Padmavati – The Queen tells her story

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Take a break, read something nice and enjoy a whole new world of literature!‘ Thus exhorts @Readomania.

I did so and read ‘Padmavati – The queen tells her own story‘.

This epic tale has been superlatively penned by Sutapa Basu, who has a thirty-year old professional career as a teacher, editor,  author, poet and publishing consultant. Sutapa Basu describes herself to be a compulsive bookworm and an irrepressible story teller.

Most of us have read this story in our childhood. When so much is known, yet unknown about Padmavati, how far can a spinner stretch the same, within the fettering limitations? That too, without letting the readers’ interest sag? Sutapa Basu manages this difficult feat, adroitly.  Her infinite writing experience, comes to the fore, in making this literary outing, a tour de force. The tale is peppered with intricate details. With its vivid imagery, the setting almost becomes a fourth protagonist along with the loving king and husband Rawal Rattan Singh and the depraved Khilji.

For example: ‘An oval emerald, snugly nestling in tiers of frothy white lace, floated in the crushed silk of turquoise seas. It was the enchanted island of Singhaldweep, off the eastern coast of Bharatdesh.’

‘The fort of Chittor was laid out on its escarpments. Roughly oval in shape, it looked like a fat fish.’

The sensitivity with which Jauhar has been handled, gives the reader, an ample hint of what to expect.

In the centre of all the chaos, only one figure remained serene and motionless. As the gold, saffron and blue blaze made rings around her, rising higher and higher, slowly enclosing the New Queen, she was like a sculpture, absolutely still. Nothing seemed to touch her; not the torment, not the grief, not the fear. It defied all principles of logic. Where did a girl find such strength, not garnered even by the meditation of ascetics, to tolerate the torture of being burnt alive? Her dark silhouette, in lotus pose, palms folded, was a sublime sight.

Though Sutapa says her novel is a work of fiction,  Padmavati’s psyche has been explored so deeply, that she breathes out as a gentle and thoughtful soul.

We live in troubled times, where anything and everything could be termed as offensive and an affront to dignity. That’s why it makes more sense to read this, where the writer stretches at her creative horizons and yet remains true to the saga, adding a veneer of intellect, blended with divine grace to Padmavati.

Therein lies the beauty of this tale.

As Sutapa Basu says,

‘The jauhar took hardly a few minutes to extinguish Padmavati’s living mortality but gifted her with indelible immortality; a significant niche in the history of India. Time could not dim her charisma nor age wither her stunning beauty. For centuries to come, the supreme sacrifice of this legendary Queen of Chittor would attain a place of undying pride and honour in the hearts of all her country’s people.’

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The tale is narrated to Mrinalini, a cynical journalist who doesn’t believe the stirring saga – Will she come away convinced?

This question forms the crux of this absorbing tale. 

Wouldn’t you want to do the same? Find the Answers?

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Look Outside Your Window

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Dear Diary,

I am sitting near the window of my room and watching the traffic opposite. I’m waiting for mummy to come home. She went to the hospital today morning. I will tell you why.

As you know, mummy has been becoming fat.

Her tummy is growing too. So much that, she cannot see her toes also. Now I can paint her nails, as I like. She sits on the bed and holds her back. She is in pain, you see. Poppa gives her a nice massage. But only after closing the door. Poppa says, both grannies will feel bad, if they see. I don’t understand why? Mummy never closes the door when she presses Poppa’s back. Then Granny feels very happy!

I see a car coming in. It is not Mommy. It is the Aunty upstairs. She waves at me, I smile.

I’m hungry but I don’t want to eat. Didi made pasta for me. But without  Mommy’s stories, food tastes so bad!

I told you Na, Mummy went to the hospital today. She told me, she will get a new baby with her to play with me. I was so happy. I told Mommy, I will be a good girl and share all my toys with the new baby. I asked Mummy, if she will bring back a girl or a boy. Poppa smiled and said “Surprise”.

I like surprises.

From my window, I see Golu jumping in his garden. Golu likes playing with water. His house is decorated and he is dancing with Bosky, his dog. It is Golu’s birthday today. But he said, he will have the party on Sunday. I said ,”Ok and I will get the new baby too”. Golu’s Mommy laughed so much and kissed me. She gives such wet kisses.. But I don’t tell her that. She will feel bad.

