Category: Story



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The battlefield of Kurukshetra was being prepared to facilitate the movement of mammoth armies with large cavalries. They used elephants to uproot trees & clear the ground. On one such tree lived a sparrow, a mother of four young ones. As the tree was being knocked down, her nest landed on the ground along with her offsprings, too young to fly, miraculously unharmed.

The vulnerable & frightened sparrow looked around for help. Just then she saw Krishna scanning the field with Arjuna. They were there to physically examine the battleground & devise a winning strategy before the onset of the war.

She flapped her tiny wings with all her might to reach Krishna’s chariot.

“Please save my children,O Krishna,” the sparrow pleaded. “They will be crushed tomorrow when this battle starts.

“I hear you,” said He, the omniscient one, but I can’t interfere with the law of nature.”

“All I know is that you are my saviour,O Lord.I rest my children’s fate in your hands. You can kill them or you can save them, it’s upto you now”

“The wheel of Time moves indiscriminately” Krishna spoke like an ordinary man implying that there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

“I don’t know your philosophy,” the sparrow said with faith & reverence. “You are the wheel of time. That’s all I know. I surrender to thee.”

“Stock food for three weeks in your nest then.”

Unaware of the on going conversation, Arjuna was trying to shoo away the sparrow when Krishna smiled at the bird. She fluttered her wings a few minutes in obeisance & flew back to her nest.

Two days later, just before the boom of conchs announced the commencement of the battle, Krishna asked Arjuna for his bow & arrow. Arjuna was startled because Krishna vowed to not lift any weapon in the war. Besides, Arjuna believed that he was the best archer out there.

“Order me, Lord,” he said with conviction, nothing impenetrable for my arrows.”

Quietly taking the bow from Arjuna, Krishna took aim at an elephant. But, instead of bringing the animal down, the arrow hit the bell around its neck & sparks flew.

Arjuna couldn’t contain his chuckle seeing that Krishna missed an easy mark.

“Should I?” He offered.

Again ignoring his reaction, Krishna gave him back the bow & said that no further action was necessary.

“But why did you shoot the elephant Keshav? Arjun asked.

“Because this elephant had knocked down the tree sheltering that sparrow’s nest.”

“Which sparrow?” Arjun exclaimed. “Plus, the elephant is unhurt & alive. Only the bell is gone!”

Dismissing Arjuna’s questions, Krishna instructed him to blow his conch.

The war began, numerous lives were lost over the next eighteen days. The Pandavas won in the end. Once again, Krishna took Arjuna with him to navigate through the ruddy field. Many corpses still lay there awaiting their funeral. The battleground was littered with severed limbs and heads, lifeless steeds and elephants.

Krishna stopped at a certain spot and looked down thoughtfully at an elephant-bell.

“Arjuna,” he said, “will you lift this bell for me & put it aside?”

The instruction, though simple, made little sense to Arjuna. After all, in the vast field where plenty of other things needed clearing, why would Krishna ask him to move an insignificant piece of metal out of the way? He looked at him questioningly?

“Yes! This bell!” Krishna reiterated. “It’s the same bell that had come off the elephant’s neck I had shot at.”

Arjuna bent down to lift the heavy bell without another question. As soon as he lifted it though, his world changed forever.

One, two, three, four & five. Four young birds flew out one after another followed by a sparrow. The mother bird swirled in circle around Krishna, circumambulating him in great joy. The one bell cleaved eighteen days ago had protected the entire family.

Photo By: Someone unknown from India.
Submitted by: Folklore
Submitted on: Fri Apr 24 2020 21:34:10 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Folklore
Language: English

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தாமஸ் ஆல்வா எடிசன் ஒருநாள் பள்ளியில் இருந்து ஒரு கடிதம் எடுத்து வந்தார்.
அம்மாவிடம் தந்தார்.
அதை படிக்க சொனார்.
அவர் அம்மா அதில் மகனே உனக்கு படம் நடத்தும் அளவிற்கு பள்ளியில் வாத்தியார் இல்லை என்று இருக்கிறது என்று சொன்னார்
சில வருடம் கழித்து எடிசன் மாபெரும் விஞ்ஞானி ஆனார்.
அப்போது அந்த பழைய கடிதத்தை படித்தார்.
அதில் அவர் பள்ளியில் இருந்து கொண்டு வந்த கடிதம் இருந்தது
அதில் உண்மையில் எழுதி இருந்தது இது” இவன் படிக்க தகுதி இல்லாதவன்” அவன் பள்ளிக்கு வர வேண்டாம்.

