Atishi

History is theirs whose language is the sun!’ said Stephen Spender in his evocative poem about an elementary school classroom in a slum, while urging the teachers and the system to be aware and alter the glaring gaps and marginalization of our societies.

The more I read about Atishi, the more I am convinced that she has embodied the spirit of this poem, which is freeing the lesser fortunate from their catacombs and giving them a level playing field.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or aren’t a resident of NCT, you would’ve definitely heard of #Atishi, a role model, and been completely bowled over by her conviction and capabilities.

Atishi emphasizes on dignity or self-worth that is the right of every child. The sheer apathy and disdain of the system sit heavily on the backs of progeny of the poorest, who grow up believing that they are children of lesser gods. Their drooping body language reflects their lack of self-belief.

It is tending to this dignity that has led to a systemic change in the way education is curated, assimilated, and imparted in Delhi’s Government schools.

Atishi, often called ‘the architect of educational reforms in Delhi Government Schools’ was born on 8 June 1981, to Vijay Singh and Tripta Wahi, two Delhi University professors. After majoring in history at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi in 2001, Atishi joined Oxford University, completing her master’s degree in History on a Chevening scholarship in 2003. Atishi, a Rhodes scholar, after graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford in 2005, came back to India to share her knowledge with the motherland.

Apart from teaching at Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh, Atishi spent seven years in a village in Madhya Pradesh, in organic farming and formulating progressive educational policies. As she worked with various NGOs, she got involved with the AAP movement. She has been a key member of AAP’s think tank, policy drafting, and as Mr. Manish Sisodia’s advisor, worked on the twin verticals of health and education. She currently represents Kalkaji in the Delhi Assembly.

In schools, what has worked is Atishi’s three pronged approach!

She insisted on cleanliness, inculcating a sense of belonging, and ownership amongst the students. The reimagining and overhauling of curriculum through introduction of ‘happiness hour’, mindfulness, and entrepreneurship has transformed the diffident children into confident and cheerful beings who believe they matter.

Involving parents in decision making via democratically elected School Management Committees has made the indifferent administration more accountable.

In addition to infrastructural reforms, champion and committed teachers are identified, celebrated, awarded yearly and sent for further training across the world.

The amazing numbers speak for themselves. In about 4 years, apart from a holistic re-hauling of the system, 21 new school buildings with modern facilities were constructed and 8,000 equivalent new classrooms were added.

Many children who have benefited from this revamping will grow up to be fruitful citizens and gainful additions to the country. As they say, educating a child is to turn those closing walls into open doors because an empowered child will change the world.

Atishi has worked closely with Mohalla clinics of Delhi, as her second area of focus is health of a girl child.

With her conviction, belief-system and implementation skills, Atishi continues to be a ray of sunshine in Indian politics.

AAP’s official page describes Atishi thus – ‘Her passion for mass politics and expertise in policy makes for a potent combination and a breath of fresh air in Indian politics.’

Politics is the only means to achieve large scale and long term change,” says Atishi. We at Incredible Women of India, couldn’t agree more.

I came on board at IWI in September 2020, since then have worked hard at bringing out stories that mattered, narratives that needed to be heard by you, me and us.
I’ve always wanted to chat with this Incredible Woman of India. I had a sliver of a chance and pursued it eagerly.
Thanks to my lucky stars @AtishiAAP said yes to be our guest of honour on our next IWI Talk.

We at IWI are celebrating ‘Women in Public Service’ the whole of December. It is our proud privilege to host Atishi, an activist, politician, educator, and MLA from Delhi, on our IWI Talk slated for 11th December at 6 pm.

#IWI#incrediblewomenofindia#WomeninPublicService#Atishi#womeninpolitics#womenempoweringotherwomen#womenpower

Do join us to celebrate this incredible woman from India! See You!

Music, my love!

One, two, three…I started counting the seconds as soon as the cries of the newborn baby rent the stuffy oppressive air!

How musical the cries sounded to my parched ears!

The midwife took her own sweet time in coming out to announce the good news that I had been waiting for ages. “It’s a girl!” She announced gravely, stretching her palm for the promised goodies. Instead, I hugged her and danced away.

I named my princess Vagdevi, after Goddess Saraswati. I dreamt day in day out, about the jam-packed concerts where she would enthrall and mesmerize the attendees with her enchanting vocal cords, the sheer range of her notes, while a proud me ran helter-skelter organizing the sold-out event.

My wife Sangeeta – quite a misnomer actually, not one musical note there – thought I was going berserk. Because our baby was merely months old! But I knew I was heading in the right direction. One had to plan in advance and prepare accordingly if greatness was sought.

