My companion was true. The wide agricultural field after the grassland tells about the existence of an adjacent hermitage. This kind of paddy called Nibar is grown only in the hermitage fields where they do not have enough tools of cultivation or money to hire peasants. I have knowledge of cultivation, forestry, mining and trading. A dynasty becomes strong by training their heirs in different arts and sciences. I am trained.

Afternoon sun prepares to leave when I reach the hermitage. The shades of the trees around the hermitage are lengthened. Golden sunlight peeps through them to spread its warmth on the ground for the last few moments of the day. I see couple of the sage’s students coming back with the cattle. They stop – probably my expensive cloths and jewelry make them look at me with surprised eyes. If that lady Peggy still stayed with me, she might have commented that only my bad dress sense is responsible behind my arriving in a hermitage in this kind of attire. Anyway their expression changes as I express my desire to meet the sage Kanva. They inform me about his absence. He had some urgency; left the hermitage for few days. They welcome me on behalf of their Guru. I decide to take a walk inside the peaceful well maintained school that grooms the scholars of the land.

The capability of these erudite people surprises me every time I visit one or other. They keep themselves busy in learning activities. At the same time how affectionately they take care of their students coming from all parts of Jambudwipa without accepting any remuneration from them! Little farmlands close to forest areas and cattle given as donations are their only source of living. With that minimal resource they create heavenly abode of cleanliness, discipline and peace.

“So you notice the excellent management skill?”  – A shocking revelation tells me that my dead witch has come back!

“I thought you are gone!” – Now pondering how can I make this ghost understand that I do not want to talk to her.

“You are stupid!” “How could you assume that you could kill me by gagging own throat? – I am inside you darling. You did badly hurt me. Now it will still take time to cure. See the marks of your paws on your throat yourself.”

“I do not understand the words, ‘management’, ‘stupid’ and ‘darling’.” – I try to respond logically this time sounding as sane as possible, ignoring the word ‘paws’.

“I see I will have to explain lot many words; but later. Listen now – don’t try to kill me again. You scared me last night. None can kill an insider gagging own throat, dear. And I am telling you, suicide is never a solution of your issues. If it was, I would have committed suicide long back when Joy left me. Do – Not – Ever – Try – That.” – She sounds like a Goddess now. Is she a deadly ghost or a guiding Goddess? Her tone puzzles me. I enquire cautiously, “Who is Joy?”

“I will tell you all – later. Now I need a long sleep to recover. You nearly killed yourself dude, and me too! Bye for now. And – don’t take a suicide attempt again.”  – She coughs – I understand talking still hurts her. I pay no attention to ‘dude’ this time. Whoever she is, I have to accept her presence for the time being it seems. Is it heading towards a complex relationship that I had with some other ladies in my palace? I am not murderer by nature. Especially seeing a lady suffering due to my monstrous act inflicts pain. Nevertheless having the lady inside me for long would be difficult if she follows my thoughts. I need to contemplate her existence. Shall I reveal her story to my astrologer? What if he informs that to my physicians who may eventually announce me insane?

She stops. I feel little relieved understanding she went to sleep. I resume walking. I need to free myself from this unease.

I spot her sitting beside the small pond in the dying afternoon light. The beautiful girl is tying her long black hair looking at her own image in the stagnant water. These forest dwellers do not even have mirrors – I wonder at their minimal living. How come they live with so less and still live so happy? These girls do not know what silk cloth is – jewelry they don’t even dream of – never had chance to look at their own faces properly as those polished metal mirrors are luxury article here. Still their surprising beauty mesmerizes me. Especially this girl – her glowing flawless skin is quite unusual to be a forest girl – distinguishes her from her companions those I have seen in this place while roaming around, though they too are beautiful enough to create wave of envy in the women’s quarter in my palace. I look at her inviting lips – thin and pink, her large eyes focusing on the water, golden cheeks and long goose-like neck. I imagine her light purple nipples under that unworthy piece of bark covering her pomegranate-shaped breasts, the gorgeous curves of her body maddens me – I feel my blood vessels boiling. I should not stand here any longer. I know I can’t even approach her right now. She is my golden deer; I don’t want to hunt her. I feel an irresistible desire to catch her alive, with her full consent. Do not wish to frighten the forest deer by my sight. I leave the place, as silently I came here.


To be cont.