(Stories based on true incidences)
1 - At The Street Gate… - Rajashree P
2 - Incredible Love - Anushruti priya
3 - The Little Joy - Rajshri Suresh
1 - At The Street Gate…
Anything can really happen here!
Here, amidst the sounds of the distant drums, cymbals, tambourines and shehnais, the human choral chants fill the air with a mystical fizz heralding processions – not taken out with a specific cause or a case but often for the spells of cursory solidarities that the dwellers of this small city would rinse themselves off as soon as they were dispersed. And for sure, the street dogs and cats; the cows and donkeys let loose by their masters would also revel along with the human medley dipped in euphoric frenzies!
Here, children – the fully grown lads as well as the tardy ones- rush in excitement to catch the first glimpse of a news breaking event!
Here, the young, unmarried girls meet their beaus while on their way to the temple, the grocer, the grinding mill or the only Lovely Ladies Tailor in the area - the only possible pretexts for which they could step out of the house!
Here, the small and not-so-big traders buoy up a makeshift rendezvous for dealing in an impromptu wholesale transaction of coal, kerosene, clothes, scrap, vegetables or sand or bricks!
Here, the right turn corner becomes a gossip point for women sharing the weal and woes of their existences, intertwined within the fringes of joint or extended families!
Here, a temporary brawl burps up and subsides within a minute!
Here, the ‘good for nothings’ conduct a high level discussion on the ways of tumbling the present governing ministry!
This is our street gate- the most happening place in our small city.
The city that has more black smoke than the blackness of the moonless nights.
Dhim Dhim Dhimak Dhim! Dhum Dhum Dhumak Dhum! Here the sound of the beating drums intermittently pop up!
Kooooooo! Koooooooo! Here blows the conch heralding the arrival of a procession!
And lo! Each and every one - the ever inquisitives, the dawdlers, the dandies, the most stoic, the ‘good for nothings’ as well as the downright ‘no-nonsense-ones’- rushes to the street gate. The ones in slippers, the ones without them.
There was an uncontrollable excitement in the air that day! The dull, quiet morning of Shree Ramji’s Street tore into pieces with a burst of drumbeats that were first heard followed by the sounds of clanging metallic discs. It was advancing at a snail’s pace . As the sound of the drums and conches became louder, children raced, the youngies ran and the old ones toddled – all towards the street gate.
Bhagat Kaka was always the first to catch the glimpse of the jamboree albeit, he would go there limping and lurching, with his walking- stick dangling on his elbow, his dhoti unfurling and shouting at the racing ones.
“Hey….Stop! Give me a hand….…,,,,,,O Naniya….You donkey ... Wait! Oh God! Look at the world made by you… how has it changed! No one really cares nowadays for the old.”
“O Kaka…Why don’t you sit at home…? Rushing at this age to view the processions- be it a marriage, taaziya, rathyatra or the sound of a political tom tom, you want all the fun. Bhagat Kaka, why don’t you learn to folds your legs and sit quietly in a corner. Eh Gotia! Look there, how constantly he stares; without a blink, at the poster of this new film Julie. Look there! At this age, the oldie -sans teeth, sans hair….. Never does he miss an opportunity to gaze at the women passing by….“
“Aiey! Aiey! Gotia and you…..yes…..you, Nania. hold your tongues, you wretched ones! I heard it all…..that you murmured. Do you think I am totally deaf? At eighty, I can hear well, I can see well and…….you rascals, I know what you all are busy doing these days…. During the hot, scorching afternoons….Both of you and that Munio…. all three of you….haven’t you been writing messages on those paper planes and darting them off…… where…..eh? At the three young daughters of that widow Bachudi….Shame upon you! At your age, at sixteen I was married. I am going to tell Bachudi about your tricks…..and then, see the show…… ”
“No….no. Kaka, will you please…..I mean, we mean. Does it really suit you to worry about all these things at this age….? Shouldn’t you be engrossed in your puja-paath and not keeping an eye on what we, the youngies are doing. Kaka, now don’t crib like a crow. Come with us, let me hold your hand now.”
