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!

 

A dream to remember

 

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

Author’s note :  It is actually surreal that this week’s Write Over the Weekend (WOW) prompt, asks us to tell BlogAdda, about a dream that has stayed on, in our subconsciousness. A dream to remember, that often makes us sit up and wonder about it’s mysteriousness. I had this dream about a year back.  I wrote this note to self, all about it, lest I forget the dream, with passage of time.

I reproduce the same  here-

It was one of the most difficult cars to navigate. A mother-of-pearl-white, gigantic Ambassador. That too for a person like me, who did not know how to drive! Against my volition, I was just thrust into the driver’s seat and asked to drive…Just like that!

The controls were all wired terribly wrong. A bus-like gear system, clutch else where, an accelerator in place of a brake and adding to this chaos was the incessant traffic. Enough to break a person.

To my utter delight, I coped beautifully. I drove slowly, avoided collisions and managed to park in a beautiful, lush green colony with happy faces and gamboling children.

Alas, the dark night came in sharply. It was time to head back. The evening traffic and T intersection seemed impossible to overcome.  I then realized with a start, that I was in the rear passenger seat.

A pristine-white clad man with the most benevolent smile, was in the driver’s seat. He navigated with dexterity and cautioned me about an open door in the front, next to the passenger seat, where my first born was sitting.  As I sat transfixed, able to comprehend the gravity of the situation but simply unable to take any action, the pristine-white clad man shut the door for me and continued cruising along.

I saw that there was a steering wheel, clutch, accelerator, brake, in front of me, attached to the driver’s seat.  I tried to use them, to no avail. As the dream ended, the meaning of this entire sequence, hit me with a startling clarity.

All along, I had thought, it was I, who did the driving but all I had, were the dummy controls!

It was all along He!  And Him alone, who steered, navigated the course of my life and who watched out for me!!

Especially when the troubles hit me, making me paralyzed with fear.

So I could hope to soar, with renewed spirit and vigor, with a strong belief that I wasn’t alone in this journey of life!

 

A Valentine Tale

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Aslesha looked around her office. Somehow there was too much red all around, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.

Aslesha hated February. It was the month that had given her love and also had asked so much of her.

Aslesha instinctively looked at the date and shuddered.

14th Feb, was just a week away. It took her a whole year to recover from the effect of this day. Year after year. A never ending emotional ringer

For, it was the day, when Amir had proposed to her and years later, on the very same day, she chose to pull the plug on him.

Amir And Aslesha, were as different as chalk and cheese. She was a beauteous brainy. He was a brawny charmer. They were classmates at the university. Amir was struck by the thunderbolt as soon as he saw her. He pursued Aslesha ardently. Aslesha came from a very conservative background and she knew that religion would be the deal breaker. She tried her very best to keep away but soon succumbed to his wooing. Two years whirred past, while they became closer and closer.

They both acquired their degrees and were now ready to take on the world. They decided to get hitched. All hell broke loose in their respective families. Hastily alternate alliances were settled after threats of suicides and mass killings.

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One fine day, Amir and Aslesha escaped to the Maximum city, after tying the knot and disappeared into the pulsating crowd. It was the 14th of Feb. They both found jobs and set up a small loving home. Soon Shehzyada, their son, arrived on the scene. Everything was just perfect though Families had disowned them

They say,  life comes in waves of crests and troughs.

One evening, Amir wound up his work quickly and was on his way home. He was already running late. They were to watch the latest flick and then plan about their 5th wedding anniversary.

He never made it home.

Aslesha collapsed in a heap when that dreaded call came. His parents came running but her parents hadn’t forgiven her yet. All called her vile names and said she was bad luck personified, who claimed  her husband’s life.

The doctors soon gave up. There was no question of reviving him. It was just a matter of time – Unplugging the ventilator and seeing the flatline.

Yes, some of his vital organs could give a breath of life to some very needy. It was her decision to take and her’s alone.

As her world came crashing around her, as her relatives, who were supposed to be her strength, castigated her, as they threatened to take away her prince, she became rock solid and took the toughest decision of life. She made Amir live on, with her supreme sacrifice. She saw hell on earth while she became the angel to many.

It was 14th Feb. She then rose like a phoenix from hers ashes. Work consumed her and her son became her strength.

It was the constant ringing of her phone that finally brought Aslesha into the present.

