Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017 Longlist Shraddhanvita Tiwari

The Creed of Blood

“The next time I see you with her, you’re no longer my daughter.”
Janaki Devi’s voice was loud enough to reach eighty-five decibles, enough to damage little Meenal’s ears permanently. But sometimes the mind is so occupied with the eternal music of love that no other noise can disturb its state of joy. And when this recipe of love is sprinkled with the spice of innocence, it becomes the most incredible thing existing on earth. Seven years old Meenal was busy garnishing this recipe and all her mother’s volcanic threats were ignored-- not deliberately, but divinely. 

Janaki Devi was a stubborn woman. She was the only daughter of Pandit Ramacharya, the Principal of Sanskriti International (although many wondered what was ‘International’ about it) and a part-time priest. However, nobody ever found him in the school regularly except on the annual function.

Pandit Ramacharya was a pious brahmin scholar, as most people would say, who had been a teetotaler and never supported violence on animals in his lifetime. People would touch his feet and take his suggestions as a sacred mantra. He was one of the wisest man of the town who, people believed, knew almost everything about Vastushastra, Astrology, Vedic Education, Mythology and way to Salvation. On the other hand, Ramacharya’s own salvation existed in a small one room house in the outskirts of the town where Sundari, his mistress, would wait every evening to worship him. “This relationship is divine”, he would tell Sundari taking shelter under her long black hair and dusky bosom. None else knew about this affair. 

Another thing that gave him the feeling of salvation was treating his wife like a slave. She, like all other people of the town, believed Ramacharya to be a saint and waited for him every night at the door to purify her hands by washing his feet. Ramacharya had lost all his interest in this woman after she gave birth to Janaki. He would hate the smell of her sweat-drenched body, her hands that cleaned the shit of her child all day and the torn pallu of her sari. Therefore, the advocate of non-violence used to beat her every night out of frustration. She was 8 years younger to Ramacharya, but looked older. Ramacharya met Sundari in the Shiva temple when she came to him seeking his blessing. He came to know that she was an innocent childless widow, much younger to him, and sold some handmade snacks to earn her bread and butter. Ramacharya found it a good opportunity to fulfill his ‘natural rights’. His evening visits at Sundari’s abode brought end to his wife’s misery. She, being ignorant of his treachery, would keep thanking the Goddess she worshiped for bringing her happiness back.

No matter how Janus-faced Ramacharya’s personality was, he was a doting father. Janaki was the apple of his eye. There was nothing that she asked for and he did not bring. “You will spoil her”, his wife would say. But he would be deaf. He did not want to compromise with her daughter’s desires. This made Janaki stubborn. She wouldn’t stop crying until she got something she asked for. She could make only few seasonal friends most of whom were the students in his father’s school and wanted some benefit from her friendship. The excessive amount of love could help her finish her first year of graduation anyhow from the local college. Two more years went in learning to cook everyday meal and to make mehandi designs and then she got married to Raghuveer Tripathi, a simple, hardworking banker.

Soon, the pampered princess of Ramacharya’s mansion became the quick-witted queen of Raghuveer’s house. She would skillfully handle each and every household issue. Raghuveer was an humble man, and he would listen to his wife’s arguments on any issue calmly. The couple were, soon, blessed with a baby girl and named her Meenal. Raghuveer had always been an idealist, and he decided not to go for another child. He wanted Meenal to become a doctor, but Meenal was a maverick. Books, classroom, tests, mathematical operations, scientific terms, and homework never fascinated her. The only subject she liked was English. There were beautiful stories and poems in her English textbook: about the rainbow, butterflies, fountains, chirping birds, mountains and valleys. She would always take a window seat in her classroom during rainy days while listening to these poems and tickle with raindrops gathered on her right cheek. There was a small pond beside her school. During the recess, everyday, she would silently move up to the pond and sit there watching the birds balancing themselves on the wheat field. Her vivid imagination would immediately turn the clouds into dragon, fairies and some mythological characters as she heard their description from her mother. No doubt, children are literally and figuratively closer to the nature- closer to the heart of it all, and that is why they are closer to God, as He often speaks and reveals himself through nature.

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