2002 by Sonu Sonkar
"Shiv ji, was my request a great deal for you?" Sanju has a
photo of Lord
Shiva in his room. He usually talks to him, but tonight it's something
different. His boiling emotions start coming out. "Give us peace, settle
down the things in this house, comfort bhai and bhabhi. I asked only this
much and you couldn't do it. And people say you are God, you are
omnipotent. Tell me who are we. We are your creatures. You have created us.
When you can't take care of your creatures, then why the hell have you
created them? Open your eyes and look at me. I'm talking to you. I'm not a
fool." He shouts, but to no avail. Lord Shiva is looking as placid and as
riveting in his meditation as he usually looks. "You are a skunk, a real
skunk. You are no better than a loutish fellow who produces children and
then leaves them on the road to live the life of pigs. Who knows whether
you are listening to me or not. But that doesn't effect me now. I no more
care for you. If you don't care for me, I also don't care for you. Listen,
you dog I hate you."
With all these burning thoughts he doesn't know when he slept. At this
time Ms. Sleep is completely soothing and mothering him. Sanju is looking
so calm and so undisturbed in the lap of nap. Seems as if Lord Shiva has
sent Ms. Sleep to assuage him. But it's not like that, for very soon Sanju
wakes up with a gust of pain in his right ear. A little insect has entered
his ear. Whenever it creeps inside, a strange wave of pain travels through
his body. He is confused whether he should wake someone up or not. He
doesn't want to disturb anyone, rather he doesn't want to disturb himself
more for he's sure, after what has happened tonight nobody can sleep. Just
half an hour sleep he has had, he sees in the clock. He goes in bathroom
and sprinkles some water in his ear. The little creature inside tries to
escape and in the process causes another wave of pain to pass by his body.
He is regretting now. He must not have reviled Shiv ji. He realizes that
this is the punishment Lord is giving him for his crossing his limits.
"Sorry, I'm really sorry Shiv ji. I should not have talked to you like
that. I'm stupid. I'm an idiot. Why have you given ear to the talk of a
mean fellow like me. Please, forgive me God, please." Regretting his
behaviour he comes back to his bed where Ms. Sleep is waiting for him.
Next morning when he wakes up, nothing looks unusual except that
Shikha his bhabhi hasn't come to wake him. He gets up, finishes his morning
routine, takes bath and dresses himself. He is afraid whether he will get
his breakfast today or not. Just after third day of her arrival here,
Shikha took the complete charge of this house, giving his mother ample time
to rest and meditate. Until last few weeks she has been looking after all
the four members of this house, he, Anjan his bhai and his maa-baba
happily, performing the role of an ideal bahu. Even after the trouble arose
she continued with her ideal bahu performance. The only difference was now
she doesn't appear as happy as she used to. But after last night Sanju
can't expect her to prepare breakfast. He thinks of what to do. He doesn't
have even money to eat something in school canteen. Suddenly the door opens
and Shikha appears with a glass of milk and some bread slices in her hand.
This is not his normal breakfast, but sufficient to satiate his empty
stomach. "Take your lunch in canteen today," a dim voice strikes his ears,
"tell everyone that breakfast is there in the kitchen." By her voice and
eyes he knows that she has not slept in the night. He takes his breakfast.
"I'm going school maa." He says loudly anticipating that she will ask if he
has any money. "You have any money or not?" It's not his maa. It's Anjan.
He keeps quiet. "Take your lunch in canteen." Anjan gives him money. He
takes it and leaves.
Just one and half year back things were so different in this house,
when it used to be a happy family. Sanju was so happy with his maa-baba,
Anjan and his Shiv ji. Being a shy guy he doesn't have friends, and he
doesn't need them. Of course, who else is needed when Shiv ji is his
friend? He doesn't know himself when and how this friendship flourished. He
can talk to Shiv ji for hours, rather he does talk to him for hours. He
talks to him on every matter. He has no inhibitions from him. He believes
that Shiv ji and only Shiv ji is the one on this earth who knows him
completely, who knows every face and every aspect of him. Then there is
Anjan who too is close to him, but with some limitations, some moral
bindings. He enjoys his company.
That was a usual evening when the two brothers were together. Anjan
was ordering ice creams at the counter of an ice-cream bar and Sanju
standing outside in a corner of the road was enjoying peeps of the 'evening
birds' passing by the bar. Suddenly a two wheeler hit him from the back.
