Julie understood the language of silence.
And one day, they left the city and arrived in the forest. Julie wanted to pass the remaining part of her life in the forest. It was the same forest Julie left once disdainfully.
Peter never talked about Lucy to Julie.
Peter, Julie and the baby used to stay at home. The shadow of lull prevailed at home. The cry of baby, periodically, was breaking the shadow of silence. As and when the baby stopped crying, the shadow reappeared. Lucy used to listen the cry of baby, now it was her routine practice.
Her ears could clearly distinguish between the cry of her baby and the cry of Peter’s baby.
On one late night, Peter’s baby cried. Her cry was usual hence Lucy heard it casually. She kept looking beyond the window.
It was a full moon night. The forest was in deep sleep. The white big moon was playing in the lap of a black sky, like a white baby embracing the black chest.
The white baby! It was residing in the neighbor’s house who cried before some time, as usual. She gazed at the Moon. The baby cried again and turned silent and cried again.
This time it kept crying, continuously. Normally, it cried for a while and then turned silent within seconds. But she cried and cried, for a long period, uninterrupted. Lucy felt awkward.
She concentrated on the cry of the baby. The cry was different from her routine yells. It was not natural. There was pain in it.
The voice disturbed Lucy, who otherwise, remained calm and cool, normal and inherent. A thorn stuck in her heart. The pain of a crying baby hurt her heart.
She felt that the baby was calling her; she needed Lucy badly.
“No, No. it is my illusion. She is crying but not calling me.” Lucy tried to assure herself. She remained quiet, disturbed but steady. The pain was born in her heart and she was in denial. The pain and the inherency, both were in her heart simultaneously. A terrible war had declared between them. The baby couldn’t stop but the war was over. The pain won.
Lucy opened her door and rushed to the nearby house. To that house where, her heart declared that, no one was residing.
The door of Peter’s house was open. She pushed it, and went inside. On one corner, Peter was trying to calm the crying baby, but he couldn’t. Peter was expressionless. On other corner, Julie was lying on the bed, lifeless.
Lucy understood quickly, what was happened there and why the baby was crying so hard? Why Peter was numb?
She wasted no moment. She went to Peter, snatched the baby from his arms and her her to her chest.
She opened her gown, at once. Two black breasts full of milk jumped out. She pressed the brown nipples. A splash full of white milk rushed out. Lucy opened the mouth of baby and pushed her nipple inside. The baby started feeding.
The color of the milk, born from black body, flown within black veins, passed through black breasts, was white. The white baby was drinking the white milk from the black breasts.
Peter was watching that, the baby was drinking the milk, who was ignorant of the color of the feeding breasts. She slept hugging the black chest of Lucy. There was no pain on her face. There was no pain on the face of Lucy either.
Lucy was feeding with closed eyes. Peter was watching it with eyes opened wide. A white shadow on black wall was in front of his eyes. The shadow was real, as real as the wall.
“Lucy, you were wrong. The color of shadow is not always black. If the wall is black, the shadow might be white,” Peter murmured.