Bosky reminds me of Granny. Granny doesn’t like Bosky. In the afternoon, when I was sitting here, trying not to cry, I saw our car coming in. I ran outside. Poppa had come to drop the Grannies. He hugged and told me, Mummy will come tomorrow with the new baby. He then went to collect Mummy’s clothes.

Both Grannies were so happy. They smiled and said, “ Pari, you have a brother! Thank God, not a sister.”  They went into kitchen to make kheer.

I didn’t understand only. Why ‘Thank God?’

A sister would have played with my toys na. Now we have to buy new boy toys.

There, I see Golu crying. He has fallen down and Bosky is licking his face. Let me go and help my friend.

I will tell you tomorrow about the new baby.

Bye for now.

Pari

 

30 Minutes Timer To Just Write

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

30 Minutes timer to write

To write whatever comes to your mind, without the worry of corrections and paying attention to grammar. It is a cardinal sin, one part of me screams.

This from someone who wrote -Florence Nightingale was a promiscuous lady ( I thought this was some kickass word ).

About 4 years back, as i struggled with a major disease, i started writing these lil daily snippets on facebook. Then gingerly ventured into story writing. One fine day, a mail came asking for permission to print a story of mine – Awright! No one fools in June right? That is an April Trick. Turned out the mail was as true as sunrise.

One thing led to another and now i feel incomplete unless i write something and unleash on the poor unsuspecting world. How they react to it? Well that is the thing about fb. It does announce to the world when so and so become friends but when someone unfriends you, you wouldn’t even know. So in the comforting bliss of my ignorance, I flood the cyber-space, that they are eagerly lapping it up (shh- even if you are not, don’t say it!)

But these days, there is a ritual to be followed once you decide to write your quota of 400 words.

  1. Charge your Mac
  2. Check into fb – shower the like/love on posts you love and like ( yeah it is the other way round) – hoping that you will be showered with similar love. Fingers crossed.
  3. Now that Amazon Prime has been picked at 11:30 pm on the last day of the 499/- offer, check if any new shows/movies have been added. Curse self for not seeing House of Cards completely, before they spaced out Kevin.
  4. And frown at web.whatsapp with its crazily mushrooming groups and the ‘Hello it is a beautiful Morning! You are super special! Go seize the day!” pings. Everyone gets the same message okay? So everyone is unique and special no? Aila! First of all, Mine was a terrible Sunday where i suffered the whole day with the knots in my stomach – Wisdom tooth as is expected is coming horizontally (that explains everything!) and I stare at a root canal thrown in as a bonus. Okay I love ‘Buy one- Get one Free’ But this is bumper bonus!  Plus the washing machine creates Madras Flash floods in the kitchen the moment I switch on. The service engineer cannot come because his stock of gasket has been eaten by rats! I swear i am not making up anything. While I lie groaning holding teeth, husband and daughter cook. Something positive did come out of the mayhem.
  5. And on cue son calls. He was always a nut, now he is a health nut. He starts off with a grandiose ‘I am disappointed with you’ Oh yeah that means I am top notch mom. But this time because we haven’t kickstarted our health fix. He then proceeds to give a dressing down to hubby and daughter at the skewed gender bender. They should be more self-sufficient! Have you ever been in liquid oxygen? The type that can not kill you yet wont let you die – same thing I feel – don’t know whether to be exhilarated or cry in agony.
  6. Finally to actual writing. Funnily, without fail, always my daughter takes out her ukulele and belts out top 50 chart busters in UK and USA too. Though the expenses of her music classes now seem to be well worth it – there are times i want to be like that uni-dimensionally angry poppa of secret-superstar – You know, Ukulele’s strings magically get &*^&&. But I know what hell will await me, if that were to happen. Did we forget that husband? He chooses that very moment to share something that happened in Tunisia or those seminary innocuous news bits but will be counted tomorrow as the footprints that changed the world. I nod, I also listen though sometimes, I just hear.
  7. Finally peace! But by now, I have quite forgotten what I was going to write. So i start the loop again – Now you know why I am an eternal Work In Progress? 
  8. Phew I have been writing for  the past 28 minutes continuously- Just whatever came to my mind.
  9. This is the unedited, first draft as the rules demand. I started at 10:30pm and at 11:00PM 😀
  10. So it is a Yes I Can – There is Hope and tomorrow is a better day! Amen
  11. Pens down

Dear Beti

sampu n I

Dear Daughter,

My heart swells with pride, as I see you bloom every single day.

