'Women empowerment' and 'Open Letters' are probably two of the most abused phrases around us. Every one talks about the first and writes the second, to further a third -hidden agenda. What is different about this video is it has no masquerades. It is actually an advertisement (By CARE Norway) and easily one of the most powerful adverts to come out in the recent times. What makes it extremely powerful, is the transcript-an 'Open letter', that an anonymous girl writes to her father. The letter, a mini autobiography, leaves a message... and a mirror with our faces
Credits: #DearDaddy Campaign, CARE Norway.Dear Daddy,
I just wanted to thank you for looking after me so well, even though I am not yet born. I know you already try harder than Superman, and you might even let mommy eat sushi. But I need to ask you a favor. Warning. It’s about boys because you see, I will be born a girl, which means that by the time I’m 14, the boys in my class will have called me a whore, a bitch, a cunt and many other things. It’s just for fun of course, something boys do. So you won’t worry and I understand that. Perhaps you did the same when you were young, trying to impress some of the other boys.
I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by it. Still, some of the people won’t get the joke and funnily enough it isn’t any of the girls, it’s some of the boys. So by the time I turn 16 a couple of the boys will have snuck their hands down my pants when I am so drunk I can’t even stand straight. And although I say “no” they just laugh, it’s funny, right? If you saw me daddy you would be so ashamed because I am wasted.
No wonder I am raped when I am 21, 21 and on my way home in a taxi driven by the son of a guy you went swimming with every Wednesday. The guy who always told insulting jokes but they were of course only jokes so you laughed. Had you known that his son would end up raping me you would have told him to get a grip. But how could you know, he was just a boy, telling weird jokes and in any case it wasn’t your business. You were just being nice. But his son, raised on these jokes becomes my business.
Then finally I meet Mr. Perfect and you are so happy for me Daddy because he really adores me. And he’s smart with a great job and all through the winter he goes cross country skiing three times a week just like you. But one day he stops being Mr. Perfect and I don’t know why. Wait. Am I overreacting? One thing I do know, I am not the victim type. I am raised to be a strong and independent woman. But one night it is just all too much for him with work, and the in-laws and the wedding coming up, so he calls me a whore, just like you called a girl in middle school a whore once.
Then another day he hits me. I mean I’m way out of line, I can really be a bitch sometimes. We’re still the world’s greatest couple and I’m so confused, because I love him and I hate him and I’m not sure if I really did do something wrong and then one day he almost kills me. It all goes black, even though I have a Ph.D., a fantastic job, I’m loved by my friends and family, I am well brought up and nobody saw this coming.
Dear Daddy, this is the favor I want to ask:
One thing always leads to another so please stop it before it gets the chance to begin. Don’t let my brothers call girls whores because they’re not. And one day some little boy might think it is true. Don’t accept insulting jokes from weird guys by the pool or even friends because behind every joke there is always some truth.
Dear Daddy, I know you will protect me from lions, tigers, guns, cars and even sushi without even thinking about the danger to your own life.
But Dear Daddy, I will be born a girl. Please do everything you can so that, that won’t stay the greatest danger of all.
This is published in association with A Voice for the Everyman by Q
‘I give you - a free and prosperous nation’
Screamed the khadi clad hero
But if we were to believe him,
Our bank accounts would just read - zero
It is amazing that there is more
than one idiot making the same promises
But everything he gives us is returned
to him with interest, Oh blazes!
He is a wonderful accountant,
He writes budgets that serve your every whim
Less than ten percent of the total
expenditure is for us,- the rest is for him
But no income tax officer can trap him,
for he is absolutely prolific
And that is democracy for you;
Every man has his right to steal, Terrific!
