Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Freedom Fighter's Son

Author : FJB

Even today no smoke escaped from the chimney jutting out of the leaking roof on Rahim Miya's tin shed. Under the roof, his two children wailed from hunger, while his wife chided them and coaxed her fate. In a sheer bid to escape the morbid atmosphere Rahim got up from the corner where he was huddled and walked out the door, stepping into the narrow lane. He couldn't help noticing that everywhere in that slum the same morbid atmosphere prevailed, to avoid which he had come out of his own hut.
This had been their fate for the last seven months, ever since the mill in which they were employed had closed down. Work was the rarest commodity to get.  He had walked up this lane every morning for these past few months in his search for employment, only to return every evening, carrying his bundle of disappointment, frustration and worries, which only got heavier with every passing day.

As he neared the end of the lane and stepped out on the side road by the highway, the sounds of raucous merriment came from Raghav's house. Rumors went that he was mixing with the wrong sort and was indulging in various questionable acts on the other side of law. The stench of illicit gains made a lot of people avoid going this way. Just last month he had even bought a transistor from which songs blared morning and evening.

It was also rumored that he had been recruiting people from the slum to join him in his nefarious activities and share his new found affluence. But Rahim Miya would never be able to bring himself to do any such thing which his morals and scruples would not permit.
Raghav's compund jutted right into the middle of the road and Rahim had to encircle it to proceed. As he rahed the backyard, a piece of red cloth in the ground caught his attention. He bent down to pick it up as it looked like something he would never throw away. You should have somthing to throw it away, thought Rahim Miya as a cynical smile filckered on his wizened lips. The cloth seemed stuck in the ground and he had to pull hard, before the ground, damp from last night's downpour, released it from its clutches.
To Rahim's bewilderment, what he had picked up as a rag to stoke the fire in his now cold stove, turned out to be a small cloth bag, with a string tied on top of it, in which he knew people kept their valuables.

Rahim Miya abandoned the thought of turning back home and proceeded towards Subhash Park, named after the great leader, which not many years ago used to be the rendezvous of freedom fighters for their clandestine meetings and now served as a shelter for his ilk. He sat down on his favorite bench, obscured from the outside world by a huge peepal tree.

The first thought which coursed through his mind was that the contents of this bag must be the ill gotten gains of one of Raghav's dubious schemes. The next thought was how to relieve himself from this burden. That he could himself use some of this fortune could not be doubted. He thought of his children wailing from hunger and his wife's sullen face, by now resigned to fate. He thought of all that he could buy with this new found wealth. He thought of all the smiles that he could bring back to the faces of his dejected family.
But his conscience was troubled by these thoughts entering his mind and he thought of what his father would have done in these circumstances. There were no two ways about his father. He would have surely handed over the bag to the police and openly confronted Raghav. In fact he would never have allowed the shady activities in their locality.

But then his father was a brave man. And he had never been out of work.

He made a firm resolve and was beginning to get up when a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. The local constable stared down at him and the cloth bag slipped away from his hands, revealing its rich contents.

Things happened rather quickly after that and were but a blur to him. Having been bundled down to the police station, he was put in the lock-up after a preliminary round of questioning. All his protestations of innocence were waved away and ended in a tight punch to his face leaving behind a bloodied nose.
In a daze, Rahim Miya took in his new surroundings. He grimly thought that it was at least more spacious than the shed he had stepped out of less than an hour back.

Something else on the far wall caught his eye. He saw that all the previous visitors had scratched their names and the reason for their esteemed visit on the wall. Hardly aware of what he was doing, he picked up a stone lying near the window and was about to scratch his name and supposed profession on the wall, when what he saw on the wall opposite sent a chill down his spine.

