As days passed and the sun continued to rise and set behind the frozen sky, the fat lady shrank and shrank.
This worried the villagers no end. They had made peace with a possible return to the dark ages, as it were. Even a world without rain. Or other worldly possessions now out of their reach. The Mayor was certain there was enough wood, water, and seeds to keep them going for a few generations, if not more. But all that planning and calculation would be meaningless if Mrs. Godse were to come falling down, or go flying out, which may be the case in the end, wouldn’t it?
Lines across the universe
Those famous lines
That our hands define
They make me yours
They make you mine
Where the grass grows high
And flowers bloom aplenty
Where the breeze has lost its merry way
Where the summer sun smiles down on endless meadows
But shade’s only a step away
Here grows my heart forever
No matter where my body dwells
“People of Uri, can you hear us?” spluttered the radio in the dark late one night. Mrs. Godse had been trying to adjust the radio knob furtively, to drive away the silence. But all she got was static. Right turn. Static. Left turn. Static. Round and round and round. Still more static. The radio host with a thick, syrupy voice had obviously dozed off. And the songs had eventually run out. It was this silence or the static … or the incessant crick-crick-crick of the crickets down below.
“People of Uri” had slowly returned to their daily routine, waving at her as they passed by to work in the fields or attend school or from the rooftops and windows as they dried laundry or cleaned house or just reposed in their chairs. Mrs. Godse was no longer a novelty but a part of their daily lives. Ever present. Like a fruit hanging from a tree. She wasn’t going anywhere.
In case you’ve read Part 4 before, please note that this is a revised version.
The word spread that Mrs. Godse, for that was her name, knew all the comings- and goings-on in the village. For the very next day, at Uncle Goswami’s grocery store, Mrs. Vashisht, while buying the last of the packaged bread, ran into Mrs. Grover, another neighbor, whose coriander and mint plants were a particularly favorite hunting ground for their common “rabbity” foe. Mrs. Grover was more than all ears. And soon the word traveled across the neighborhood and made it back to their yard, where people, minus the culprit, queued before the scaffold for their turn to climb up and have a talk with their all-knowing savior from God.
“Mrs. Godse,” asked one lady, who’d lost a glass eye the other day and was rather peeved at being teased for her pirate patch, “do you know what happened to my other eye?”
12th standard quiz. Your team’s losing big time. The tally so far: questions – 4; answers – nil, nada, zilch. Why should Q5 be any different?
And then the worst possible thing happens.
Two friends, backpacking across the Western Ghats, arrived by the early morning train at a small town station. It was a day like none other. As the train curved through another of the many moss-covered tunnels and emerged into the first rays of sunlight, they were embraced by a soft blanket of mist. It ran beside them, through the woods, and across the cabin, through the open window, like a mischievous ghost on wheels, making them laugh.
But when they disembarked, they were no longer laughing. No longer human. Much like the zombie-town that lay before them. In ruins under the mist.