He is never honest, I’d rather
trust a cunning and scheming magician
Lie, but do it with guile,
you are a qualified professional politician
He eliminates his enemies easily
With an iron hand, his rogues prevail
That is the irony of democracy;
Huh! you chose one to no avail
They keep making us vote for them,
we fail to call their - bullshit
And we are proud to live in the
greatest democracy, that’s the beauty of it
Picture Credits: Garangatua's Meal, Gustave Dore, Symbolism
जाने कहाँ चला आया
सिरहाने हूँ सन्नाटे के
कल तो खेला गाया
चोगा पहने, चौबारे में
माँ ने रोट पकाया था
मैने पेट भर खाया था
दुआ भी कर सोया था
थोड़े खिलोने थे,
पर ना रोया था ...
ये कहर फिर क्यूँ आया ?
क्यूँ ऊपर वाला गुस्साया ?
जन्नत से बारुदें बरसीं
जीने को फिर ज़ानें तरसी
अब हर लम्हा डरता हूँ
घुट घुट कर मरता हूँ
अपनों को तरसा हूँ
अब हर लम्हा डरता हूँ
कहती थी दादी मुझसे
अच्छे को अच्छा होता
रब को प्यारा बच्चा होता
फिर क्यूँ मुझको चोटें आई ?
सुना नहीं जो आवाज लगाई
दादी की भी बात न मानी
बर्बादी करने की ठानी
ज़िसके रहते भी बस खोना है
ऐसे रब को क्या रोना है
ज़िसके रहते भी बस खोना है
ऐसे रब को क्या रोना है
["ऐसे रब को क्या रोना है " लामया द्वारा लिखी "साँवले होठों वाली" संग्रह की कविता है. और पढ़ने के लिए देखें saanwale hothon wali ]
Picture Credits: War, Marc Chagall, 1966, Symbolic Surrealism
I'll write a song for them
A song about you.
And the passage to 'Us'
Like the interstice between
The dreams and the dread
From which the yarns
Of passion are made
In the desolate moments
When the morning was far
When the twilight waited
For a moon or a star
A song for those moments
To the music of dawn...
I'll write a song for them
I'll write a song for them
About the river you are,
The meadow I am.
How you dissect and nourish
Me, all at once!
On a boulder of basalt,
A tender sapling
That breaks it open,
Yet makes it alive.
Between friction and spirit
Only love can survive,
For a poem the wind
Will write on the water...
I'll write a song for them
I'll write a song for them
For a promise of life
Green, and so merry.
With tulips so slender,
And lilies so white.
On a porch in the sun
When I seem all so lost;
While all I am thinking
Is nothing, but you.
A noon spent swirling
Like sugar in tea.
A story of finches
That flew in the morn.
A story for finches
That came back to home...
I'll write a song for them...
Picture: Water Lilies, Claude Monet
अकेली रात काली क्यों होती है?
अँधेरे में इतना कालापन किसने डाला?
सजा मिलने पे चमड़ी
काली क्यों हो जाती है?
या चमड़ी काली होने पे सजा?
जादू बुरा हुआ
तो काला हो गया!
जुबान बुरी हुई
तो काली हो गयी…
ये काले को अंक लगाया
तो कलंक कैसे लग गया?
वो जो फन काढ़े काला नाग बैठा है
वो हमसे-तुमसे विषैला है क्या?
सुनने में ये बकवास सवाल
कुछ पुराने बही-खातें न खोल दें
कहीं सफ़ेद दाढ़ी वाला
गोरा हमारा ईश्वर
खुद को काला न बोल दे
वो जो सफेदी नापने
वाला फीता है न
कहीं धुंधला न हो जाये
गोरी राधा का मोहन
कोई सांवला न हो जाये
इसी डर से कुछ चीज़ों को
हम काला कहते हैं
Pic Credits: "Negro", Pencil, Charles Wilbert White
By the tracks with the violet blooms
By a brook with the scattered moon
In the groves of those misty pines
We’ll swing from the serpent vines
Under realm of a drunken night
On the sands both grey and white
I shall search in your oyster eyes
For the foams of the Venus to rise
Through the mast of that fading ship
With my songs on your tulip lips
Seeking shells from a silent shore
We will sail to the land of lore
Whence heart meets the sea and sky
We’ll jump with the birds and fly
Will you listen to the cobalt sea?
