Stop waiting for the stars to align, the Universe to send signals, the Gods to descend. Make your own mistakes, choose your own days, decide for your own self. What is the worst that could happen? You could fail? But what if you didn’t try? Then you did fail.
They weren’t wrong when they said that we could conquer the world. But first, you need to conquer your own mind. More than half the battle is won then!
“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.”
Every trip I go on, firms this belief for me. And here’s a new way of looking at roads and rains!
I recently went to Pune and surrounding areas – Google weather forecasts and the news channels had informed us well in advance of rains during my travel days. But when you say rains to a Calcuttan who’s staying in Bangalore, we think half an hour of rain. Who knew we would have to expect twenty-three and a half hours of rain and downpour?!
Thanks to the incessant rain and wind speeds high enough to make your teeth rattle, all five of us are now proud owners of a raincoat! The last time we had one was when we were toddlers rushing to montessories and jumping into every puddle we found with our mothers or fathers or both running behind us to make sure we don’t create a splash we can’t save ourselves from! Sigh. If only they still ran after us. At least some of our mistakes could have been eliminated. If only.
Talking about puddles, we are used to seeing them in the potholes on our roads but it’s a rare sight to wake up to a puddle in your hotel room! Our clothes and bags were so wet, despite the raincoats, that the process of drying them under the fan resulted in more of a watery mess than an evaporation exercise.
She sat by the shore. The cold water rhythmically wet her toes now and again. Some more and then no more. She inched closer to the water. She sadly stared out at the man in the water, helplessly flailing his arms around. She wished she could help him. But she’d just come out of the water for him. She’d tried dragging him to the banks. She’d tried calling out for help. She’d tried hauling him over herself. But after a while, there’s nothing she could do. She saved herself from drowning. That is all she could do. He didn’t want to be saved. Yet he wanted to live.
“Let me please help you,” she cried out. She pushed her drenched hair out of her eyes. Sand was stuck on her wet palms and legs. He didn’t reply. He struggled without making a sound. He didn’t cry out for help. Her dress was soaked. It clenched to her contours. She was breathing heavily. She was struggling to breathe as he was struggling to die. She dug her fingers in the sand and dried leaves around. She sobbed uncontrollably. Her lungs were searing with pain.
She looked up after a while. There was no one in sight. The water was rippling in the middle. The waves were becoming smaller. They would soon die. Just as he had. She stared at the water. Her tears were drying up. After a while, she got up, turned around and left.
She couldn’t kill herself over him. If she did that, his death would be a waste. After all, he had just killed himself over his love. She couldn’t repeat his mistakes.
They could not afford the granduer of the Durga Puja pandals which were stretched across the length and breadth of the city. Their idol had none of the splendor associated with the city’s most festive days. They were five women praying to the strongest woman deity they’d ever known, celebrating her stories, wondering if she still existed somewhere among one of them.
Not many of them prayed anymore. Over the years, the numbers at the Puja had dwindled. She didn’t blame them. After all, how long can you fight against your own destiny and hope that things will change, tides will turn and the unthinkable will happen? But she hadn’t been able to forsake praying. That is the one thing that she had wholeheartedly learnt from her mother – to pray.
They weren’t a part of the privileged – if she could put it lightly. Goddesses and prayers couldn’t be an element of their daily living. Far from it, in fact. They lived in areas, the others called red light areas. She never understood where the name came from. She always wondered if the red light signified danger – and if yes, then were they a danger to society or was the society a danger to them?
She seemed to have lost herself in the sounds of the conch shell and the bells. The fragrance of the incense sticks devoured her into a trance. Someone banged on the door. Snapping out of her trance, she opened the door. “How much longer will you all be at it? It’s almost sun down. You need to get to work,” the lady at the door, said strictly. The lady was not a bad person, but she wasn’t necessarily good either. She was, unfortunately, just right.
“We’ll be downstairs soon,” she said ruefully.
Closing the small 10 by 10 feet spare room which housed a small idol of the Goddess of the season, the five ladies trooped to their respective rooms downstairs. Taking off her red and white bangles, she kept them carefully in a velvet clothed box. Her mangalsutra* lay beside it. She’d never worn it after her wedding day. Tears welling up in her eyes, she kept the box tucked far inside her wardrobe. She removed her red bindi and stuck it on the top of the box. They were to be used again after a long time. Slowly she took off her red and white sari, an attire which held no significance in the life she was living, an attire that was to be kept hidden away from her ‘customers’, an attire that shouldn’t remind them in any manner of the life that was awaiting them outside the red light area.
She was faceless to them. Nameless to them. They wanted it that way. And she wanted to keep it that way too. She didn’t want to think of what her life meant – either to her or to them. She wanted to keep her dreams locked away in that velvet clothed box.
She was a devotee of the Durga. But she couldn’t harness the Goddess’ strength in herself. They were devotees of the Durga too. And they didn’t want her to harness Her strength.
Picture Courtesy : Prashant from Just Spoken Thoughts. Thank you for coming up with the beautiful sketch in almost no time! Hoping that this post will allure you into further creative collaborations! ;)
*The black and golden beaded necklace that signifies marital connection and is a part of the married Hindu woman’s attire.
And I just kept looking around because this was turning awkward! Not ‘cuz I was hiding a relationship from her (Gosh! There has to be one to hide one!), but ‘cuz she starts reading my stuff after so long and stumbles across this? Of all posts, why this? Now, she would be more curious about my relationship with a guy rather than my relationship with words!
You must be knowing how moms can be. I am sure her first reaction on reading the piece was, “Is my girl really good enough to make this up or is she dedicating it to someone?”
Fortunately, (or unfortunately, only time will tell!), she didn’t react after reading the post, but simply asked, “Anything else I should read?”
And I went all out with an “Absolutely not!”.
Because that… was embarrasing.
Life Note To Self : Mothers know best. If they refrain from reading your work, let them! They are just saving you the embarrassment.
P.S. : My mother’s a working woman with an almost liberal mind by Indian standards. But I guess, not liberal enough to save me the blushes!
P.P.S : The sketch is by me. Even if you do not like the post, I’d still adore you if would leave a word or two about the beautiful mother and child! 🙂