“Hmmm! That suits you better, Naniya! Hold this stick, too! And one more thing- your Kaki has asked me to get her a bunch of fenugreek leaves from Kaanniya, the green grocer at the street gate. Take this one rupee coin. Go and do that errand for me …. Run along before the procession arrives…..”
“Kaka, Kaka………. Why me? Do I have to get it? Err……”
“Hmm..…Ok. So you don’t want to go…….”
“Na..na..na. Kaka, when did I refuse…..? I agreed to do that, didn’t I?. Aiey Gotia, hold my bat…..I’ll be back in a moment.”
The procession was now only a hundred feet away.
The sound of the musical instruments and the chants were now growing louder, losing its clarity, evolving itself into a cacophonous furore. The road that separated the Lakhia’s pol and Shree Ramji’s Street was quite narrow making it almost difficult to distinguish the crowd of the onlookers and that of the procession.
The hanging wooden balconies that protruded from the old buildings on both the sides of the roads were fully crowded. By now Bhagat Kaka had settled himself on an otla outside Raja’s shop. Pressing his knuckles hard, he moved his impatient eyes around the balconies, the otlas and across the road, registering the presence of each one.
“Aiey Gotia, why didn’t you call me…. where’s Naniyo? How much did I miss? I was in the last room, studying for tomorrow’s exams……I heard this hullabaloo….Why didn’t you call me? Eh…can you see her anywhere? I mean that Ghatudi……Oh, Kaka you are also here…..Ram! Ram! Bhagat Kaka!” Munno aka Munio came rushing in, panting heavily for he had missed quite a lot of fun because of his bossy mother locking him for studies into a room on the third floor of his old house.
“I called you, Munia. Your ma shouted at me and drove me away. Ghatudi was here with her two sisters….She’s in a green frock. They were walking towards the Lovely Tailors….err…..towards Sarangpur Chakla. Let Naniya return, we will then follow them.”
“But where is he ….? Why has he yet not ……” Munno’s words were left incomplete as Naniyo appeared from the crowd.
“Eh Gotia,, who’s going to leave me back home? You, sons of ……. I’ll see you all. I saw Bachudi right there. I am going to tell her that all three of you have been following her daughters…..”
“Arre Kaka, what makes you worry so much? You know very well we are always there to help you, aren’t we?. Look there, Naniyio is back! He’ll drop you back home. No tension! See, he’s also got this bunch of leaves that Kaki had asked for.”
“Yes, Kaka. Don’t worry….Can we go now? We’ll soon be back. This is Naniyo promising, gentleman’s promise. Please wait here on Raja’s otla till we return. ” Naniyo handed over the bunch to Kaka and winked at Munno.
“Huh! Come soon…..your aunt will be waiting for me for the lunch.”
Bhagat Kaka saw the three boys disappearing in the crowd.
Two young men in white, with long black beards and hair, held the two sides of a banner with the name of the religious sect written on it. In bold, big fonts, it flashed the words ‘PEACE MARCH’ on it. They were followed by drummers and fifers who seemed to be oblivious of anything or anybody around barring the existence of their instruments and themselves. A large trail followed. Towards the end, the procession left a trailing line of a few marchers who followed the profession with a lethargic disinterestedness.
The crowd started dispersing slowly.
The boys had not yet returned.
Bhagat Kaka became restless. His old, ravaging eyes now became more impatient. These three boys- Naniyo, Gotio and Munno- had always brought pleasures and pains for him. He shared with them a strange relationship- “Is it friendship or just an endearing neighbourhood; a seeming grand child-parent knot or a human bond? I don’t know what. Haven’t their humble background made them grow up faster than their age yet, how full of mischiefs are the trio!