Will you run to the rainbow tree?
Will you jump on the passion train?
Will you walk in the summer rain?
Picture Credits: Rain in Oak Forest, Ivan Shishkin, Realism
Poems are our honesty that we can sing.Poetry, or for that case all forms of creation, are one of the ways, human meets the superhuman.They are not written.They happen.Just like a childbirth, there is a moment of singularity when you conceive a verse.Then you nurture it in your soul.It grows with you, and then one day it takes a form… written or spoken.Once it has a form, it is free and so are you.It is painful.Like all forms of creation, it begins with a chaos and ends in light.Just like a childbirth.This is why in the Hindustani tehzeeb of Shayari, the poets plead you to listen to them by saying “Arz kiya hai”.That is all that a poet really wants.To be heard.Nothing makes one a poet.Just like clouds have rain, everyone has a poem, waiting to precipitate.But it is elusive...Finding that poem, is finding rain in the cloud. No one can.We have to become the poem.There is either rain or the cloud.It needs an ascension, for the clouds to become water and poets to become poems.A jolt, a thrust, a toss into the open skies.It is in those ramblings, we meet our song.Some of us have the words to express them and some have none.But all of us are poets nonetheless.Poems are My honesty that You can sing.
Picture Courtesy : Egon Schiele , Self portrait with black clay pot, 1911, Expressionism
Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh calls himself an actor, sound imitator, singer and a comedian. But for us he is a singularity, a point where the man meets the nature and their sound resonate. He has a vocal range from the flutter of the butterfly's wings to the Shaman's call in the wild, and that range is musical.
As per his website, Gennady Tkachenko-Papizh was born on January, 27, 1964 in the city of Petropavlosk, USSA. He spent his childhood in Ukraine, Kolomiya city. Now he lives and works mostly in Moscow and Berlin.
Listen to the sounds of the earth.
[ Specially recommended for ramblings in the grassland.]
[ Things that make your day, as the name suggests are a series of short blogs that will be a celebration of hope, talent, love, beauty and life ]
(No intentions to plagiarize)
(pic credits http://papizh.ru )
(pic credits http://papizh.ru )
उनका भी मुख ढका था
ये लोगो से छुप रही है
वो लोगो में छुप रहीं थी
इसे कल जो चाहते थे
उन्हें आज पूजते हैं
ये किसी की बहिन-बेटी
वो सबकी देवी माता
इसे कल भुला दिया था
उन्हे कल भुला ही देंगे
हमारे पाप का विसर्जन
दोनों पे हो रहा है ...
ये जल के पिघल गयी थी
वो जल में पिघल रहीं हैं
सुबह जागी, हड़बड़ाती,
हर रोज की तरह
जाने की जल्दी
बस पकड़ने की जल्दी
अधूरी नींद का शोर
सपनो को पूरा करने की होड़.
हर रोज सा दिन था
न नया, न पुराना .
जो बैठी बस में
पीछे सीट पर सिर टिका
खिड़की से लगी कुछ ताकने
बीते रात की बातें
जिन पर गौर नहीं फरमाया
पर कल वक़्त हाथ नहीं आया
हेड फ़ोन मेरे कानो में
पुराने गाने बज रहे रास्ते के पेड़
कहीं पीछे भाग रहे
बादल उपर से
मुझे ताक रहे
सड़क रुका था,
जाम लगा था
सुना कोई हादसा हुआ था
खून के छींटे भी थे
लोगों ने बताया-
कोई मर गया...
एक छोटा सा स्कूटर
बड़े ट्रक की टक्कर से
जो उचक के देखा
तो पास में फैली थी सब्ज़ी
और पड़ा था
एक झोला ...
