Every morning Sakina Bibi puts a thread around the huge Banyan tree outside the Laxmi mata temple. Though it is primarily a Hindu site of worship, but the people of Dharampur believe that whoever ties a white thread around this old tree, get their wishes granted, sooner or later. This is why everyone, the rich, the poor, the locals as well as people from adjacent towns and villages come here to tie the thread, making their earnest wishes.
Sakina Bibi, now a septuagenarian, was once known far and wide for her beauty and grace. They say that the son of a rich Hindu Landlord from an adjacent village had fallen in love with her intoxicating beauty and had even married her. No one had ever seen both of them together though. She was from a poor Muslim family and he, the eldest son of a Hindu Landlord who owned huge plots of land, a marriage between the two, especially all those years ago, was absolutely unthinkable!
But then, the older folks Dharampur speak in hushed tones about how Sakina bibi was seen many times those days wearing Sindoor and red bangles. Whenever she went out, she would instantly pull the pallu of her saree and try to hide the red streak that adorned neatly across the parting of her hair. Everyone knew that she was married, it was like an open secret. But she was never socially accepted by that man. Few thought of her as a brave woman who lived life on her own terms, few thought of as a fool of the highest order to have wasted her life on a man who would never give her any social sanction. Salim miyan, her poor old father requested her daughter to marry many times and he managed to get few good matches as well, but Sakina would have nothing of it.
The ailing Salim Miyan had a sudden heart attack one day and left for his heavenly abode leaving behind his small tailoring shop in the local bazaar, a little hut, a charpoy and his only daughter, Sakina.
Though she never bore any child, Sakina bibi had never married again. Her father was a very good tailor who would stick clothes to perfection. Sakina had learnt the skill very well early on and that is what she did for a living for the rest of her life.
It is said that this man, the rich landlord’s son had married later and had two children with his wedded wife. Sakina, they say, knew everything about it. In the initial years, her wellwishers coaxed her to get married to some decent guy and set up a family, but later on, seeing her utter reluctance and blindfolded devotion towards that man, people stopped broaching the topic to her slowly, over a period of time.
One day, Sakina bibi was working inside her small shop as she heard a young man shouting in the middle of the bazaar asking for everyone’s attention for making an announcement. As more people gathered around him, he said in a loud voice ‘Chandrapratap Singh, the eldest son of Raja Vir Pratap Singh, has been missing since last night from their haveli (Palace). If you people find him or see him anywhere, please come to the haveli and inform us. We would give Rs. 5000 cash prize for the same. Here is his picture. I am going to paste it across all corners of the area. Thank you.’
Soon after, he and his people started pasting the picture all over.
Sakina’s heart skipped a beat. Where has he gone, how can he be missing all of a sudden? She thought to herself. She went breathless for sometime.
Sakina bibi was seen dishevelled and unkempt, for days after that incident. She would be unmindful most of the time. Someone who was so good at her job, would often put the wrong stitches and make clothes totally unfit to wear. She would blabber things to herself and the suddenly be quite. She would hardly eat and slowly became a thin frame, with hollow, empty eyes. One’s heart went out at the sight of her.
Many years passed after that, and Sakina Bibi grew older by the day. Those emerald eyes had lost their lustre by now, they struggled to find out the contours of the stiches through the extra thick glasses that she wore.
One didn’t get to see much of her now. She opened her shop early in the day and closed it quite early too. She didn’t speak too much to people as either, neither did she go out anywhere other than her home and shop.
However, one saw her every morning tying a white thread around this old Banyan tree.
From the time her ‘man’ went missing, everyday, without a fail, she has been tying this thread for over 40 years now.
No one in Dharampur village has ever seen anybody from Chandrapratap Singh’s family to tie a thread around the tree.
It’s been so many years now, who knows where he may be, who cares? But Sakina ties the thread every single day of her life. What does she pray and for whom? For a person who couldn’t give her any social sanction? For a man who lived his life away from her with his own family, never caring to know much about her? What really bound her to him? Can love really be so selfless? Is it possible to love someone like this with an unshakable faith made stronger by the day like those bundles of white threads put together?
Well, who knows what goes on between the hearts and minds of two people. It is the beyond our periphery.
It is 4 am now and as the morning sun slowly emerges from the sky, dispelling the darkness of the night gone by, Sakina Bibi walks slowly towards the old Banyan tree. She will tie the thread around it now. The thread of faith, of hope, of love.