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The Blue Umbrella
Neelu! Neelu!” Binya shouted.
She ran barefoot on the rocks, on the short summer grass, on the top of the hill, all the time “Neelu, Neelu!” She used to say Neelu-Neela-Neela was the name of a brown colored cow.
The second cow, which was white, was called Gori, which means fair.
He was fond of walking alone by the river or in the pine forest, and sometimes he came back by himself and sometimes he stayed away – almost deliberately, it seemed to Binya.
If the cows did not come home in time, Binya was sent to fetch them.
Sometimes his brother Bijju also accompanied him, but these days he was busy preparing for his exams and had no time to help the cows.
Binya liked to be alone, and sometimes she would let the cows lead her to a distant valley, and then they would all be late coming home.
The cows liked to have Binya with them, as she let them wander.
When he went too far, the badger pulled him by the tail. Binya was associated with the mountains, this part of the Himalayas known as Garhwal.
He was not afraid of dark forests and deserted hills. It was only when she was in the market-town, troubled by the crowd of the market, that she felt nervous and lost.
The town, located five miles from the village, was a delightful destination for tourists from all over India.
Binya rarely closed the blue umbrella. Even when she was at home, she would leave it open in a corner of the room.
Sometimes the badger closed it, complaining that it was in the way. She would open it again after a while. It wasn’t pretty when it was off.
Whenever Binya went out – whether to graze cows, or to fetch water from a spring, or to take milk to the small tea shop on Tehri Road – she carried an umbrella with her.
That piece of sky blue silk could always be seen on the hill.
Budhe Ram Bharose (Trusty Ram) kept a tea shop on Tehri Road.
It was a dusty, unpaved road. Once a day, the Tehri bus stopped near his shop and passengers got down to have hot tea or a glass of curd.
He also kept a few bottles of Coca-Cola; But since there was no ice, the bottles heated up in the sun and were therefore rarely opened.
He also kept sweets and toffees, and when Binya or Bijju had some coins left over, they would spend them at the shop. It was only a mile away from the village.
Rambharosa was surprised to see Binya’s blue umbrella.
“What do you have there, Binya?” He asked.
Binya waved the umbrella and Ram smiled trustingly.
It started raining and the sun appeared only for a short while. The hills turned green. Ferns grew on the walls and trunks of trees.
Huge lily flowers sprouted like leopards from the tall grass. A white mist coiled and uncoiled as it floated above the valley. Except for the leeches, it was beautiful weather.
Every day, Binya came home with some leeches tied on her bare legs.
As soon as a fingerful of blood came out, they fell of themselves, but you didn’t know they were on you until they fell; And then, later, the skin started getting very sore and itchy.
Some elders still believed that the bleeding of leeches was a cure for various diseases. Whenever Ram Bharose had a headache, he would apply a leech to his throbbing temple.
Due to continuous rain for three days, many small animals living in burrows in the ground were washed away in the water. Binya’s mother suddenly found the terrace full of rats.
He had to drive them out; They ate too much of his stored wheat flour and rice.
Biju liked to lift big stones to disturb the scorpions sleeping below. And the snakes came out to sunbathe.
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