घर पर कुछ अच्छा बनना था
या हर रोज वो जाता था
पुराने से झोले में
ताज़ी सब्ज़ी लिए
यकायक उसका आँगन दिखा
लाल साड़ी वाली बीबी,
कूदता फांदता बच्चा,
...और ऐनक वाली माँ
भूली सी कोई याद
दस्तक देती रही
मैं भी अनसुना कर
बाहर तकती रही
रुकी बस चलने लगी
सब्जी का झोला छूटता रहा
मुझे वो दूर तक देखता रहा
चुप चाप पड़ा पुकारता रहा
तभी टूटी चुप्पी
ज़िंदगी कहाँ रुकती है
रास्ते नहीं रुकते
किसी ने जो यह कहा
मैंने हामी भरी
सिर हिलाया और मुस्कुरा दिया
हर रोज सा दिन था
न नया न पुराना...
फिर जल्दी में बस पकड़ी
वही भागते पेड़
बादल थोड़े अलग थे
जो उपर से ताकते थे
ड्राइवर ने ब्रेक लगाई थी
सामने दुल्हन की विदाई थी
कल जो लाल रंग रास्ते पे बिखरा था
आज दुल्हन के गालों पे बिखर गया
लोग झूमते रहे
मैं फिर मुस्काई
कल वाली बात याद आयी
'ज़िंदगी कहाँ रुकती है
रास्ता नहीं रुकता'
मैने वो झोला ढूँढा,
जो कल मुझे था बुला रहा
वो मगर मिला नहीं
हेडफोन में गाने बजते रहे
बस यूँ ही चलती रही
I want to run away, (she said)From the idea of 'we'From everythingFrom you and me...This existenceOr lack of itThis endless tumultThe burden of wishThis rowing and rowingto a nether shoreI somehow end upback to beforeI want to run away,From you and meYes, sweetheart,You are nothing but trueBut we have to rowon seismic waves,Together perhaps,separated may be.Sometimes we surfSometimes we sinkBut row we mustRow to be freeThose who runmust run to surviveBut as with the sheepor deer or fish,For those who runthere must be a herda flock; my dearwe chose to missSo we have to beIn the meleeMaking the wagerslosing to winPainting our facesChanting the rhymesMuting our voicesplaying their mimes.Bowing our headsto absurd adageWe must embracethis camouflageBut we have to beIn the meleeTogether perhaps,separated may beBut row we mustRow to be freeBut row we mustRow to be free
Picture Credits: Sisyphus, Franz Stuck, Mythological Symbolism
मैं जन्मी, तुम सकुचाए
मुरझाये, सिर झुकाए
बोलो पापा, क्यूँ शर्माए?
मेरे जन्मदिन पर
अम्मा क्यूँ है रोती?
कुल की गरिमा क्या केवल
भइया से पूरी होती?
राजा बेटा कहते उसको
क्यूँ रानी बेटी नहीं बुलाया
बोलो पापा, क्यूँ बेमन पाला?
जो मैं पढ़ने जाती
अव्वल नंबर भी ले आती
मैं भी कविता बोल सुनाती
तमगे मैं भी जीत के आती
गुड्डा गुड़िया जो दिलवाते
मुझको अपने साथ खिलाते
अपने खाने की थाली से
मुझको क्यों था अलग बिठाया?
बोलो पापा, क्यूँ न कलम दिलाया?
इन झुकते कंधो की
मैं लाठी जो बन पाती
तुम्हारी पीड़ा हरने को
हर पीड़ा से लड़ जाती
ऐसा कौन दोष है मुझमें
जो दुत्कारा और दूर भगाया ?
बोलो पापा, क्यूँ नही विश्वास दिखाया?
रोज़ सिखाया, याद दिलाया
मैं हूँ परायी, घर ये पराया
पापा, फिर भी आंगन को
मैं याद बहुत कर रोती हूँ
चुप रह कर, सब सहती हूँ
लाज तुम्हारी रखती हूँ
झूठा ये कर्तव्य निभाया
तुमने सिर से बोझ हटाया
बोलो पापा, क्यूँ व्याह कराया?
छवि तुम्हारी कहते मुझको
फिर क्यूँ तुमसे वंचित हूँ?
रक्त-रूप भी तुमसे पाया
फिर भी न स्नेह जताया
किसने यह भेद बनाया?
भइया से क्यूँ कम पाया?
बोलो पापा, क्यूँ नही गोद उठाया?
अंश तुम्हारा मैं भी हूँ
फिर क्यूँ भ्रूण में मरती हूँ?
आज तुम्हारे छद्म पितृत्व
से यही प्रश्न मैं करती हूँ...
बोलो पापा, क्यूँ शर्माए?
["लड़की हुई है…." लामया द्वारा लिखी "साँवले होठों वाली" संग्रह की कविता है. और पढ़ने के लिए देखें saanwale hothon wali ]
Picture Credits: Virginia, Frida Kahlo, Abstract, Primitivism
Vaikunth, abode of Devas.The bow felt awkward in his hands. He picked an arrow, remembering all the lessons that he had been given… repeatedly. The arrow quivered between his fingers; and before he could pull the bowstring and nock, the arrow went tumbling to the rocky surface beneath. Amongst the muzzled laughter of Devas, his father Brahma and his brother Prajapati were left indignant with the miserable display by their kin.
Brahma signaled to Suketu, the captain of his household guards. Suketu plucked the bow form Narada’s nervous hands, nocked the arrow with deft fingers, drew the string and released the arrow with a ‘thrum’ that resounded for a moment in the silent grove, and a bird dropped from the branch overhead. A cocky smile flashed across Suketu’s homely face.
Had Narada’s whole attention not been drawn to that weird ‘thrumming’ sound of the bow, he could clearly see the disgust in his father’s eyes and stifled chuckles of fellow Devas. Not that he cared much for the later.
“Prajapati, lead the party back to camps.” Brahma commanded, “And as for you Narada, you will stay here and practice with that fine bow till you manage to stop embarrassing yourself, of which you seem overtly fond of.”
Narada could neither hear his father’s command nor his derisive taunts for the strange thrumming sound of the bowstring was the sole object of his attention, and his whole being was echoing with it.
Pushkar 8½ months later-“Where have you been Narada?” asked Saraswati. She had been consumed by the preparations and had squeezed out one small moment of solace. She was humming a new raga, when Narada had entered her atelier.
“I was away…roaming…Mrityuloka (The land of mortals).” replied Narada feigning remorse.
“Again? You just can’t stay at place, can you? Your father would have taken you to task had he not been busy with this grand Yajna.”
“Yajna? Again? But why?” Narada asked, in an irked voice.
Because of your father’s ambition to be worshiped the way Shiva and Vishnu are, she wanted to reveal but thought better of it and said- “Your father has slain the demon Vajranabh and wants to purify the land before establishing it as his permanent seat. Shiva has Kailash, Vishnu has Ksheersagar, your father shall have Pushkar.” said Saraswati and regained the lost thread of enquiry-
“Don’t try to distract me Narada. What have you been doing in Mrityuloka?”“I have been busy developing a new musical instrument.”
“New instrument? Show me.” Saraswati got curious.
“Here you go mother, give it a try. By the way, I have named it Veena”
Saraswati smiled, observed the ‘Veena’ for a moment and plucked a string. A sweet note woke up yawning from the board, peaked for a moment and slowly mingled with the susurration of a distant foamy brook.
“This voice is so true and pure. This is almost the sound of the soul. But how?” asked Saraswati with a genuine surprise in her voice.
“I made it myself mother” replied a proud Narada. He could sense the approval in his mother’s voice.
“Really? Where did you get the idea from? You are lying, aren’t you Narada?” Saraswati asked, mussing his black hair.
