Z : Zindagi Replay #AtoZChallenge

 

ZNew Delhi ki ore jaane waali gaadi sankhya 22588 Rajdhani Express platform kramank 10 par aa rahi hai,“

“The train number 22588 Rajdhani Express moving towards New Delhi is arriving on platform number 10.”

 

Anjali took her eyes off from the hustle of railway station and looked in the distance of coming train. The railway track was filthy as usual but she loved travelling by train. Flights gave her backaches and even after repeated insistence of her two sons she preferred train. Her two sons! Oh, how much time has passed, she wondered. The little caterpillars have turned into winged creatures and flew to form their own world and she was left alone in Varanasi. It’s been such a long time when Ashok left them. She doesn’t even miss him now. At this thought, Anjali felt a pang of guilt. What is she saying? She does miss his presence, and just coping up with the responsibility of raising two sons – one of 10 and another of 8 alone made her strong. She laughed – a big loud laugh on how she was consoling herself.

 

Ha ! Ha! Ha!’ Suddenly she realized people were looking at her and embarrassed, she picked up her luggage and moved in search of coach A2. She double checked her seat on the chart and then entered the coach.

 

This was her Life – She spent three months with each of her son’s family every year but never agreed to leave Benaras. Benaras was where she belonged, she had a weird feeling that the day she will leave Benaras, she will die.

 

The dhoop mixed air of her city, the echo and colors of Ganga aarti, the silence of ghats in morning only broken by temple bells and the narrow never ending streets, Benaras breathed through her. And her every day evening walk to BHU, she missed it when she was in Delhi or Bengaluru.

 

Stretching her legs on her berth, she was lost into thoughts. And a memory brought a giggle onto her face. Ashok was working with a bank and one fine day when he came home and said in a disappointing voice that he was transferred and she had to pack, she said yes. It was a routine and she was not even interested in knowing which city. Ashok was a silent man, they never talked much.

 

That night when they retired to bed, Ashok said, “Achha! Tum to Benaras me rahi ho na, tumko to wo jagah pata hogi,

(You have lived in Benaras? You must be familiar with the place?)

 

Benaras!!! She screamed with Joy but later composed herself lest she irritated her husband who was not very fond of her. She just nodded in affirmation.

 

Mai BHU me…”

 

Haan, Haan, yaad hai mujhe…” Ashok cut her short.

 

But she was happy. It was Benaras calling for her and she will be with the city that was her partner before she got married.

 

“Madam, what will you for dinner, veg or non-veg?” Her memory train was stopped by the coach attendant.

 

“Vegetarian,” She replied and suddenly the attendant stumbled due to a jerk and a girl emerged with her big backpack.

 

Bhaiya, arrange a seat just for sitting nah, please,” said the  girl, as she looked in looking for some space to accommodate herself.

 

“Madam, the train has just come, let every passenger be seated and then I will surely arrange one for you.” The attended replied and left.

 

The girl, all breathless, started introspecting the compartment. Noticing the old lady continuously staring at her, she jumped at the opportunity.

 

“Aunty, can I sit here please, if you don’t have any problem. I have a RAC ticket and TC has assured me of a seat.”

 

Anjali was in a fix, but she simply nodded offering her some space to sit. And then, Anjali gave a look to this co-passenger. She was pretty, dressed in a white shirt and Patiala salwar, she was wearing big black metal earrings. Hair tied to the top of her head, a flick here and there was coming out. She looked tired with red, sleepy eyes.

 

 

Anjali looked at her lazily, suddenly it seemed as if she had seen this girl before; not recently, must be some time ago; and she tried to think when and where, – but could not remember. She tried hard to recall, the girl seemed so familiar but finally she settled with the fact that at 68 her memory was not the loyal one to stay back.

 

 

The girl who was in her mid twenties started checking her phone and tears started rolling down her cheeks. She made a few frantic calls and was shouting, screaming, pleading and then crying over every phone call.

Anjali wanted to ask but restrained herself from interfering in a stranger’s personal life. She tried to engross herself in a magazine. As happens with almost everyone in that age she went down the memory lane

 

1967, Benaras Station

 

A girl was running towards the train with a suitcase in her hand. She did not have a ticket but had to go to Dilli urgently, rushing towards the train she managed to get into the crowded train. Throwing the suitcase at one corner, she then turned towards Benaras, the city she was absolutely in love with, the city that gave her dreams, the city which she never wanted to leave and then she said goodbye one last time.

 

She stood at the door until the city faded off. Coming back to the compartment, she sat on the suitcase and within no time she was in tears. She didn’t want to leave her studies mid way but was forced to because her parents found a suitable match for her. The groom was working in a bank and that was enough for her to leave her studies midway. And all through the journey to Delhi she cried, cried frantically. How much she had tried to persuade her parents to let her complete her education.

 

She was pursuing a degree in literature and everyone admired her writing skills at BHU. She had never seen that boy, never talked. She wrote a letter to him stating her wish to complete her studies and to write. Never came the reply and she one fine day with a heavy heart left Benaras.

 

Her thought express experienced a halt as she heard the RAC girl sobbing. She then decided to talk to the girl.

 

Beta! Don’t mind, but you are restless since the time you boarded the train. Is everything ok?”

 

“Yeah Aunty, I am a little disturbed, some personal issues,” replied the girl, wiping off her face.

 

“You can talk to me if you want and remember, sometimes talking to a stranger helps,” added Anjali, trying further to help the girl.

 

“Thanks Aunty, actually it’s my family, they are emotionally blackmailing me to come to Delhi right now.” She said, coming closer.

