Kissaa Kahaani

April 17, 2013

Why Do I Love Malls!!!

I love malls. I love being there. It’s a colorful menagerie, vibrancy, people, life and what not! The lives in malls are always on move! And why do I love malls?? The other day I went to one such grand mall with my husband for dinner – allow me to narrate the beautiful sights I witnessed there, and you would know why love malls!

The moment we entered we were greeted with a welcome chaos, an organized anarchy. People skipping the queue for security check, being a weekend the whole place was crowded. I saw a daughter-in-law in traditional garbs, covering her head with pallu and her mother-in-law guiding her on the escalator. I saw a young pretty person in hot pants and hand-in-hand with her companion who was leaning in to whisper sweet nothings on the same escalator. I saw a tiny boy, scared and curious at the same time, he was trying to step on the escalator, cheered on by his father. The lad was soooo happy that when he actually stepped on the mechanical moving staircase,  his face reflected the victorious emotions as if he was the winner of the Mumbai Marathon! His father was equally proud when his miniature version turned and triumphantly shouted, “Dadda! I made it.”

And on the third floor, while sitting and whiling away time, we saw a super cute scene! A little girl (may be little more than 2 years old) was harassing her father. Let me try and recount the conversation verbatim.

Daughter to Dad, “Daddy I wanna ride a horse!” “No Kiddo, there are no horses in this mall, we will ride horse some other time.” Dad cajoled. With a tearful scowl and pouted lower lips, the daughter insists that she doesn’t care, “Be my horse no daddy! Juss for two minnets ride! Pleeeze, puhleeez, puhleez Daddy.” A resigned sigh resonated from the Dad’s throat and also the soft muttering, “You little blackmailing toddler, you take after your mother!” and then loudly, “Okies, common, just two minutes and no more!” The exuberance on the face of that little manipulative girl was a wonderful sight, she was jumping and skipping and laughing and finally the dad went down on his knees put the daughter on his back and was then on all fours. The horse and the rider started the chanting, “Chal mere ghode tic tic tic!” The two minutes went on to 10 minutes and both were unaware of the stares, smirks, wistful smiles and laughter of the fellow mall-goers.

As we sat down to have a pure vegetarian Rajasthani dinner (I somehow had the craving only for the vegetarian that day, though my husband believes that a Restaurant not having any chicken dish in the menu  is not worth being called a restaurant) and in come five, no. Ten, no. Thirteen people to have dinner. A Traditional Rajasthani family. Women in ghoonghat and men in kurtas and pagdis. Four tables were joined together and women sat near the wall, kids in between and then the menfolk.  The dinner commenced and criticism too. Eldest lady says, “I cook better, they call this Rajasthani Thali! I told you all not to waste money”.

A stroll to a home furniture store brought even more smiles.  Beautiful furniture assembled together to give a feel of one’s future dream home. Beds and sofas and dining tables and couches and night stands and kitchenware and furnishings. As we ooh-ed and aah-ed over various pieces, I saw one more couple doing the same in front of a display bedroom. They were looking at the stuff presented beautifully and I could see the beautiful desire in the guy’s eyes and dream in girl’s.

Yes I love malls. They sell not the merchandise but the dreams, the ambitions. Malls are not just a market place, an assembly of random shops; it’s a place where parents buy wedding trousseaus for their daughters. Malls are places where boyfriends buy a ring and propose to girlfriends. Malls are places where housewives escape cooking for a day and enjoy. Malls are place where break ups happen and make-ups happen. Malls are places where kids see the whole range of diverse colors- good and bad- and learn. I love malls, because I get to see so much of life there. I love malls, because I see so many emotions fleeting on the faces of mall-goers. I also love malls because I get to empty my husband’s pocket there!

April 4, 2011

A Beautiful Story

I read this story a long long time back; years ago. I don’t even remember the author. The story was in Hindi. And I don’t remember much, I just remember the gist. I will try to present this story in my own way, since I don’t remember the characters’ names; I am using my own way here… Bless me.

There was a rumor (or was it a rumor?), that the village graveyard had a unique scent to it since last week, as if someone has put incense stick which was divine. The source of the fragrance??? No one knows, they just know that it was her grave which had this pious feel to it.

So much so was the effect of the scent that slowly and slowly, the whole village seemed to be washed in that scent. The Trees were scented, so was the fruits; the fragrance of the flowers were lost and instead these buds also had this divine scent, the rotis which amma cooked, and the sevai– everything smelled like that. And when wives swept the floor and their chunni’s slipped by, their bodies had that beautiful fragrance. The water in the Village well had that fragrant, and that laughter of the girls had that sweet essence as well. And when mothers hugged their babies, there was no baby smell- instead there was that redolence… Not a single person, not a single object retained their own fragrance, they were now one- the scent of that grave united them.

