Monday, March 28, 2011

The Village Witch (Part 6)

The night was eerie and dark. The street dogs howled loudly and it felt like they were a pack of wolves.Anjali wrapped a black shawl around herself and walked towards the temple. She was carrying a faint torch that showed her a faint way. She knew she did not have much time until maa informed her father and everyone started searching for her. On reaching the tree, she found Meghna still tied, her head was dropped to her chest and one couldn't tell if she was alive or dead, her long hair covered her made her look very scary. When Anjali took a few steps towards her, a strong voice emerged from somewhere around the tree, "Who is it?", It said.

Anjali though under training in wicca for 2 and a half years was still an amateur and at this point she was genuinely scared. The time on her watch showed midnight.

There was no movement from Meghna.

But the voice repeated the order, harsher this time, " If you take a step closer I will slice you into 1000 pieces and eat all of it....tell me, who are you?", The voice was deep and adamant.


The moment Anjali told her name, Meghna's head shot up.This sudden movement scared Anjali even more. Her right hand had already reached her pocket knife.

Suddenly Meghna's body language changed seeing Anjali. She stood erect facing Anjali.

After a few tense seconds, Anjali raised her torch to see Meghna's face from where she stood. The torch wasn't helping her , in fact Meghna looked like a witch in the faint torch light- long scattered hair, bluish black face, and strong dark eyes that reflected light as if she was an animal.

Anjali drew in a deep breath and walked closer to Meghna, carefully. When she was close enough to touch her, she reached her pocket and took out the knife and cut the ropes which were cutting through Meghna's hands. The moment the ropes went loose, Meghna lost her balance and fell to the ground. Anjali reached out to help her but the 1st touch to Meghna's body was so scary that she drew back her hands. Meghna's skin was coarse, cold and hard.

After a few seconds, Anjali got herself together, took out the water bottle from her bag and lifted Meghna's head to help her drink the water.

As Meghna drank the water, Anjali moved her soft manicured hands over Meghna’s coarse skin.

“We should leave now, before anybody finds out. You wait here till I go and get my car.” Anjali spoke for the first time.

Meghna stopped drinking the water and got up on her own and sat straight, Anjali was amazed at her strength.

“ I thought you were a witch.” Meghna’s tone had changed. It definitely wasn’t the same voice that had asked Anjali her name. This new tone was light, almost felt like a taunt, but Anjali was too occupied with other thoughts to catch the witty remark.


“Why do you need a car? Don’t you have a broom?” Meghna let out a small chuckle.

Anjali took a good hard look at Meghna now, "I realize you are taunting me. I risked everything to come here to save you, you have been beaten like an animal today and now at night when I free your hands, and give you some water to drink, you show me attitude?” Anjali was getting angry.

Meghna drew a long heavy breath, drank some more water, smiled at Anjali and asked her, “ Are they still teaching you Abracadabra and those classic dark poetry as magic spells? Isn’t it like – Before the night is over, before the day is through, whatever you have done to others, will come right back at you......or how about this one- Darksome powers of the night, gather round my candle’s flame, send my enemy in shaded flight, send my enemy away in shame....”

“Are you making fun of Wicca?”

“I am only telling you a small part of the whole truth my darling. Wicca and dark arts are not a hobby, not a side business or some activity to kill your time. And it is not something that you can learn by devoting an hour everyday by hearting the so called spells. These spells work as much as any statement of hatred and ill wish. It’s all in the mind, if you wish bad to someone with all your heart, no matter with what’s bound to affect that person, only if he has really done wrong to you. Tell me Anji, have you felt the power increase in you after starting to learn Wicca?”

“I have the confidence that I can fight anything...that’s the reason I’m here tonight.”

“Oh Anji, I’m not talking about hiding behind the door while your mum runs to the window thinking you jumped off into the darkness...”

Anjali was now speechless..., “How do you....”

“There’s a difference between staging magic and the real magic, don’t you think? What you are being taught and what you do are tricks that will work in front of an uneducated illiterate illogical and slow thinking audience...yes! Not in front of me Anji!”

