Tagged : ‘The Nilgiris’
Those phone calls were the beginning I think. She would spend hours talking into the phone. Her brother-in-law was calling, we were told.
My mother was often worried. Bhuvana has mood swings she would say. But then, who doesn’t? We let it pass. One day Bhuvana said she was feeling unwell. The doctor gave her some placebos. She still refused to get out of the room she locked herself in.
Then started the voices. She was convinced one of our neighbors had performed black magic on her. She wanted to go back home.
A few months later, I visited her home in the Nilgiris. She had been with us too long. She was used to shampoos and conditioners. A home without electricity and other basic facilities didn’t quite suite her. She said she was sick. Persistent fever, I was told. Yet, she refused to come back home to Bangalore. Her sister’s family lived close by. That somewhat made me uneasy. I remembered those long phone calls she used to receive.
April 2011. We were shopping for my sister’s wedding. All of us agreed that Bhuvana was still a part of our family even if she didn’t live with us anymore. A gorgeous red silk sari was picked for her. We joked she might be mistaken for the bride. My parents were told she and her family would definitely try and make it to the wedding. They never came.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call. Bhuvana had eloped. No, those phone calls were not made by her sister’s husband. But by a man with a wife and three children. He used to be a neighbor. She had taken all her belongings with her, including that red silk sari.
Nobody has heard from her since.
I quit school after the ninth standard. I had failed my exams. I spent time looking after my sister’s children a few years and then got married. Everybody around me was getting married. Now I have two children. I’m 30. You don’t believe me? Well, you are right. I’m 27. When I walk through this dirt amidst leeches and worms, I wish I had studied. My life would have been different.
Age : 27
Works at a coffee plantation in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu.