A date with Durga

This post is inspired by the Write Over the Weekend theme given by BlogAdda. The prompt is:

You realize you’re on a date with God, which goes both good and bad. What happens? Write.

Hope you like it.

The scene was a Durga Puja mandap, in the late evening hours, when people thronged the premises. I was also present there. I was excited to visit this particular mandap as a particular group of documentary film-makers were filming the festivities in my town for an upcoming film that they’re making on Indian culture, and tonight, they happened to be present at this venue. How I wished to be in front of their camera!

I entered the beautifully decorated hall and was walking towards the altar where the idols of Goddess Durga and Her children were kept. A horde of devotees were filling up the space. I could see a camera crew filming the ambience. Yes! They were here already. As I walked towards them, my eyes caught the sight of a beautiful woman, with waist length hair and dressed in a casual tee and long skirt. She was holding a microphone and getting ready for the camera roll. There was something divine in her appearance.

Date With Durga

 

I don’t know how long I had stared at her, because a man nudged me and told me to move ahead instead. I was so embarrassed! After offering my prayers, I sat on a nearby chair and like a hypnotized person, I fixed my gaze on the enigmatic woman, who was now speaking to the camera, as if it was a live person. There was some enchanting aura surrounding her, for I could see that a few more people had gathered around her. She wrapped up soon, and strangely, I got up from my chair and walked, drawn towards her.

“Hi! You spoke wonderfully. May I have the honour of knowing your name?” Words flowed out involuntarily from my mouth, as I approached her.

She gave a slight chuckle. “Excuse me. Do I know you?” After a brief pause, she continued, “By the way, why are you being such a gentleman to me? I think most men in India do not know their basic courtesies while talking to a girl for the first time.”

I was slightly taken aback. I was actually stunned by her reply. Did I give her some wrong impression of myself?

“No Miss, please don’t misunderstand me. I was very eager to meet your crew as I am a big fan of your shows. So I thought why not earn the chance to talk to you? I am really sorry for the abrupt introduction. I am Kunal. Nice to meet you.” I gave a weak smile.

The lady broke into laughter. It was loud and a bit terrifying. I wondered who she was.  I looked at her again and my instincts told me she was definitely not any ordinary woman.

“Hi Kunal, my name is Durga Vasisht. I am the host of this new documentary which we are filming.  And please don’t apologize. Chill dude, did I scare you?”  She gave out that boisterous laugh again.

Date With Durga

We talked for hardly ten minutes and I almost had a gut feeling she is some divine lady. Her name was Durga. What if she was an incarnation of the Goddess that stood a few metres away from me in the form of a clay idol?  Her appearance, her words and her laughter had a strange resonance that was mesmerizing as well as slightly terrifying, just like the Goddess. We built up a good rapport and I seemed to rejoice my date with this Goddess-like lady.

And suddenly. I noticed her expression change from a docile one to a worried and angered one. “Kunal, someone is in trouble. I need to go. Please excuse me.”

“I’ll go with you too. Please take me along.” I wondered what she was talking about, and how she sensed something was wrong in the first place. Questions filled my already puzzled mind.

We ran out of the puja mandap. I was running behind Durga, who was moving at a blinding speed, but mysteriously, I was moving at her pace too. I couldn’t run so fast, I thought. I could hear screams now, they were a young girl’s cries for help. Oh God! Please help.

The sight before us was blood-curdling! Two men were manhandling a young girl. One of them even held a knife and the other wrapped his arms around her, lest she escapes. Before I could scream, Durga rushed towards them.

Date With Durga

Bright light emanated from her as she screamed at the two perpetrators, who were stunned by her presence. Their mouths opened in terror as Durga grew in size. Ten arms appeared behind her and her hair grew longer and ferociously waved in the air, like a lion’s mane. Her eyes were flaming red and yet, she was beautiful. I had guessed correctly. She was the Goddess herself. In one stroke of anger, she caught hold of the two men, and produced her divine trident. Before I could blink the next second, She vanished along with the two men. Punishment has been served to the demons.