உண்மை அறிந்த எடிசன் கண்ணீர் வடித்தார்.தாயின் அருமை எண்ணி வியந்தார்.
தனி தஹி ஊக்க படுத்தியது நினது நன்றி கூறினார்.

ஒரு எதிர்மறையான கருத்தை கூட ஒரு தாய் நினைத்தால் ஊக்கத்தின் மூலம் மகனை மாற்றலாம் என்பதற்கு இது ஒரு உதாரணம்

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Submitted by: subba
Submitted on: Sat Sep 14 2019 20:50:04 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Ancient Wisdom
Language: Tamil

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There was once a monkey in the forest. He ate banana and mango. He had a friend monkey who also ate banana and mango.

There was a lion too, who came to meet the monkeys and saw them eating bananas and mangoes.

The lion said to the monkeys that he also wants to eat bananas and mangoes. But the monkeys laughed on him. Seeing this, the lion took some bananas and mangoes and ran away to his cave to eat them. The lion was very happy eating the delicious bananas and mangoes and said I will always eat bananas and mangoes.

The monkeys thought, what a foolish lion he is. But slowly, all animals looked at the lion and were very happy that he was not killing anyone anymore. Other animals also started following the lion and stopped killing other animals. And all animals lived in the forest without fearing each other anymore.

There was happiness all around.

-As narrated by Ira, Senior Kindergarten, August 2019, Mississauga, Canada
-Ira

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Submitted by: Ira
Submitted on:
Category: Original
Language: English

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The Treaty -DOLA DUTTA ROY


Rustam had never seen the dog in the neighborhood before.
The weekly bazaar was still buzzing as the sun went down behind the tall trees up the slope. There were garbage heaps at a distance created by the locals who had squatted down to sell their wares in a clearing. It was the weekly bazaar around the small neighborhood. He saw the dog going from one heap to the other, stealthily and cautiously– looking for morsels of edible items. As it wandered about warily from one heap to the other, people ran away from it. Its size frightened them, and some just ignored it.

A Labrador, feeble and old, it looked hungry and forsaken. Obviously abandoned, he thought. It could be part of the holidaying gangs that visited the riverside, miles away, every year around this time, to celebrate the sighting of the moon. But the revelry was over some days back. He noticed the blue collar that peeked out every now and then through its dusty golden coat — now dulled with neglect. Sitting on a big rock when Rustam, didn’t move away from the creature, it came close — its eyes fixed on the orange-stick in his hand that he licked with great gusto.

He looked at the dog and stopped midway. The look in its eyes struck a chord in his heart. Those eyes were lost and tired. Perhaps famished.
Do dogs like ice cream? Rustam wondered.

He dropped the unfinished stick to the ground anyway. The dog moved away alarmed as though it was going to be pelted and shooed away. Looking for a sign from Rustam to allow him to taste the delicious melting item wasting on the ground, it waited. Instead, when Rustam gave a slight nod it moved closer and gave it a tentative lick first. Then the hungry beast devoured it in no time. Rustam found it quite funny. He laughed. But he needed to head home. There was work to do.

When he got up to leave, the creature followed him. But he was in no mood to care for it any further as he had other things on his mind — like the thought of his sweetheart he wished to wed, as soon as he could make some more money. He was lucky today. He had sold everything that he got. Well, almost. Making a mental note of how much more money that he needed to make, he walked on wistfully. He knew that the dog was right behind him as he saw the shadow of the two cleverly through the corner of his eye on the side of the uneven cobbled path. The sun was setting somewhere behind them. He didn’t stop and whistled along as he thought of his girl.

Rustam shut the wooden door behind him that creaked and rattled. He forgot all about the dog that followed him. It sat patiently outside his door all night. He could hear it moan and whine at intervals. But Rustam was tired and wanted to get some rest. Lying in bed he thought of his two-room cottage which he realized was not enough for his future plans. He must try and start an extension, especially a ‘godown’ where he could stack his collection before he could lose all that to the ‘looteras’ that watched him collect his lot to sell at the bazaar.

“Bastards,’” he grumbled. “Why don’t they learn to do something constructive instead of robbing others who are working hard to make a living?” It was a menace to live with. He rolled over and shut his eyes. He thought of his little cottage that was surrounded by clusters of coconut and eucalyptus trees his forefathers had planted on their bit of land —
for generations to thrive on. Today, having nobody to share his load of hardship with, he found it tough to care for the land and the trees. He doubted if Shabnam, his lady love, could also help him out in that respect. After all, she was only a woman. He must seek some help and advice from his uncle in the next village.

