A whisk of dust rose as his foot landed aggressively on the ground. A profound silence surrounded him, heavier than the foilage. The birds and beasts might have scurried away, already sensing his anguish from miles away. Unaware of all this, he had wandered deep into the forest and instinctively stopped here.

In front of his moist, swollen eyes was the tree. He vividly remembered how a few years ago, sitting under that tree, he had opened his eyes and found her playfully dancing along his music. He would close his eyes, avoiding meeting her gaze when she would turn his way. But as soon as she was looking away, he would admire her shamelessly. When she had smiled, he was sure he had seen nothing more beautiful. It was so enchanting that when she had turned next, he forgot to close his eyes and their gaze met.

He shifted his gaze from the tree to her face. She, so young, playful and full of life, now lay lifeless in his arms. The ravages of a saree draped around her, stuck to places on her skin where the fire had burnt her most. A wave of sorrow rose again in his mind, which was numb till yet. His eyebrows knit together and fresh tears welled up, each drip pleading her to feel his agony and return from the stars.


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