For there written in a bold hand were the words -

Saturday, February 12, 2011

सोने की नगरी

Poet: FJB
Poet's Note : Here's the original hindi version of my last week's post on the poetry page - "The Sea Of Plenty"

इस सोने की नगरी की,
एक पत्थर की फुटपाथ पर,
                   पड़ी हुई थी वह,
                   मर रही थी वह,
चाहिए थी उसे,
                  थोड़ी दया, माया,
                  थोड़ा सा साया||

न आशा की कोई किरण,
न जीवन की कोई आस ही,
                 दुनिया से याचना करती थी,
                 पत्थर से दुआएँ मांगती थी||

उसकी कोख से निकलती शिशु की सिसकियाँ,
खाली भगोने में सिक्कों की झनकार,
                न वो सुन सकते थे,
                न वो देख सकते थे,
               वे एहसास ही कहाँ कर सकते थे||

न उसके जीवन में कशिश,
न उसके शब्दों में कोई कश,
                न मरती थी, न जीती थी,
                बस पड़ी रहती थी,
इस सोने की नगरी की,
एक पत्थर की फुटपाथ पर ||

टूटे हुए ख्वाबों का,
अनकहे अरमानों का,
              एक महल बना कर रहती थी,
               .. क्या जन्म से ही सहती थी?

किसी की बेटी, किसी की मा,
               पड़ी हुई थी,
बेबस, लाचार, वंचित,
               उस दुनिया से, जहाँ वह भी कोई हो सकती थी||

इस सोने की नगरी की,
एक पत्थर की फुटपाथ पर,
               पड़ी हुई थी वह,
               मर रही थी वह,
ठंड से, भूख से,
               इस दुनिया में पड़े,
               प्यार के अभाव से||

Saturday, February 5, 2011

They All Made A Sacrifice

Title : They All Made a Sacrifice

Author : FJB

Author's Note : Some stories one reads or hears get somehow interconnected and intertwined. Here's a view on the many meanings of the word - SACRIFICE. Very noir towards the end.

In the receding light, two men - one young and the other old, made their way through a cluster of hutments towards a thatched hut.

Reaching the hut, the young man went towards a woman sitting outside the hut, her face creased with lines that time had etched on it. The young man spoke first. "Amma, this man here has organised a band of brave young men, pledged for the freedom of the Motherland. I came here with him, only to seek your permission.

The old man thought that the woman would surely faint or break down at such a blow as this. For, did he not know how a mother feels to let her son go on a path leading to death or gaol? But she surprised him by saying "The mother has given him to me. Why should I grudge giving him back to her?"

The night was bleak. The news was bleaker. The young man had died serving the Motherland. The mother was not not even allowed to give her son a decent burial.

A mother had made a sacrifice. And mankind hailed her for it.


Kaikeyi was sleeping peacefully in her shayankhand when Manthara sneaked upto her, very excited and upset over something. Kaikeyi asked her what the matter was and why was she agonized
at such a joyful time. Manthara said "O Queen! You have surely turned blind. The King has sent away your son Bharat to faraway lands and is preparing for Ram's coronation."

The taunt found its mark and stung the Queen in the manner it was intended to. From that moment on, the palace was in a grip of chaos. The King was made to remember an old promise made to Kaikeyi, and what did she ask for? A kingdom for Bharat, an exile for Ram.

She had sacrificed one son for another son's sake, and mankind despised her for it.


The godman had come in for tea and stayed on for dinner. At the family's insistence of course. And why not, for he was telling them about hidden treasures. This was the chance of a lifetime. Their years of poverty and suffering seemed to be coming to an end.

Of course to lay their hands on this fabulous treasure and untold riches, they would have to appease the gods. And they could only be appeased by a sacrifice. The gaze of all three, the godman, the father and the mother shifted to the one month old sleeping peacefully in the cradle made of the mother's saree.

The mother resisted, but the father readily agreed. He was too drunk in by the talk of the riches awaiting him, to think of anything else. He would have gladly sacrificed the whole world to obtain the treasure.

He snatched the baby from the cradle and followed the godman along with his wife, the cries of the baby piercing the peaceful night air. Reaching the clearing in the forest where he carried out his tantric rites, the godman placed the baby on the altar and handed the dagger to the mother...

.... The altar was thoroughly washed and not a trace remained of the ghastly and dastardly act that had taken place there.

She had made a sacrifice and mankind never knew a thing about it.

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