Date With Durga

There was no trace of Her as I looked around, feeling a bit shaken by the divine encounter. I approached the girl and asked her if she was okay. She said she has been saved by the Goddess herself and she feels blessed. I agreed and comforted her with a smile. We slowly walked back to the puja mandap. I was quite disappointed with the turn of events. I had a rendezvous with the Goddess and the evening was spoiled with this disturbing incident. Surely, Durga was angered by how low some men can fall even on auspicious occasions and being a woman, she could sense the pain of the girl. Damn! I wanted to knock two heavy blows on those two rascals.

I reached the mandap. And noticed that the camera crew was missing! I asked one of the organizers if he had seen the lady or her crew. The man gave me a puzzled look and said that no film crew had come to this venue. I was dumbfounded! I inquired from a few more people who also denied ever seeing any lady or camera holding people.

The girl looked at me. “Something wrong?”

“You know I met a lady here, and..and she in fact was Goddess Durga herself. The one who saved you. She was filming with her crew here, and now everyone in her team is missing. People here are denying ever seeing them. Am I being paranoid ?” I was really confused.

The girl patted my back. “Idiot. Don’t you realize you had a divine date with the Goddess tonight? It was all pre-planned and what you saw was Her divine play. Thank your stars. You got what you wished for.”

I had prayed to Goddess Durga once that I would be very glad to meet her, if not on Earth, at least in heaven.

The girl turned, let out the same terrifying laughter I heard an hour ago and walked away. I couldn’t stop smiling.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Wowbadge

Advertisements

The Spellbinders – Chapter 20: Tit For Tat

We are a team called The Spellbinders. We are collaborating and writing a story for the Blogadda challenge “Game of Blogs“. The experience of working together with 9 other bloggers, sharing ideas and crafting a story fit for a novel is absolutely delightful and satisfying, at the same time. To know about us, join us here.

Spellbinders logo (new)

This chapter ends Round 2 of the contest and our story has spanned across different frontiers, with some bizarre twists and turns, and several highs and lows in the lives of the characters.

The story so far:

Chapter1 – Room No 4
Chapter 2– Table No 4
Chapter 3– If Looks could Kill
Chapter 4– The Flower That Never Bloomed
Chapter 5 – The Elephant Parade
Chapter 6 – Chance Encounters and Changed Plans
Chapter 7 – Relationships
Chapter 8– When Dreams Come True
Chapter 9 – Runaway Brat
Chapter 10 – Where is Roohi ?
Chapter 11 -The Investigation
Chapter 12 -The Backstabber
Chapter 13– Breaking Bad
Chapter 14 – Mixed Feelings
Chapter 15– Broken Dreams, Sleepless Nights
Chapter 16– Get Shekhar Out On bail
Chapter 17– The Dungeon
Chapter 18– The Shadows Gather
Chapter 19– The Rising Moon

CHAPTER 20:  TIT FOR TAT

Tara got out of her flat, hailed a cab and took it to the hospital. Shekhar was sitting in the hall sketching.  It was Roohi’s face.  A sob ripped out of her heart.  Shekhar looked up startled, his sketches and crayons fell around him.

“Sorry,” he said.  “You scared me.  Did not expect …”

Tara said, “It is okay.”

Shekhar looked away, “The doctor wants me to draw.  Can’t think of anyone to draw but Roohi.”

She wept.  He looked at her with a strange smile, “Come with me … somewhere alone?”

She nodded, incapable of speech.  He took her to a balcony and sat down on a plastic bench, patting the space on his side.  She sat down next to him.  “You know I am the first son of the first son many times over – the direct line of sage Atri or Atreya, right?”

She nodded, “Dattatreya, yes,” she said.

“At puberty, rituals were done to give me the ancient seat of power.  My father was a strange man, ahead of times.  He got psychological and medical tests too.  Doctors said I was incapable of having children.  And then …”, he paused and cleared his throat.  “My mother and I were sworn to secrecy.  The community wants a son.”

She gasped and he put out a hand to stop her from speaking, “Your baby was my hope.  If you had a son, the line would not die with me.  Your son could have  ..”  He began sobbing, desperate sobs of a man in grief.  “I was disappointed.  I lived in hope for nine months.  Now the whole line is dead, because of me.”

“You knew, all this time,” she whispered.

“I did not hate Roohi.  It is just that every time I saw her, I hated myself,” he said.

