Table of Contents
This story talks about a trip that the narrator took in the hilly region of Basaintgarh. While there, he wrote a little story about the life of a girl from the hilly regions. One day, he is approached by a young girl and narrates this story to her, which results in something unexpected.
The narrator– a man from the city who visits Basaintgarh
The young girl– an inhabitant of Basaintgarh
Characters in the narrator’s story
Santoo Gaddi– a man who needed a new wife
Patoo– Santoo’s little niece
Mast Ram– the middle-aged village lambardar
The Narrator’s Vacation
The narrator had heard so much about Basaintgarh and its people that he decided to spend his summer vacation there. Basaintgarh was very peaceful and nice. There were green maize fields with farmers working in them and one could hear the sweet sound of folk songs. Deodar and Partal trees on the high hill ranges swayed in the breeze.
News spread that a man from the city had come. The narrator came out of the forest rest-house to look for a suitable spot where he could sit and watch the mountains and write something. He found a spot with green grass under a deodar with a lovely view of the river Ujh. He was amazed by the beauty of the river and the clouds in the blue sky.
Close to his chosen spot, he noticed a young girl grazing cattle. The narrator fell asleep because of the cool breeze. When he woke up, he was surprised to find the girl near him. She said she had been watching him all these days and wondering who he was. The villagers had told her strange stories about him. She had thought he would also be like one of the selfish city people who usually came there.
But when she had seen that he spent his time walking around or writing, she thought he was some kind of madcap. She asked him what he was writing. He said he had written a story. She asked him to read it out to her.
The Narrator’s Story
He began to read. He read that the custom of dohri existed in the hilly regions. Ten years had passed since Santoo Gaddi’s wife died. He could get another wife only if he gave a girl from his family into the family of his in-laws to be. But Santoo had no one except Patoo, his little niece. Without a son, there would be no one to carry on his family name after his death. So, he thought he had to find a husband for Patoo.
Mast Ram, the village lambardar was in need of a wife and his sister was in need of a husband. Mast Ram was about forty and Patoo was about ten. But Santoo thought it didn’t matter because girls grew up pretty fast. Mast Ram also had asthma, but Patoo might find another husband after he died.
The decision was made. Santoo got a wife and Patoo married Mast Ram. But her household was her prison. Mast Ram’s asthma was at such an advanced stage that he wouldn’t live long. Patoo wondered what her future would be like and why she was so unlucky.
She wondered if she should desert her husband and marry someone else. She probably would have surrendered herself to her fate, had she not come across a young man who made her want to live happily again. Patoo was confused about what she should do.
The narrator stopped reading. The girl asked with surprise what happened next. He replied that he had written only that far. With tears in her eyes, the girl asked him if he was a jotisi, because he had written her story. He suddenly understood why she was crying.
The girl got up, picked up her staff, dusted her clothes and ran out from there, muttering that it was her story. Her voice echoed across the space and it felt like each hill was saying that it was their story.
This story tells us about an unexpected event. Somehow, the narrator’s story turns out to be the life story of the young girl who had approached him. This shows us how human beings are connected in strange ways that sometimes cannot be explained.