Somehow he managed to avoid kissing the ground. He looked back. A pretty
girl was struggling hard for not to collapse on the ground with her moped.
Her moped, refusing to stand now was lying comfortably on the road, and so
was she. She was looking damn glamorous. Her eyes were so live. Sanju never
likes any film actress in particular. He likes them in parts. He likes
Kajol's eyes. He finds Urmila's nose beautiful. He goes crazy when he sees
Aishwarya's lips. And now here was this girl, a cocktail of all the three.
Her lips were parting and closing intermittently. "She is scorning me!" He
came to his senses. "These boys, God Knows what to do with them" she spoke
to herself. "What do you think of yourself?" she turned to Sanju, "What do
you think of this road? Is it a garden where you are having your evening
walk?" Sanju began to grow uncomfortable for he could see so many Sunny
Deol's rising around them and approaching to help this damsel in distress.
"Hey, hey, relax, relax ---- calm down." Anjan came into the scene. "Thank
God you are here Anju," the girl took a breath of relief, "these teenagers
of today, they are just incurable." Anjan and Sanju looked at each other
and smiled. Now it was her turn to be surprised. "Sanju, right?" She
recovered very quickly. "My friend, Shikha." Anjan introduced her to him,
and then all three were in a fit of laughter. They spent that evening
together. After that such evenings were not unusual.
At first Sanju didn't realized their affair. He, at one point of time
even started feeling that she was inclined to him. And he had reasons
behind that feeling. Once he and Anjan both offered her their jackets
simultaneously. She accepted his. Not only this, whenever they had to move
by the side of road, she preferred him to walk with. Whenever they went to
discotheque, she danced with him. Then one day Anjan took her to the home
and introduced to his maa-baba as their would-be-bahu. It was then when he
knew that he was wrong. Now he understood her behavioral inclination
towards him. It was, he thought because of a relation that is regarded so
divinely pure and beautiful in literatures and in society. The relation of
dever and bhabhi. The relation, he and Shikha were going to be bound in
soon. His maa-baba were not against the marriage. But they were not in
support either. However things were not the same in Shikha's family. Her
parents not only disliked Anjan but also protested strongly against their
marriage. Anjan and Shikha decided not to sacrifice themselves for their
families and they married in court. Abusing her as a curse to the family,
Shikha's parents broke all the relations with her and disclaimed her from
their property. That day when Sanju returned from school, he was amused to
see Shikha at the home, "Nice surprise to see you here." "We have a bigger
surprise for you." Shikha replied. "We got married." Anjan shocked him. He
was speechless. He didn't know how to respond. "Don't---- don't tell such
jokes." He could hardly speak. "It's not any joke. We got married in
court." Anjan explained. "Well, congrates then, congrates. But I'll not
speak to you bhai. You didn't tell me." complained Sanju. Anjan excused,
"We wanted to give you a surprise. Isn't it a nice one?" Sanju marveled,
"Umm----- yes. Now I can see why she loves you. You got a style bhai." He
was happy. But his maa-baba were dejected. It was not obvious. It was very
obvious by their faces. Indications were clear. They have given her room in
the house, not in their hearts. They have not accepted her by heart. Two
days went by and there were literally no talks between his maa-baba and his
bhabhi. Shikha tried several times to speak to them but they refused. They
even stopped talking to Anjan. This hurt her. He saw her crying in her
room. He wanted to go and comfort her but he couldn't dare to face her in
that mood of hers.
He was in a dilemma, "Maa-baba are right. This marriage and subsequent
reaction of bhabhi's family has expelled bhai and bhabhi from the society.