Tara shook him hard, so hard that his neck nearly snapped.  “You asshole!  You think you killed her?”

“No I don’t.  Not now.  The doctor here said I nearly convinced myself in a state of shock.  Some medical term … dissociative something that I forget.  Now I know I did not,” Shekhar said.

“Well then, get up.  Control yourself.  You and I have to get my little girl back.”

He said, “You want me to?”

“You are my husband and her father to the whole world,” she said.  “To me too.”

He wept.  But this time he was not alone.  She put her arms around him and wept with him.

***

Malik looked at his watch. It was about to be 5 am. The sky behind the hospital was coloured in dull orange and red hues. Ominous times, thought Malik. He wondered whether Tara was at home or still occupied with work. His mind was filled with suspicion about Tara and Cyrus being together now. He thought they had some sleazy relationship since he saw them outside Nanavati & Nanavati.

The young man Aryan Ahuja had been very informative.  His instincts were right when he decided to use Aryan as his trump card in his investigation of the serial killings. Somehow, he felt these bizarre killings were not normal murders – they occurred on moonless nights, the victims were little 9 year-old girls and the gash marks made by knife blades on the victims’ mutilated bodies made him sick. After reading Aryan’s research, he unwillingly believed that this was some freak horror show in reality!

He had said over phone, “Aryan! I fear we might be too late to save this child. Look it’s almost time for sunrise. The killer or killers would have escaped by now.”

“Inspector, head to Castalla de Aguada, or what you know as Bandra Fort. I am sure our suspects there haven’t lifted the ceremonial blade yet.”

Malik shuddered  from the horror that information had given him. What on earth was Aryan speaking? Bandra Fort? Ceremonial blade? He shook his head mildly, exhaled into his cupped hands and sat straight.

“Speed up!” he told the driver who turned on the stereo.  A song by the band Civil Twilight was playing.

Malik was surprised to hear the lyrics, mysteriously define his current state of mind.

In the cold of the night
The  fire burns bright
You long for the unseen

On the edge of the sea
Your thoughts run deep
You long for a place you’ve never been

The music was haunting and Malik’s thoughts wandered to Nafisa, Adil and Ruksana. He was worried about their safety. That hooded figure performed a frightening ritual in front of his house, across the street. He recalled Aryan’s words. He had said worshippers of the Satan seek his power on moonless nights. They invoke his name using strange rituals involving blood, bones and flesh.  They have tattoos on their bodies proclaiming such beliefs.

Is anybody there?
Is anybody there
You cry to the full moon

Malik looked at the stereo with a terrorized expression. The song played on.

As your thoughts run wild
Like the thoughts of a child
You wonder if you’ll be there soon

But then all of Cyrus’ friends had tattoos, even that secret woman, Jennifer.  Crazy times.

“Shut the stereo,” he ordered the driver.

Allah! Please take care of my family. He muttered a silent prayer. Within just half an hour, they reached their desitnation. The Bandra Fort looked eerie in the faint light of the overcast sky filled with dark clouds. It overlooked the Arabian Sea. Just as the song described.

You long for the unseen
On the edge of the sea

Malik looked around.  The site was calm and peaceful. No signs of disturbance or evil voodoo chants!

He rang up Aryan.

“Move in Sir. You can’t wait there. These sacrifices are not carried out in open daylight. Go inside.” Aryan spoke with confidence. He disconnected and the phone rang again. It was Nafisa. He put it to loudspeaker praying that it was just a normal call from his wife.

“ALTAF!!! RUKSANA IS MISSING. SHE DID NOT SLEEP IN HER BED!”

 ***

Earlier that evening, white faced Tara walked into the news room.  She was aware it was Prime Time and people were busy preparing for the evening news.  She also knew that after this evening, she would be out of a job.  She would never be employed again by a news channel.  But she had to risk it.

All television channels loop the news.  This means that there is a time lag between the time the news is recorded and when it is aired.  This loop is needed in case someone says something seditious or too shocking for the viewers to digest.  The newsrooms like to cover their asses.

Since YTV was young, the loop system was not perfected.  At prime time they did not have a loop.  It was too rushed.  Tara knew it.  She had to use this opportunity.

Her husband, her daughter both needed to hear this. 

