Oh Hari! How beautiful is this land! Mariam exclaimed.
“Ah! Didn’t I tell you so!” Hari replied.
Mariam’s rosy cheeks flushed a deeper tint as she fiddled with the soft caramel hair cascading down the sharp contours of her face.
“I can’t wait to witness the Circus troupe Hari. Are you introducing me tonight itself?”
“No, my dear. Let’s get our act together. The journey has been tedious.” His wink made Mariam blush.
As he tightened his embrace, Mariam felt the uncanny prick in her head. Quite like a sorcerer’s spell that triggered an internal alarm. However, for the first time she chose to ignore it.
Soon the skies turned ashen. The lone earthen lamp snickered before calling it a night. So did the two new love birds.
It hadn’t been an easy decision. The icy rebukes from family and village folk stoned her soft heart. Hari’s sudden appearance in the village, his unusual chirpiness and enticing smile were like rain on her parched soul. The beguiling persona awed the villagers as he regaled them with adventure stories with a Circus.
“Abba Jaan, I can sense what animals and birds are feeling! That is why I’m highly paid in the Circus.” I had overheard him once.
“So, you are a trickster…hmmmm. Camouflaging like a wolf, you now encroach someone’s home? Eh?” Hari sneered in response.
The weekly village market became their rendezvous. Never daring to look him in the eye, she sensed his gaze follow her lithesome steps. The spark of excitement permeated the saddest corners of her soul.
“Why do you need to go to the market every week woman?” Stingy, prying eyes often remarked.
“Don’t get too used to the colours, the fun or frolic.” One of the grey haired shared her wisdom.
Mariam chose not to respond. Fear of judgement had turned her life topsy-turvy. Umpteen wishes of vibrancy ended abruptly at the dilapidated, dusty door of the cowshed, a shelter Mariam was found worthy of as a widow.
One fateful evening as she returned from the market, Hari pulled her into a by-lane.
“Your beauty needs admirers Mariam. This is not the place.” He whispered passionately, vividly describing how women like her were hired as dancers and artists in the Circus.
Hari was restless and she didn’t want to lose him. Marriage was out of question so she gave in.
An unwearying howling shook her out of the trance like sleep. “Why do I have this splitting headache?” Mariam murmured, lifting the heavy eyelids.
“Hari……Hari……” There was no site of him. She panicked.
When a half-clad male entered the room, Mariam froze. “Where isssss Hari?”
The wry smirk….confirmed the uncanny prick.
“Hey! You…….I want to talk to Hari. Where is he? He is taking me to the circus…….for a job.” Her anguish evident.
“Shut Up. I’m your master. The trickster took away quite a lottery in exchange of you.”
The words hit like splinters. The worse wasn’t past, it glared in the future.
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