“I never lie …to you. I got the idea from this bow” chuckled Narada showing a bow to his mother, and drew and release the bowstring in quick narrow successions, and the sound of ‘thrum-thrum-thrum…’ rang.
“See, mother? You get the idea, don’t you?”
Saraswati’s eyes widened with the dawning epiphany.
“Ingenious!” Saraswati exclaimed, bemused with his son’s melodious invention. “Tell me more”. The music had taken over. She had forgotten his wild ramblings.
“You remember that day; father had taken me to the woods. Archery lessons. You know how I am with those devices of war. Sire asked me to practice till, ‘I know how to hold a bow’. And hold a bow I did; but only to experiment with that sound. See…”
He again let go a resounding thrum from his bow.
“Then, I collected five bows and arranged them in order of increasing tautness, and mother, each bow produced a different thrum. The sounds had a pattern. I kept making changes and then… I could hear the nodes… and internodes.” He was breathless with excitement.
It became my routine to retire to the grove early in the morning and practice with my ‘bows’ till the night. As the hunting party moved from a jungle to another I continued my experiments.” Narada paused for so long as it took to quaff the chalice of ‘Madhupark’ that Saraswati managed to offer him between his (as she’s been doing since he was a boy) unending talks, and continued-
“I had taut my five bows together with a clutch and I had a crude instrument of my own. I wanted to play it. But you know father. So I went to the Mrityuloka. I met some wonderful folks over there, musicians, poets, raconteurs. I can’t figure out why we Deva care to condescend to the mortals; especially when their scholars are as learned as ours, their foods as delicious as ours and their Sura (divine wine) has the same sweetness as ours. Ma, they are highly friendly.”
“Friendly, eh? That’s how you put it?” a stern voice, thundered...
Narada took a fumbling turn to behold his father Brahma, accompanied by Prajapati and Indra.
“Friendly? Is that what you say? Friendly?” Brahma repeated the word in a tone that rendered the word an abomination, “Devas are not friends of humans. We are their gods, their benefactor, their patrons. We are supposed to be worshipped, not befriended by these mortals.” He looked down upon the mrityuloka.
Narada received all the talking to with filial ears and a resolute, rebel heart and unflinching gaze.
“Narada! Don’t say a word, please son. My lord…” Saraswati tried to intervene only to be sidelined by her husband.
“Enough of these never ending prattle! It was perhaps imprudent of me to expect of you to become a Deva worthy of the homage. I must have assigned you tasks in proportion to your abysmal capabilities. You’ll march with the ladies of the party, poets, jugglers and acrobats, and escort them safely to the Yajna site” Brahma decided, pointing to the south-west direction.”
With flaring eyes, and a heave of anguish, Brahma left with Prajapati and his retinue of guards. Indra however chose to stay behind. He approached Narada and parted his plump dark lips to speak- “Um…That ‘Sura’ of mortals, you were speaking about, perchance have you still got some of that with you?”
Narada just stared vacantly at his face with enraged eyes. Indra received the cue and proceeded to leave with his immense belly bobbing about.
Finally, at the Yajna site…The bleak night ushered a golden sunshine to herald the dawn of a day of hope. Mother Nature laced a filigree of divine mist over the Stream of Saraswati (river) in the valley, entwined like the chants of richas composed by pure hearted Rishis. On this beautiful morning, Narada approached the Yajna site and asked Pūsan, the lord steward of Yajna, to make arrangements for singers, acrobats and all other camp followers.
“And Devi Saraswati? I was led to believe she’d be reaching with you.” asked Pūsan.
“Well, she was supposed to, but being travel-sick she decided to rest along with Aunt Annapurna and Aunt Usha, at a grove not very far away. She will be here by the afternoon, well before ‘Muhurt’.” Narada replied. But the truth was that she decided to stay back for some hours in a nearby village, heeding the prayers of a local poor poet who beseeched her to accept offerings and listen to his compositions. Who, if not Saraswati, was ever so gentle of heart among Devas as to grant boons to so ordinary a Human. His mother was not called ‘the goddess of learning’ for naught.