At daybreak Rustam was startled by the noise outside his little dwelling. He rushed to the window and got a glimpse of the neighborhood kids, the ‘coconut looteras’, jumping over the fence around his land to escape as the furious dog barked them away. They had come to steal the coconuts piled up in his small rundown cart in the backyard; his only place to stack them in. At his wits end, Rustam ran his fingers through his hair and charged out. He was pleasantly surprised to see that not a single coconut had fallen out of the cart. He also noticed that the dog stood at a distance looking at him with its head bent low, asking to be pardoned, if it had done anything wrong. Rustam laughed. He went and sat next to the animal and stroked its head.

At length, he brought some stale bread and a bowl of water and placed it at the door. The dog watched his moves carefully. He could only take orders from his master. Rustam whistled and waved. It came bounding. It was the first time that Rustam saw its tail wag. There was expectation and hero-worship in its eyes which filled his heart with a twinge of sadness. He placed the food in front of it and in minutes the dog gulped down its reward looking cheerful.

Rustam watched with great interest how the dog enjoyed his gift of ‘manna’ from heaven. Its joy was palpable. It ran around in glee and licked his face and hands in gratitude. Rustam sat there taking it all, overwhelmed — pondering if he should get a leash.
But first, he must give it a name. How about ‘Ghulam’?

-Calcutta, Nov 3, 2018
-DOLA DUTTA ROY

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Submitted by: DOLA DUTTA ROY
Submitted on: Sun Aug 11 2019 12:28:44 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Original
Language: English

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The Aeroboard was not as fast as the imagination, so it took some time to reach the places.
That it did not touch the ground but floated a feet above, gave the advantage of moving much faster than just walking.
For walking such a distance would take so much time that the motivation to reach itself would die considering the increasing impatience with slower modes of transport.
The distance also would appear so much, only to allow the imagination to work its way, in constructing what was desired to be reached.

The city seemed far, but the distance melted due to the speed reached by the Aeroboard.
The rocky desert stretched far enough for the heat to work its way through me.
The heat became tolerable only due to the wind speed generated by the Aeroboard.
The desire was to reach the city skyline but not enter it, so the Aeroboard stopped accordingly.
The aeroboard understood my contemplation and squared off my desire with it to arrive at the perfect place of tranquility.

from here, where?

and then i saw the rains coming to the forests in the distance which kindled the desire to see the downpour on the trees.
The aeroboard sped towards the treeline. the desire was not to get soaked, so the Aeroboard stopped only to jump up high into the clouds – which was what the desire was.

The sea of cotton clouds hid a rainbow beneath and the wish to get a shower increased, thereby lowering the Aeroboard under the clouds for a brief moment till I saw a sunlit garden of flowers.
While the clouds did not disappear, the opening in them, made the Aeroboard lead me to the garden where the trees rose humongously into the sky, reached perhaps only by a Brontosaurus.

The Aeroboard learnt to stay still, for me to hear the chirps of the various birds feeding their children in the trees, when a roar aroused fear, and the birds flew in fright arriving at the tree again after a doing circle. the Aeroboard too rose in height carrying me with it to ward of any danger. It reflected the caution in me though there was no fear.

Interestingly there were no people around. did that reflect my desire too?
I also did not see any cars or people in the city. That was strange!
and this was a truly fantastic world.

That said, a faint ring was heard in the distance. the slight sound grew louder – slowly reaching a level causing pain in the ear and an, abhorrence intolerable. The Aeroboard suddenly disappeared and the only thing that could be heard was a loud Rring.

The “Aeroboard” video game was programmed to end the immersive reality with a “Rring” to push the gamer out into the real world. Anything greater than 10mins would make the gamer irrecoverably lost to the other world. Physical death though, had never been reported. That the gamer’s conciousness played in the other world while his body rested in deep sleep was something to research about. Better ways to get the consciousness associated back with the body were being studied. Meanwhile, the 10 min immersive reality game “Aeroboard” was becoming a hit and a new source of revenue for entertainment giants.

-हरेकृष्ण आचार्य

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Submitted by: हरेकृष्ण आचार्य
Submitted on: Mon Sep 05 2016 00:00:00 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Original
Language: English

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Dead -देवसुत


Ram Kishan Sharma was a typical example of a poor teacher.

Underpaid and exploited by the school management with work overload but at the same time, his name and great qualifications used by the same management to enhance the name of the school to garner more fees from the next batch of students.

Ram Kishan Sharma was poor, not because of his incapacity of thought or work, but simply because he pardoned many who trampled over his aspirations, and did not take offence when someone just usurped his achievements and put his own name on it.

Ram Kishan Sharma was a typical nice guy, as well as a great teacher – to his students who just adored him, for his teaching of complex concepts would be done in a most simple way. That he was popular with his students, gave another reason to raise the fee by the school management.