As Vagdevi grew up, I understood why humans coined the adage, ‘Man proposes and God Disposes!’ How I hated it too! Vagdevi had a deep guttural tone, which made normal polite interactions feel like a full-throated battle afoot.

Even though all my senses suggested to the contrary, I still went ahead and engaged a music tutor, paying him full fee upfront. You should have seen his expression as Vagdevi attempted the seven notes. He not only reimbursed his fee, threw in a few hundred extra but also sent some well-meaning advice my way. “Stones can sing but not your daughter!” If only looks could kill! That fellow would have been blown to smithereens.

I didn’t give up hope. I searched far and wide, promised the teachers exorbitant amounts, and brought them home. Five minutes with Vagdevi, they all were ready to cry blue murder! I cannot fathom what about music that irked her, but so far a sweet docile Vagdevi immediately embraced her inner demons and sang lustily, enough to scare the living daylights off a grown man. I tried hard but Vagdevi was very trying.

Years passed. Vagdevi was now ten years old and I was on my hundredth tutor, when the pandemic hit us. With the lockdown extending, online classes became the new normalcy. I finally realized I had hit the jackpot. All I had to do was engage the services of an online teacher. I soon found a willing, gullible musician.

On an auspicious day, Vagdevi’s musical lessons began. We were staring at a record. The tutor was willing to continue after the first class! I was ecstatic while a very vexed Sangeeta was taking it out on the vessels, house-help, and more.

Soon we were on the 5th class.

It was unbelievable! I had to see the magic with my own eyes. As I tiptoed to Vagdevi’s closed door, I could hear a sonorous rendition of the seven notes. I was in the seventh heaven. I opened the door and peeped in.What I saw was enough to shake the ground beneath me.

Vagdevi was playing her video games, and her tutor was streaming another girl’s session on my computer. Bloody co-conspirators!

As I raved and ranted later, Vagdevi had just one thing to say. ‘If you love music so much, why don’t you learn?’

I don’t know what hurt me the most! Her belligerence or Sangeeta’s tittering. But it did have an iota of truth.Why didn’t I do so for so long? Anyways, why delay further on wasteful deliberations? I quickly became the humble seeker of the magic of music, working day and night on those tough notes, crests, and troughs.

Finally, I was ready with a few stanzas of “Virah!” That song from ‘Bandish Bandits’.

On my wedding anniversary, I serenaded my wife with an elegant rendition of that evocative song. Her relatives fell silent and an utterly offended Sangeeta stared at me teary-eyed. My mother-in-law pungently added, “You could have simply gifted her a gold necklace!

And I?

I’m singing to the cows in my backyard.Understanding they periodically reciprocate with a moo!

The Awakening

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I sit next to Gauri, the new calf, half mumbling, as she swats the flies off her back with her tail. “They are marrying me off Gauri! Already!” I whisper. “To a man who is as old as Amma.” Gauri nods. She understands everything I tell her. She also doesn’t think I am stupid like the rest of my family.

Amma says, I should be happy. At least I got an alliance. That too without much dowry. They wanted just a calf, to take me! Will you come with me Gauri?” 

Gauri nods again, this time softly. I think she is searching for her mother worried about the impending separation.

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I and Gauri set foot into an alien home, both alone and scared. We become each other’s confidantes. My new husband, though a man, turns out to be an animal in disguise. While Gauri, an animal by birth, is as humane as possible. As I often sit crying next to her, tending to my sores, I see tears in her eyes too.

Why is he so horrible to me Gauri? Doesn’t he see how young and frail I am? Why did Amma marry me off to this monster without any cross-checking? She used to call me her doll. Was I her burden just to be offloaded on any? He doesn’t even let me talk to Amma. I miss her terribly.

Gauri only moos in solidarity.

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Years crawl by. I’m an Amma now. Though I had to abandon my new-born girls, for that flag-bearer of a son. I was still sedated when the husband took the girls away. I shudder when I wonder what was done to them. I never had the courage to ask the husband. I didn’t want to face the ugly truth. Living in ignorance is safer. In hindsight, maybe they had it easier – rather than living in hell.

My routine is spectacularly simple. Rise in the morning, make food, feed the animals and the husband, send the son Shyam to school, work in the farm, wait for the night to fall, wash, cook, eat, wait for the husband to finish his carnal business and roll off while I grit my teeth and stare at the stars twinkling through the holes in the thatched roof, wash myself and fall off to a dreamless sleep.

This routine is so rammed into my barely registering system, that comforting tears have dried up.

Gauri has also become a mother. But in her case, the female progeny are welcomed with festivities.