It was Aaron on the other side, confirming their dinner plans, for the evening.

Aslesha, wearily made her way towards her pad. Sheh, her now strapping son, was in his room, studying.

How was your day? Have your dinner on time. I’m going out..”Aslesha said.

Aaron?” Sheh asked. Aslesha merely nodded.

Mom, what are you going to do about his proposal?

Sheh!!” Aslesha was angry now.

Mom, you deserve your share of happiness. Put your past behind. We have had so many discussions on this. You cannot let the poor guy hang around forever. You will never see those days again. Don’t hurt so much. Embrace the joy that Aaron promises you!

Sheh! You are talking beyond your age. I do not appreciate this. And..

Mom, just give it another thought. Okay?” Aslesha fell silent as Sheh got up to hug her and comfort her.

Aslesha then went for her dinner. Loving Aaron was waiting patiently. He popped the question again.

Aslesha, My love for you, is enough to see us through. I won’t leave you. Ever! It is a promise. Abide with me.” Aaron held her hand as she wept.

Aslesha finally took a leap of faith and a shot at embracing life again.

Aaron and Aslesha got married with Sheh being the best man.

It was the 14th of Feb. marriage3

Let us Mock, Stalk & Quarrel

15111089_1167050083364261_1330858925931304118_oA wikipedia would define Satire as a genre of literature in which the vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings of individuals, corporations, government, or society are held up to ridicule, ideally hoping for an improvement. A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, it’s greater purpose is constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

We are seeing some solid society churning. In such times, a true writer uses the pen to echo the turmoil around.

When the mere wax figures  masquerade as role models to the ignorant and fawning believers, 

when goddesses mull over festering sores of deep-rooted gender inequalities, 

The domestic drivels or the mismanaged familial relationships or the idiosyncrasies of our daily humdrum,

When knowledge acquisition suffers a collateral damage as you go chasing degrees, 

When even after 70 years of independence, an MP has no Locus Standi, 

When a death in search of fame doesn’t even merit a footnote in the daily rags,

When the age old biases exist to debilitate and stunt,

When it becomes a herculean task to find a noble prince or a malleable maid,

When Gods are slotted, reservations are resisted and blood needs to be proved,

When it is not fair to be dark and the government becomes our matrix,

When miracles or god-(wo)men defy logic or a tail becomes a frenzied tale …

It is then time to get to work, wield that acerbic pen and whip up a torrid storm.

These are the prevalent, pertinent issues, screaming for a platform to be showcased so that there could be a change, albeit slowly.

There are two ways to go about this.

Either one pontificates or playfully delivers a sledgehammer.

The second option is always,  in my humble opinion, more effective because it softens the blow while making one chuckle and also circumspect.

Sarcasm always works because humor helps you cope, think and if possible…act!!

Edited by Indrani Ganguly, Mock, Stalk and Quarrel, a collection of satirical stories,  pokes fun at all the seemingly insurmountable, deep-set issues of today.

Short story format is apt for such an endeavor as the restless world around expresses the feelings in 140 characters. Everything is insta and happening!

So short and snappy is catchy.

It is our way of wanting a tangible change.

Together, we could and we did.

I’m extremely proud to be associated with this ‘Must-Read-One-Of-A-Kind-Satirical-Anthology’ and invite you to pick your copy at this URL.. 

http://amzn.in/7AQZ2VW

Abide with us -The Magical 29 

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On a Smoggy Day, When Cash turned to Ash

Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanir Bhavati Bharata

Abhyutthanam Adharmasya Tadatmanam Srjamya Aham

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion — at that time I descend Myself

It was the same old chaotic status quo in the Great Indian Ancient-Modern Democracy.

After the day made it’s believers break their bones to earn their daily bread, Night had quickly descended upon this dichotomy of a nation.

Some villages welcomed it with flickering candle lights and while the hustling and bustling metros brought in a kicking night life.

Nation’s Conscious Keeper and Primary Carper was at it, screaming his guts out on the satellite waves, demanding that the nation needed to know at that very breathtaking instant about some double hashtagged designer distress.

The men in various families while wolfing down the hot yummy food cooked by their wives, vigorously and vociferously nodded in agreement to this rabble rouser’s bordering-on-jingoism exhortations and the poor neglected wives quietly mulled over divorces and hefty alimony.