 

“But why?”

 

“They want me to marry, they have found a boy which is a perfect match for me according to them and the guy is leaving for US in a few weeks and they want us to be married in a week.” She said, looking away.

 

“And you like someone else?”

 

“No Aunty, I am doing my masters and after that I want to make a career. I want to write my own book, my own stories and not get entangled in relationships.” The girl was so well settled with her thoughts, she knew what she wanted to do, and it made Anjali think for a moment, about her life, about her past.

 

“You don’t get entangled in relationships beta, they bind you together.” She finally said, recovering herself.

 

“I don’t deny that, aunty, but right now I want to focus on my career.”

 

“You said that you want to write. But you can do that after marriage too.”

 

“My parents say the same. I tried talking to this guy first, but he is super busy and then he thinks writing is just a hobby. Tell me honestly, aunty, don’t we have a choice to decide our timelines and our interests by us?” as she said those words, Anjali was forced to think again where she had seen this girl. She was so clear in her mind, yet she couldn’t recall where she met her.

 

Anjali fell silent. To her rescue came the attendant with the dinner and Anjali was spared to this girl and her question for which she herself never had an answer.

 

The girl again got busy on phone persuading someone and Anjali went 40 years back to the same train. She reached Delhi and married Ashok in a hurriedly arranged ceremony. After Bidai she went to her new home. Not only Ashok was working with a bank, her in-laws were old time zamindars of Bengal with a big haweli.

 

On her first alone moment with Ashok, he said, “I got your letter and I didn’t reply because I thought that I will talk about it when we’ll meet. You will not get any discomfort here, so there is no question of your studying further.”

 

Anjali’s world came falling down. And suddenly she missed the city that gave her air to breath, a city where she dreamt to fly. She didn’t realize when she stopped crying, and when she felt asleep.

 

And she had actually fallen asleep when she heard the girl trying to wake her up.

 

“Aunty, I got a seat the side upper one just to your opposite. Thank you so much Aunty for your help, I think you should take rest now.”

 

Anjali wanted to say that she is making a wrong decision and that she should follow her heart, but couldn’t, instead she said, “Everything happens for a reason beta and love is a force we could never understand. Now, you should also take some rest and leave everything on god. You have been crying all the evening and look at your eyes, they are swollen.”

 

The girl gave her a smile. And settled on her berth, before switching off lights she wished her good night. The girl tried to smile with emptiness in her eyes.

 

‘Those eyes… I have seen them somewhere.’ She tried hard to remember, the girl seemed so familiar and she never forget faces. Maybe on her evening stroll she might have seen that girl.

 

Anjali tried to sleep but emotions had already robbed her of the sleep.

 

She came to terms with the fact that her dreams would always remain incomplete and she got busy with her new life. With Ashok back to town, she was left alone in that haveli with an ailing father-in-law to take care of.

 

She still remembered the day when sitting in the garden the gossiping maid told her about her mother-in-law. Ashok had earlier told her that his mother died due to TB when he was a child. And the maid told her in a whispering voice that her mother in law had actually left the family never to come back.

 

She was shocked, she could not imagine a woman leaving her house. She herself at times felt suffocated in this life but never ever she thought of leaving. Ashok was a man of fewer words but she loved him and Ashok cared for her. She missed their love soaked moments of intimacy when he was away at work. She wanted to know more about her mother-in-law but she had got strict instructions from Ashok not to discuss her mother at home and now she knew why.

 

She one day called the maid to her room and gave her a few old sarees. On seeing her happy she asked the question about why did her mother-in-law left the home. A frightened maid looked around and then told her to not let anyone else know that she had told her.

 

She then told how her mother-in-law, a daughter of zamindar herself was the only woman in village who knew how to read and write. Married at young age the whole day she was immersed in reading and was very different from other women. Her mother-in-law was always angry on her but her husband loved her so she escaped the scoldings. And one day when Ashok babu was a little child, police came looking for her but she was found nowhere. Even not near the pond at the corner of Bageecha where she was busy writing something the whole day.

 

She was never found again. People say she participated in freedom struggle, some say she was shot dead by police and some even say she was sighted in Calcutta with some other man. The maid after narrating the whole story again pleaded with Anjali not to tell this to anyone.

 

That whole day Anjali locked herself in her room saying she was feeling sick. She was pregnant with her first child so no one disturbed her. And then alone in the dark room overlooking the rice fields, she felt a pang of jealousy.

 

She was jealous of her mother-in-law.

 

That day Anjali realized that everything happens for a reason and that reason is emotions. We all are slave of our emotions. She missed BHU because of her emotional attachment to that place, she was contempt because she loved Ashok and now she has this flood of emotions for her unborn child. Her mother-in-law fought with her emotions of love towards family and love towards a country and she chose the latter. Ashok guided by the emotions of hatred towards his mother never wanted another mother like figure in his home.

 

And who among us all are happy because of our emotions?

 

Anjali still does not have any answer to it.

 

But now she has a deep respect towards her mother-in-law, that is why when Ashok passed away after a brief illness she decided to return back to her city, a city with which her emotional ties were never broken. She started a new life, without Ashok and with two kids in Benaras.

 

My sons would never understand my connection to this city.

 

And with this thought Anjali fell asleep. In morning she woke up with noise of activities of passengers. New Delhi was about to arrive and people were shifting their luggage towards the door. She looked for the girl, her seat was empty and she feared something unfortunate.

 

Anjali put on her sleepers and went looking for the girl. There she was, staring outside the door with the same empty eyes.

