The Jasmine Flowers

The Jasmine Flowers

 

Like any other day in the college, Arun delivered his lectures and the class was dispersed. As he was about to leave the college premises, all of a sudden, he was surrounded by a sweet fragrance, and he wondered where it came from. He then heard a shout from behind, “Excuse me, Sir”. He turned back and saw a young girl standing, with fresh Jasmine flowers neatly tied up to her hair. He could not recognize her, so he asked, “Yes please!”.

“I am Leela, one of the students from your class”.  She spoke.

He said, “But, I know all my students. Am afraid I never noticed you before”.

She then said, “Due to some personal problems, I missed a few of your classes. Sir, I need your guidance. Will it be okay if you could come to my home and teach me?”.

He replied, “I am sorry my child, I don’t give home tuition to my students”.

She appeared to be disheartened and looked at him with anguish. Something was in her eyes that convinced him. She was about to leave but he stopped her and replied, “Okay, wait. Where is your house located? I can come to your house and teach you only when all my lectures are over”. She smiled and expressed her gratitude.

The next day, while giving lectures, Arun was again surrounded by the same sweet fragrance. He noticed Leela sitting in the last row of the class. She had fresh jasmine flowers neatly tied to her hair. After finishing the lectures, he packed his bag, left the class. As he reached the gate of the college, someone shouted from behind, “Excuse me, Sir!” This time he recognized the voice, it was Leela.

“Sir, may I join you? My house is on the way towards the park”.

Both of them walked towards her home and through the conversation, Arun could make out that Leela was a bright child. She wanted to pursue further studies and make her parents proud. He was happy to know that his efforts won’t go to waste for such a bright student.

Soon they had reached a big bungalow that was adjacent to a neatly trimmed park. Leela pointed to it, “This is my house.” Arun noticed that the house was well lighted. She opened the door. They entered a big hall with beautiful decor. Beside the hall was another room that looked like a small library. She looked at him and said, “My Dad is fond of reading books. It’s his collection”.

Arun didn’t want to waste any time on this. He said,” Should we commence with the studies, my child? And you don’t have to wait for my other classes to get over. I will come to your place on my own.” She nodded her head. After a while, a maid came and served a cup of tea with some biscuits. After serving, she left.

From the next day onwards, he started coming to her house by himself. This routine continued for about a month. Every day after finishing his lecture classes, he would go to Leela’s place and teach her.

One day after teaching Leela, on reaching his apartment, Arun realized that the door keys were not with him. He told himself, “I must have dropped the keys at Leela’s house”. Since it was late evening, he decided not to go to her place and somehow, managed to stay overnight at his friend’s house. He thought of collecting the keys the next day early morning before going to the college.

He woke up early morning and headed straightaway to Leela’s house. On reaching near to her house, he noticed that the once clean beautifully trimmed park was filled with dry leaves and bushes. It appeared as if no one had stepped into the park for a long time. Also, the beautifully painted bungalow appeared shabby with broken, dusty windows.

He was shocked to see the pathetic condition of the house. He found an old man was sitting outside the gate. He approached the old man and asked, “What happened to this house and the park? Until yesterday everything was good. Anyways, can I meet Leela? I am his teacher.”

The old man frowned at him, “This house is abandoned for ages now. I am the caretaker.”

Arun said, “But mister, I have been coming to this house daily to teach a young girl – Leela, my student”.

Shocked, the old man said, “Leela and her parents died in a car accident ages back. She was a wonderful child!”

Arun was stunned to hear, and shouted, “I don’t believe it. Yesterday only I had come in this house to teach her. If you don’t mind, can I go inside and check?”

The old man co-operated and allowed Arun inside the house.

While walking inside Arun noticed that the small library with filled with dust and spider webs. He then came across, the empty cup of tea which was still lying at the table with a few stale jasmine flowers. Before he could have a look at the flowers he stumbled on the floor and noticed the bunch of keys lying on the floor. He was now very confused.

Without wasting any more time, he rushed to the college, to confront Leela but could not find her in the class. He called a few of the other students and asked them, “Where is Leela? She used to sit in the last row of the class”. One of the students replied, “Sorry Sir. We don’t know anyone by that name and the last row was always empty”.

He could guess what might have happened but he wished to see Leela once, though he had doubts that Leela would meet him. But after finishing his lectures, as he was about to leave the college premises, once again he could notice the same sweet fragrance. Soon he saw Leela standing with fresh jasmine flowers tied up to her hair. He rushed to her, narrated everything and demanded an explanation but Leela stayed quiet.

He then pleaded, “Leela my child, please tell me the truth.”

She looked at him with a smile, there was something in her eyes, he did not ask her further and smiled,… slowly she dissolved in the air!

 

Sweta Gupta

 

 

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