A few months back, how they tied a firecracker at one of the loose ends of my dhoti! Why? Just because I didn’t allow them to play cricket that afternoon. How the three boys are unfailingly found loitering at the pol entrance during evenings, chatting and teasing the passers by! How they play pranks upon Ravji Patel and cobble around themselves to tease him as late as till last Sunday! Every evening Ravji passes by the pol entrance and stops to talk to me in his low, squeaky voice. As soon as he would leave, he three boys made the sounds of a mewing cat. Last Sunday, it was only Munno present there and somehow, he missed out seeing Ravji passing by . As usual, Ravji came in his signature starched white sadra and pyjama holding the newspaper in his hand. He read out the headlines to me, chatted with me for a while and left. When he did not hear any mewing sounds from the boys, he turned back to Munno and said, “Where are your cats today? Aren’t they meowing tonight? Is everything fine?” Saying that he quietly walked ahead, leaving Munno absolutely dumbfounded and placid, as pale as a ghost and soon bursting into a riot of laughter.
Raja’s tap on the shoulder broke Kaka’s chain of thoughts. It was almost 11.30 am. Raja had been stuck in the traffic. “The customers will soon start pouring in and I haven’t yet, opened the shop,” Raja fumbled for the keys in his pocket.
“Ram Ram, Kaka.” He was surprised to see Kaka alone there. The procession had long back moved away from the street gate. The crowd had already dispersed.
“Ram Ram, Raja. Those three, Munno, Gotio and Naniyo promised me that they’ll soon be back to take me home. But they are…..”
“Arre, Kaka, I saw them going towards Kapdiwad. Perhaps, they were following the procession on its way to Halimni Khadki…..Shall I leave you home? ”
Raja’s last words almost went unheard.
Bhagat Kaka recalled the event that took place before a year and more. It was the eve of Makar Sankranti. The whole city had thronged itself inside the walled areas of Manek Chowk and Kalupur. People were madly shopping for the essentials for the next day-kites, thread reels, lanterns, gum tapes, dark glasses, caps and whatnot. “How the three boys had taken the responsibility of taking me along with them to Kalupur! We had just passed by Halimni Khadki and the trio stopped at ‘Lucky Amlette Centre’ pestering me to shell out money for the hot fried omelettes. ‘Oh you half-witted ones! What if your mothers come to know that you all are eating eggs and I, this eighty year old man is sponsoring the feast? Hari! Hari! Hari!. Not only they, your Kaushalya Kaki will also eat me raw for polluting the young boys…. Hesitatingly of course, I spent money that night. The kind of pleasure I saw on their innocent faces while relishing the taste of those steamy, spicy omelettes on that cold, wintry January night was something that I would not bargain for Lord Kuber’s wealth in this world…..”
“Kaka, Kaka, where are you lost? Come, let me take you…..”
“ No. I shall go only with them. The boys have always kept their promise. I am sure they will soon come…..” Before he could finish the sentence, their conversation was disrupted by the blowing sirens of the speeding police vans announcing that an indefinite curfew was being imposed in the area and that people were required to remain indoors. In no time, the shutters of the shops came down, offices closed and the roads evacuated. Within a quarter of an hour, a terrible silence prevailed in the air. The residents were left lurking under the dubious spell of an unidentified fear.
It has been more than a month now
The seven o’clock siren blows customarily for the workers of the New Cotton Mills.
It is time for Ravji Kaka to pass by the pol entrance. He stops by to read out a few newslines to Bhagat Kaka. The City Digest It says: “The death toll in the city following the communal riots last month has reached to hundred. In a statement issued by the police officials, a few suspects who were arrested have been a part of many religious processions in the last couple of years. ”
No chats, no discussions, no mewings, no arguments now follow Ravji Kaka. His hearkener’s silence breaks into a crazy passerby’s song :
O, bird of the blue skies!
Why don’t you return?
How perturbed I am
In your absence!
We played together, we roamed,
We swayed together on a boat
Till you were dragged by a strong wave!
I have been waiting for you till date.
There’s no news from your end.
