The Golden Fruit


Abhash Kumar Boral,
abhash0@yahoo.co.in
Paltan Padia,
Khurda-752055


Namu wiped his spectacle glasses. He tried to clean the thick glasses with his dirt soaked cloth. He wanted it clean to have a clear vision of the fruit that he wanted to see after all these long years. It was the fruit of his dream since his childhood, since the time the enchanting man whispered it into his ear that this would be his only achievement in life! That was the time when he last saw him inside his cottage, in front of a sapling of waist height in an evening. He found him kneeling before the plant in the evening when he accidentally entered the outlines of the bush made fence. He stood there, behind him as a silhouette whose eyes were fixed on the body of the skinny man.

‘Get the ball’, someone shouted from behind, bringing him to senses that let him aware of his situation that he came for the ball that merely rolled into his compound from the field where they were playing. He came here with his investigating eyes to search for the ball that had sneaked itself somewhere in the darkness. He saw the outline of the man’s skinny body in the thin darkness, where he kept standing behind him with his sweeping eyes fixed on him. He appeared to him like a clay mound heaved under a small tree below which he found the ball going to be hidden under the prevailing darkness of his shadow and the encircling darkness around him. He made himself fixed behind the man, waiting for him to get up from his prayer. ‘Get the ball, we are not playing anymore.. fetch it, we are going’, shouted a voice from his playing area. He turned his look to give a way of his helplessness to his friends and failed as he found his face struggling against surrounded thick evening to make a show of his expressions.
‘Here is the ball’, a sound passed through him. A shiver ran across the corners of his body. He felt fear in him. A will to escape out of the situation compelled him to pick up the ball from the hand of this unknown man in front of him, before a quick escaping run. He ran off quickly from the place so as to safely reach his home.
The first work he did after reaching home was to ponder over the situation he underwent recently. He could not make out for why the situation even mattered to him. It was something strange for him although the things were normal. Yet he felt an undercurrent passing through him mildly. He thought over the matter on and on and never could reach any point of conclusion where he could have satisfied himself. Somehow he could get himself out of this chain of thoughts and diverted himself towards some other problems until the midnight.
He didn’t know that the night was trying to open the clues, the answers to the set of questions that he had been through and through since the time he met this man. As midnight approached, it unveiled the mystery in his sleep, in the form of a dream.
In the dream he saw the face of the man reaching him out of an aura. Initially he saw a blaze of light radiated to which he couldn’t resist. He closed his eyes in the dream itself to save his eyes from the strong light. He did so but couldn’t continue closing the eyes for a long time fearing that the light might have something more than what he had feared. He opened his eyes and saw a man in front of him. He was the same man whom he had met that evening.
Hardly had he known of him. He had just heard people talking about him. To them he was a saint; a man who had been alive since the last thousand years, who had obtained auspicious powers which let him to live all these years. People were also saying that the man has his life hidden inside this plant which, though looked like a small sapling, but had the life of thousand years. It was a different kind of tree which was not found anywhere else on earth. Some whispered too that it was a tree from heaven.
The fuss and gossips were frequently resounding inside him and had altogether formed a peculiar image of the man and the tree in him. But he could not make out why these elements were the attractions for him and why he was dragged towards the objects on and on, since the evening that he saw the man accidentally. He never imagined that he would be meeting him at a situation quite unknown to him. His genuine fear would not have allowed him for the situation. Even he never expected a dream. But he had it.
He met the man in that dream, coming from out of an aura. The man nearing him said, “Don’t be afraid my child. I came for you as I have something very important to say to you for which I have been waiting since a long time. It is about the plant. The plant you saw in the evening is not an ordinary plant. I have been waiting here to say this to you for years and years. This is a tree that bears golden fruit.”