 

‘I have seen this girl somewhere and why I am not able to recall,’ wondered Anjali.

 

“Good Morning Beta, are you okay now?” She asked, still trying to remember.

 

The girl turned back and pretended to smile, “Yes aunty, I am okay, I am just afraid.”

 

“Don’t worry beta, everything will be okay.” Inside, she again felt a pang of jealousy, jealousy against her mother-in-law.

 

The train slowed and New Delhi station’s platform appeared alongside the running train. Anjali hurried back and brought her bag to the door. The door was too much crowded. From the train window she saw her son and the little Adi waiving towards her.

 

She smiled and waived back, “Oh, how much I miss my grandson,” she wondered.

 

After getting down on platform and hugging her boy, she looked around. She could not find that girl. Unable to find that girl, she felt a little sad and a little lost.

 

Her son asked, as he noticed her being disturbed, “What happened, Maa?”

 

“Nothing! Let’s go,” she replied.

 

Suddenly, someone screamed from back. “Aunty!”

 

She turned back to notice the same girl, waiving at her from a distance.

 

The girl came closer, hugged her and said, “You were right, Aunty, sometimes it helps to share with a stranger.”

 

Anjali smiled, feeling at ease she replied, “Everything happens for a reason Beta and that reason is our emotions, and now don’t be sad.”

 

The girl started walking away. Suddenly Anjali remembered something as she shouted, “Arey, I forgot to ask your name, beta?”

 

With a similar empty smile and hollow eyes, which looked so familiar the girl shouted, “ANJALI! ANJALI SHARMA!”

 

She looked towards the direction of the voice, but couldn’t locate as so many people were moving – some of them were in hurry, some of them walked lazily. So many faces, so many expressions, so many thoughts in so many minds – it seemed as if time have suddenly stopped and everything around went into a slow motion mode.

 

The whole world around Anjali became blurred once again. She stood there like a statue.

 

And then it dawned to her – the eyes, the face that she was not able to identify was suddenly so known – she was no one else, she was her, the way she used to be four decades ago. And it was no dream – people moved around, train arrival and departure being announced, and a shrill voice of Adi.

 

She looked for the girl, she wanted to reach out to her and tell her to follow her heart, to choose her true emotions and not take too long a time to return back to where she belonged.

 

Anjali was nowhere in sight, Anjali Sharma was gone. And another Anjali Sharma stood there, as if trying to change her past to better. She wanted to amend her past by making it better for that girl, but she was gone.

 

Fourty years have passed.

 

Then she remembered, she once read something scribbled on an old book, she found at her village home while cleaning.  She was sure that it was of her mother-in-law’s and that is why she kept it with herself for all those years, faintly it read something like this:

“Just follow your heart,

And follow your dream,

Don’t forget to jump,

 Even though it means going down the stream”           

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Image Courtesy- worldlessmusic.org

        

This is my last post written for #AtoZBloggingChallenge with www.blogchatter.com.

Hope you enjoyed reading wordweaver’s musings as i enjoyed writing them.

Love

P.

Postcard From P : The eX Effect #AtoZChallenge

From now on. I will be writing a postcard every Thursday to the little kids and then this idea struck me why not start it with AtoZChallenge. Though it has been heck of tiring writing these 26 lettered posts, it taught me one thing. – It all takes a little effort to complete what seems inevitably incomplete.

Dear Little Girls

Tomorrow you will be grown up and I won’t be there. So today I will talk about the eX Effect in the first postcard of the series.

Once a while you all will fall in love, head over heels in love. You will feel that this is what you have been waiting for and couldn’t thank your stars for so much happiness.

And then this person turns out to be an Asshole, big time Asshole. So what?  You want to cry?  Do cry. You want to binge eat, Do eat. You want to isolate, do it.

But sweetheart, the sun rises and it just takes a little effort. You met a coward who could not take a little effort. But you have to take one. You have to stand up, stand up not to fly, just for the sake of standing up. Look around, I know you must be having friends on whose shoulder you can lean, it’s okay to share, they understand and even if they don’t, you will feel better.

Life is too short and beautiful to keep on thinking about a moron who does not have balls.

Be Unfuckwithable.

Love
P.

image

I am participating in #AtoZChallenge with www.blogchatter.com.

Y: The Youngest Daughter, a folk tale from Rajasthan #AtoZChallenge

Once in a village near a desert, there was a huge mansion with seven doors. The mansion belonged to a rich woman and her three daughters. Every night, the woman would instruct her daughters to lock all the seven doors properly. “Be careful, girls,” she would warn them. “Even if a single door is left open, the demons living in the desert will find their way into our mansion!”

The two ferocious demons had been terrorizing the villagers by attacking them in their homes. So, people would keep their doors locked and windows closed, especially during the nights.

image: http://www.kidsgen.com/stories/folk_tales/images/the-youngest-daughter.jpg

The rich woman had to look not one, but seven doors! So, she had assigned the duty to her three daughters, who would each take turns to lock the seven doors at night. 

One night, it was the youngest daughter’s turn, which had been working outdoors all day and was very tired. After dinner, all the others retired to their chambers while the youngest one began locking the doors, one by one. By the time she locked the sixth door, she was completely exhausted. She forgot to lock the seventh door and went to sleep.

That night, one of the demons noticed the door open an barged in. Dhum! Dhum! came the sound as he walked into the hall. The mother woke up with a start and began to shout at her youngest daughter, “It’s your mistake, you left the door open!”

The demon caught hold of the youngest daughter, put her into a large sack and carried her away. “I will take this girl to my house!” he roared.