I then, want to open the very world to you, with it’s myriad opportunities. I hope that, you get to live out every single dream of yours, unfettered by the rigid parameters of this still regressive society.

I so want to set you free, but the breaking news about the brutes around, puts the brakes on my enthusiasm. So I enroll you, my delicate darling into self-protection classes, placating myself that I have somewhat prepared you, for the goons around. But have I really?

You prance around in shorts, often showing your legs off. I smile in indulgence and an inner voice begins to grow louder.

Let her not get used to this skin show! Cover her. Dress her in sedate salwar kameez. The earlier she starts, the better. She will be conditioned.”

I then smother that irritant and join you in the revelry. Honey, I send a silent prayer heavenward, asking for similar indulgence from the carping crowd of prehistoric times.

One day, you will finish college, find work and make a go at this, to be super successful. That will surely entail long hours and obviously, to recharge your batteries, some days you will let your hair down. Let us hope, by that time, the thinking all-around would have progressed, beyond the usual mundane and suffocating “Kids shouldn’t be alone outside, after dark! What terrible parenting!!”

Your brother says, “Make her strong enough to protect herself. She shouldn’t need anyone else.” How true really!

So, some of the sensible gifts, that we as parents, can give you are

  1. Letting you be yourself and not stifling you, according to others’ kosher parameters
  2. Making you self-sufficient and super strong
  3. Standing by you – Always! Non-Negotiable
  4. Respecting your choices
  5. Holding onto you, yet setting you free

So live your life, dear child, while we abide with you. Sky is the limit.

 

Last Day in the City

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You could call me Sita, Jahnavi or Vaidehi but the narrative remains the same!

It was my last day in the city of Ayodhya.

Raghav had asked me to leave, knowing fully well that I was carrying his progeny. How easily had his manhood been threatened! By mere hearsay!!

This incomprehensible diktat, broke my faith, my spirit. As my husband, wasn’t he duty bound to protect his five months old pregnant wife? Raghav reckoned that his duty as the king, to be more important than his duty as a husband. By doing so, he might have been eternally deified as the ideal flag bearer of dharma, or as someone who exemplified and taught detachment to his citizens. But was he now, the ideal or coveted life partner?

His need to sustain his thus far unblemished reputation was greater than my needs. Didn’t he realize that by choosing so, he had pierced my tender heart?

Or was it my fault, that my attachment to him, gave him the raw power to hurt my soul?

How many times was I required to prove my purity, my chastity? Probably, as many times as the number of his subjects!

As I sat watching the helpers pack, I couldn’t even cry. The hot scalding anger, refused to flow out as comforting tears. They could pack my clothes, my jewellery. Could they pack in my reminiscences too?

Or my youth spent in the shadow of the epitome of human virtues? My unwavering belief in my man? My eternal love, in spite of it all?

My bravery, my vulnerability, my dreams, my fears or my hopes?

Why didn’t words of anger spew out, questioning the skewed justice of it all?

Why didn’t anyone feel that they owed me an answer, at the very least? Why this abject all-around acceptance of this harshness? They all simply averted their eyes and went about their business. Closing your eyes or your senses to the injustice meted out, didn’t quite make it disappear!

Why couldn’t I say, when I was served my sentence and pronounced guilty, “Raghav, May I be allowed to ask you the same question? Can you honestly promise me that, you didn’t think about another paramour, even for a second?

Those searing questions stayed put, buried deep inside and all I was left, was this gnawing ache. Was that due to the conditioning of generations of us – ‘the so-called fairer sex’? To accept and to endure, without any questions asked? Did I do myself any favor by staying silent?

I am tired, and I am fed up. I don’t want to fight anymore.

Still, something deep inside me cried – I couldn’t give up now. I had to keep on fighting. This fight was not about ME alone. It was about, what is right and what constitutes as fairness!

As I looked around my palatial quarters, the gilded cage of righteousness, I heard some of the staff wondering, if I could cope with the harsh jungles. Especially in my present condition. Would those be more constricting than these opulent, uncaring walls?

Soon, it was time to go. I searched for the same affection that I carried in my heart, in Raghav’s eyes. I barely found any.

I then surveyed around, took a deep breath in, filled my senses with my fragrant memories and walked out with my head held high, to embrace the unknown newness with open arms and innate dignity.

Because, sometimes, walking away from injustice is also ensuring justice to self.