I still talk to Gauri and she still moos, occasionally nods. But she has become busier and frailer tending to her growing flock.

Days roll by. Uneventfully. Heavily.

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One evening, the husband comes in agitatedly.

We have to safeguard our cows. Nothing is safe around here. We men, are teaming up and will be doing rounds of the village once the night falls. Give me my roti quickly.

As he takes a morsel, he throws the plate and beats the hell out of me.

Bloody woman, been married for so long, yet cannot rustle up a decent meal. Gauri is the only plus point of marrying you.

Taking his lathi he storms off. He doesn’t see that the lathi is blood tinged and that my forehead is bleeding.

After a while, I get up, wash my wounds, apply some turmeric on them and check on Gauri as instructed.

Gauri licks my hand. She knows. She understands.

Husband comes back after hours with his friends. They are all laughing and talking about teaching some wretched infidel, who was caught carting cattle, a bloody lesson. An example has been set and surely there wouldn’t be a repeat. Even if there is, this time there will be mayhem awaiting the scoundrels.

I shudder involuntarily.

The rowdy gang celebrates with Toddy. The friends leave soon. Husband demands freshly cooked food and sex.

I feed him broth and lie down. He hungrily attacks the food and me. This time I feel utterly violated and debased. I have slept with a murderer. That is a new low, if possible, in my utterly nondescript life.

As he snores, I pick up Shyam, my little satchel and run for my life.

Because the broth had a generous quantity of rat poison.

Before that, I cuddle Gauri saying “I have to leave you Gauri for I am just a wife. He will look after you well because you are the cow. This tyranny has to end now…I have tried to stop this monster from hurting more people. In doing so, if I end up dying, so be it. Just breathing, bearing, living is not enough…I have to do more. If I hope to live for some time I have to make a run for it. Destiny willing, we will surely meet someday.

She doesn’t moo. But she agrees.

What happens tomorrow?

That will depend on my catching the early morning train before anyone spots me.

I am Janki and this is my story…So far!

 

‘House-Wife’ Unplugged

promisesThe humble ‘house-wife’ has to be a pro at so many concepts to make sure her house runs like a well-oiled machine. Don’t believe me?

For example –

Chemistry

She can instinctively rattle off what spices go into which item and unnecessary condiments can ruin a culinary delight.

She easily manages to have a rapport with all the teachers and tutors or with the moms of class WhatsApp group

She can smell the chemistry or the budding romance of her brats.


Physics –

She very adroitly balances so many distinct personalities at home.

See-saws between twenty activities simultaneously.

She is the fulcrum. On the flip side, try applying force on her to get work done! You will just have to accelerate your way out of the tempest that could get unleashed.


Maths –

She knows what sells where at what rate.

Commodities pricing is her playground. Try beating her at this purchasing game.

Just watch her divide the food amongst family. No one remains hungry or unhappy. She also remembers every single mark her brat gets, using it to leverage as and when the situation demands.


Arts (Dramatics/History/Linguistics) –

The stories she can spin at bedtime for the moppets can put a Shakespeare to shame 

Her recounting of all the past misdemeanors to win an argument can put the Gyaani Google, out of business.

Words? Words are all she has, to make the heart melt!


EQ – By god, she knows how to make the maids stick and tick. That itself a herculean task to accomplish.

She knows when to pamper the child and when to bullshit the hell out of her brat. Can see through husband’s tall tales uttered to get out of a sticky situation.

IQ – To manage the above said, her IQ has to be stratospheric ain’t it?

Still any doubts?

So, husbands, you have some very big shoes to fill in.

Time to ramp up your act.

Lady, time to flaunt that killer smile and walk ten feet tall!

/author’s note – it is just a funny write-up, no agenda involved whatsoever – Amen */

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Kahani Ek – Teen Endings

 

Kahani #1

“Neha, I’ve chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone deeply”

“Girl, Mine works in a Fortune500 company”

“Daddy, mine says I’m his good fortune, has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my Raj will take you for a cruise on the Thames, for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my Rahul will take me to Tirthan and serenade”

“Neha, think about your FB profile after marriage!”

Neha thought deeply.

After fifteen days NehaRaj updated her FB, Instagram with pictures of her honeymoon in Europe with hashtags like #soulmate #truelove

Love is also being practical!

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Kahani #2

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Nainital and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into a Grad-School with hashtags like #LoveCanWaitStudiesCan’t  #LifeGoals

Love is also about loving self! Deeply!!

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Kahani #3

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Shimla and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha Rahul updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into an Airbnb with hashtags like #LoveMakesTheWorldBetter #LifeGoals

Because Rahul completes Neha! Neha treasures Rahul

Because True Love is a difficult treasure to find and hold onto!