2 - Incredible Love
February, 3, 2014
Today something unexpected was happened; I got a friend request on Facebook from an unknown guy named Siddhartha. Actually he is in the friend list of one of my friend, Aditi. Yes I asked Aditi about him but she can’t reply. As he is unknown so don’t know he is trustworthy or not. My suspiciousness is obvious because 99.9% of boys are not trustworthy especially in this modern world. After thinking so much over this I accepted his friend request. . But still I am not sure about him. ‘Ah! It is too confusing situation for girls’, they can’t easily accept any friend request on Facebook or any social media because it’s not safe as there were many fake accounts on social media. Really can’t understand so I decide to tell you about this.
February 10, 2014
I want to share something with you. Previously I told you about that unknown guy, Siddhartha who send me the friend request, and in confusion I accepted his friend request. But today I and Siddhartha share a close friendship. It’s unbelievable that we came so close. We were always texting each other on social media. And of course he is a kind hearted guy, very trustworthy, innocent and yes he is very truthful and helpful friend as far as I know him. He is always there for me in every problem. Really I never see a guy like him till now. It is incredible that from social media I got a friend like him. Don’t know how to explain. Our bonding became so strong that we can’t live without chatting or texting each other. Because of him only I give my full concentration on studies as he was so understood and he forced me to do my studies well and achieve something in my life.
February 14, 2014- Feb 15, 2014
Today I’m very disappointed from Siddhartha. I was thinking he was trustworthy, and a true friend, but now I think he doesn’t deserve my friendship even. At 12 am morning, he texted me that he loves me. After reading his text I just switched off my phone and slept. But my mind was constantly thinking about his text. I had been considering him my best friend but he is just disgusting. I don’t know what to do. He texted me he falls in love with me after he saw my profile picture in that Red saree. I really can’t understand all this. He requested me that he wants to see me once. He requested me so much so that I accepted his request. I texted him -“that if you want to see me than see me tomorrow morning when I will be going for the tuition but after that you will never call me or text me.” He accepted my condition and he is coming tomorrow. Yes, he was there on other side of the road, waiting for my arrival I saw her but unfortunately he didn’t see me. He tried well for seeing my face but he was unable to do so. He followed me to the tuition with his bike only and only because he wanted to see my face once. But unfortunately he didn’t see my face as I entered the tuition. But one thing I want to say that he was too desperate to see me.
After a month
Now today 1 month was passed and yes we again started talking as he kept his promise that he never talks to me over that topic i.e. love. We sorted all the issues and yes now we are only and only good friends nothing else. After a month day after tomorrow in the afternoon I, Siddhartha with my two friends decided to meet in Eyelex for a movie and lunch as he texted me yesterday evening - “please meet me at least once because I always try to see you in the face of every single girl. So after seeing this text my mind says - “sakshi, why you are doing so, this is very bad to trouble anyone like this. How rude are you”. So finally I decide to not to being so rude and what is wrong in meeting him at least once. So excited…
March14, 2015 – August31, 2017
Today I’m impressed with Siddhartha. He did something I really can’t expect him to do so. He had given me a rose for our friendship .We really enjoyed the movie, it was too good. After movie we went for the lunch in central plaza. We ordered the food, the food was really awesome we all enjoyed our food and in the meantime Siddhartha took food from my defile plate. We all get shocked that how anyone could eat other’s defile food. After seeing all my respect for him in my heart was increased so much. At that time somewhere in my heart he makes his place. Also, that incident forces me to realize something i.e. ‘for me there is no one made better than him’. He is perfect.
One very important thing I get to know about Siddhartha i.e. he is disbeliever. “Actually last night I texted him- meet me at temple for worship”. He replies- “No way, I’m a disbeliever and in my whole life I had never visited temple”. But on my insistence he came to the temple and worshipped. We did fasting also so that we can always live together. But who knows the future, who knows what is decided for us by our destiny.