And older gen stared vacuously at the buried in 15th century style serials beamed across the idiot boxes. Talk about mass movement!

If this was the situation with the earthlings, the skies above had their own story.

Sri Krishna, the Lord of seven skies, after a sumptuous nine course dinner, decided to hold court with his beauteous wives, Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Nagnajiti, Bhadra and Lakshmana, on the simmering state of his kingdom.

The very holy land where he is deified eternally.

Sri krishna set the ball rolling with a very cryptic “What gives?”

Rukmini being the eldest of the wives, always went first.

“You are becoming famous again. In fact as the earthlings say, you are going Viral honey!”

Krishna “When did I not trend? Am I not the Eternal Alpha male? I am Aspirational and Inspirational. Who wouldn’t want to be in my shoes? I knew how to lead a great life. I had a whale of time, at each stage of my life and…”

SatyaBhama (You could never shush her really!) “And married and remarried as if marriage was going out of style. But I have to agree,You are back in the limelight, thanks to the simmering discontent. Thy name is uttered when all fails. Demonetization, has grabbed the eyeballs of the whole country and has got the pulse of intelligentsia racing. Social Media is going berserk. Most of them are shedding copious tears over downtrodden, the daily wage earners, while some are changing their cover photos in support of the earthling Alpha Male. Cash heavy BBC, has even made a film on Cash crunch”

Jambavati “Blah! Paytm them. Ban Chinese Lights  but use Chinese Gateways. Cheques and Balances are the focus of the day! Proves the great Indian obsession with Notes. Degrees of stashing is a tough nut to crack. Mr. KrazyWall’s videos and their truths have made people roll their eyes and drawl” IITians’!” Sometimes I feel that the extended usage of cough syrup does Irreparable Damage.”

Kalindi “Trust you ladies to focus on irrelevant topics. Yes we are married to the God of Great times and greater lines, but can we please focus on the ATMs? Achieve The Mission ! No Coldplay this. Nothing much to Beef about while we Chicken out”

Mitravinda “These are the days of inclusion, Woman Empowerment and gender equality. Can women be far left behind? We have sisters and mothers competing too for the rolls of dough. And where is the Mother of all Sops? She induces the cape fear in the opponents. Cash Trash was to be her wake-up call from slumber.  The Bengal sister wants the courts to intervene and a rollback. Seriously! And what happens to the torn, flushed and burnt currency?”

Nagnajiti “Huh! Not quite in the Gandhian Mould, I say. It’s all about loving your family, no matter how stupid the progeny is! Ditch the brighter daughter, Pitch in the Dim Bulb on the wary public. Mommy’s crown prince often belts out fault notes. Pappu’s RaGa of finding the pain of the Common Man while trying to withdraw 4000/- was painful to say the least. Could have been a LOL moment, had the circumstances been better. ”

Bhadra “Some say the big fish already knew and they have made their arrangements. This step was to put the cow belt in the Alpha Male’s Kitty. And some others say, what a fish, for the Swiss set, Gold and Land is the real deal. So catch them if you can. The intelligentsia has been divided into Rationalists and Nationalists, Bhakts and Bleeding Hearts and more. It is a terrible time for most with worst yet to come. Some are predicting famine, economic spiral down”

Lakshmana “The country is churning my lord. The honest man works and hopes to make a living, in spite of the overwhelming odds against him, hoping for ’sweeping’ reforms coming his way, while the bhakts and carps sledge it out. But the sloth of Governance! delays the good days that were promised. The aftermath that this Political Hunger game has unleashed will be known eventually – whether it was shortfall or windfall. Deal breaker or a Destiny Changer… Taking your name helps to tide over.”

Krishna “I gave them the Gita. Do your work to your best possible ability, don’t hanker after results. You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. Whatever happened, happened for the good. Whatever is happening, is happening for the good. Whatever will happen, will also happen for the good. Change is the law of the universe. I also…”

And thus while God got busy gossiping and leaders got petulantly busy squabbling, citizens got busy plundering fellow citizens, somewhere in India, a poor farmer sat in his parched field, too tired to even look up for that elusive drop of hope. The cadaverous cow was his companion, willing to be his next meal, if need be, if it came to that…

Heck, That’s now illegal

paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam

dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge

In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

May be its time for Him to make an appearance for the promised deliverance. Many wax ones have faltered only to deceive.