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When Hemoglobin Bani Low

Around mid-March, this year, I started feeling breathless when I walked short distances or climbed a few stairs. I thought this must be due to the pollution in NCR. Afterall I did have weak lungs, thanks to the TB of glands that I suffered in 2013.

On April 5th, 2018, my novel #WhenPadmaBaniPaula debuted on Amazon.in

This was a dream come true for me. A newbie, with no formal training in writing, no literary connections whatsoever managed to churn out a solo novel in a short span of 4 years. I was delirious with joy and somehow my breathlessness and niggling pains didn’t seem to matter. Almost all the forums that I wrote for were very generous in their support for my debut novel.

As I got busy with the promotional activities, I developed a severe ache in my right hand and my back. I could barely lift my right arm. Most of the time I was on pain-killers. I grit my teeth and tried to march along and soon I barely managed to get any work done.

A dear friend Amar suggested physiotherapy. The doctor checked me up and suggested corrective measures. Shortly, I left for Hyderabad to meet with my parents.

First four days were spent catching up and eating. Soon I met with my mom’s doc for increasing aches. The moment he saw me, he ordered a slew of tests.

And then the biggie was dropped via the test results.

My Hemoglobin level was at 5.6 g/dl.

Hemoglobin levels (7 – 8 g/dL), according to new clinical guidelines from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) is treated as critical often needing a transfusion. Here I was merrily scamping around with a 5.6. Luckily for me, I tested negative for Sugar, therefore, Diabetes, Thyroid. My Liver and kidneys hadn’t been affected so far, BP was fine though pulse remained pretty high.

The Doctor said I now needed a Hematologist working with a reputed hospital for the next steps. But this new doctor had no appointments till July end. We called in another standby doctor who suggested immediate drip with a series of injections spread over 10 days. The whole thing was spiraling out. Panic was setting in. To think I had come to Hyderabad to chill, meet pals and do a round of bookshops selling #WhenPadmaBaniPaula!

As we were mulling our options, we turned lucky. Almost immediately, we received a call from the hospital. A slot had opened up as a patient had canceled his appointment.

The Hematologist suggested an immediate drip with an injection to absorb the medicines that would be pumped in. The top layer of my digestive tract was gone and hence I could stomach only barely seasoned food.

I still remember the horrible night after the drip. My system took time to this new medication. I had a fever, acute gas attack and my back had given away. I spent the whole night standing and howling loudly.  But in a couple of days, I was on a path to recovery.

All because of my family. My wonderful parents and my loving husband with the support of my Darling_Dotty (and Sonny’s calls). I couldn’t have recovered this fast otherwise. I owe it to them entirely.

Before I left Hyd, I met the Doc again with the tests redone.  My Hemoglobin level now was at 7.9 g/dl. I have to undergo tests every month for the next 4 and I am on medication for at least 3 months.

Now you might wonder dear reader why do I bore you with my medical troubles.

The good doctor said I had been functioning at 30% of my capacity. That boggled the living daylights of me. I could do more if I turned fitter.

Most of us Indian women have a terrible Hemo reading. It has become an accepted norm sadly. Our needs come last. Our health is tended to once the family has been looked after. A Healthy Us is paramount for the smooth running of our family and their greater achievements. Because we are the focal point of our tiny kingdom.

Take your tests today before it becomes dangerous. Invest in yourself. You owe it to self!

And today I climbed 6 flights of stairs and I was barely breathless. Very Happy!!

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Kadam Chhota, Change Bada!

Let me at the very outset confess that I wasn’t going to participate in this.

What could I add that hasn’t been said already? But the recent events in my own small sphere have been instrumental in my penning this post.

Scintillating_Sonny has been interning in a new city. A packed semester left him very little time to finalize a place to stay in his chosen city. Scintillating_Sonny was to stay with his seniors from college for a couple days and then move into his own quarters.

As parents of grown-ups, we are simply expected to stay back and watch the scary proceedings while flaunting a benign understanding smile, with tsunamis exploding in our stomachs. Plus transferring the money as and when required. The itch to set things right is so overpowering that your knuckles turn white because you are holding onto the chairs to control yourself and avoid saying ‘I told you! But you just don’t listen to me!“.

Thanks to GyaaniGoogle, we knew all about his trysts with destiny. I think my hotline with God worked because Scintillating_Sonny soon found a place to stay, where all the checkboxes were ticked. (Well Lord Supreme had to respond. I was buzzing him non-stop, 24/7)

During his stay with his seniors, Sonny made the breakfast every day. As luck would have it when he was vacating the seniors’ house, there were no flatmates present. My boy cleaned the entire kitchen, washed the dishes, restocked the fridge, cleaned up the bathroom too. Like a typical mom, I wailed away singing, “Badi nazo se pali Hamara Banna“. It was Hmm_Husband who brought back some needed clarity. “We should be proud of the way we have raised him. Self-sufficient and highly responsible. Take pride in that and stop moping! He is a survivor!