One of her junior editors was getting ready to start the evening. 

“I’ll take over,” she said.  Before anyone could react, she took the seat and said,

“During the past few weeks, we have been inundated with reports of horrific crimes against little girls.  No one knows who the perpetrators are.  The police in their wisdom arrested a distraught father who was searching for his missing daughter.  That father was my husband, and the missing child is Roohi, my daughter.  She has still not been found.

The police, in their wisdom again did not arrest Mr. Cyrus Daruwala who was found wandering around, in suspicious circumstances near a warehouse where a dead little girl was discovered.  His body bore injuries.  I think that omission was because he is Mr. Darius Daruwala’s son.

I appeal to all the people.  Everyone.  Please help me, help us get my daughter back.”

She held Roohi’s photo in front of her and wiped her eye.

Before anyone could react, she had left the office.

***

More exciting chapters coming up in Round 3. Stay tuned folks!

Team membersRitu LalitFarida RizwanSunita RajwadeBhavyaAnkita SinghalBushra MRyan Fernandes,  Ankit MahatoDeepa and myself (Kunal Borah)

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

 

The Spellbinders – Chapter 4: The Flower that Never Bloomed

Team: The Spellbinders

We are a team called The Spellbinders.  We are collaborating and writing a story for the Blogadda challenge “Game of Blogs”.

Spellbinders logo (new)

Click to read the previous chapters:

Chapter 1 – Room number 4 by Ankita Singhal

Chapter 2 – Table number 4 by Bushra M

Chapter 3 – If Looks Could Kill! by Ryan Fernandes

CHAPTER 4 – THE FLOWER THAT NEVER BLOOMED

March 24th 

Roohi was disturbed and sad.  This was not the first time she had been a silent witness to such mayhem at the house.  Ever since she had been old enough to understand, she had witnessed these fights.  As their only child, she should have been the centre of attention, the apple of their eyes.  But they were absorbed in their own scuffle, their tempers; their power play took precedence over her. Sometimes, she wished she wasn’t their daughter! Today, she wanted to run away.  May be then Daddy would miss her.

She wanted to tell Daddy that his story was great, if only he kept writing it instead of throwing away all the notes he made on paper and deleting it from his computer.  If only he kept on writing instead of trying different things, he would not waste time.

Time is precious; once gone, it is gone forever. 

Roohi was taught about the importance of time in her kindergarten days. Her teacher made the students write the sentence in big bold letters on a large strip of paper, decorating it with fluorescent highlights. Roohi even pasted tiny pieces of golden tape on the thick red letters. It made them glitter in the faint sunlight that crept through the window near her. How happy it had made her to do that! She even received a kiss and a toffee from her teacher for her creativity.

Roohi felt terribly lonely today. She was fed up with her parents and felt abandoned, unloved, even orphaned.  Time once gone is gone forever. She slowly walked towards her room, away from the living room where her parents fought. The wall clock in her room struck 1 p.m. and a tiny bird sprang out from the enclosure below the dial and let out one chirpy tweet. Absentmindedly, she entered her room and closed the door behind her.The golden strip on her artwork shone in the room light.

She got into bed and began to cry.  She recalled a poetry recital in her school when she was five years old.  She had won a prize.  She had sung Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Her mother had been so proud.  Everyone had adored her in her pretty ‘baby pink’ frill frock with white stockings and pink-coloured belly shoes which had a lovely sticker of Minnie Mouse on them.  She remembered her ponytails with pretty pink bows swinging around her face as she sang.

“My baby Roohi, you did great today,” Mama had said.

“Daddy?” Roohi had asked, her eyes searching for him.

Mama had told her, “Daddy could not come.”

Roohi’s face had fallen, but she was just five.  Her happiness was back when it was announced that she’d won the first prize.  They sang together, Mama and daughter, on the way back home.

Why did she remember this? She thought as she lay on her bed.

Was it because of the fight she and Daddy had when she returned that day after the poetry recital? 

Or was it because of the murder in the building near their home?

A few metres away from their home, while in the car, Mama had braked near a huge crowd.  Roohi had looked out of the window and seen more police men than she could count.  There was also a police jeep with red flashing lights and an ambulance.  A woman wailed loudly.  She heard the woman over the car stereo.