I exhaled.

I lived again.

To write another enthralling chapter!

And that, would be my story!

Author’s note : Narrative changes often due to changing social mores. Only when faced with adversity does one find strength to move on. If she had found the strength to question, the story would have been different across generations.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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I shall go on

#Blogathon #ALetterToHer,

#AFightAgainstDomesticViolence  

 

Khaab ZNMD

Dearest AJ,

It is me, your long forgotten self-confidence. It has been a while since we last met, isn’t it?

Firstly, isn’t it strange to pen a letter to self? Sometimes, when the outer world smothers you, emasculates you, you need your dormant, deep-hidden, inner-self to find voice and tell you  to hang on, to inhale and exhale. To live beyond the simple day-to-day surviving.

Now, walk to the nearest mirror and take a long look at self. Do you recognize this tired, listless, lifeless reflection? Well I don’t!

Was this the same wondrous visage that went about chasing rainbows, spread life, laughter wherever she went? How many tears have those sunken eyes shed, to lose all their luster? Why are those dry, cracked lips curved down? Where has that sunshine smile disappeared?

Dig deep into your soul and pull out that lost ‘You’. You were the one who was going make the impossible, possible. Find the strength honey, to believe, to breathe, to move on and to march ahead.

You have to remember the promises you made to yourself. Now make them a reality. You owe that much to yourself.

Rise up like the Phoenix from the very ashes of your present, to soar high and paint a much brighter tomorrow.

The pain is searing I agree! The humiliation is beyond endurance and you blame yourself for all that has gone wrong in this relationship!

What will others say?

No dear, no one gets to have an opinion on your life, unless they are paying the bills. On hindsight, not even after that! 

So walk out before even you forget that you exist. No doubt, it is going to be a Herculean task to rebuild but we both are going to do so, brick by brick.

Do read Meena Kandasamy’s latest novel, When I Hit You  http://bit.ly/Meenabk2.  It is an account of an abusive marriage and it forces one to examine the notions of domestic abuse.

I will be waiting for your resurgence.

Till then,

Yours truly

AJ

 

A Dog’s life

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-12-26-08-amThis post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda’.

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It is almost midmorning. I haven’t seen Momma yet.

Daddy had left for office, at his usual time, giving me a mighty kick, on his way out.

Momma’s bedroom door is still tightly shut. Seasoned as I am, I don’t disturb her. But my sixth sense says, she is Ok, just hurting. A lot! But that is nothing out of the ordinary.

Suddenly the door opens, Momma comes out, scoops me up and mutters incoherently.

“Come on Sheru, let us go and indulge ourselves in a much needed mani-pedi session.” She then bundles me up and starts the car.

I look at her. Behind those gigantic glares, I know that her eyes would be puffed up, carefully camouflaged with eyeliner and mascara. Her quivering lips sporting a blood red, start muttering again.

“You know Sheru, he isn’t a bad guy. He provides for me.  He never hits me. He just loses his temper and says vile things. But that is stress you know, all his work makes him volatile!”

I say nothing. The incongruity of calling a pint sized me, a Sheru, hasn’t hit her so far. When will she see the truth that stares at her, right in the face?

My mother, Moti, Momma’s earlier pet, used to tell me that Momma was the life of her family, raised as a princess. Momma’s father and Daddy’s father were business acquaintances who wanted to take their friendship to the next level. They solemnized  their children’s marriage, in a grand ceremony, which became the talk of the town. Daddy wanted to marry someone else but when his father threatened disinheritance, quietly married Momma. He now takes his anger out on Momma.

But what I fail to understand is why does she take it? What terrible fate is she afraid of? Does the fear of unknown make one settle for known misery? Why does she not leave him and go back to her parents’ place? I remember, Momma talking to her parents, who suggested to her to work on her marriage, use her charms, win Daddy over. He was a catch you see. Daddy lost his cool at times, that’s it. No big deal! Daddy was to be Momma’s only goal.

After this sermon, vivacious Momma had become very quiet.

Her parents would often send costly gifts to fill up her home.

Instead, they could given her the needed courage to walk out and rebuild her life.

I am an animal, I can understand this much. Why don’t humans then?

And they call mine, a Dog’s life!

I am loyal. So, I go silently with Momma to all her mani-pedi sessions, hoping one day, she will wake up and walk away from this mess and find her destiny.

Till then Wuff Wuff!