Bhale hi mere Kadam Chhota ho, yeh Change Bada hi hai!

Because Sonny is completely house-trained. Countless times he has rustled up food for the family while I was busy with my own work. Washed the dishes when the maid didn’t turn up.  Hmm_Husband has been the pusher here, saying everyone needs to contribute to the efficient running of a home.

Right now, in her summer holidays, Darling-Dotty is being trained to look after the morning routine of the kitchen.

As a family, we may not be bringing in the revolution. But we are making a small change in our own sphere, where there is no gender associated with chores and all four of us are equal entities making a beautiful whole.

In the FB group (SeniorSchoolMoms) that I admin, Moms query freely and frankly about the educational options ahead for their children and seek assistance for their teenagers’ troubles like cyberbullying, peer pressure, relationship issues.

 I am happy that I have been able to create a supportive and an idea-sharing platform where Moms could be free of harsh judgments.

My ‘Happy Hours’ are 5-7pm when I tutor teenagers of the condo. No topic is taboo enough. We discuss everything.

I often say that Rational Thinking should be the only religion because increased Misogyny is the vile by-product when misplaced machismo gets heralded as exemplary.

When we raise sorted, rational, fair children, unburdened by the narrow schisms of society, we would have contributed to nation building.

The change begins with me.

Let us keep walking.

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe nowFor every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.

When death comes calling

love3I had been very restless since afternoon.

Apparently, one’s sixth sense warns you when something terrible is about to happen. I couldn’t quite put my finger to it, but I knew, all I had to do was to wait for the Tsunami to unleash its expected destruction.

I haven’t made my introduction yet have I?

I am…Why go into names? I am one of those thousands of brides whose husbands have gone back to the war front to guard the nation or to war-torn nations to earn some much-needed moolah, after impregnating us.

So that I’m not alone in his absence. I have someone to tend to, attend to.

How many tearful and sleepless nights had been spent clutching the cold pillow for comfort?

How many festivals went by praying for his safety, while every inch of my core pined for his smile, the twirl of his moustache whenever he saw me eyeing his broad back surreptitiously?

One fateful day, he became a mere statistic for the government. They declared him, ‘missing in action’.

And my reality came crashing down and an ambivalent paradise became my escape.

The rest of the world got on with its business while I oscillated between prayers and pathos!

Was he there or not? Am I a wife or a widow? With every turn of the calendar, our memories together started getting hazier. A vigil was all I had. I barely remembered the timber of his baritone. He even smelt and looked different in my dreams.

I was angry with myself. I wasn’t even loyal or devoted to the idea of my missing-for-long-husband.

What had I become?

The mounting debts, growing kids, whining elders and reducing income had robbed me of my softcore.

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And the Tsunami came as silently as possible but with an unforeseen vengeance.

A clinical declaration by the powers-to-be said, my husband had been shot dead. And the body hadn’t been found yet.

But the mourning by all had started almost immediately.

The depressing wailing was soon seeping into the muddy crumbling walls whereas I just wanted to sleep.

A painless sleep. A dreamless sleep. A contented sleep.

I sat with the wailing mob, watching them beat their chests, watching the evening shadows make patterns on the closing-in-walls.

I thought of running away from this morbid courtyard but I still participated in the proceedings wordlessly.

My eyes were totally dry. Why wasn’t I crying?

My aching breaking body gave out a huge sigh of relief.

I realized I didn’t have to tend to his memories anymore.

I could exhale. I could breathe. I could restart from where I had paused my life. I could move on.

Oh, Lord! Why was I turning out to be this monster? Why wasn’t I grieving?

I then understood, because I loved him so, his death shouldn’t be my sentence.  He was in a better place and I was too.

I had punished myself enough by vacillating between hope and despair. Now I had a closure.

It was time to let go. It was also the time to cherish him and grieve too.

And I crumpled up and bawled away.

****************************************

39 lives!

And so many interconnected dependent lives

Pregnant Dreams and Hopes on pause

Now a mere mirage of 4 years of relentless, restless wait

Cruelly wiped off with a mere declaration.

Will there be closure? Even peace?

When you have a family to come back to You are one of the luckiest on Earth!

 

/* For those who lost their loved ones in the line of duty. A loss is tough to deal with but the uncertainty is even tougher*/

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?

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