The sun was at its zenith in the great land of Nepal. It was a hot day. The crying of a young child carried across the plains of nature, and the heavens shrilled as it took notice of the blind child and of the brother and his sister, who carried her.
“Leave her here, someone will find her,” said the young man .
“What if no one does? Most people don’t want her—she’s a girl and she’s blind ,” said his sister, shading her eyes. “She really needs us. She could die out here in the hot sun. Doesn’t this bother you?”
“Of course it does, but she will die if we take her back. We have tried everyone, and no one wants her. Let’s leave her under this tree, she will be alright.”
“Will she?” The girl dropped her gaze as the air of disappointment surrounded her.
“We cannot keep her; we are not her parents. It’s just another mouth to feed, and father will not be happy if we return with her.”
His sister lowered the crying child under the shade of the tree. “She’s beautiful,” she said, admiring the child, who extended her hands to be picked up. The girl stood straight, covering her racing heart with her hands. “She loves us.”
Her brother sighed, “Come on, let’s go. You will get us into trouble if you let yourself get too attached.” He turned to walk away.
“Wait!” said his sister, holding out her hand. “I just want to say goodbye to little Ayushi.”
His head jerked back in a knock of surprise. “You what?” he said, raising his voice. “You gave her a name! Your name, why?” He covered his mouth and dipped his head slightly. “Never mind, just say your goodbyes and let’s go. This is a sure sign we are going to get into trouble if we aren’t already. I have to go and help father with his work, and you don’t want to be the reason for me being late again.”
Years of hard labour in the fields with her father had made her a stranger to tears, but her eyes welled up as the little girl giggled. “Goodbye, little Ayushi,” she sobbed. “May the heavens take good care of you, and may you fulfil your destiny.” She turned with her head bowed and ambled away.
“Take me, take me,” said the child stretching her hand to be hoisted up.
The girl stopped. There was evidence of her thoughts wrestling against her as she attempted to turn around. She dipped her head and a whimper escaped her lips.
There was a formidable conflict within her, a moment where she wanted to take the child and run away, but she knew that wouldn’t end well. She had seen it all happen before. This was the type of inner struggle that gave hope, that made her believe if there was a one-in-a-million chance it would work out, she could take the chance and succeed—
“Come on!” shouted her brother. Sensing his agitation, the inner battle was won and the victor decided. She left the child under the tree to join him.
The child remained there for hours. She called for Ayushi , but there was no response, just the echo of the wilderness throwing her words back at her. Her voice became brittle and hoarse, and she cried. She was hungry, it was a pain that Ayushi made sure she had never felt, but Ayushi was gone, and it was only a matter of time before it got worse.
A cool gale descended from the mountains and blew against the child, and it began to drizzle. She wrapped her arms around herself as she felt the droplets of water settling against the sides of her face. She knew from the sound of her surroundings that the voices of people and those that could take care of her were far away. She sobbed, a feeling of rejection formed into a discomfort in her throat. She didn’t know, the feeling was called rejection, because no one had taught her how to identify this emotion she had come to hate . All she understood, instinctively, was that Ayushi could make that feeling go away.
The loud hiss of clattering trees induced a panic, her heart pounded. The wind was climbing in strength. She shivered.
A warm hand reached from out of nowhere and wiped away her tears. Being blind meant she was remarkably sensitive to the sounds around her. She would hear the footsteps of smaller animals, sounds that would have escaped those with sight. But she hadn’t heard anyone approach her.
“Ayushi!” she cried out, sobbing in relief. She stretched out her hands to be hoisted up, and a hold not quite what she expected reached out to receive her grip. She intuited the potential of great strength within the hands. It had to be the hands of a man, but he held her gently, the way Ayushi would. She felt relief and peace, sensations she treasured. Feelings were her way of seeing the world, and right at that moment it was a beautiful view.
As soon as the man lifted her, the winds behaved quite peculiarly. A small population of Himalayan monals flapped their wings in protest, as the flow of the gale suddenly came to a stop and altered its course to blow constantly in another direction. The grass, the trees, and the shrubs were bending and pointing the same way. There was a honeyed scent of rose oils gently distributed by the wind. The man lifted his nose to the heavens to inhale the aroma.
“Ahh, the heavens rejoice. He is revealing the way,” said a deep voice. It was profound and powerful, but the child sensed comfort and benevolence in its sound that most children would have missed, and it brought a feeling of safety. Normally when she heard such a tone, it meant that she wouldn’t go hungry or grow cold from being left outside.
“Here, little one, you must eat,” said the man. He fed her broken pieces of paratha, the same type of bread Ayushi made and gave to her when she was cooking during the day. “Drink now,” he said as he gave her some water that he carried in water skins. He lifted his head to observe the direction of the wind.
“The heavens have set us on a path,” he said, then wrapped a blanket around her. “You have a great destiny ahead of you, young one.”
He lifted her into a basket of beans that he carried strapped onto his back. It felt more comfortable than the hard surface under the tree. She was right—it was the voice of kindness and comfort. The lump in her throat was subsiding. It was a welcomed sensation.
“Do you have a name, child?”
For a moment she couldn’t think of how to respond, she had never been called a name before today, but Ayushi had called her by her own name before she departed.
“Ayushi,” she replied. She wasn’t sure if the man would accept this as her name, seeing that it belonged to someone else. She waited for a sound that would give her an idea on how he felt about this.
“Ahh, what a splendid name,” he said.
She smiled, his voice was reassuring, she couldn’t detect the tone of fear she normally could perceive in Ayushi’s words. Usually, fear started out as a low tone she could just about hear, but after a while it would grow louder, which meant she would soon be stripped of the comfort she was experiencing.
“I shall take good care of you, little Ayushi. We must deliver you to the destiny that awaits you. The heavens have a purpose for you, and it must be urgently fulfilled.”
The constant gale blew, and the basket rocked as the man ambled across the alpine meadow. The man journeyed nonstop, and after some time, Ayushi fell asleep. An evening rain descended from the mountains onto the lower lands of Nepal. As the shrilling gusts continued to thrust, little Ayushi sat in the basket under the covering and secrecy of his wide sedge hat. The waters trickled down the hat and poured onto the ground. Apart from the odd raindrop that would hit her on the cheek, she was completely dry. The man hummed a guttural tone she found soothing. She was finally safe and moving towards her fate.
Find out Ayushi’s fate
Copyright © J.J Sylvester 2016