Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shanti - a small story


She knew why it happened, she knew why she had committed suicide, and she could understand why the post mortem report said there was an unborn foetus.

She could understand why everyone at the tola*2 was raging, yet she could not fully comprehend why. After all she was only 15.

She knew Mala*3 when she was a child. A year or two elder to her, Mala lived next door. They played all their games together. She learnt all the household chores by watching her, her mother never had to worry about that; and Shanti, in her childish pride, was always proud that she came to know about menstruation without even gaining puberty.

The tola knew the two as a company. And now the curious neighbours and her mother wanted to know, who Mala was sleeping with, and Shanti; she did not know how to answer. She was scared and grieved and did not know what to say.

She couldn’t say a thing. She was numb – with fear, terror and her loss. What happened is something she so easily could have narrated, but would they believe her, would they not condemn her. How can she speak out, get the burden out of her soul, without being castigated. Without being hurt?

She had just lost Mala, the one she knew was her only friend, they knew each other’s secret, and they both were afraid then, and now she was gone, forever. Alone, what can she do now, how can she speak out. Who does she turn to?

She just heard her father screaming outside to her mother – and knew anytime he would unleash his terror at home – to her mother and to her, God only knows what all he would do.

‘Your daughter has brought this misery home, she is a curse, and you are the culprit, you brought her to this world, you bitch, why did you give birth to this wicked girl? Eh? What do I say to them now, tell me’, he yelled!
Mother merely said, ‘Shanti is not telling me anything, she is crying herself, I don’t know...’

She then heard a loud noise and a thump and then her mother’s cries, she knew her mother was being beaten up, she wanted to tell her father, but right now she had no courage, she had no courage to say a word.

But her father had already entered their only room, where she was crying, inconsolably, her father picked her up from the ground where she was sitting, picked her up in the air, and dropped her. With a thud she fell to the ground, and did not know how to react. Then her father picked up a kerosene bottle, poured it over her and said, ‘tell me the truth or I will burn you alive’.
Hearing this, her mother came to the room, jumped over the girl and said ‘if she has to die, kill us both, what you are doing! You will be punished for something you never did, that girl did not die because of you, and by killing us, no one, not the culprit; but you will go to jail for our murder. Spare us. We haven’t done anything. WE have not brought any disrepute to anyone. Our family’s name is intact. Tell him Shanti, have you brought any disrepute to the family’s name? Tell him now or I will ask your father to burn you alive, now!’

To which Shanti simply nodded – No.

She was terrified; she was not terrified of anything like this ever before, her own father was willing to kill her and her mother even supported him. She wasn’t this afraid even when that thing had happened to her then.

*1Shanti literally means Peace, also a common Hindu name for girls in India

*2Tola means a hamlet, here it means a hamlet of the most downtrodden, hitherto untouchable castes, although that is long illegal, it is still uncommon for upper caste Indians (both Hindus and Muslims) to visit these areas.

*3Mala literally means a Garland, also a common Hindu name for girls in India

I write it

where is a true self

where is me?

given the predicament and the contradiction, I'm all drawn in.

Am I just travelling without moving at all.

my ways, my life, my being.

do they not pose my questions

Incoherent answers, are they not all I have.

but somehow I'm still chugging along

somehow still finding myself, I am.

somehow still dealing with life's incorrigible differences, I am.

yet with hope I'd fight

yet with hope I'll find I believe

my destiny is what I choose

fight I will

these incoherencies will disappear, I believe

I will succeed. I will live.

it is my own promise to my self.

it is my angst, it is my deciphering, it is my devaluation.

it is my survival at cost, it is my deep devotion.

I have my fate. and I write it.

search the dew

The dew is not formed here 
The winters may come, and the flower petals may yearn for it
But due never comes here, ever.

The joys of small little joys are gone forever, they are gone
To find them, to search for them, I have to search farther lands
They are not found here

Its concrete here, in the mind, and in the surroundings
Its all I get here, why did I come here
where is inspiration, why do I have to dig deep within to find it



पेंसिल, वो इक स्याह सा टुकड़ा
अब कहाँ है, और उसे कैसे है खोया।  

क्यों न हो उस पेंसिल की तलाश 
जिसे पकड़ना, जिसे पकड़ना,
कितनी ही आत्मीयता से,
पापा ने था सिखाया।   

वो पहली बार पेंसिल से बस चीस रहे थे
रंगरेजों की तरह, कागज़ में 
वो काला सा रंग। 
वो काला सा रंग बस भरे जा रहे थे 

आज यूं ही याद सा आ गया मुझे 
वो पेंसिल की नोक। 
किस तरह तराशते रहते थे,  
पेंसिल की नोक। 
बस समष्टि की गोष्ठी 
इसी गोष्ठी ने कहा 
एक पेंसिल की धारदार नोक पर 

विवेचन कर, अन्तः में झाँक कर,
अपनी नयी संरचना कर.

उदहारण सा दे, अपनी समष्टि का,
अपनी ही पेंसिल की लकीर से, 
अभिव्यक्ति का 
अपनी श्रृष्टि का, अपनी दृष्टि का 
अपने चक्षु के समावेश का

कुटुंब में, विश्व में।
ऋणों के उद्दभव, और उसके उद्गम का सार 
इसी पेंसिल की नोक पर 
इसे यहीं सृजित कर 
अभिव्यक्ति की पराकाष्ठा इसी धरती पर। 
बस ढूँढ ले पेंसिल को 
बस ढूंढ ले उसकी धार-धार नोक को 
बस ढूंढो उस पेंसिल को 
तराशे हुए, धारदार नोक को