“She will cook for me and keep the cave clean.”

On the way the demon stopped to meet his friend, another demon who lived nearby. But he didn’t want to tell the other demon, about the girl. Leaving the sack behind, he went to meet his friend.

After a while, he returned, picked up the sack, and went home. As soon as he opened the sack, he was in for a shock! “Where has the girl gone?” thundered the demon.

Actually, the clever girl had escaped from the sack while the demon had gone to meet his friend. In her place, she had placed rocks inside the sack. The demon was mad with anger. “I shall bring her back!” he screamed, rushing back to the girl’s house.

Meanwhile, the girl had safely returned home and made a plan wither sister and mother to get rid of the demon. When the demon arrived, the girl hid inside the house while her sisters began to wail loudly, “Poor girl! She escaped from one demon but was caught by the other!” Hearing this, the demon was furious, “So, it is the other demon that has snatched her away from me!” He rushed to the other demon’s cave and attacked him. In a terrible fight, they both killed each other. Thus, the youngest daughter saved, not only herself and her family, but also freed her village from the wicked demons.

I am participating in April A to Z blogging challenge with www.blogchatter.com

W: Wish Granting Tree, a folk tale from Rajasthan #AToZChallenge

One day, a traveller was passing through a desert. After walking for a few miles, he felt tried, hungry and thirsty. “How I wish I could rest for a while under a tree!” he thought.

Suddenly, he saw a tree in front of him! He was surprised as he was in a desert, and just a few seconds ago there was no trace of even a bush. But, at the same time he felt glad that he had a place to rest for a while. As the traveller sat under the tree, he thought, “How I wish I had water to drink!”

Just then he found a tumbler full of cold water kept on a stone in front of him. “Ah!” said the surprised traveller, and guzzled the water.

After a few minutes, the traveller thought, “How I wish I had something to eat!” In an instant, a variety of delicious food appeared before him. The traveller ate as much as he could.

All that food made him wish for a bed and he got one too! Stretching himself comfortably of the soft mattress, the traveller thought,” I wish I had someone to massage my feet.”

Instantly, a young woman appeared and started massaging his feet and legs. Tried as he was, the traveller soon fell fast asleep. Actually, he was under the shade of ‘Kalpa Vriksha’, a magical tree. Whoever was under it could have whatever he wished for!

After a long nap when the traveller woke up, he saw the woman still sitting beside his feet. Now the traveller began to think,” I am sure this is a magical part of the desert. Otherwise, how can things appear out of nowhere?” He wondered,” Could there be a demon around too?”

Suddenly, a demon appeared. The traveller was filled with fear! “A… A… Are you going to eat me up?” he asked the demon. “Yes! Get ready!” replied the demon, pouncing on the traveller. The frightened traveller took to his heels and ran away, thinking, “How I wish this demon disappears!”

Suddenly, when he turned around, there was no demon. “What is all this?” thought the traveller, puzzled. “Was this all a dream? Perhaps, the Almighty grants us all our thoughts in the desert. I must be careful of what I think!” thought the traveller and went on his way. 

U :Until the Holidays #AtoZChallenge

Phatik Chakravorti was ringleader among the boys of the village. A new mischief got into his head. There was a heavy log lying on the mud-flat of the river waiting to be shaped into a mast for a boat. He decided that they should all work together to shift the log by main force from its place and roll it away. The owner of the log would be angry and surprised, and they would all enjoy the fun. Every one seconded the proposal, and it was carried unanimously.

But just as the fun was about to begin, Makhan, Phatik’s younger brother, sauntered up, and sat down on the log in front of them all without a word. The boys were puzzled for a moment. He was pushed, rather timidly, by one of the boys and told to get up but he remained quite unconcerned. He appeared like a young philosopher meditating on the futility of games. Phatik was furious. “Makhan,” he cried, “if you don’t get down this minute I’ll thrash you!”

Makhan only moved to a more comfortable position.

Now, if Phatik was to keep his regal dignity before the public, it was clear he ought to carry out his threat. But his courage failed him at the crisis. His fertile brain, however, rapidly seized upon a new maneuver which would discomfit his brother and afford his followers an added amusement. He gave the word of command to roll the log and Makhan over together. Makhan heard the order, and made it a point of honor to stick on. But he overlooked the fact, like those who attempt earthly fame in other matters, that there was peril in it.

The boys began to heave at the log with all their might, calling out, “One, two, three, go,” At the word “go” the log went; and with it went Makhan’s philosophy, glory and all.

All the other boys shouted themselves hoarse with delight. But Phatik was a little frightened. He knew what was coming. And, sure enough, Makhan rose from Mother Earth blind as Fate and screaming like the Furies. He rushed at Phatik and scratched his face and beat him and kicked him, and then went crying home. The first act of the drama was over.

Phatik wiped his face, and sat down on the edge of a sunken barge on the river bank, and began to chew a piece of grass. A boat came up to the landing, and a middle-aged man, with grey hair and dark moustache, stepped on shore. He saw the boy sitting there doing nothing, and asked him where the Chakravortis lived. Phatik went on chewing the grass, and said: “Over there,” but it was quite impossible to tell where he pointed. The stranger asked him again. He swung his legs to and fro on the side of the barge, and said; “Go and find out,” and continued to chew the grass as before.

But now a servant came down from the house, and told Phatik his mother wanted him. Phatik refused to move. But the servant was the master on this occasion. He took Phatik up roughly, and carried him, kicking and struggling in impotent rage.

When Phatik came into the house, his mother saw him. She called out angrily: “So you have been hitting Makhan again?”