But maa-baba have to still live in the society. Who cares for society? But
we have to care for our parents. After all, they are our parents. They are
the ones who look after us, who nurture us. We grow in their shadow. They
work hard and earn money. Whom for? For us. Of course, if they have given
us birth it's their duty to nurture us, to educate us. But when they are
fulfilling their duties, shall we also not fulfil ours towards them? They
devote their whole life to us, what do we do? We grow and stop caring for
what they like or what they don't. We start thinking of ourselves to be the
owners of our life, which is given by them. Bhai should not have gone
against their will." He was convinced. But he also couldn't disregard his
bhai's stand completely. " Of course they have a right on our lives, but
what will happen after 40 ? 45 years when they may not be with us. At that
old age, if someone of my choice will be near me, life will be so easy for
me. We are grown up now. And if their educating us is successful then we do
have a capability of making decisions, a capability of knowing what's right
and what's not, what's good and what's not. They should have faith in
ourselves and in the decisions we take because it will not be a faith in
us, rather it will be a faith in the education they have given us." He was
"Shiv ji," he prayed, "I don't know what's right and what's wrong. You
know far better than me. All I pray is, please settle down the things,
please." And the very next morning he noticed the change. Shikha took the
unsolicitous charge of the family from his maa. Within few weeks she became
the prime mover of the family. If anybody needed anything she was the
person to contact. Maa-baba asked Sanju when they needed something. Sanju
asked his bhabhi. And bhabhi, refusing to take any medium for communication
directly approached them. She did the needful very efficiently. If one
wants one can please God, maa-baba are just normal and humble human being.
They started relenting. Even neighbors began to come to this house to see
Sanju's bhabhi. And very soon they started envying maa-baba for having such
a nice bahu and that too in a very unconventional way. Seemed things were
straightening up until one day when Shikha suddenly announced that she was
going to do a job, a job in modeling profession. At first nobody took it
seriously, but when she insisted and applied for it everybody was stunned,
including Anjan. They all tried hard to make her give up her silly idea.
But in vain. Sanju, by the way Shikha had won his maa-baba's heart knew
that she was not going to give up so easily. He once had this thought that
she should be a model without realizing the terribleness of the thought.
"After all everybody has an equal right to both; to dream, and then to try
to make their dreams come true." He saw no harm in her thinking. At the
same time he didn't see any flaw in his bhai's or maa-baba's logic either.
"Can I bear a wife who is a model? Who is a public property? A public
property? No, I never can bear such a wife." He was again in dilemma.
The matter stirred up further when Shikha got the call letter for
interview. That day Shikha had a very heated dispute with Anjan. "Please,
don't be so loud. Neighbors are listening." This was all Sanju could
contribute in their arguments. He wasn't sure whose side to take. "Shiv
ji," he prayed, "Please settle down the matter, please. For the sake of our
friendship please comfort bhai and bhabhi----- please." But all was going
in vain as matter was bringing more and more tension in the family. And the
last straw was her getting an offer letter for the job. That day for the
first time in his life Sanju saw his bhai in such a rage. Probably it was
the first time for Shikha also to see Anjan so furious. His eyes were
explosively red. Had Sanju been in place of Shikha, he would have given up
just by seeing his bhai in such a fury. But that was not Sanju, that was
Shikha. She refused to relent. Finding no other way out of the situation,
Anjan tried to compromise saying that he would not mind her doing a job
other than modeling. At this Shikha boiled up stigmatizing him of being
conservative, and orthodox, and what not. Sanju was not listening to them.
He, with closed eyes was praying to Shiv ji to settle down everything.
Suddenly he heard a slap. He opened his eyes. Shikha was lying on the
floor, with five fingers engraved on her red cheek. Drops of tears were
seeping through her Kajol like eyes. It was that sight which made him
revile his friend, his Shiv ji that badly.
Sanju returns from school. Tension has not lessened a bit in the home.
He doesn't know what to do. Tonight he'll prepare the dinner for all." He
decides. This way may be some tension is released, he thinks. He goes to
the kitchen. His maa is already there. "Give me some work maa, I'll help
you in cooking." His maa smiles and gives him vegetables to cut. In the
night everybody takes dinner except Shikha. Sanju goes and asks her to take
the dinner. She doesn't respond. She is sitting like a statue. Anjan hasn't
Now he comes. He is drunk. He directly comes to Shikha, his legs
trembling, "I'm sorry. I should not have raised my arm against you. You
were right. I'm filthy, I'm dirty, I'm mean. But, I love you. I love you
Shikha, I love ---- you" Shikha stands and locks herself in bathroom.
"Shikha, Shikha listen to me. Slap me, beat me but please, for God sake do
talk to me," requested Anjan, "somebody please go and tell this silly girl
that I love her." He begins to cry like a small child. This is also the
first time when Sanju is seeing his brother breaking into tears. He runs
away to his room and lies on the bed. He feels his cheeks numb with
moisture. He is also weeping. He sleeps with the hope that every thing will
be fine tomorrow.