It was a great hypocrisy to see plays conducted on great people by the students, encouraged by the management, during the annual day event every year. People such as Radhakrishna, Sir M. Vishweshawariah, who worked selflessly for India would be routinely portrayed, whereas living greats, such as Ram Kishan Sharma, who lived in their midst, alive and kicking, were exploited and unrecognized.

It was only many years later, that came as a surprise, that there was a play depicting Ram Kishan Sharma as a great teacher, at the school’s annual day, by one of his students, who had now grown up enough to recognize the contributions to his life by his teachers. The play ended with a huge applause for the performing group and a citation by the same principal who had very well known Ram Kishan Sharma.

Why did it take such a long time to know Ram Kishan Sharma?

On inquiry it was found that, quite some time back, he left his quite easily curable Tuberculosis, untreated due to poor financial conditions. He was now – Dead.

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Submitted by: देवसुत
Submitted on: Thu Oct 20 2016 21:25:45 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Story
Language: English

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Once upon a time there was a snail, with a big shell around his back. There was only grass around him when he started walking. After a while he met another snail and now they were 1+1=2.

They walked for a while when they saw a big green dome in the distance.

They did not know what it was, but kept walking towards it. A little while later another snail met them and they were now 2+1=3.
All of them now walked towards the big green dome which they still did not know what it was.

A little while later, they met another snail with the same big shell on his back. They were now 3+1=4. And they all started walking towards the big green dome which was now very near and they were able to touch it.

Now they came to know that this big green dome was a cabbage. They were all very happy. They kept touching it with joy with their 2 antennas each, making a total of 8 antennas since they were 4 (2 x 4 = 8).

After much fun and joy, they started eating the cabbage and made holes inside it. After a while of eating, they found a caterpillar inside the cabbage which was also eating the cabbage happily.

The caterpillar did not like the snails and he started to argue with them. A fight broke out due to this and the cabbage shook due to the commotion inside. The fight continued.

Up and far on a tree, a bird was watching the cabbage field and noticed the shaking of one of the cabbages. It flew down to this cabbage, looked inside the holes and found the caterpillar. It put in its beak inside the cabbage, caught the caterpillar and flew away with it to feed its baby.

All the snails, 4 of them, went into their shells to protect themselves from the bird. When they came out they saw the caterpillar missing. Not knowing where the caterpillar had gone, they enjoyed eating the cabbage without making noise.

—-
How was the story?
Good.
What did you like in the story?
The snails and the cabbage shaking.
How many antennas did the 4 caterpillars have in total?
two fourz are 8.
—-

Epilogue:
This story was told to my 6 old son at bedtime. The questions were asked after the story for which he returned the given answers. The story was originally told in Kannada.
-हरेकृष्ण आचार्य

Photo By: Unknown
Submitted by: हरेकृष्ण आचार्य
Submitted on: Wed Oct 19 2016 09:42:56 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Original
Language: English

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The Roadshow -Dola Dutta Roy


The Roadshow

Word count – 2942

The lights were blazing in his eyes. Nikhil began to blink. But he liked what he heard. It was a piece of comedy being enacted by two men whose acting skills were pathetic and who laughed before the audience did. But nevertheless, it was entertainment and had attracted a sizable crowd that clapped and cheered surrounding the shabbily raised platform with no props to create the backdrop.
It was Saturday night and the right time to put up a show for those who would otherwise roam the streets or take a pint of local booze with a friend at some odd joint to kill time. Basically, nowhere else to go to but home, and that was not always an exciting idea for most young and old. Home was often a hole where wives nagged, children whined and street dogs barked at moving vehicles and shadows on the wall.

When the clown appeared with the heroine in her hot pink outfit studded with sequins, the crowd swooned. There were whistles and sighs and the heroine didn’t wince but did her bit berating and chiding the crooked clown who took a few somersaults and flips, shedding tears to prove he was mortified. There was laughter all around. Nikhil remained unimpressed and thought that the girl was no patch on Kumari Urmila who did such roles with panache.
He looked at the time. It was past nine and the show would continue for an hour longer. He had already seen it once with Manoj, his buddy at work and his neighbor. But he was in no hurry to go home tonight. His wife Preeti left to be with her parents for some time before she could return with the baby. After all it was their first child. She needed proper care by an experienced woman and who could be better than one’s own mom. He rubbed his tired eyes stifling a yawn.