Phatik answered indignantly: “No, I haven’t; who told you that? ”

His mother shouted: “Don’t tell lies! You have.”

Phatik said suddenly: “I tell you, I haven’t. You ask Makhan!” But Makhan thought it best to stick to his previous statement. He said: “Yes, mother. Phatik did hit me.”

Phatik’s patience was already exhausted. He could not hear this injustice. He rushed at Makban, and hammered him with blows: “Take that” he cried, “and that, and that, for telling lies.”

His mother took Makhan’s side in a moment, and pulled Phatik away, beating him with her hands. When Phatik pushed her aside, she shouted out: “What I you little villain! would you hit your own mother?”

It was just at this critical juncture that the grey-haired stranger arrived. He asked what was the matter. Phatik looked sheepish and ashamed.

But when his mother stepped back and looked at the stranger, her anger was changed to surprise. For she recognized her brother, and cried: “Why, Dada! Where have you come from? “As she said these words, she bowed to the ground and touched his feet. Her brother had gone away soon after she had married, and he had started business in Bombay. His sister had lost her husband while he was In Bombay. Bishamber had now come back to Calcutta, and had at once made enquiries about his sister. He had then hastened to see her as soon as he found out where she was.

The next few days were full of rejoicing. The brother asked after the education of the two boys. He was told by his sister that Phatik was a perpetual nuisance. He was lazy, disobedient, and wild. But Makhan was as good as gold, as quiet as a lamb, and very fond of reading, Bishamber kindly offered to take Phatik off his sister’s hands, and educate him with his own children in Calcutta. The widowed mother readily agreed. When his uncle asked Phatik If he would like to go to Calcutta with him, his joy knew no bounds, and he said; “Oh, yes, uncle! ” In a way that made it quite clear that he meant it.

It was an immense relief to the mother to get rid of Phatik. She had a prejudice against the boy, and no love was lost between the two brothers. She was in daily fear that he would either drown Makhan some day in the river, or break his head in a fight, or run him into some danger or other. At the same time she was somewhat distressed to see Phatik’s extreme eagerness to get away.

Phatik, as soon as all was settled, kept asking his uncle every minute when they were to start. He was on pins and needles all day long with excitement, and lay awake most of the night. He bequeathed to Makhan, in perpetuity, his fishing-rod, his big kite and his marbles. Indeed, at this time of departure his generosity towards Makhan was unbounded.

When they reached Calcutta, Phatik made the acquaintance of his aunt for the first time. She was by no means pleased with this unnecessary addition to her family. She found her own three boys quite enough to manage without taking any one else. And to bring a village lad of fourteen into their midst was terribly upsetting. Bishamber should really have thought twice before committing such an indiscretion.

In this world of human affairs there is no worse nuisance than a boy at the age of fourteen. He is neither ornamental, nor useful. It is impossible to shower affection on him as on a little boy; and he is always getting in the way. If he talks with a childish lisp he is called a baby, and if he answers in a grown-up way he is called impertinent. In fact any talk at all from him is resented. Then he is at the unattractive, growing age. He grows out of his clothes with indecent haste; his voice grows hoarse and breaks and quavers; his face grows suddenly angular and unsightly. It is easy to excuse the shortcomings of early childhood, but it is hard to tolerate even unavoidable lapses in a boy of fourteen. The lad himself becomes painfully self-conscious. When he talks with elderly people he is either unduly forward, or else so unduly shy that he appears ashamed of his very existence.

Yet it is at this very age when in his heart of hearts a young lad most craves for recognition and love; and he becomes the devoted slave of any one who shows him consideration. But none dare openly love him, for that would be regarded as undue indulgence, and therefore bad for the boy. So, what with scolding and chiding, he becomes very much like a stray dog that has lost his master.

For a boy of fourteen his own home is the only Paradise. To live in a strange house with strange people is little short of torture, while the height of bliss is to receive the kind looks of women, and never to be slighted by them.

It was anguish to Phatik to be the unwelcome guest in his aunt’s house, despised by this elderly woman, and slighted, on every occasion. If she ever asked him to do anything for her, he would be so overjoyed that he would overdo it; and then she would tell him not to be so stupid, but to get on with his lessons.

The cramped atmosphere of neglect in his aunt’s house oppressed Phatik so much that he felt that he could hardly breathe. He wanted to go out into the open country and fill his lungs and breathe freely. But there was no open country to go to. Surrounded on all sides by Calcutta houses and walls, be would dream night after night of his village home, and long to be back there. He remembered the glorious meadow where he used to By his kite all day long; the broad river-banks where he would wander about the livelong day singing and shouting for joy; the narrow brook where he could go and dive and swim at any time he liked. He thought of his band of boy companions over whom he was despot; and, above all, the memory of that tyrant mother of his, who had such a prejudice against him, occupied him day and night. A kind of physical love like that of animals; a longing to be in the presence of the one who is loved; an inexpressible wistfulness during absence; a silent cry of the inmost heart for the mother, like the lowing of a calf in the twilight;-this love, which was almost an animal instinct, agitated the shy, nervous, lean, uncouth and ugly boy. No one could understand it, but it preyed upon his mind continually.

There was no more backward boy in the whole school than Phatik. He gaped and remained silent when the teacher asked him a question, and like an overladen ass patiently suffered all the blows that came down on his back. When other boys were out at play, he stood wistfully by the window and gazed at the roofs of the distant houses. And if by chance he espied children playing on the open terrace of any roof, his heart would ache with longing.

One day he summoned up all his courage, and asked his uncle: “Uncle, when can I go home?”