October 10, 2018
Today I broke up with Siddhartha not because I have any problem with him in our relationship or he has any issue with me. We got separated only because of our families, for our families (parents). We tried a lot but perhaps our destiny has decided something else for us. No one can believe that after the breakup we are still together as a best friend. He was still there for me. We still texting each other on social media. Don’t know our relationship will work out or not but one thing is clear we will never forget each other in our whole life…. Missing you so much…
3 - The Little Joy
Morning, noon and night she had been with him, restless though, attending to all his needs; complaining of none, yet thoughtful and disturbed for reasons unknown. Her eyes forlorn, seemed worried, lost in thoughts, though her voice spoke of none. Had he noticed her fretfulness? She knew not. Never had he ever bothered to even acknowledge her presence; gone were the days she would brood over his reactions. It had taken years for her to comprehend what she really meant to him. Tried hard had she during the initial days of marriage to meet his expectations, but now, accepted had she her place in silence. The nonpareil wife who did all the chores and met all his crazy exigencies without complaining was just not her. Of late sensed had she that he did not want to even sleep with her. “You can get pregnant.” repeat did he often, and every time he retired wonder did she if there was another. Never did she try to find out; never did she want to know… “Knowing that is not going to make any difference…!!But what a ludicrous excuse to make!!” All these years she had deemed that men wanted salubrious wives who could procreate; strange was her man!! “Ahh!! No wonder Japanese men use robots…!!” Smiled to herself did she; a smile that shrouded all her loneliness and sorrow that none but she ever perceived.
Several years now, used to all his eccentricities had she got. “A worthless life; a mere existence!!” she thought “Pretty am I; they admire me!! Why not he?” “Why did he ever marry me?” oft wondered she.
An escape from this quandary she longed for; a true purpose in life she delved for. Taking up a job was not possible; run away from her responsibilities never did she. Higher studies an option; longed to be back in college did she; “Back to books and the company of friends; happy would I be…”thought she.
A bright student had she been; but seventeen years had it been. “Will they take me in? All the cooking and cleaning, serve no purpose; wasted my life have I, regret my past do I!! Too late is it for me? Or still can I try? Have one more chance do I?” Awakened had her ambitions been after years of hibernation; ready was she not to relinquish without trying. Clueless and apprehensive about the route, thanks to a companion, a pillar of strength and support who helped her resolve her difficulty. “College, that’s my dream!!” screamed with excitement did she, but the hurdles thoroughly knew she.
Thoughts in her turbulent; words in her timid; she rambled, unable to ask or act. “Permit, will he not; jeopardize the conveniences enjoyed for so long will he not; materialize this thought, it will not; enter another fight, must you not…”, her inner voice kept bawling; “but ask must I” she kept asserting. “Convince my husband, a herculean task, know do I; but try sure will I; my dreams to fulfill, resolute am I…!!” the confidence build in her she sensed, as these words to herself she said.
Having his lunch was he, when approached him did she, sensing her uneasiness enquire about her need did he. “I wish to learn” blurted she; shock was what she expected, but tranquil was he. Why, when, what and how enquired he and “let me think” was all he committed. Brood over what his answer would be did she; restless the whole afternoon was she. Called her friend did she, consolation and encouragement receive did she. Concentrate on nothing could she, neither eat anything did she. Evening, as he entered, expectant for an answer rushed she, but mention nothing about her plans did he. Pretending to have forgotten, continued his routine tasks did he. Ultimately unable to contain herself anymore asked she “Proceed with my plans may I?” and surprised looked he. “Serious are you? Your age, remember do you? Your daughter to college shall soon proceed, so how can you?”
Determined this time though, continued pursuing him did she. “No age limit for my course or my desire” said she, “all arrangements have been made. Your permission is all I need; our daughter never shall I forsake, to you all my commitment I make.” Her silent prayer to all Gods she made and waited for the much awaited reply. Heavens seemed to feel sorry for her this time, understanding her pain, wanted to ease it out for her. “You may if you want, but nothing at home must change; all I want, and all she wants.”
How nice…he was permitting!!! God had finally heard her prayers!!
“This was the man I had wanted and longed for all these years; a man who bolstered me” naively thought she. For the first time in life she knew she was happy to be a part of him. Her lips , all the more beautiful with a genuine smile, hummed a nice little tune, one to which her heart danced to, and afresh she proceeded to continue her journey… the irreproachable journey of being a wife, a mother, and now, a student. “A middle aged student!!” she laughed a hearty laugh as the joy in her knew no bounds.