Suddenly he felt at a loss. There was nothing much to do really. Loneliness was gripping him. He took out his cellphone to give a call to Preeti even though she had told him to call her late at night when she was free to talk. But the crowd around him gave him dirty looks as he tried to speak to her. No cellphone during the show, he was told by a viewer. So he decided to saunter out of the makeshift tent that had a platform for a stage and the viewers squatted on mats on the balding grass in the open. Behind the blank backdrop there was stark reality enveloped in darkness with cloth-made partitions for the performers for privacy.
Nikhil quietly came out in to the clear field with city lights all around. He walked a distance and stopped at a nearby chaat shop and asked for a plate of aloo-tikias or light fried potato cakes. Later he ambled along the row of shacks selling toys and a bit of everything — checking out things for Preeti and the baby. Then he stopped at a Punjabi dhaba, a little diner by the roadside, with a neon sign that glared. He needed to grab some real food for his meal for the night. Looking around he decided that he was done for the day.
*****

It was a windless night. The electric bulb flickered for a while before it decided to stay on as it did every night when he returned home. It was stuffy inside and the fan did not do its job properly either. Not its fault. There was too much moisture in the air to cut through. The air was thick and heavy in the room. He went and splashed some water on his face and body as he changed from his work clothes to a lungi and a vest. He turned the TV on and sat on the bed to watch it with a glass of water in hand. He thought of Preeti, her slim and lithe body now heavy with life growing inside her. A smile played on his lips thinking of her and their future together with another breathing being in this suffocating room.
He slid down reclining on his bed, his head resting on the pile of pillows behind him. He was not aware of what was happening on the small screen of the TV but his eyes remained locked on it while his mind wandered from Preeti’s tearful goodbye and his growing fears of keeping his job at the factory as a welder. Times were bad. Any day things could come crashing down on the factory owners who had been trying to compete with big names in the country. This could tantamount to the workers losing their jobs and livelihood.

It was first a whisper and then a nudge that woke Nikhil up from his stupor. He could barely keep his eyes open and saw the faint figure of a lissome woman in a red and yellow sari in sequins covering half her face to hide the fact that she was laughing at him. His eyes opened wide and he thought he saw Kumari Urmilla, the alluring girl of last year’s roadshow. She was standing there and swaying with laughter in front of him. He rubbed his eyes. Yes, it was her and he saw her uneven front teeth behind those luscious red lips as she partially unveiled her face.

‘How did she manage to find me and come here?’ was the first thought that struck Nikhil. Yes, the year before when the theatre group had come over with their roadshow, Manoj and Nikhil had both broken all rules to visit the tantalizing prima donna surreptitiously in her dressing room behind the tent, courtesy Brijmohan, the local organizer of the roadshow and Nikhil’s acquaintance. On the third night of their visit in a row to the show Manoj had admitted he was completely smitten by her and had to see her again. He had taken flowers and gifts for her that Kumari Urmila accepted but flung over the metal suitcase that lay at her feet. She gave a mechanical smile that was wide but didn’t reach her eyes.
It was evident that Manoj was besotted with this enchanting beauty and did not waste time to tell her that he had good intentions of marrying her. The next few days found Manoj in a state of euphoria. One evening he begged her to elope with him after the show, promising to give her the world. Urmila’s smile was constant but her eyes moved back and forth from Manoj’s face to Nikhil’s. Nikhil stood there tongue-tied while he could also feel the sudden rise of a desire to grab her when she looked at him longer than she should have. But he had his Preeti and he was a happily married man. He did look away.
Manoj was determined to meet with her every evening till she agreed to accept his proposal. She was the woman for him, he told Nikhil. Nikhil had laughed and slapped his back telling him that women like Urmila were not to be taken home but enjoyed. But surprisingly Manoj didn’t falter in his determination to win her over and when he threatened to speak to the theatre-group owner if Urmila didn’t promise to give him an answer, she relented. She reminded him of the contract she was bound by and sighed and finally with eyes that danced with every syllable she uttered and the movement of her glossy lips, she coyly agreed to accept his offer. Manoj got a ‘yes’ for a secret rendezvous soon with Kumari Urmila to discuss further matters on their plan of action. She promised to see him at a secret spot behind the tent while the show would run on that evening — of course, courtesy Brijmohan. The day and the time to elope was to be fixed just before the theatre group moved out of town and she got her money in hand.
However, there was only one hitch. Manoj had night shift to take care of for a few days and begged Nikhil to pick up the details from her on his behalf as a good friend. That particular night, Nikhil kept his word as Manoj was busy at the factory.
Kumari Urmila was waiting with a hand written note for Manoj. From behind her dark shroud that covered her from head to toe, she gave a luscious smile as Nikhil came closer. Before he knew it she took his hand and told him flatly that she would like to run away from it all with him instead. Nikhil stood there thunderstruck for a while as she begged him to take her away that very moment.
When he found his tongue, Nikhil stuttered saying that she was mistaken. It was Manoj who wanted to be with her and that he himself was a married man. Kumari Urmila broke down crying and pleading with him saying that she only had eyes for him and not Manoj. She begged him to rescue her from the hell she was in where she performed just to entertain others. Nikhil stood still. A few moments seemed like eons. It was when the bell rang loud and clear that Kumari Urmila woke from her trance. She left his hand and tore the note she had written for Manoj and flung the pieces on Nikhil’s face. Her eyes glinted like burning embers. Two days later the troop left town.
Every bit of this flashed through Nikhil’s mind and he wondered what made Urmila return and that too to him. Manoj never spoke of her again since she left with the theatre group to some unknown destination. He drowned his hurt pride in bottles of local booze that made him vulnerable but belligerent.
*****
“What are you doing here?” Nikhil could barely hear his own voice. In the faint light in the room Urmila looked devastatingly alluring. She laughed and moved a step closer. “Nothing,” she said. “Just came to see you.”
“Me?” Nikhil felt fear rise through his spine. He gave her a scornful glance, as if she was a witch. “Do you know what you’ve done to Manoj?”