His uncle answered; “Wait till the holidays come.” But the holidays would not come till November, and there was a long time still to wait.

One day Phatik lost his lesson-book. Even with the help of books he had found it very difficult indeed to prepare his lesson. Now it was impossible. Day after day the teacher would cane him unmercifully. His condition became so abjectly miserable that even his cousins were ashamed to own him. They began to jeer and insult him more than the other boys. He went to his aunt at last, and told her that he bad lost his book.

His aunt pursed her lips in contempt, and said: “You great clumsy, country lout. How can I afford, with all my family, to buy you new books five times a month?”

That night, on his way back from school, Phatik had a bad headache with a fit of shivering. He felt he was going to have an attack of malarial fever. His one great fear was that he would be a nuisance to his aunt.

The next morning Phatik was nowhere to be seen. All searches in the neighborhood proved futile. The rain had been pouring in torrents all night, and those who went out in search of the boy got drenched through to the skin. At last Bisbamber asked help from the police.

At the end of the day a police van stopped at the door before the house. It was still raining and the streets were all flooded. Two constables brought out Phatik in their arms and placed him before Bishamber. He was wet through from head to foot, muddy all over, his face and eyes flushed red with fever, and his limbs all trembling. Bishamber carried him in his arms, and took him into the inner apartments. When his wife saw him, she exclaimed; “What a heap of trouble this boy has given us. Hadn’t you better send him home ?”

Phatik heard her words, and sobbed out loud: “Uncle, I was just going home; but they dragged me back again,”

The fever rose very high, and all that night the boy was delirious. Bishamber brought in a doctor. Phatik opened his eyes flushed with fever, and looked up to the ceiling, and said vacantly: “Uncle, have the holidays come yet? May I go home?”

Bishamber wiped the tears from his own eyes, and took Phatik’s lean and burning hands in his own, and sat by him through the night. The boy began again to mutter. At last his voice became excited: “Mother,” he cried, “don’t beat me like that! Mother! I am telling the truth!”

The next day Phatik became conscious for a short time. He turned his eyes about the room, as if expecting some one to come. At last, with an air of disappointment, his head sank back on the pillow. He turned his face to the wall with a deep sigh.

Bishamber knew his thoughts, and, bending down his head, whispered: “Phatik, I have sent for your mother.” The day went by. The doctor said in a troubled voice that the boy’s condition was very critical.

Phatik began to cry out; “By the mark! –three fathoms. By the mark– four fathoms. By the mark-.” He had heard the sailor on the river- steamer calling out the mark on the plumb-line. Now he was himself plumbing an unfathomable sea.

Later in the day Phatik’s mother burst into the room like a whirlwind, and began to toss from side to side and moan and cry in a loud voice.

Bishamber tried to calm her agitation, but she flung herself on the bed, and cried: “Phatik, my darling, my darling.”

Phatik stopped his restless movements for a moment. His hands ceased beating up and down. He said: “Eh?”

The mother cried again: “Phatik, my darling, my darling.”

Phatik very slowly turned his head and, without seeing anybody, said: “Mother, the holidays have come.”

Courtesy: LifeIsastory

T: Two Women, a folk tale from Bangladesh #AToZChallenge

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There were once two sisters: Tetan Buri, clever sister… aha!  And Boka Buri, foolish sister… hmmm.

Tetan Buri and Boka Buri shared three things. They shared one blanket. They shared one cow. And they shared one mango tree.

‘Aha, sister. I will have the blanket during the night, and you will have the blanket during the day… aha!’

‘Hmmm, very well, sister.’

Boka Buri only had the blanket during the day when the sun blazed down. But at night when it was cold she had to give the blanket to her clever sister.

‘Aha! I will have the back end of the cow, and you will have the front end of the cow… aha!’

‘Hmmm, very well, sister.’

Boka Buri, foolish sister, had to feed the cow and water the cow; while clever sister came along and milked the cow and made yogurt and butter.

Boka Buri was hungry.

‘The mango tree! I will have the top half of the mango tree, and you will have the bottom half of the mango tree… aha!’

‘Hmmm, very well, sister.’

Boka Buri had to water the mango tree and weed around its base. Tetan Buri came and picked the delicious, ripe fruit and kept them all for herself.

Boka Buri was cold at night and so hungry.

She went into the village, and there she went to the hairdresser.

While the hairdresser cut her hair she listened to Boka Buri’s troubles: ‘Foolish woman. What you must do is this… When you go back to your sister give her the blanket at night, but only after you have dipped it in the river. As for the cow… don’t feed the cow, just shout at the cow. And as for the tree… chop it in half.’

‘Very well.’

Boka Buri went back to the sister. She gave her the blanket, but only after she had dipped it in the river.

Tetan Buri took the blanket… ‘aha… aaaggghhhh.’

It was so cold. She shivered all through the night with the wet blanket around her.

The next day, she went to get milk from the cow. But Boka Buri had not fed the cow. Boka Buri had only shouted at the cow. And when she tried to milk the cow, the cow just kicked Tetan Buri… ‘aaaggghhhh!!’
Now, Tetan Buri went to pick mangoes from the tree. But when she got there, there stood Boka Buri with an axe in her hands about to chop the tree in half.

‘What are you doing, sister?’

‘Oh,’ said Boka Buri, ‘I am going to cut the tree in half. I am going to chop my half from your half.’

‘No,’ said the sister. ‘What can I do to stop you?’

‘Hmmm, go and talk to the hairdresser.’