Next day he wakes up and somnolently comes in the hall. Suddenly all
his sleep goes away. Shikha is there, with her luggage ready to leave.
"Tell Anju that I'm leaving." She said. Sanju comes to her feet, "Don't,
don't, please don't leave bhabhi." "I don't want to leave without telling
Anju." She directly looks into his eyes. He rushes to Anjan, "Bhai wake up
bhai. Bhabhi is going. Bhabhi is leaving bhai wake up." He shakes Anjan.
Anjan wakes up and comes in the hall. All five in the family are standing
there in the hall silently. "If you leave, you are going to loose me
forever." Anjan breaks the silence. Shikha takes her luggage and leaves.
Anjan is seeing her going far from him. She disappears. He is still seeing
there as in the hope that she will turn back and come to her Anju. She
doesn't. She has gone. Anjan keeps on looking in that direction. At first
nobody notices but soon after, all three notice the abnormality of Anjan's
behavior. He is still standing gazing in the direction Shikha went. Baba
shakes him, "Anjan, Anjan." He looks at him with dead eyes as if he doesn't
recognize him. He looks strangely at all the three. "Bhai," Sanju hugs him.
He stands there with no emotions on his face. Seems as if someone has
pulled out life from him. Seeing her son like a dead body maa collapses
into tears. Baba tries to console her.
Days are passing very fast. All the members of the house have a set
routine now. They take breakfast in morning, then take Anjan to doctors and
psychiatrists. These visits take almost their whole day. They come back in
night and go to sleep. There is no improvement in Anjan's condition.
Doctors have now given up. Psychiatrists say that only one hope is there
and that is Shikha. Finally, bowing down to fate they admit Anjan in Mental
Hospital. Trips to doctors and psychiatrists have exhausted the family
financially. Now apart from Anjan's treatment, there is another problem
they are going to face. How will Sanju continue his studies? After Anjan's
illness the only source of income left in the family is baba's pension. But
it can provide only a mere subsistence.
"People say," says Sanju to Shiv ji, "that nothing goes against your
will. Whatever is happening in this house, is it your will? Are you
punishing us for something? But what are you punishing us for? For the sins
you made us to commit, for nothing goes against your will. You are master,
we are slave. You make us cry, you make us laugh, you make us angry
according to your wish. So that you can clap and marvel at your power of
bending us in any way you like.----- What will you do this time if I call
you rascal? You will put a bigger insect in my ear! O.k., go ahead put it
in. I challenge you. More the insects you put in my ear, the more I abuse
you, you rascal, you scoundrel. Come on, I'm waiting for insect, skunk." He
keeps on reviling Shiv ji until he gets exhausted of abuses.
Next morning when he wakes up, he doesn't see any change in Shiv ji.
He looks perfectly normal and completely placid. "You bas---" he tries to
continue the last night process but he can't. An ulcer has developed in his
mouth. "You are omnipotent." He mocks at Shiv ji. He slept for long he sees
in the clock and comes in the hall. "Bhabhi --"
Shikha is there with her luggage. He rushes to her. He can't speak to
her because of ulcer. She doesn't say anything. She stares at the floor. It
is obvious by her face that she knows what has happened here behind her.
All four are rushing now to hospital with a new hope. Sanju thanks
Shiv ji for sending his bhabhi back. He is dead sure that Anjan will get
well now. He has seen this happening in several movies. In the hospital
arrangements are made and Shikha is braught up in front of Anjan. Anjan
stared at her. His eyes still dead. He has not recognized her also. No
improvement in Anjan's behavior. All there hopes are shattered.
Shikha lives with them. She no more likes her job but she has to go
with it for she knows the family needs her financial support. Sanju doesn't
talk to Shiv ji now. He tries to validate his stand, "When a man creates
something, he tests it. If it passes the test he keeps it else he throws it
in the dustbin. Same is the case with Shiv ji. He creates us. Obviously he
will test us. If we pass the test he stands by us else he rejects us to our
fate." He is convinced. But this conviction is ephemeral for another
thought arose inside him, "But Shiv ji is not a man. He is GOD!"
Sonu Sonkar is a software engineer in Banglore, India.
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