Far away, there were noises of some cars heading towards the temple that broke the girl's conversation,

“Oh god! I think they are coming for me....what do we do?” Anjali panicked.

Meghna calmly got up and looked at the tiny fast moving lights heading their way.

Shankarji, Devidasji ( Shankar’s elder brother), Yogesh (the driver) were heading straight to the temple. In the faint temple light, From far off they could see two figures standing near the tree.
One moment, they saw them,

The next- They were gone!

(To be continued.....) The Village Witch Part 7

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Village Witch ( Part 5)

“You have a flight to catch day after tomorrow and you are joining work from don’t have much time left.”

“ I know papa, but I’m not feeling well,how can you send me back in such a condition? Maa..., what should I do?”

Anji looked at her mother with very kind , innocent and sympathetic eyes. Papa knew why Anji wanted to stay longer . So before Maa would start her emotional drama, Papa declared,

“Fine. You are staying! But not here. There’s too much dust here, besides there’s no Air conditioning. You should probably stay at our flat which is 2 hours drive from here. You can definitely travel for 2 hours Anji!”

“I’m staying here papa.” She declared in a firm, unemotional tone with a straight look at her father. Her tone was so stoic and dry, that it shocked everyone present in the room as to how a girl looking as sweet as Anji talk in a voice like that. The voice did not sound as if it belonged to her, it came from somewhere else.

“What did you say?” Papa thought he was mistaken about what he just heard.

“I said I’m staying. I’m staying in my house and my village till I want to. Nobody can force me out of here.”

The father and the daughter kept looking at each other for several moments. Shanker realized for the very 1st time that his daughter had changed...and it wasn’t the kind of change that comes with normal was different, it was that which he feared, always. It was the growth that was predicted of his daughter....but how? He wondered!
“Nobody can change the destiny Mr.Shankar!” Shankar remembered the words of the wise man.

“No.” Shankar had declared, “I will not let this happen to my daughter!”

“Mr. Shankar, why do you feel something wrong or bad will happen to your daughter?? Her stars nowhere predict pain or suffering to her! Your daughter will be fine.”

Shankar shook himself out of his reverie. He looked harder at Anji who was still looking at him, who was challenging him- head front. Shankar turned to look at his wife, “Pack her bags, I've had enough of her already! we are leaving right now. And I want to see who can stop me.” He left the room in a fury, Anjali heard him calling out to their driver, giving instructions to prepare for departure immediately.

Next moment, Anji got out of bed swiftly,

“What are you doing Anji?” Aunt Sarita asked worried, as just a couple of minutes back Anji could hardly stand on her feet.

“I’m getting ready, you must have heard what father said. His word is final for us, isn’t it maa?”

The stress on “Father” was prominent. Anji had never called her father anything other than papa.

“I need to change. Can I have some privacy?”

“Maybe I should stay. You are not well anyway.” Maa offered help.

“Do I look like I need help?”

Maa left the room. She had no say in the house. Not that the other’s in the house ever stopped her from speaking, but she could never understand what the ego and the attitude was for? Why exercise control over another being? Why act like a king? Why the aggression? These questions were beyond her understanding. She let her husband and her daughter live the way they wanted as long as she got to live the way she wanted.

15 minutes later when maa knocked on the door, the room was empty. Anji was gone. All her colourful clothes lay on the bed. There was no note, only the room window stood open.

Maa could hardly breathe at the site, she weakly ran to the window which was on the 1st floor of the haveli. Right down from the window was rocky ground that stretched back into the thick dark forest. There was absolutely no sign of her...

( To be continued......)
The Village Witch Part 6

The Village Witch (Part 4)

1 Day before Amavasya

The Villagers divided themselves in groups. These teams were heading in search of Meghna, the village witch. They carried swords, ropes, mashaals and every other kind of weapon available in the village. As if  you can fight a real witch with all that. The teams comprised of all men, of various age groups. They all looked very proud, because they were doing the most important task!

The village temple's main Pandit said a few prayers to protect these holy men from the Witch. He gave the teams his best blessings and God's prashaad, and the teams started out in 4 different directions at around 5 pm.

Meghna sat under the old bare peepal tree. She knew exactly at what time the villagers would arrive at the spot.

