Short Story- Ripples of the Stream
by Sneha Subramanian Kanta
(Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)
Ripples of the stream...
“Aai”, came the fluttering sound from Anu. On her fourteenth birthday she had to have her way, and asked her grandma to make “Pohe”, the way she loved it, with peas, onions, potatoes and a generous sprinkle of peanuts.
Aai had now turned nearly fifty years of age. Over the years, chewing tobacco was a habit she ingrained. Being the doting grand child in a house where no one understood them both, they had formed in themselves a mutual support system. Although, coming from a generation that was a leap ahead of hers, Aai perfectly understood Anu, her dichotomies and why the one grease in her school uniform should “not be there”. Somewhere, this reinstated Aai’s perfectness itself that mirrored itself in Anu’s characteristics.
It was a bright Sunday morning; one of those days you think it wouldn’t rain. Feeling lonely under the dictating clutches of her father, who drank and had re married right after Anu’s mother died, she always thought it would be better to take her Aai somewhere far, maybe to a temple or a picnic spot. She took the permission of her “biological father”, as Anu termed it, now learning the developmental processes of human beings in Science. This term “biological father” and the curt frankness she said it with, almost, reinforced in her the way in which language had words, “the weapons to crucify”, in the words of Eunice D’Souza.
Looking back now, staring at her Aai, she never realized when seven years had passed. She still remembers that day when Aai had made Pohe for her, much to her delight and surprise. She remembers the money that Aai had collected over all these years, during the pooja’s that took place during her mother’s lifetime. She remembers Aai considerately snuggling that money into her bag and asking her to eat something during lunch hours and not go empty stomach. Today, they were out from that “hell” as Aai called it. The human spirit did triumph. Now, Anu was to publish poems that Aai wrote while bringing her up. Translated in English, they read -
“Along the stony path way, I travel with you clutched to me,
Helpless I was, but for once,
Decided to move on with you
As being Aimless and mad people may dismiss me off,
I, in these lonely by lanes, hold your hand tight, my daughter.
The ravages of this broken dungeon that I am put in,
Shadows of myself, question my identity
I am Urmila, the one loving Laxman,
My love never glorified, yet not the one to bow.
I waited and waited as the flame in a diya,
Waiting to be ignited passionately by life someday,
In domesticity I was caught all life,
No, daughter. It won’t happen to you now.
You wouldn’t have to tassel silver bangles and be slaved to butchers”
This was just about one poem out of the poems she had written. Now armed with a career she always wanted to pursue, Anu found her way out, closely with her Aai. She had a post of a journalist in a newspaper, “Times Today”. One day, as she
sat in her office desk, wrapping up the last pile of files on her desk, a young gentleman walked across and stopped by her table.
“Excuse me, could you tell me where the control room is?”
“Yes, onto your left”
He rushed like winds in wilderness.
Later, she heard that he was a doctor, who had refused to acknowledge a case as “Rape”, due to fear from a rich industrialist, Mr.Seth, who threatened to sue him out of his job. The hospital he worked for was a private hospital, major funds of which were contributed by Mr.Seth.
Later, Anu was supposedly the journalist, who had to interview the girl who was raped.
Making all the arrangements, Anu went to interview her.
“Hello, relax, please don’t cry... Sit quietly... And tell me everything, I am here to help you”, Anu told her with politeness and concern.
After a fit of crying, she described how she had been brutally kidnapped while coming back from college, “It now makes no difference, what my name is, or what I do, where I belong from ... To my parents and my community, all that makes a difference is that I have lost my virginity, my “izzat”. I would like to question thousands of girls; does undergoing any form of brutal treatment make you less human?” With these words, the girl dispersed into her room, she walked boldly, as though her feelings were all let out in that haze.
Anu, went inside the room, held her hand and said .
“I am going to adopt you ,rather empower you, give you education , a life to live , I am going to give you back, what the world thinks you have lost –your identity, Come with me, and be with me from today ,as my daughter.”
She got up of her seat and wiped her tears. She gave Anu a steady gaze in which the emotions of love, respect and an instinct to survive lingered.
Today, Aai, Anu and Deepali live together, as one happy family. Yes, “Family”, which gives you a sense of identity, warmth and love”…
As Aai writes,
“Together we need to come as people,
Oppressed, yet unbowed,
In the hope of a better tomorrow, we do not sacrifice our today
Momentum of the time keeps ticking
And I wait for “justice”,
In this world of biases,
A Sense of togetherness wouldn’t prevail everywhere,
Come my daughters and my sons
Let’s join hands and forget boundaries,
We are all related,
We are all of a same kind- human
Why, then do these differences arise,
Who decides the forces of power?
And how long do we knuckle under the pressures
That denies us selfhood
I always looked at the world outside
And saw pain, suffering and disgust
Through abject circumstances,
And through small negotiations of space,
I see my path etched
And I live with my fellow sisters in peace
Oh why distinguish me from others?
Let us live as humans, on this planet !” For women who've endured all that came along their way and have the desire to find a ray of light in their life