Urmila stopped midway. Her eyes were pinned on his angry face and were filling slowly with tears. She stood there and shook her head. “I didn’t want him. I wanted you,” she whispered. There was still a subdued recklessness in her tone.
“But I didn’t want you.” Nikhil sounded cruel.

He sat up and looked at Urmila’s soft and sad face. How strange, suddenly he felt pity for her. He got on his feet and tried to move towards her. But Urmila moved away.
“Look, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I mean, Manoj is my friend and I….I am a married man. My wife has gone to have a baby.” She gave a quick look at him with a blank expression that verged on contempt.

His conscience flared up again. “Anyway, how did you find me here?” he asked in a monotone trying to maintain a cordial distance to avoid misunderstandings.

“I can find anybody if I want to,” Urmila flashed an enigmatic smile.
Nikhil said nothing. He knew some wounds are very slow to heal. Has Urmila gone mad to come looking for him from wherever she had been!
He looked at her face in the light and shade of his dimly lit room. His gaze wandered over her. He found the door shut behind her. He was slowly getting consumed by a feeling of inadequacy creeping up inside staring at this intoxicating and colourful blend of fantasy and reality. He was not sure if he could trust himself.

“Has she really come for me?” He thought to himself. “Does she really want me that much?” He took a step forward. Urmila studied his moves with feline watchfulness. She waved a hand daintily at him but her eyes wore a mournful look. Half scared of the predicament he was in, Nikhil stood still. He reverted to his sullen mood and with the wave of his hand, told her to leave.

Suddenly the sari that was covering her face dropped and in the faint glow of the capricious light bulb, charred remains of her facial skin and body, neck down, caught Nikhil’s eye. He gave out a cry and fell to the ground. Urmila was stupefied to silence and staggered backward resting her back on the door. She stood there for a moment like a bodiless, weightless being giving out almost inaudible moaning sounds. For a second Nikhil thought he saw her stretch her arm where bangles dangled and before he saw anything else, he lost consciousness.
********

Nikhil woke up to a roomful of people. Manoj was slapping him hard and when he opened his eyes, he scowled.
“What happened to you?” Manoj sounded worried. “I was returning home from the night shift and thought of swinging by your place. The door was ajar and you were lying on the floor. You sure had too much to drink last night, didn’t you?” He frowned. An elderly lady took a mug full of water and splashed it all over Nikhil’s face wetting his clothes.

“She was here.” Nikhil gave a blank stare at Manoj as he whispered.
“Who was?” Manoj squinted.
“She….” Nikhil looked at the crowd in his small room where the night light was still on.
Manoj looked at everybody and requested them to leave them alone assuring them that he would take care of the situation. He made Nikhil sit on the bed and faced him sitting on a broken armless chair. “Now will you tell me the truth?” Nikhil seemed still in a daze. Slowly he recounted what had happened the previous night. He broke down to tell Manoj the facts about Kumari Urmila’s passion for him.