The 3rd team which had headed south arrived at the bare peepal tree at around 5.20pm. They carried on their usual drama of spotting the witch, then deciding as to who will come and catch hold of her and pull her to the main village. They came, tied her hands and pulled her to the village without a word being said and nobody being abusive to her. But the moment the village crowd came into focus, the eldest in the team, a 55 year old father of 2 daughters and a drunkard 5 times a week, took the centre stage! He tied Meghna tightly to the tree in front of the temple and applied on her some sort of powder that the Pandit had given him. The villagers were now cheering the 3rd team and shouting abuses at the witch...some old women even spit at Meghna. The old man then started slapping the witch mercilessly and kicking her in her stomach.

The Temple wasn't far off from Anjali's Haveli. She heard the noise and came into the balcony.
She realised that Pushpa and Sarita auntie were heading towards the temple with a plate full of some flowers and incense. Anjali wore a jacket on her sleeveless top and rushed down to join her aunts.
She met her father in the doorway.

At this point, the slapping and beating had crossed bearable levels for Meghna and she screamed like an animal who's being torn apart by wolves!

Anjali heard the screaming and got restless. "What's happening at the temple?"
"Anji, go back to your room." Her father declared.
" Are these screams Meghna's?"
"It doesn't matter us!"
"Then what does papa? My job? Your business? Our happiness! That's it?", She was getting angry at her father now.
"Go up.....Now!"
The order was followed by a moment of silence in which Shankar thought he had scared his little girl, but he was wrong. In a swift move, she crossed him and ran towards the door.

"Anji NOOO! Satish, Yogesh, get her in! RIGHT NOW!"

Shankar's driver and the gardener ran behind Anjali who ran with all her heart towards the temple. Anjali was a fit female who worked out regularly, whereas Satish and Yogesh with their old age and big bellies could hardly keep up with her pace.

Anjali reached the crowd and pushed the people to reach the centre of the crowd, to the tree.

The cheering had got louder and so had Meghna's painful screams.
When Anjali came face to face with Meghna, it just took her a moment to take in the entire act! The merciless beating had left her friend's face blue and blood oozed out of her forehead,nose,ears and hands.....Anjali's knees went weak..they could not support her anymore. Her brain had suddenly stopped functioning! Meghna watched Anjali falling down in front of her. Their eyes met. She stopped screaming and kept looking at Anjali. The villagers noticed the change in the witch, the old men's beating got worse....but for a moment, everything seemed to stop...when their eyes met and Meghna asked Anjali, "What took you so long?"

The next second, the driver and the gardener arrived and lifted Anjali and took her to the Haveli. The beating continued for as long as everyone got tired of screaming, cheering and hitting.

The village witch was left tied to the tree the whole night!

(To be continued....)
The Village Witch Part 5

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Village Witch ( Part 3)

“Leech of my life that sucks my soul
May you be fed to wolfish fiends whole.
Those that skin you of your joy
May you be subject to their vicious ploys.
Oozing droplets of your blood
May their goblets it royally flood."


"Caroline, wait for me...."
Anjali ran briskly behind Caroline, her room-mate who was heading towards the library after the face off they had in their room a couple of minutes back.

"Anjali, maybe its best if I change the room. Or maybe its best if I leave the city.......", Caroline said between her tears.
Caroline stopped midway and looked at Anjali,
"I haven't been able to make a single friend here, nobody likes me...not that I care...But I want to be amongst my people, those who understand me."

"Well! That's not totally true......I'm your friend, am I not?"
"Friends don't look at each other as if they are ghosts!!", Taunted Caroline.

"Caroline, you just told me you are a witch! A witch!!" Stressed Anjali," Do you know what that sounds like?"

"A ghost?? You know Anjali, I thought you were different, but your reaction to me was so damn typical!"

"Caroline, you aren't giving me any time to digest these facts! I am not rejecting you okay? It's just been 6 months since I landed in this country, I'm miles away from home, I find this sweet girl as my room mate and just when I find myself getting comfortable, I come to know the girl sleeping next to me is a witch! How am I to react??"