Namu became surprised in his dreams. The dream gave him the touch of reality. He had no choice. He listened to this man who was telling him about the secrets of the plant. He continued, “The tree came up here as one of the seeds fell off the heaven once long ago. After a rain it germinated. A few leaves followed. And it started growing. When I was a child I also dreamed about its origin. I was asked to take care of it as I was the only soul then who could have seen the yield. I was also told about the place of the plant and was told to take care of it. I did that and spent my whole life in a hope to see the golden fruit but failed. I was told then that I had to continue hoping until my successor arrives one day. This evening I saw you. You resembled with the exact picture that I was described then of my successor. So my child, now it’s your turn. May be I failed to experience life properly for which I was deprived of seeing the fruit on the stem. From tomorrow onwards, the plant would be yours.”
Saying so, the man vanished.
Namu winked for a moment after the man went away in his dream. He felt fear and a mild current shrilling his body. The throbs continued for another few moments, then laid him to a slumber till morning when he woke up and emerged in his regular routine. He had forgotten about the last dream until his evening play time came.
When the friends called him for the game, he remembered the dream that he saw last night. That too led his way to give clarity to his problems. He was sincerely trying to comprehend about his recent future while his movement directing him for the plant driven by an inner force. The surprise was ahead of him.
He found that both the man and his cottage were absent from the place where he had seen him last evening before the plant. He even found the plant to have grown up a few metres taller than what it was the last evening.
He returned back from the place in anxiety and fear.
The next day same thing repeated for him. He trailed himself for the plant to cater to his curiosity and saw the same thing. The plant has grown up a few metres more, though there was no sign of the man whom he had seen the first evening. This thing continued. He could not resist himself from going to the place to read about the new changes that could have occurred to the place or plant. Every day he saw the quick growth of the plant in the absolute absence of the man. He gradually lost all his fear and became acquainted with the situation.
The plant kept on growing and so did Namu as well.
In due course of time Namu took himself as the heir of the plant and took care of it by watering and guarding it. The tree became taller and taller to a height that nobody could have tried to bring damage to its huge trunk but no fruit came upon the tree. Namu also grew up through the steps of time. He underwent his youth and manhood under its trunk and lost his years of maturity awaiting the golden fruit.
A time came when Namu had no work. He left working due to his post matured age. He only had a single work left – to see (when) the tree bearing him a fruit. During his last tenure of life, he waited anxiously to see the day when the tree would have brought a smile to his face by bearing a fruit. But the tree didn’t bring him any fruit.
He became desperate due to his thought that his time was slipping away from him. His anxiety compelled him to scold the tree one day. He scolded the tree for why it was proving itself barren! Why and what mistake of him had been the reason of the tree’s non yielding attitude. He scolded and chided. And then he cried before the tree. He cried as an old father wants the child to show him his ability to earn. He cried and slept under it being tired.
No sooner than he felt the coolness of the breeze to help his slumber, he heard the voice from the tree to wake up. He distinctly heard that the tree had voiced to see it. He woke up definitely but couldn’t know whether he was in the realm of a reality or a dream. He thought that probably it was in the dream that he had woken up. The next moment he realized that it was the reality indeed where he had dropped his slumber.
In between this dilemma, he woke up and lifted his neck upward towards the sky where he could see the top end of the tree. His old eyes initially didn’t allow him to stretch his look to the far end of the top. It was huge and tall. He tried hard to adjust his eye muscles bringing several more wrinkles to his eyes corners so that he could have a clear look at the other end of it.
After his painful exercise, he could see a dazzle atop the tree.
He tried to convince himself that it was the golden fruit he had seen in actuality. But his non co-operating eyes didn’t help him to get a firm hold over his thought. He remained unfixed in between vision and thoughts. Hence he decided to climb to the top where he could be confirmed of the tree’s first yield.
He started to climb. Despite of his painful weight of the body, despite of the helpless state of his limbs, he continued climbing.
He tried hard to get up through the thick branches and climb up. Every moment a fear was touching him that he might have a great fall. After climbing for an hour or so, he felt tired and rested on a branch from where he had a glance over the patch of meadow from where he started his journey. He couldn’t see the patch clearly. He was panting and feeling restless, yet his desire to reach and see the golden fruit was becoming stronger and firm in him. He continued again climbing up over the branches. He climbed and climbed and felt reaching nearer the fruit.
He became happy. A smile puffed off his mouth after seeing the glow of the fruit. He smiled again.
That was the last time he was seen on earth.

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