Then Mama had said sharply, “Roohi roll up the window.”

Roohi wiped her tears and snuggled into her pillow as she recalled with a naughty smile that she had found out all about what had happened from the security guard the next day.  A 9 year old girl had been murdered.  Her eyes had been gouged out.  For days she had wondered about the eyes …

That day Daddy and Mama had another fight.  The apartment door was open when they returned from the poetry recital.  Mama had said, in that bitchy tone she sometimes used, “Look beta, your daddy has forgotten to keep the door closed again. Someday, a thief will come and steal his manuscripts and then, he will pay for it!”

Daddy was at his working table, his head drooping over a stack of papers, his bald scalp gleaming in the light emitting from the table lamp kept on the table. He was so engrossed in his works that he failed to hear the creaking of the door and their footsteps.  He was wearing the same t-shirt and track pants of last night at dinner.  Daddy worked so hard!

“ Daddy!  Daddy!” Roohi had rushed towards him, screaming with delight, her satchel swinging on her little shoulder.

Daddy gave his head a little shake. He was probably dozing off! He rubbed his eyes and straightened his specs and saw Roohi standing in front of him, with her hands outstretched, as if expecting a hug from him. His eyes darted towards the shining trophy she held on her right hand; he could easily make out the letters “First prize, Poetry Recital Competition”.

Mama said sternly, “Shekhar the door was open.  All kinds of crazy people roam around.”

Daddy said, “Go away to your room. Don’t bother me now.”

Roohi’s lips curled downwards and she began to weep. “But daddy, I won a prize. You won’t praise me today?”

Tears began again and Roohi tried to control them.  She never expected such a reaction from her father; he was ever smiling and took care of her at home, when her mother was out with work. Although he did not shower love on her like she wanted him to, with warm hugs, holding hands, goodnight kisses on the forehead, he still ensured that she is fed well at home and brought up as a healthy child.

She did not understand the distance he kept between him and her.

She loved them.  She knew they loved her.  And yet …

She was good, she did not disturb her father, Mama said that Daddy was a writer, someday he would be very famous, and so she shouldn’t bother him while at home. She did not bother him.  She spent all her time at home, playing with stuffed toys and often, making cute pictures of butterflies, flowers, cats and dogs on the sketchbook her mother got her.

Today, she could no longer bear her parents quarreling with each other. She had to do something.

She wiped her tears. I am not a weak girl. She reassured herself.

***

Click to read the remaining chapters:

Chapter 5 – The Elephant Parade by Sunita Rajwade

Chapter 6 – Chance Encounters and Changed Plans by Bhavya Nandakumar 

Chapter 7 – Relationships by Ankit Mahato

Chapter 8 – When Dreams Came True by Deepa Dutta

Chapter 9 – The Runaway Brat by Farida Rizwan 

Chapter 10 – Where is Roohi? by Ritu Lalit 

Team membersRitu LalitFarida RizwanSunita RajwadeBhavyaAnkita SinghalBushra MRyan Fernandes,  Ankit MahatoDeepa and Kunal Borah

To know more about all the authors of this story and for suggestions, Join us here

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

55 Fiction: The victorious survival

“Hello Maria, my old friend”, said the woman as she looked at the photograph of a bald lady with a sickly face.

Tears began to flow down her eyes.

It has been a year since she survived breast cancer. She gently stroked her shoulder-length hair and smiled.

Maria D’souza now feels reborn and enjoys life everyday.

Breast cancer ribbon

This post is dedicated to those thousands of women who have fought breast cancer and have survived it. Salute to their spirit!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

The fateful ticket

Disclaimer: This short story is inspired by a real-life incident which recently happened to me at the Guwahati railway station. Any resemblance to a person or similar experience of the reader is purely coincidental.

It was raining heavily in the evening of 11 April 2014. The time was 5 pm. Akash was running around frantically in his hostel room; his eyes were scanning every nook and corner and his face bore a highly worried look. His train was scheduled to depart at 8 pm and he couldn’t find the ticket!