Caroline was quiet.

"I don't know what being a witch means Caroline. I don't know if it means sitting on a broom or making potions in those huge pots, or wearing those crooked hats and saying those curses and spells, and turning people into frogs......I don't know! I don't know how I am to behave with you, whether I've to be careful of you, whether you have those strange powers, whether you can disappear......what are you Caroline? And how can you be a witch? I mean come on, this is the 21st century...this aint Harry Potter! I'm mud blood by the way.....and..."

"Shut up! Just Shut up!"

Both the girls kept looking at each other. Anjali knew she had lost sense of what she was talking.
"Come with me!"

Caroline held Anjali's arm and led her towards the back of the library.......into a world Anjali never thought existed, into the lives of the people most of us think don't exist, into the adventure that was to define what Anjali would be for the rest of her life- A Witch!
The Village Witch Part 4

Friday, March 18, 2011

Random Letter to Someone ( Part 5- Abt Dating, seduction and possibilities)

Dear Someone,

Today morning I came across an absurd site while browsing for information. ( I know I've left my story: "The village witch", halfway. The trouble is the kind of twist I want to give . It requires substantial knowledge of Wicca or at least some understanding of the art , less I make logical errors and write a story that's unbelievable.)

So while browsing for info on Wicca I came across this site---------> , and it totally caught me by surprise as its a site which boasts of training men on the Art of Attraction and seduction. What more? It conducts workshops in my city!

I carefully went through the contents of the site and let me confess, I found it interesting! This is what the film "Hitch" is based on. I don't understand what made the female lead go mad on Hitch ( Will Smith) for teaching men to hook up the woman of their dreams!! I mean come on!! Isn't it better for us women to be in the company of a man who knows how to treat us, how to make us laugh and entertain us rather than accompany a nervous wrack??

We women long for the man of our dreams throughout our lives- Someone with the right looks, the right manners and the right words! But how many times do we really come across a man who knows how to treat us?? I know many women must be thinking that it's better to have the company of a man who is himself than a man who's been taught to behave in a particular way! But Hello?? Haven't all of us learnt the ways to talk and to walk, through some or the other medium? This workshop is just a step ahead of self teaching! This workshop is where the experts tell you what is the best for you, so what's the harm?

I shared the link with some of my friends and I got different reactions. Men who are confidant of their art and approach think this is bullshit! Some women think this kind of thing is cheap! ( "Yuk! How desperate can you get to just have the company of a woman?? Cheap!") , Some other women thanked god! (" Ohh! The concept finally makes way into India! At least now, we'll have more fun on dates!"), some men with whom I shared the link thanked me for sharing the info with them! My personal opinion is, "Now that "Hitch" is here, when will "Speed Dating" make its way into Indian Society??

I'd really like to meet the well groomed men who know what to say and do and who don't shy away from the truth that our whole life is actually just a game of attraction! There's nothing cheap about the universal truth, that seduction is and always will be something that will capture our minds!

For those men and women who want to make this topic an issue of ego, vulgarity and treat it as something negative, yeah you can have your way- Please go ahead and complain, criticize and laugh on those who are trying to learn something new. No good ever comes out of laughing on others anyway, so yeah! waste your time! Others, if you find the link helpful, great going and wish you all the best!



Friday, March 11, 2011

The Village Witch! ( Part 2)

The Village Witch Part 1

"Answer me,  74 x 8?"
"Add 295 to it, how much do you get?"
"Subtract 86.3 out of that."

"Papa....This is too much!"
"Wait Anji....Tell me Meghna, what's the answer you've got?"
"800.7" Pat came the reply!

"Now divide...."

"Alright! Enough you two. I don't understand how you two calculate so fast....I don't like this game." Complained 9 year old Anjali as she picked up her doll and headed for her room.

"Wait... I want to play too." Meghna picked up her doll and ran after Anjali.

Meghna's father worked for Anjali's dad in his factory. He was the most trusted friend and associate in his business.

