This is a story I have written down today. This is called "shashka's town"
Disclaimer : I'm not a NeoLuddite. This story is not intended to debate the
progress of science or its benifits to humanity.
This is just one speculation about what .. might .. happen.
All sorts of criticism invited.
S h a s h k a ' s T o w n
This is about a small town that I visited last weekend. Yes, it was small. Like any small town that you visit on your last weekend. It was small and dainty.
What kind of folks live there ? Well, you guessed it right, ordinary folks - tiny folks, mighty folks, busy folks..
business folks, lazy folks, lousy folks.
And why did I want to visit that place ?
It was about a girl that I know.
Oh ! What was her name ?
Already curious.. Okay. I will tell you.
But you have to promise that you won't complain.
It is Shashka.
Wait ! I know what that means. That means a knife.
Isn't that a weird name for a girl ?
But I told you before. You should not complain.
Infact, nobody ever complained about Shashka.
I have first seen her when I was a kid.
Yeah, she was also a kid, a grown up kid.
We used to walk around that dusty mill that runs atop the hill.
Yes, sure there was a hill inside that town.
In fact, it was located right in the middle of the town.
But it was tall and usually no folks would climb up there.
But if you did climb up, you could behold a pretty sight, for certain.
We would watch the rivers, the woods, the fields, and the factories.
And then we would watch the people - tiny people, mighty people, busy people, lousy people...
Just what you would expect to watch around a small town...
Around a small town that you visit on your last weekend.
And when it turns dusk, Shashka would be very excited. She could then watch
a thousand lights glimmering, all over, beneath us.
How were those lights ?
If you ask me, I cannot say.
Because I do not know.
You should ask Shashka.
Because all the time, I would be watching into her eyes instead.
I would be watching for the last gleams of the sun.
And none of us ever wondered about what was running inside the dusty mill.
True, it did make a curious wheezing sound. But we never used to bother.
Though we never used to bother, that mill was a big secret.
I should say it was a top-class secret. Because no people knew about it.
And all people speculated about it. Infact, talking about the mill was the favorite pastime of the town.
Some people said that if you poke your nose inside that mill, you could see into the future.. like a magic crystal ball.
Other people said if you did something like that, all you'd get is just one big red nose.
Once I have seen a man poking his nose inside the mill.
But I didnt see him afterwards. Sorry, I dont know what happened to his nose.
And there were some people, who just said that all the mill was making.. is one nasty noise.
I have to admit, I said that once myself !
But what a dumb comment was that !!
Yeah, these were crazy people, the people in the town.
I have to tell you one thing about these people that I found.
It is very amusing.
You have to kidnap one of them and put her alone.
Put her in a place where she cannot see any of the folks.
What would she do ? Then she would start crying !!
Untill you promise her and take her back into the town, she wouldn't stop crying.
I know you wouldn't believe me. But this is true, take my word for it !
I did this experiment many times.
And not just with girls. With boys too.
And with old people, business people, busy people, lousy people.
But this was what always happened.
There was only one person who didn't cry.
That was Shashka.
And that was why I was so surprised.
Even if you take her atop the hill and run out of sight, she wouldn't cry.
She would just watch at the thousand lights beneath.
And she'd have a huge smile on her face.
I have to say - I have never seen a more beautiful smile.
But this was all when I was a kid. The next time I visited the town, I was slightly grown up.
But to my delight, the town didn't change. Not even a bit.
No, wait. One thing happened. But it was so very slight and minute, that you
have to excuse me for not noticing it in the first place. It was this.
The people were a little happier. The fields were a little greener.
And when it gets dark, the lights were a little brighter.
Maybe they were all a little richer.
And I had some trouble in figuring out who is who.
This never happened to me. They looked more like each other.. the tiny people,
the mighty people, the busy people, the lousy people.
And I found a little girl who almost did not cry when I kept her inside the woods.
This was definitely strange.
And when I returned her to her friends, they smiled happily and gave her a hug.
But was something not right ? Was I imagining something ? But it was so faint and
I don't remember now.
"It is all because of the mill"
That's what I heard some folks say.
I didnt believe it quite.
And Shashka didnt believe it for sure.
That vacation of mine was pretty short,
and so I didnt have much time to spend.
The next time I visited the town was on the last weekend.
Yes, I was looking for Shashka.
But I couldnt find her.
I couldnt find her anywhere in the town.
In fact, I didnt find anybody in the town.
Where was everybody ?
I dont know, maybe they were inside their houses.
My manners prevented me from disturbing their privacy.
I was disappointed, and wanted to go back.
But then, I heard a week voice and I looked back.
It was a frail loathsome woman, not very old, but not very good-looking either.
Infact, she was ugly. Somebody so ugly I didnt see in this town.
Did I want to speak with her ?
"Where is everybody in the town ?"
And then I saw an amazing sight.
All the men walked out of their houses.
Accompanying in their hands were the loveliest women I have ever seen.
So bewitching their beauty, I wondered for a second if they looked better than Shashka.
Did they look like Shashka ? A little.
But lo, they all looked more like each other.
They all looked alike !!
From the faintest curve on the brow, to the softest texture on their lips
From the slightest pressure of their waists to the minutest trace of their grace.
Instantly I looked at the top of the hill. No I couldn't see the mill.
And I didnt see any women either, I mean, real women.
I turned back.
I felt that I didnt have anything to do with the town anymore.
"No. You cannot go back"
"Why ?" I mean "Why not?"
It was the frail loathsome woman.
"And who are you to say that ?"
"I should have expected to hear this from you.
But it was so hard to my heart, I didn't see it."
Was this my Shashka ? Were those her tears ??
"The mill that you built was gone. There is no use for it anymore.
The beauty that I had was gone. They don't need me anymore."
Where were her friends ? How could they be so cruel ?
Yes, but they were with her, they were all playing with her.
They were all playing with a reflection of her.
Or rather with that of her past,
or rather with that of the curse of her past,
and the past of all the Shashkas that came before her.
I ran away, I didn't want to face any other woman in the town.
And needless to say, I never had to do my experiment again.
Saturday, November 15, 2003