Tetan Buri went to the hairdresser. The hairdresser had no sympathy: ‘I will not help you. But why don’t you ask the rest of the community.’

The doors of the shop were opened and all of the people of the community squeezed inside.

They listened to Tetan Buri’s woes: how she was cold at night with a wet blanket; how she only had the cow kick her and no milk to make yogurt or butter; how her sister was going to chop the tree in half.

‘What you must do,’ they said, ‘is share the work. Share the blanket. Sleep next to your sister. You will keep each other warm… snug and warm.’

‘Share the blanket?’

‘And share the feeding and the watering of the cow, and milk the cow together, and together churn the butter and make the yogurt.’

‘Work together?’

‘And,’ said the people of the community, ‘what you must do, Tetan Buri, is to look after the tree. Tend the tree with your sister. Weed the tree and water the tree and together you will share an abundance of fruit.’

‘Aha.’

And so it was that Tetan Buri and Boka Buri shared the blanket and kept each other warm at night; shared the milk to make butter and yogurt; and shared those delicious mangoes. And so much did they have that they had plenty to share with the rest of the community.

Tetan Buri… aha! And Boka Buri, the not so foolish sister… hmmm.

S: The saga called Shadi, an arranged marriage #AtoZChallenge

SThe whole procedure of finding a perfect match for the son/daughter who have attained the so called marriageable age is amusing. Suddenly sprung up a whole new species called “Shadiraam Gharjode” who drop by every Sunday, suggest some “potential candidates” over heavy breakfast and two rounds of “adrak waali chai” and make your parents guilty of the fact that their daughter is still not married and when this phase ends then starts the real torture; matrimonial sites, profiles, calls asking “Ladki ka colour fair to hoga na, jyada healthy to nahi, koi past wagairah ho to bate de” and of course the compatibility acquires a different parameters, “aajkal B.E.+MBA ki demand jyada hai technical match ban jata hai” (Give me a break dude ,are you planning to discuss circuits all through your life) .When gotra, profession, dowry, family status are matched then they come down to taking the opinions of the future bride and groom

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Why does this institution of arranged marriage survive in India in this day and age? The India I am talking about is of the educated middle class where the incidence of arranged marriages are not only high but also considered as a legitimate way of finding a mate The answer lies partly in the elasticity of this institution and indeed most traditional customs that allows it to expand its definition to accommodate modernity such that, today’s arranged marriages places individual’s will at center and parents assume a role where their one hand is raised for blessing and other immersed in wallet.

The arrangement in arranged marriage is clearly a manufactured one, sometimes taking some pseudo forms like a blind date, online meet ups, the reality swayamvar type shows all aim to let one meet a potential spouse. Here the idea of love is not so gently manufactured by contriving a spark or overflow of hormones but rather a well planned robbery.

In the west the idea of marriage has a notion that starts when one proposes and the other can withhold it for an indefinite period of time So we have marriage as a mirage that shimmers frequently but materializes rarely but imagine the same, when venues and the day of Roka and even which car is to be given as a gift have been fixed, how can a girl think over the proposal?

In an era where future and security hold more promise than present, arranged marriages continue to hold their charm. Whether choked in tradition or cloaked with modernity this institution of arranged marriage needs some serious help because sustenance of a long term marriage brings along with it a personal growth

“Wasn’t marriage, like life, un-stimulating and unprofitable and somewhat empty when too well ordered and protected and guarded? Wasn’t it finer, more splendid, more nourishing, when it was, like life itself, a mixture of the sordid and magnificent; of mud and stars; of earth and flowers; of love and hate and laughter and tears and ugliness and beauty and hurt?

R: Rapunzel #AtoZBloggingChallenge

“So my dearest Son, the annual fancy dress competition is announced. Tell me what do you want to become, we will make sure you win the first prize ”

Arnav was confused about what to become on this fancy dress competition.He even hesitated to discuss it with his father and mother.

It was a Sunday evening and after watching Jungle book, they were having dinner in Arnav’s favorite Chinese restaurant.

“Aru, you thought something, Achha tell me do you have any favorite cartoon character ” asked his father.

” I don’t know papa ”
“You want to become Mowgli from jungle book ” said a giggling mummy.
“Mommy…… No ”
” Do you want to be a superman, spiderman or batman”
“Nahi papa.”
“What about a soldier with a big gun…… Dhishoom, Dhishoom ”
“No Papa ”

“No issues beta. Take your time and tell us what do you want to be. We will make you prepare. Done? ”

Arnav continued eating his food quietly while his mummy and papa went on with their conversation about an upcoming wedding in family.

“Papa……… Papa.”
“Yes Arnav.”
” I want to become Rapunzel, the one with long hair.”

A shocked mother shouted ” Are you crazy Arnav, you are a boy, boy don’t become princesses.”
Sameer asked Meenakshi to stay quiet, took Arnav near him and said “Why do you want to be a Rapunzel Arnav, give me the reason for it. ”

Arnav then started narrating them the story of Rapunzel. His eyes lit when he told them how she let her hair down the window to be used as a rope. He seemed happy, very happy much to the dismay of Meenakshi, his mother.

Sameer smiled and said ” Ok Arnav, what a beautiful story, we will get you a Rapunzel costume for your fancy dress.”

Arnav sat there smiling gorging on his vanilla ice-cream with chocolate sauce.

Sameer took out his phone and texted to Meenakshi
“It’s okay love, let him stay pure without the gender stereotypes. It’s perfectly okay. ”

I am participating in #AtoZBloggingChallenge with www.blogchatter. com

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Q : The Question #AtoZBloggingChallenge

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David was again late today, rushing from his bed, he huddled up with the school uniform. Running towards the breakfast table, he saw his Father having his breakfast and immersed into the newspaper.