" Narayan, I'm planning to move to Delhi."
"Why Shankarji?"
"This village , as you know, doesn't have much scope for expansion. Besides, I've to travel to Delhi at least once a week to take care of our clients. Our business operates from Delhi though the factory is here. I suggest you too shift to Delhi. It's a better lifestyle , better business opportunities and better education for our daughters."
"Shankarji, its expensive in New Delhi. Besides , we have daughters. they'll get married and go anyway, why do you worry so much for their education?"

Shankar knew it was useless to tell these village folks the importance of education. It was foolish to expect them to treat girls and boys on par with each other. Shankar had tried a 1000 times to make Narayan not talk negatively about daughters, at least not in front of them. He had tried to explain to Narayan that Meghna is very sharp and if given the best opportunities , she'll make his entire family proud. The excuse Narayan always had was, " I cannot risk the name and honour of my family by letting Meghna have the wings to fly. You give too much in the hands of a woman and she doesn't take a minute to let you regret your decision. Women are to be controlled and subjugated, Kautilya said it Shankarji, Manu too. Our scriptures say it!"

The entire village blew up any ideas of modernization/ logical thought in the name of our great Indian traditions and society and cultural values. Shankar knew , that hanging on to the old and useless traditions would do no good to anybody. He had lost the battle to change his village long before he even started it. If his most trusted friend can not understand his point, who else would?

Shankar had decided, he would be the change! But he would not waste his time nor energy on others.
So while Anjali got the best as she grew up, all thanks to her dad; Meghna was time and again asked to compromise on her dreams. Meghna's only hope for a bright future was having Anjali and her father around, as Shankarji till a great extent was a huge influence on her father. and Shankarji was very fond of Meghna, she was almost like his 2nd daughter. Whenever Shankar went to Delhi, he would buy 2 of everything- 2 dresses, 2 dolls, 2 boxes of chocolates, 2 hair bands etc.

Anjali did not mind nor felt jealous about the situation. She was too happy to have Meghna around for company, She was her best pal! They played and studied together.

 Present Day:

Anjali had no interest in her father's business nor was she interested in getting roasted in the Indian kitchens. She had absolutely nothing to do in the haveli rather than sit and watch TV or read a book. She was the daughter of the youngest son. All her uncle's children were married and had their children. Nobody fitted in the age group that Anjali belonged to, nor was there anybody to match up to her frequency of thought.

Anjali took the task of exploring the haveli. The old uncleaned attics and basements, opening her ancestor's closets and looking through their stuff, checking out old diaries, pages of which had turned yellow with time...this sort of detective work always amazed her. She remembered Meghna and herself played many detective games in the many rooms of this haveli. Sometimes Meghna would act as the detective while Anjali would hide , other times Anjali would be the detective.

She found her old dolls and their jewelry, carefully kept in a big wooden antique box.
" I've to meet Meghna..." She thought. Meghna had been Anjali's only close pal till date. Anjali moved from 1 school to the other and from 1 country to the other, but never did she trust another person with her secrets like she did with Meghna. Meghna, though a year younger to Anjali, was always calm and wise in her behavior and advice. Both of them had kept in touch through letters for over 3 years, then the study load increased, the extra curricular activities increased, and Anjali could not remember when she stopped replying to Meghna's long mails.

" But where will I find her??" She wondered.

After lunch, Anjali decided to ask her aunts for some information on the whereabouts of Meghna.

Pushpa Auntie was the most alert woman in the family. She had an ear for gossip and details, nothing ever missed her eye or ear. Anjali casually sat next to Pushpa Auntie while watched her favorite serial after lunch. This was the best time to get information out of her, since her attention was fixed on TV.
" Auntie, Where is Narayan uncle's house?"
Auntie was a bit irritated for the disturbance caused, but Anjali was a guest, that too 1 who came after 15 years, "Narayan is dead."

"And Meghna?"

"Nobody knows where she lives."
Anjali had heard this line before, but she wanted something more.

"When and where can I see her? I mean I wanted to meet her before I go back."
Now Pushpa auntie was alert, another reason for shifting the focus on Anjali was the commercial break.
"Why do you want to meet that witch?"
"I don't believe she's a witch, she was my friend."
"Yes! She was....WAS! You don't want to get involved in the mess of this village's not meant for girls like you."
Pushpa auntie realized that Anjali was disappointed. So she added,
" It's going to be Amavasya in 2 days, the night of the witch, the villagers will hunt her down tomorrow and tie her to the tree so that she does no black magic!"

