Paakhi quickly read the Paigam
‘ I heard your mom saying that you are not keeping well. In all these months, we have never talked. But your first sight was intoxicating. I have observed you, admired you and even dreamt of you ever since then. Your smile healed my soul and gave it a purpose for life. Oblivious of your feelings I am writing to you
because I love you deeply. In your absence I am dying a hundred deaths every second. If you love me too please reply and I will find a way out.’
Paakhi reached out to the soot in angeethi and using a wet stick she wrote,
‘I don’t know what love is. But your words comforted me like no one else. In 20 years of my life u are
the 1st human who hasn’t judged me for my caste. Your words threw out the grief that presided in my heart for years. I see peace with you and would go to any extent to
experience it and live it. I will try to convince my mother and come along with her to the farm tomorrow. You keep your plan ready. ‘
Paakhi rolled and tied it to the pigeon’s legs and pushed it to fly. As Pratap read the message, he rejoiced. That entire night, Pratap and Paakhi prayed in the name of love. Their breaths were devoted to each other hoping to see a better tomorrow.
Next morning Paakhi walked up to her mother and said, “Maa. I am sorry. I realised I have no life with that man. Let me come with you please, so that we can have some
additional earning for the day.” Her mother readily accepted the offer and they headed towards Palampur.
Pratap went to the estate a little earlier, waiting for Paakhi. The moment Paakhi got down from the bus, Pratap’s eyes greeted her. Paakhi reciprocated and immediately rushed to work. While inspecting around the tea gardens, Pratap dropped a note near
Paakhi in midst of the dense tea bushes. Once Pratap went away, Paakhi reached out to the note. It read,
‘This is my antim-paigam. After this my lips will deliver all the paigam straight into your ears. Our relationship will never be accepted here so tonight we will flee away. At midnight, I will come to your village and wait under the palm trees near the hand-pump at the entrance of your village. Sneak out to begin a new journey of life.’
Paakhi bit her lip in happiness and nervousness. In the cool weather, sweat beads adorned her forehead. She hastily crumpled the note and buried it in the soil. Her mind
was wandering with Pratap and both of them were impatiently waiting for the day to end soon.
At midnight, with tears in her eyes, Paakhi sneaked out of her house with her day’s salary and some clothes rolled in a dupatta. Under the dark sky her eyes searched for
Pratap. The moment Pratap saw her, he extended his hand to take hold of hers and both
of them walked down the slope of the hill, through the forests, towards the nearest bus
“ I feel complete with you Pratap. You added meaning to my meaningless life. But where will we go? How will we manage?” Pratap comforted her saying, “You are the one who stirred my senses and now I want to spend my entire life with you. We will travel to Shimla. Himachal Pradesh government pays Rs. 25,000 to each couple doing inter-caste marriage. That would be enough to start a living and then gradually we can
Pratap had not even finished saying when some cacophony caught them by surprise. At
the far end of the forest that they left behind, a group of villagers were walking towards
them with fire torches in their hands. Few seconds later, “Paakhi..Paakhi.. echoed in the
forests” Pratap and Paakhi ran for their life. They didn’t want to be caught by the
After running out of their breath and hoping that they left Paakhi’s family behind, they sat down under a pine tree. The main road was visible from there and they decided to ask for lift from any lorry/jeep/car/bus that passed that way. When Pratap saw a headlight approaching, he frantically swayed his hands in the air to ask for help.
The Jeep stopped by Pratap and asked him where he wanted to go.
Pratap was frozen to see his Sarpach aka owner of the Darang Tea Estate. Pratap was fumbling when the Sarpanch sprang out of the jeep. Pistol drawn, safety off… 2 bullet shots and the cries disappeared in the winds.
“These two were about to unite, huh? Let them unite in Hell.”, saying so the sarpanch ordered
to throw their bodies down the slope of the forests into the valley. The leaves rustled till
the wind died.. till the hope died.