The taxi was already parked outside and the driver was honking loudly, inviting the ire of everyone who were still present at the hostel. He had called the taxi early because the roads were in a poor condition and he didn’t want to risk reaching the railway station late and miss his train. It was the season of Bohag Bihu – the spring festival of Assam and Akash had planned to visit his native village in Dibrugarh for a week and spend time with his family. He was an engineering student in the state engineering college and at this time of the year, due to holidays, there was a severe rush for tickets, both bus and railway. Akash did not want to buy another ticket because he surely knew he would not get one at the eleventh hour! His forehead was completely sweaty, so he put his hand inside his trousers’ right pocket and drew our his handkerchief and unfolded it.

A folded piece of paper fell out. It was his ticket which was trapped inside the folds of the handkerchief! Akash heaved a heavy sigh of relief and let out a low scream. YES!

Soon, he boarded the taxi after calming the driver who seemed bitter due to the unnecessary waiting. Akash promised to pay him some extra money for the waiting and silenced him. Money is the solution to everything, though Akash! Fortunately, the roads did not have heavy traffic and the driver managed to reach the railway station half an hour before the departure time. After paying the fare, Akash headed towards the platform with his duffle bag held on his shoulders. When he reached Platform Number 1, he noticed that the train had already been parked there but its doors were closed. He was glad he did not have to rush to other platforms and could easily board the train. He took out his ticket and glanced at it; his eyes instantly hovered to the place where his coach number was written. It read “B6”. He lazily trudged towards his coach and leaned on a nearby pillar when he reached B6. He was a little exhausted.

A few minutes later, the passengers list was pasted on the coach and some people rushed towards it to check their names on it. Akash did not bother as he had a confirmed ticket, so he coolly boarded the coach and proceeded towards his seat. He hoisted his bag on the side upper berth and sat on the lower berth, which was his seat, and watched other passengers come and gradually fill the coach with their hustle-bustle! Suddenly a man came up to him and demanded to see his ticket. Akash was surprised as the man was not the Train Ticket Examiner  and had no right to demand to see others’ tickets unless he had a genuine purpose. With proper courtesy, Akash greeted the person and asked him why he wished to see his ticket. The man replied that  the lower berth was his seat and inquired which seat belonged to Akash. Akash was startled as he had a confirmed ticket and firmly believed that the railways wouldn’t commit such a mistake in ticket booking. He also asked to see the ticket of the elderly man. Both the persons opened their tickets and began to scrtunize them thoroughly.

Oh no! Akash let out a small scream. He had committed a big blunder.

The date on his ticket was “11.05.2014”!

 

IRCTC Ticket

“How could I do such a blunder?” He cursed himself. He had mistakenly filled in the month of ‘May’ while booking the railway ticket online and did not realize what he had done. And all this while, he did not care to take a proper look at his ticket. He felt miserable and foolish!

The man was very arrogant and asked Akash to vacate the seat immediately. Akash was too overwhelmed with worry at that moment so he did not notice the man keeping his luggage on the seat and prodding him with his elbows, thus insisting that Akash leave at once. A nearby person, who was witnessing the whole incident, walked up to Akash and instructed him to approach the Train Ticket Examiner and discuss the matter with him, for he could arrange a seat for him in another coach. The train was about to leave in 2 minutes. Poor Akash had lost his peace of mind and instead of heeding to the man’s advice, he took his bag and rushed towards the ticket booking room.

The train blared its horn. Akash took a sip from his tea and continued narrating the story to his friend Mohan.

“There was a huge crowd near the ticket window. People were inquiring about trains and booking tickets. I barged through them and by the time I reached the counter, I heard the train blow its horn and move; the sound of the wheels rang in my ears. What a fool I was. I shouldn’t have come out of the train; somehow, I could have managed the night-long journey and reach home. I did not bother to rush towards the moving train for guilt and anger filled my head and I decided to let the train go. My carelessness and stupidity cost me heavily and I missed my train. I had no option left than to book another ticket for tomorrow.”

Akash kept his half-filled tea cup on a piece of paper. It was a train ticket. The date read: 12.04.2014. He smiled, feeling slightly amused for everything that happened last night.

He wished he had not found his ticket while in his hostel room!

Moral of the story: Always check your travel ticket  thoroughly before boarding a train. Better, be careful while booking the ticket itself!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

wowbadge