Anjali started thinking what to do....
" Don't think too much are going home tomorrow night!"

(To be continued....)

The Village Witch Part 3

The Village Witch ( Part 1)

"I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves." 

~ Mary Wollstonecraft

"Dadii......." Anjali rushed out of her car and into her grandma's arms! Anjali hugged her dadi so tight, her dad was concerned,
"Anjali....careful! Don't squeeze your Dadi, she's not your teddy bear!" He warned her.
" It's okay Beta! When she was small I used to squeeze her, now its her turn!" Dadi was just too happy to see the whole family get together after almost 15 years.

Anjali and her family, that's her dad and mum had moved to New Delhi when she was 10. Since then they hardly ever visited their village "Dumaria", in central Eastern State of Bihar. Anjali's father always wanted the best for his daughter, he thought differently from the rest of his clan. He believed in equality of genders and an education for every woman. That was something unthinkable 15 years is unthinkable even till date in this part of the world.

Anjali had gone abroad for a post graduate degree in Media studies and had got internship with BBC for almost 10 months. Thereafter she applied to the top media houses around US and UK and had got a job with Viacom Networks. She had come home for a short vacation before she started with a busy career.

She was nostalgic to walk through the corridors of their haveli and climb up the stairs to their old room, which was locked for the past 15 years and was now opened and cleaned for its old masters. Anjali was too excited, too happy to meet her full family and have everyone tell her she had grown up to be so beautiful!
"Yeh toh bilkul heroine ki tarah dikhti hai....filmon mein kyon nahi jaati Anji?"
"Jaungi Mausi...aap bas dekhti raho!"

The 1st day passed by in laughter, meeting lots of relatives and eating spicy food!

Anjali lay down on her old bed , relaxed, happy and content!
" Papa, there's really nothing like home!"
Her father looked at her, " I'm glad you connect to your land even after staying far away from it all these years Anji!"
" We should have come here more often!" Anjali always complained to her father for not making enough trips to Bihar.
" I thought it was in your best interest to let you have a safe and a sound adolescence Anji! You do not know how women are treated here, you have no clue."
"I've read a lot papa....."
"There' a difference in reading and seeing , and seeing and experiencing!" Her father's voice had that note of a strict warning, of definite knowledge, and of a patriarchal protector's instincts. Anjali did not pursue the matter further, after all she was here for just a couple of days.

The next day, her father left to check out a site for a factory with her uncles.
Her mom was busy in the kitchen with aunts and other female relatives catching up on the news headlines that shook the village over the past couple of years.

Anjali walked to the huge balcony and  let the sun rays bathe her! She closed her eyes and let the wind bring to her the flavors of what cooked in the kitchen and the scent of the sun-baked Indian earth. When she opened her eyes, she saw a young woman  looking at her from the road. Anjali tried to get a clearer look by shielding her eyes from the strong rays of the sun with her right hand. The young woman did not smile, did not wave her hands, she just stood looking at Anjali. Anjali could not recognize this frail, dark woman.

"Don't you remember her?" Her aunt Sarita was at her side.
Anjali took a while to recollect, "Meghna?"
"Yes! Poor girl. Lost her mother 1st, then she was married off at 18 and her husband died within a year of their marriage due to some disease, nobody really knows what it was. Everyone blamed her for his death. They call her the village witch now. The villagers believe she has a lot of dark powers that she uses to take revenge on people. How otherwise would her mother in law die within 2 years of marriage!?! Everything sounds so strange! My god, I'm getting goose bumps!" Sarita Auntie collected her clothes from the balcony and headed for the stairs.

"Sarita auntie....., why didn't you do anything for her when she was in trouble? I mean Meghna and her father used to come home quite often , right?"

"Her father left the village after all these deaths. She is left alone here. Nobody knows where she lives.Whenever anything bad in the village happens, the villagers search for her and beat her up. And surprisingly, everything comes back to normal after that." Sarita auntie said it as a matter of fact and climbed down the stairs.