Days passed by and the fragrance increased in intensity. They wondered what her husband; Nadeem has to say about the whole scenario. And Nadeem’s soul was tortured over the happenings. He was sick, high with fever and lying on his cot, oscillating between past and present. His mind took him 21 years back when he first saw her; she was an angel, a fairy- so beautiful. And so many handsome people courted her. He, being of ordinary looks knew that he has no chances. His bhabhi saw him staring at her and asked if he would like to marry that girl, she is a relation only, two cousins removed. Nadeem was skeptical; he said that a girl so beautiful can never be a good wife. She will be flocked by the guys and she might be tempted to have an extramarital affair. But his sister-in-law and mother knew that his heart was set on her and they knew that the girl was virtuous. And with-in a fortnight Nadeem was wedded to her.

Was he lucky or was he lucky, the girl devoted her everything to Nadeem. Nadeem became her God, her Khuda, once she entered his home, she never bared even her nails to another man; she dedicated her being to him. Such selfless love, such unconditional love. And he was not even a good looking man. They said that she had a fault. She was Baanjh, barren. She could not bear him a child. Her mother-in-law said that her beauty, her virtue is of no use, she is fruitless. She never talked back, never retorted.

And after a journey of 21 years, she left him; she finally left that dull life she had. And she departed to the Home of God. She died peacefully in her sleep. And since then, Nadeem was never himself. He could not bear her death and was sick now all the time. Today, he was missing more so.

Syed came to meet Nadeem, he was curious as to what was the reason that Nadeem’s wife’s grave was so fragrant. He was not the only one curious. Whole village was. Syed was there to tell him that Village elders have decided to go to the root of the situation and with required permissions and authority they are going to dig her grave. Nadeem was out of his mind, how dare they disturb his beloved!!! He ran past Syed to protect her resting place, but by that time, it was too late. People were standing around the open, dug grave and some wiping tears, some praising Allah, some simply in shock- looking at what was inside. She lay as peacefully in the cradle of earth, as if she was a princess having her beauty sleep. One month ago she was buried, but there was no tell tale sign of that, she was 42 at the time of her death and she looked 18 in her grave. Wonder of wonders!! A most exquisite, most beautiful flower was sprouting from her mouth. And that was the source of the divine scent. People, apologized to Nadeem and to the departed one, covered back her grave and one by one left the graveyard. Nadeem who was shell-shocked remained their and remained there. And suddenly he broke down and wept and wept. The inhuman howl which he let out, forced Syed to run back to him, who held him and consoled him.

Once Nadeem was calm enough, he told Syed, that his wife was Goddess and Allah wanted her to be acknowledged as such and that’s why this divine intervention. As Nadeem said, “You see, she was with me for 21 years, and she was most beautiful one, she could have had anyone she wanted. But she remained with me, she never cursed her life, she never did raise her voice, she never strayed, she never complained. Syed, I was born impotent and remained so throughout her life and will remain so throughout my life”

March 29, 2011

And She Ran Away

She kept knocking at the door of the room, pleading. She was a prisoner in her own home. They wanted her to give birth to a child, a son. To continue the vamsa parampara. She didn’t want to do this. She didn’t want to. Its not that she didnt want to be a mother, she did. She simply didnt want to be the mother of the child of her husband…

There was a time when she loved her husband, she did his laundry, fed him good food, appeared as a good and dutiful escort whenever he needed her, she fulfilled her duty on bed. She really loved her husband. After all who was there for her! She had no one in her own family except for a brother who was ruled by his wife and the wife of the brother did not want to have to do anything with her for that matter. So she just had her in-laws, her husband, parents in-law and brother in-law. True, she was never treated like a princess, but she was never mistreated as well. Well you cannot call occasional taunts and criticism and demeaning comparisons as mistreatment and torture, will you! No one raised a finger on her… may be once or twice when her husband was drunk, he hit her, but only when he was drunk, never otherwise. And since he used to go around with big league people, he had to drink, to maintain a status quo and the PR, you know these things are so necessary when you are a budding entrepreneur. She was an educated girl, she understood and once sobered, her husband apologized, so she knew he didnt mean it. She was if not happy, quite content with what she had. She was no different than others in these matters. However things started changing for her when last month her husband was down with high fever.

When we have simple fever, what’s the best remedy? Go to a chemist, take some antipyretic drug, pop it in and sleep. Most probably its some kind of virus, it will go down in maximum three days, and it will also ensure at least three to four days of relaxation, guaranteed attention from people at home. And of course it will also mean a good break from the daily junk intake and result in healthy food for 3 days. A fever is a respite. But in the case f her husband, the fever remained for a week and temperature kept fluctuating between 100 to 105. It started bothering her. She begged and begged but he didnt want to go to the doctor. It was a waste of time and money. She approached her brother in-law, who rarely talked to her. She requested him to take her husband to some doctor. The brother in-law was so surprised by her initiative to talk that he simply said yes and then realised what a time wasting activity he put himself upto. Well there was no backing up now.

The brother in-law and the husband went to the doctor at the local medical centre to meet their local doctor. However they were surprised to see a young fellow instead of the regular doctor. The new doctor informed that the older one chose to retire and the government appointed him here. This out-of-the-woods-babe was so enthusiastic about his first appointment as a doctor and his first patient that he wanted a thorough investigation of the cause of the fever. The husband was fully scrutinized and was made to undergo numerous tests. Medicines were given. Finally they came home, thinking all is over.