“I couldn’t believe that she would find me here and at a time when I was alone and feeling lonely. And that face and body burnt up on one side — that was terrible.” He covered his eyes to wipe out the memory of it. “Why did she come here?”
“She wasn’t here.” Manoj sounded gruff.
“What do you mean?”
“Just that. She wasn’t here. She couldn’t be here. You just dreamed her up.”
“I saw her, Manoj.” Nikhil sat up.
“Look, she left long time back with the troop.” Manoj stretched himself in the broken chair.
“Perhaps she came back with the roadshow this time too. We just haven’t seen her.”
“She hasn’t and she cannot.” Manoj looked angry now.
“How do you know?”
“Because I do.”
“How, Manoj, how can you be so sure?”
“Because I know she couldn’t return. That bitch died some months ago.”
Nikhil’s eyes were wide open. “What are you saying? Died? How?” Those burnt patches on her face and body, those woeful eyes! Suddenly Nikhil wanted to puke. When he came back from emptying out his stomach, Manoj sat quiet and sad for some time looking at him. Then he looked up and said, “Well then, if you really must know, she died exactly three months ago. She was charred to death.” There was a cruel grin on his face.” Even in death that bitch longed for someone else when I promised her the moon.”
Nikhil gave out a gasp of horror and covered his mouth.
Manoj got up and turned off the light that was burning with shame as the sun streamed in through the window.
“When….. Where and how?” Nikhil took time to spell these words out.
“There was a fire in her tent when they took the show to Ramnagar. It was a hot month and the air was dry by the highway. Something caught fire and that was it.” Manoj gave an indifferent shrug. Nikhil just gave a blank nod of understanding. He couldn’t take his eyes off Manoj’s grim countenance.
“Who told you that?” Nikhil asked after a pause.
“Nobody did, I was there.” He gave a wry smile. “Remember I took leave for three days in the middle of summer? That was when I decided to go looking for her. I kept track of her moves…. wherever they were performing.” Manoj got up and took a glass of water from the pitcher left in a cool corner. He wanted to know if Nikhil wanted a drink of water. Nikhil just shook his head even though his mouth was going dry.
Manoj came back and sat next to him on the bed. Very confidentially and with much conviction he said, “She was sleeping in her cot when the fire broke out and before she could do anything, her side of the tent fell on her and she was consumed by the hungry flames.”
“Then?”
“Then what? The police came and some people were taken to the nearby hospital. She died on the way.” Manoj helped himself to a cigarette from Nikhil’s packet on the bed. “The bitch never came to me. Even in death she wanted to be with you.” He gnashed his teeth as he struck a matchbox.
“Do they know what caused the fire?” Nikhil stuttered.
“Don’t think so. They blamed it on the lamps burning low and the stormy winds.” His big belly jiggled as he laughed mirthlessly.
“How do you know all that?” Manoj gave a scathing look.
“I should….. I caused the fire on her side of the tent.” He blinked. “No more roadshows for her….. no more betrayal. ” He caught his belly and roared with laughter, his body shaking with ripples all over.
******************* THE END ********************

Photo By:
Submitted by: Dola Dutta Roy
Submitted on: Thu Jul 21 2016 21:16:16 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Fiction-An Imaginary Story
Language: English

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मी पद्मा भडंग. पूर्वाश्रमीची पद्मा पालेकर. हि माझ्या आत्याची — आवडाबाईची गोष्ट.
तशी माझी आत्या काही शिकलेली नव्हती फारशी. पण वाचू शकत होती ती. आयुर्वेदाची तर फार औषधे माहिती होती तिला. तर्हेतर्हेची औषधे ती सांगायची. वेळोवेळी आम्हाला बरे करायची औषधे देऊन. औषधाबरोबर काहीतरी मंत्र पठन चालायचे तिचे — जरा कोडेच होते आम्हाला. तिच्या अनेक गोष्टी आहेत पण प्रामुख्याने मला जिने विचार करायला लावला तीही गोष्ट.

एकदा काय झाले कि — माझ्या मोठ्या बहिणीचे लग्न होते. आणि नेमका जोरदार पाउस सुरु झाला लग्नाच्या आदल्या दिवसापासून. आता प्रश्न पडला लग्न होईल कि नाही. धो-धो पाऊस. कार्यालयात हि कसे जावे असा प्रश्न. कार्यालयात सामान तरी कसे न्यायचे आत्ता? सगळ्यांना भीती पडली. वरात तरी येईल कि नाही आशा धारेत?

सगळे डोके धरून बसले. तर माझी आत्त्या समोर आली. म्हणाली थांबा. मी ऎक उपाय करते त्याच्यावर. तर तिने काय केले — परत आंघोळ केली आणि देवापाशी बसली. देवापाशी तिने काय केले तर आपला पाटा-वरवंटा आसतो ना, त्या वरवंटाला ऎक छान असे फडके गुंडालले. आणि एका पटावरती त्याची स्थापना केली.