Anjali was lost for words, Beat her up? Village Witch? What nonsense is this?
She turned to look back at the road,
the Village witch was gone.

( To be continued.....)

The Village Witch Part 2

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Am In Silence!

" I am in Silence"  It was written on the badge that hung in her neck. She showed it to him and smiled sweetly.

"Of course" He thought!

How foolish of him! He had been living in the Ashram for 6 months and knew every course that went on around.
People wearing the Blue and the Orange badges were a part of the advance course and were supposed to be in silence for a period of 4 days to 1 month- depending on what level of advance course one has reached.

"Is this the the first time you are doing the advance course?" He asked.

She nodded.

"Is this your first time in Ashram?"

She moved her head to indicate a "No". And she showed 2 of her fingers.

"Oh! It's your 2nd time!"

She disagreed again and after a while took out a pen and a notepad and scribbled- "It's been 2 months since I'm here!"

"2 Months? Wow! That's strange because I've been around here 6 months but  never saw you."

She scribbled- " I was taking some ayurvedic treatments and was advised to take rest most of the times."

That's a bit strange , he thought. He was so sure he knew all the 500 or so Ashramites. He had seen them walking on some or the other road, or during Satsang's or in a Ashram office or at least meditating under a tree!
Anyway, people have their own agendas when they come to an Ashram!

She moved her hands and signaled to him that she has to go. He nodded and she left.

It was the 2nd day of her advance course of 4 days and this was the 2nd time he had seen her around the lake.
Mostly nobody came around here. The lake wasn't exactly beautiful as such. People preferred more beautiful locations like the Ashram's various themed gardens. The Japanese garden was everyone's favorite for its rock formations, small water ponds and bridges.
Lake, on the other hand was an open area, there weren't any trees around and it was full of crocks. At the most, people came here in the afternoon's to watch the crocks sunbathing, but no-one turned around this side in the evenings. The lake was at the southern tip of the Ashram , it marked the southern border of the Ashram.

Neil had been visiting the lake every day for the past 6 months. He loved water, after all he came from a coastal area. Seeing water body made him calm. Of course a lake is nothing in comparison to a sea...there are no waves, no sound of waves, no sand and no star fishes on the banks of a lake......but the lake had it's own  activity. It had crabs and the crocks, the birds that came to  drink water or take a bath and occasional new visitors such as a mongoose , a snake, or a chameleon. All these months he sat around the lake till it got dark. .He sat alone. But since yesterday, he had company. And now that she had left, he found no reason to sit around the lake,he suddenly started feeling lonely. He picked up his jhola and headed for his room.

Day 3

Neil waited for her to arrive. It was past  her usual time of visiting the lake. He wondered whether he should go at the venue of the Advance course and look out for her. But that would look too desperate! Besides, there were around 4 batches of Advance courses happening in 4 different locations at 4 corners of the Ashram...he would be lost looking out for her. So he decided to bide his time.
And she came, thank god she came.

He turned and looked at her and gave a smile of relief!
She instantly must have understood why the relieved smile came her way and shook her head in disbelief!

"Yes. I've been waiting for you."
She signaled, "why?"
"Because I wanted to talk to you. Tomorrow is your last day of the course. Are you staying here longer?"
She said a "no". ( Said meaning in silence, in sign language/ through body language).

"Oh!So.... once you are asked to break your silence, we could go to the Ashram Canteen for a cup of tea and a small chat? Are you fine with it?"

She thought for a while, took out her notepad and scribbled, " What's wrong with having a tea while I'm in silence?"

" Oh you want to go now too? Sure! Pleasure is all mine!"

They both walked to the canteen which was almost 20 minutes walk from the lake. She walked in silence while he talked about his life in Kerala. How he went abroad for a higher education and realized his deep sense of connection with his roots. And after staying abroad for a couple of years, he returned to Bengaluru where he joined a MNC but did not find any satisfaction in the work or life and had finally turned to ashram life to find answers to his questions and wanderings on his destiny...