The all was not over yet. It just started.

The young doctor at the clinic was so eager with his new job that he run all the tests he could on all the liquid and solid matter he received from the poor husband’s body. The result was stunning. He wanted to deliver such a big and drastic and life changing diagnosis himself. He also was curious to see the reaction. Yes, it was sadistic if you want to think so. But it also gave him the opportunity to learn to deal with the ways people handle such news, it will help him in future. Who was to know that he will land with such a big case on his first day.

The two story house showed that the family was rich and opulent enough. He approached the house. He was welcomed in with warmth. After all, it was not unusual for the ‘people with post’ coming to the house and paying the visit. They were well networked and respected people. The heads of the family, that is all three males were present and laughing. The Mother-in-law, doctor guessed her to be the mother in-law, bellowed for her to come to the kitchen and prepare some snacks for the young doctor. After fifteen minutes of formal talking points she came with a few plates laden with sweets and snacks for his endeavor. She gave a shy smile and the doctor was struck with beauty in her simplicity. He suddenly felt inadequate and wanted to protect her from the blow he was about to give her. He wanted to hug and sympathize with her. He wanted to just hold her. He rebuked himself for his constant rubbish thoughts. And spoke out to her to stay. He then turned to her husband. Saying that he wanted to say something about his falling health. He has run all the tests and now has a concrete result, of course if he wanted he can go for a second opinion in a better private hospital, but the result will remain unchanged. He has AIDS.

She was puzzled. AIDS. She knew what is AIDS. She learned about it from her first year in the medical college before she quit it to get married, before her parents left her in this sad world and died in a road mishap, before her brother decided that he cannot take the burden of her education anymore. She was still reminiscing about her first year at medical college when she realized she was not on her feet but lying on the floor. The young doctor’s face swam before her eyes. This doctor was too young and good looking. Would she had had this confidence which he has now if she were a doctor. She smiled at the doctor suggestively. And she realized with horror that her husband was dying. The Doctor helped her to her feet, all the while her family sat there looking like zombies. The husband suddenly rose from his shock and rebuked the doctor, saying it was mean way of stealing money. Suddenly things started changing before her eyes. She suddenly swayed and realized that the doctor who was still holding her was hit by a force which was her brother in-law. The mother in law was screaming things which she never said, about her and the young doctor she just met! She smiled on her own, she keeps referring to him as the young doctor. Se suddenly felt someone calling her and looked up to see the person of her thoughts on the doorway, exiting. He turned and asked her to get a full check up.

The next week was whirl wind. Doctors, hospitals, tests. Not hers. Her husbands. Everything was confirmed. The fears were testified. It felt as if someone already died. His immune system was beyond repairs. It was settled that he would die. When, no one knew. It could be today, tomorrow or after a year. He was now in a hurry to settle away the remnants of his life. The will. Of course, he would get a life insurance but wont wont tell about his condition and jeopardize his chance of getting one. And the nominee will be his mother. The business will go to his brother. The house and land, his share of it shall go to his father and he shall decide whom to allot it to in his will whenever he wants. All the loans have to be paid. Everything has to be done. In all this stuff he forgot one thing. He was childless, by his own choice, in the three years of this matrimony.

And thus he forced himself upon her, blaming that she gave him AIDS, that she was a slut, and therefore she shall suffer- either she will give him a child, a son. Or She will die with him. Sati Prata was not dead as many claim. And here she was, locked in this room, given meal only at night just before her husband came in to our all his fear and all his frustration into her since last three days.

Tonight. She resolved to end the drama tonight. She will run away. She will go to some Ashram or to that NGO that police lady was running. She will be free. Just a few more hours. Whole say she waited in that locked room. Night fell. She decided to prepare. But she had nothing with her! No she had nithing to take with her, just the saree she is wearing will do fine and let her husband come, she will sneak some money from his pocket and may be his gold cufflink and chain. That should suffice. She waited for her husband to come.

All the while he was inside her, her mind was outside her- formulating what she would do once she is once she is free, where to go, what to do… her brother would send her back, and she was out of touch from her friends. She decided to run away to the doctor, she would get herself checked. And then she would ask him for his advise about continuing her education, if she has a chance of becoming a doctor. After three years of solitude, she knew she has chances none to next to become a doctor, but she can certainly become a nurse, and sustain herself. But from where will she bring the money for education.

Her husband yanked himself out and fell on her. He shivered with repulsion which her husband took as a tremor of pleasure, typical husband. He taunted her and rolled off. She waited. One hour passed by, then another. She stole her way towards the bathroom, draped her sarree properly, took her purse- saw she has around three hundred rupees and then she took a shawl- her husbands black shawl, this shall help her hide in the dark. She took from the night stand, her husband’s wallet, his watch and slowly unhooked the gold chain from his neck. He didnt even stir- it was a drunken sleep.

She opened the door of her bedroom, came out and ran away. She had no idea where she will be going, what kind of world she will meet outside, she just ran. Towards her freedom….

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