“As my Devi wills. Oh! And your father requires your presence in the Yajnshala at once”, Pūsan departed with a friendly nod.
He moved to the Yajna pavilion to behold his father in a splendid armor of gleaming Ayas (high strength alloy), adorned with countless gemstones. To his right was a row of Devas at the head of which sat the obese Indra, sipping Soma from an adorned chalice, sharing a joke with the Apsaras. To his left was a row of some renowned and some not-so-famous bards, headed by Vashishtha who seemed to be basking in the grandeur.
Vashishtha rose and proclaimed, “I Vashishtha, son of supreme father Brahma, announce the commencement of this great Yajna to absolve the land of Pushkar. An Yajna, of unmatched grandeur. After it is concluded, Pushkar will be the greatest city the world has known, with her splendid ports on Saraswati on one side and a thousand wells, lakes and fertile lands on the other. As the protector guardian of this great city, my father shall be worshipped in the realm of mortals and immortals alike. All who second this proposal step forth and offer your ahutis (homage) in this sacred fire and sing to the glory of Devas.”
One obsequious bard rose after another, bestowing hymns adulating Brahma, venerating Devas, glorifying Soma and things that titillate Deva-senses. After the hymns were over, every bard offered gifts of fealty to Devas on behalf of their respective clans.
“O lord Brahma, accept this giant fish as my gift to you. Flesh of this one fish enough to fill many a bellies. These giant Jalkapi (dolphin) inhabited the depths of Saraswati. Never in living memory has this fish been sighted near the shallow waters. But what is it if not for your blessed arrival to this land that giant fishes are offering themselves voluntarily to dispel the hunger of your children, O supreme father!” said Shakti, a bard from fishing villages situated by the river. Brahma smiled feebly and raised his hand as a gesture of acceptance.
“O Nabhija! (One born from the navel) I offer you this basket full of white lotuses. Mighty Devas! Behold this miracle. Never in the living memory have lotuses bloomed in the waters of Saraswati. What is it if not one of the miracles inundated from your presence in Pushkar”, crooned the second bard with folded hands. Brahma accepted the lotuses with a grim gesture. He clearly didn’t like the epitaph ‘Nabhija’, a reminder of how he was regarded by some as inferior to Vishnu.
A third bard mounted the stage-
“O Hiranyagarbha! Allow me to offer these pelts of wolves, crocodiles, bears and tigers. What is it if not for your holy presence that these vicious savages, known for naught but afflicting grief on gentler species, are attacking and killing each other in hundreds and thousands by the shore of Saraswati. Now all their sins are absolved as their skins will decorate grand citadels built in your name.” said the third bard affirming his devotion to Brahma, while Brahma looked pleased for the first time.
All these offerings made in the name of hyperbolic devotion got Narada vexed. His mind refused to believe these unusual sightings of lotuses and peculiar animal behavior were results of the Brahma’s benedictory presence. Something was amiss. Narada’s thoughts scattered with the sound of next bard.
“O Chaturbhuj! I beseech you to accept this lamentation of swans I trapped near Pushkar Lake. What is it if not for your holy presence that this beautiful bird, which is your emblem, has decided to abandon the shores of Saraswati and swathed the lake” announced the bard, while the gathering of Devas let out a collective sigh of amazement eyeing the hutch filled with live swans. Brahma’s amusement was palpable.
Vashishth announced-“Now that representatives of mortals have proclaimed their obeisance, I invite Lord Brahma and his wife Devi Saraswati to mount their seats by the pure fire so that offerings can be made to all the Guardians of the creation (Lokpal).
Brahma mounted the seat and looked around for his wife only to find no trace of her. He looked at Prajapati with questioning eyes burning with anger.
“Where is mother?” asked Prajapati to Narada.
“She’ll be here soon, she promised.” replied Narada anxiously. “Just wait a bit.”
