Titli

One day, a summer day, after years, after I had crossed my teens and sought my degree, I was trekking. I was tracing back to my village to trace my half-forgotten race. I met a grey bearded man, old of age on my way to my village space, to accompany me. He started to sing of time, of times best gone by, when we sat besides a spring to rest a while. On a creeper besides the spring, grew a cucumber, fat beside the spring in a slumber.

“Cucumber-cucumber
Very nice.
Cucumber-cumber
Slice it twice.
Eat it whole
After sacrifice.
Cucumber-cucumber
Who paid the price?”

mused the old man. After a pause I asked, “Nana, you said sacrifice; but why? Ah! The head is bitter and the heart so sweet. You know the myth. For me for my kith, tell the story. Please repeat.

With a tweak, he mused again, once again.

“Flap-flap, clap-clap the wings go.
From butter to cup, from flowers to sup
Titli swings, the Titli sings so.”

“But”; I said, “But please, how’s the sacrifice…”

“You’ll get the surprise.” He said. “Don’t interrupt”; and continued.

“When the air ceases to halt, by the pond, and continuously makes difficult for the moon so fond to rest on the ripples of the water, the beautiful, the beautiful green butterfly, yellow spotted, polka dotted butterfly, a butterfly with only one wing, who just could sing, who just could sing from her bosom, a sad song, struggled to abide to her abode on the white apple blossom. The blossom was large, unusually large, unusually red, unusually juicy and unusually tasty.

Titli! I will call her Titli.

Titli-Titli, the green Titli, the yellow spotted, polka dotted Titli, was born on this tree and was free to the wind to carry her from leaf to flower, flower to flower, among the bowers, flower to leaf, leaf to leaf and leaf to this unusually blossomed flower, bringing along no pollen grains. This blossom had been her house, without any spouse for many days now. Titli used to wonder. Titli often used to wonder, whether she was born with only one limb or had lost it, in some thunder.

Whether early or a little late, the white red blossom was her only mate, and no mate of her species visited her. Why? She often used to wonder. For the blossom was already perched by her, or she was a Titli with only one wing? She very often used to wonder. She yearned for a mate, every morn, when the first rays of the sun glistened the drops of dew, on the apple blossoms, the leaves, the grass blades and when the sun rays shone the pond and the sky so blue. But no one visited her. She waited through the days and closed her eyes tight, when the glow-worms met on the neighbour leaf and glow-worms glowed at night. She wanted the wind to blow, and push her down, push her down-down the trunk so brown.

The large petals of the blossom, seemed to her as many wings, put together for her to try out things. Many wings for her to try and fly. But alas, she could only cry.

She waited for rain, to pour and drain her down the apple trunk, to the pond and when the moon would float on the water, she would perch on the silver boat, to the heavens’ gate and demand reasons for her fate. Gently, she lifted her head, from her bed to the skies, to trace the clouds, but the apple leaf bowers mocked her by being the shrouds.

She was born, born to have a head full of scorn.

She was a witness to see the petals dry and curl and twirl and break and fly, down to kiss the earth, or dance on the silver mirth, sailing on the water. Everything moved, the petals moved, the wind hoofed, except her.

But her wishes were granted at last and her woes were a past, when one day in the evening, the retreating gush of air, pushed her down somersaulting in a dream so fair. A dream so fair, a dream, a happy dream, a dream the heavens dream, a dream, never ending dream, had not Titli, the beautiful green Titli, yellow spotted, polka dotted Titli, landed on the white banded blossom of a creeper cucumber. The blossom of the cucumber engulfed her into a slumber, a deep slumber forever. After days, after many days, the fruit was ripe and green, in yellow spotted and polka dotted sheen.”

Here, the old man, the grey bearded man stopped his tale. He reached out and plucked the cucumber, the cucumber on a creeper besides the spring. With his knife, sliced its head twice and while he showed me the floral patterns inside, he said, “Here, here I found the butterfly – the Titli, inside the cucumber, deep in her slumber. As homage, to Titli, I sliced the head twice, to sacrifice it to the Titli. As for her scorn, the head is bitter, as for beauty, the heart so sweet, the heart we relish, the fruit we eat, the fruit now we eat.”

While we rose, to follow our nose, to our village, in my brain, I mused again. Again and again.

“Cucumber-cucumber
Very nice.
Cucumber-cucumber
Slice it twice.
Eat it whole
After sacrifice.
Cucumber-cucumber
Who paid the price?”