“Shit! Again a lecture today from dad” wondered David.

He sneaked into his chair and quietly started eating his meal.His mother poured him a glass of milk, to which he said “I don’t like milk mummy”

“You have to drink milk David, it will make you a stronger man, remember….Be a man of the home”,said his father.

Today was his favorite teacher’s class Miss Priya’s. He enjoyed thoroughly and so did other students. Miss Priya took the children in open field, narrated some stories and talked with kids. She never gave homework, told them about art, poetry, painting, nature and never scolded any of them. She was obviously the most favorite teacher of almost all the students.

Today she observed David a little lost, so she asked everyone to draw something related to nature and took David for a walk.

“What happened David? Is something troubling you?”

“Miss can I ask you something?“ said David hesitatingly.

“Sure beta , go ahead” said Miss Priya in an assuring tone.

“Mam, what does being a man mean?”

Oh! Where did you hear this David.”

“Mam, my father always says to me, be a man.”

“Ok David, I will tell you what does being a man means and then you will write a few lines on what you understood. Is that a promise?”

David nodded in affirmation. He was finally going to know what “being a man “ is.

“ Listen David, a man is a person who feeds his family, looks after their needs, takes care of everyone around, protects them if any difficulties arise, is always true to his word and never fears of anything. Do you understand David?”

David was thinking something, he knew Miss Priya would never ever give a answer but then he uttered something in a confusing tone “But Miss……..”

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“No David, I told you what is meant by “Being a man”, now you have to write a small  essay on it. Let’s get to the class back”.

David and Miss Priya walked back to the point where everyone was busy painting the beauty of nature around.

After Dinner, David took out his notebook and wrote:

 BE A MAN

A man is a person who feeds his family, looks after their needs, takes care of everyone around, protects them if any difficulties arise, is always true to his word and never fears of anything.I think :My mom is the man of the home………………………..

I am participating in #AtoZBloggingChallenge with www.blogchatter.com.

 

 

P : Train from………PAKISTAN #AtoZChallenge

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Warning :The views expressed in the blog are personal and if you happen to be a crazy lunatic under the mask of a patriot with your standard of judgement starts and ends with some slogan,please spare yourself from the difficulty of reading this piece

Once again this story has its origin in a train ,it so happenned that I was on my way to my hometown & as soon as the train left Delhi ,I opened up a book and was engrossed in reading .Around me was a family with 3 kids who were howling, shouting &throwing things on floor,in short taking all the benefit of them being “the little cute ones”. After an hour a voice said:

“Maaf kariyega mohtarma,aapko in bachhon ke karan badi takalluf uthani pad rahi hai”

( We are really very sorry because of the nuisance of the kids)

I said “ Nahi Nahi ye to chote bachhe hain”( Its completely okay) whereas in my mind I was thinking “Aisa kaun bolta hai yaar( who says like this )” and then my biggest enemy -my mind’s curiosity didn’t let me read, I asked to the gentleman where were they going to ,got a reply “Nagpur” and then to Amravati . I asked” coming from delhi?”

And got  a reply which solved the mystery of that urdu accent “ We are coming from PAKISTAN”

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Pakistan??? I never knew Bilaspur Rajdhani comes from Pakistan .The gentleman laughed, told that they came to Delhi and then are moving towards Amravati to visit a childhood friend  of his mother who is seriously ill.

Friend?? Ok,our history books say once we were one once upon a time.

After exchanging pleasantries ,I came to know that the gentleman Dr Shaukat was also a doctor and his lovely wife told me with almost a child like enthusiasm that her sister is also a doctor and was settled in Dubai .Why Dubai? I asked to which I came to know that Pakistan is still not a very progressive society when it comes to women working but then she also defended instantly saying things are changing and now women are even fighter plane pilots.

After some time I was offered “Peshaver ka halwa”,”khajoor ki kachori” and “lahore ka namkeen” which looked mouth watering but the logical mind screamed “You should not take any food from strangers” and the probability of risk grows when the strangers are from other side of border .Well I gave a look to the yummy food stuff and politely refused.

The talks with Dr Shaukat revolved aroud the girl education,medical field, exaggerating problem of power cut and it was refreshing to know from him that the youth wants change ,they want to get educated ,no politics of hatred ,want to work and bring about a change in the attitude of outside world towards their nation

Nagpur comes early morning,when they left, they bid a “Khuda Hafiz”, mother of Dr shaukat kept a hand on my head and wished me”Barkat” from her Khuda. Dr Shaukat and Nagma  wished me”behisaab khushiyaan” while I prayed for the good health of the Indian friend of the Pakistani grandma.

Off they went and with them went the “Peshawar ka halwa,Khajoor ki kachauri” from my eyesight,the train left Nagpur and sleep was gone from my eyes .Suddenly I realized that in this feeding up of enmity are we forgetting human values? As we have closed ourselves into AC Compartments have we closed the way to our hearts too? Gone are those days when every journey to village in the sleeper compartment, sharing the home cooked meals with strangers earned us friends to whom our parents used to send postcards? And then the biggest question: who is more dangerous- a gang of men who can rape you in the light of a metro city, the sick people who ogle you when you wear a short dress and make you feel naked, a group of people who thrash you till you die just brcause they assumed you eat something…….or a stranger, an unknown family from a nation ,a neighboring nation who is always portrayed as an enemy.If you happen to find an answer, do let me know……….till then stay safe and keep the women around you  safe…..

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