"You know what? In all these 6 months, I haven't felt so good talking to anyone else as I'm feeling talking to you. Please don't feel that I'm flattering you, I'm just being honest. There was something about just sitting in silence with you on the banks of the lake, and then we just saw each other and smiled and exchanged a few words again, and today I'm talking about my life and my innermost feelings. Though I wasn't in silence, it was almost similar to that for the past couple of months. I did not befriend anyone, nor did I find any company interesting. But I want to be your friend, but you are leaving tomorrow....that's so sad!

She smiled again.
They both drank tea at the canteen and Neil spoke continuously for almost 4 hours. They walked from the Canteen to the various gardens, to the Vedic school campus etc.

"Gosh! I'm talking so much. I'm tired! I hope you aren't feeling tired!"

She nodded and gestured that she has to take rest.

"Oh sure. But please remember we are meeting tomorrow. Should we meet at the Lake or the canteen?"

She gestured saying Lake.

"Alright. I'll be waiting here at 5 pm. And tomorrow, you'll'll tell me everything, okay?"

She smiled and headed for her room.

That night, Neil could not sleep.
Her silence was killing him. He had dated many girls, but none had eyes as expressive as hers. None smiled as sweetly as her. She wasn't beautiful as such, but she had a very good poise! Every time she did any gestures with her hand or mudras to convey any meaning, she was very apt and clear.He wondered where she must have come from, oh! He hadn't even asked her name, nor had he told her his name. She hadn't asked any questions, she gave only answers.

The next day, when Neil reached the lake at 5 pm, She was already there.
He was so glad to see her, he had got a nightmare that she wouldn't turn up.

"Hi! Finally, we are here.....I'm Neil." He extended his hand.
She smiled and shook his hand and showed her badge which had her name on it, which he hadn't noticed the last time," Ashwini".

"Nice to meet you Ashwini. But you can talk now."

She smiled and handed him a piece of paper.

" I can not talk. I'm mute. Last year I met with an accident because of which I lost my ability to speak. I'm taking treatments, it might take another 1 year to regain my voice, but it might not be the same. I'm or rather was a carnatic classical singer before the accident. I lost my livelihood to that fateful day. So I came to the Ashram because I had nowhere to go. Here, the courses and the treatments helped me improve. I'm learning bharatnatyam now from a teacher. Bharatnatyam is based on carnatic music so I understand it well. I have to go to Bengaluru since I'm joining a renowned Guru from tomorrow."

Neil looked up at her, unable to say anything. He did not know what went on in his head. He had too many expectations- he wanted to hear her voice, he wanted to hear her story, there's so much we connect to speech! So much we say..and here's a life in mute! It is better to be born deaf and dumb than lose your abilities at a later point when you've already depended so much on it!

She scribbled something else on that paper," I'm in silence...and I don't know for how long it's going to be this way!"

Photo by :

Paul Runnestø 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Random Letter to Somebody Part 4 (Abt: Boredom)

Dear Somebody,

I get so surprised with myself when I feel bored! Especially because the time when I feel bored is exactly the time when Life starts turning around......So , in a way I'm confused about my feelings. Am I bored? Or am I anxious of what lies ahead?

There are loads of films I haven't watched,
loads of books I bought and haven't read yet,
magazines that I haven't gone through,
a dozen exam papers I have to write still,
a dozen calls I've to make
etc etc etc....

But I don't do any of it!
Because for a while I want to feel empty!
I want to empty my mind of all the thoughts and all the worries and stop thinking for just a moment.....
1 moment....
and that would be the greatest moment of all!
I think that's what the aim of meditation learn to empty your mind for just a second.....

So there it goes, I simply refuse to do all of the above activities for 5 days! I don't find it interesting, nor energising....they are just activities to do on day to day basis. I want to add something more to my every day.....I guess that something more is called "Peace of Mind".

I'm off to the Ashram now...where else can I learn to find peace of mind?
I want to take a break from the Internet, the TV, the chatting, the career and the ambitions....all starts looking useless at a point of time.
Hope the Ashram works its magic once more ....that's the dose I need to keep me going for the rest of the year.

You should try it too.
And yes, go alone. You suddenly realise how dependant you are on people.

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