आणि मग म्हटले तिने — काय तिचे मंत्र वगैरे होते — आम्हला कल्पना नाही — पण होते तिचे फार पठन. पण तिने मंत्र म्हणून पूजा केली त्या वरवंटाची. हळद कुंकू आगदी नेवेध्य दाखवून. सगळी व्यवस्थित पूजा केली. आणि सांगितले मी हे उचले पर्यंत या ठिकाणी पाऊस पडता कामा नये.

तर आम्हा सगळ्यांना हेच वाटले कि असे कसे होऊ शकेल? आमच्या काही गोष्टी हरवल्या तर मंत्र वगैरे म्हणायची ती पण पाऊस ला पडू नये म्हणणे काय? आम्ही सगळे चकित होतो. आम्ही ऐकले होते फक्त आशा गोष्टी. पण हे आत्याचे काही आसे असेल हि कल्पनाच काही डोक्यात आली नव्हती कधी.

तिने ती पूजा-बिजा केली आणि आश्चर्य म्हणजे काय दहा मिनिटात इतके कोरडे झाले आभाळ कि कुठे पाऊस नाही कि पावसाचा थेंब नाही कुठे. पण काही जास्त विचार न करता आम्ही पळालो कार्यालयात.

झाले सगळे सामान नेले. सगळे झाले. लग्न झाले, बहिण सासरी गेली. मग दुसऱ्या दिवशी माझे वडील तिला म्हणाले — जरा विनोदानेच —
आवडाबाई आत्ता उचला ते तुमचे नाहीतर लोक आपलाल्या म्हणतील आमचा पाऊस तुम्ही बंद केला.

बरे, आवडाबाई म्हणाली. मग तिने काय केले — अंघोळ केली आणि आतमधून गुळ आणला. जवळ जवळ सव्वा किलो गुळ. तिने त्या गुळाचा नेवैध्य दाखविला आणि सांगितलेकी मी आत्ता हे उचलते आहे आणि आत्ता तुम्ही पाऊस पडू द्या.

परत आशर्याची बाब — तिने ते नेवैद्य दाखवून, पूजा करून उचलले आणि इतका जोरात पाऊस सुरु झाला लगेच.

सगळ्यांना फारच नवल वाटले. मीही काही वेळा विचार करते कि कसे झाले असेल ते? तेव्हा ना वेधशाळा होत्या ना काही मार्ग होता पाऊसा बद्दल माहिती काढण्यास. पण एक गोष्ट मी माझ्या डोळ्यांनी बघितली — तिने आस्थान मांडले आणि पाऊस बंद. उठवले आणि पाऊस सुरु. आणि हे सगळे सांगून कि मी पाऊसा चा उपाय करते ताबडतोब.

तुम्ही योगायोग म्हणा कि सिद्धि म्हणा. गोष्ट अशी घडली आणि म्हणून मी तुम्हाला सांगितली.
Padma Aaji

Photo By:
Submitted by: Padma Aaji
Submitted on: Thu Jan 28 2016 08:57:35 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Original
Language: मराठी/Marathi

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5696602328_18cd7f2854_n.jpg
It was not that beautiful a day. The air was also not very pure.
Just a drizzle had made the roads muddy. The smell of burning tyres that were used to make warm poor neighborhoods had made the breeze pungent.

Local elections had sparked communal tensions. Saffron or green evoked strong reactions. The walkway around the lake however, was used by all. The breeze was better, the blue sky was visible and the green hustling leaves were so peaceful. Clouds were running past high above. Ducks roosted in the shallow waters while cranes standing on one leg napped while fishing.

It was the son who wanted to go out around the walkway.

He got ready, wore a saffron lungi and took his son for a walk in the breeze. The stars had not started shining yet, though the sun was below the horizon and the shadows had disappeared. The sound of a distant train horn set many cranes flying. The son jumped with ecstasy, spread his hands and flew with the cranes. Seeing his son he did the same and flew with his son. He did not see the man in the green shirt coming near with a knife.

In the pain that tore through his back and into his heart, he turned, grabbed the man’s left wrist with his left iron hand while from his right he grabbed his son’s hand. Placing his son’s hand into the man’s, he said “Drop him home”. After his right hand was free, he placed it on the man’s forehead and said “Alla rakha” before he dropped to the ground.

The man was shocked but dropped the child home. He was never again found in the neighborhood. The child’s mother filed a murder report in the local police station. The next day, the child’s mother’s cousin sister filed a missing person report.

It has been 20 years since I lost my father. He still flies with me whenever I fly with the cranes as the sky goes saffron when the sun goes down the horizon. The green hustling leaves hear our merry laughs.

देवसुत

Photo By: Pradeep Sahoo
Submitted by: देवसुत
Submitted on: Sat Aug 22 2015 21:37:54 GMT+0530 (IST)
Category: Original
Language: English

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