The Bird and the Map
The sun had set down. Lahum was enjoying the chirping of the birds. He had forgotten that it was dinner time and that he would need to walk through the forest since the pathway would have been flooded with water by now. He heard a new chirping, one he had not heard. But whenever he tried to focus, the chirp would subside. He named the bird – shush.
Rain started, the boy woke up – it was not heaven, it was still earth. He had to reach his home. Pitch dark silence only to disturbed by random howls and thunder did not help him. He knew staying on the mountain side would be dangerous. He took a quick prayer and carefully treaded back through the forest.
Sun-shine, he had made it. He wondered why his mother did not enquire about his late night arrival. He had to travel by the morning train to Janlau to hand over the old lock keys to the captain. He was not particularly interested with the journey because he has travelled to Janlau countless times and the only scenery he liked was the seemingly infinite river. Having crossed the river so many times, he was not thrilled any more.
The train halted. The train bridge was washed away due to yesterday’s torrential rain. He was in a dilemma since the captain needed the key urgently and his mother had given her word. He enquired about alternatives to reach Janlau, the only way was the bridge, which housed both the rail and road. A temporary structure would require at least a week. He decided to walk till the end of the rail to know exactly what had happened. The rail bridge was non-existent. There was just one mighty river flowing as if it had a destination to reach.
As he observed the river, he saw a small bamboo raft flowing by. He didn’t think twice and jumped in so that he can reach across and deliver the key. He underestimated the currents and was quickly drawn into the deep waters. He did not know the path taken by the river, so he was terrified. But he did know the river finally broke into tributaries near his home town. It started raining. He was both happy and afraid. He kept the key safe with him and paddled along the river enjoying the never seen forest on both sides. He paddled swiftly near rocks and slowly when the flow was smooth.
Rain stopped, he woke up and he realized, he was still safe. He looked around. The raft was resting at the shore and there is nothing but a cave. He heard the strange voice he had heard, that of shush from the cave. He quickly went in to see the bird. There it was and it was beautiful. It was sitting on top of a box. As his gaze fell on the box, the bird chirped once more and flew away. He was confused what to do. But as the future remained uncertain anyway, he decided to try opening the box with the key. And it opened. The box contained a few old maps and a few gold coins. He was elated and wanted to tell it to everybody about his discovery. Since he could not find anybody, he just thanked God and returned to the raft. He rowed aimlessly but happily. It was evening. The sun was about to set. And he was not sure whether he could reach back home.
He rowed and rowed and finally saw the night lights far away. He could see the distinct red lights. He reached home. He jumped around to tell the whole story. He gave the gold coins and safely tucked away the maps. He went to sleep thinking about the adventure