“This is an insult to this pious gathering of exalted Devas. How can we claim supremacy over three realms if we cannot perform the rites of Yajna well within auspicious muhurta. The wheel of Dharma neither stops nor waits for those too lazy to value the time” Brahma spoke in an impatient voice full of scorn “Prajapati! Indra! You go out there and bring the first lady you find to be seated by my side as my wife.”
“You can’t do this” murmured Narada.
Brahma stared hard at Narada with a chilling gaze that arrogantly retorted-“I can and I will”
Within moments Indra returned with a girl who seemed as bewildered as a sheep amidst a gathering of butchers.
“What is your name girl?” asked Brahma
“Gayatri” the girl sheepishly replied as Indra and Prajapati made her to sit by Brahma.
Brahma, ever the martinet, poured Ahuti in the sacred fire and the rituals began. Gayatri became second wife to Brahma.
Yajna was over; the smell of burnt sandalwood mixed with incorrigible stench of burning animal fat filled the air, choking Narada.
“Narada! You are a poet or at least some mortals consider you one.” Vashishth said, and the audience let out a loud sneer , “Would you not recite some or any of your odes in praise of our father and our glorious race, O brother dear?”
“Of course I will” rose Narada and mounted the stage, adjusted the strings of his newly invented instrument and began to sing-
Would a pillar of granite,
When it is over-burdened
Bend or buckle at any point
rather than splinter and fall?
Likewise the noble ones
when their honor is confronted
would lay down their very life
and submit not to the tyrannous.(A poem by Tamil poet Avaiyaar)
An ominous silence pervaded, to be pierced by slow claps. Every gaze turned to the entrance where Saraswati stood.“Splendid, Narada!” said a teary eyed Saraswati.
“Splendid? Hah! Sluggardly mother and rebellious son; always showering each other in mutual admiration. Have a seat, Saraswati. You can benefit from knowing that the Yajna is over you too shall be worshipped along with me.” Brahma said proudly.
“Oh! Dear husband, spare me this generosity. Unlike you, being worshipped has never been my ambition. And don’t build high hopes, for a person who cannot honor his wife and finds a new one as conveniently as one finds a goat or sheep, can not deserve to be worshipped.”
“Now a lady will decide whether I deserve to be worshipped? What would you have me do? Roam the land wailing for you like penurious Shiva or be tied to my bed besotted with you like Vishnu is with Lakshmi? Pushkar will be the greatest city with her magnificent port and fertile lands, a paragon of prosperity, richer even than Adiprayag established by previous Brahma. And I will be worshipped in three realms as her guardian deity, whether you like it or no.”
“There will be no ports, no fertile lands, and no wealth. O! my lord husband. You will be lucky even to be remembered within the confine of this place, let alone three realms. All you drunk with self exaltation may call it my curse. But it is an obvious truth the plain harbingers of which lay all around to be seen by those who have eyes to see. Saraswati will be dead before long. Yes, Saraswati will be dead!” Saraswati said with a half smile and a half wail, and left.
“Father, we must stop her” implored Vashishtha, “Did you listen what she said? She plans to die. It will be an ugly blotch on our face. Stop her.”
Narada knew better than to believe that a lively person such as mother would commit suicide. Then why did she mean? Obvious truth, the plain harbingers of which lay all around to be seen by those who have eyes to see…
And it all became clear in a moment…
“Hahahahaha…” Narada laughed at what he failed to determine was whether a comedy or a tragedy?
“Silence, Narada!” hissed Prjapati, only to rouse a new bellowing laughter.
“Hahahahha…you fools, you blind fools” Narada managed to collect his paraphernalia between his laughs somehow and got up to leave.
“You cheeky swine! How dare you laugh at me?” Brahma bellowed, “I denounce you. You are not my son. I will have your name expunged from the canon. You are not to set foot in Devalok…No one will worship you, there will be no offerings in your name…You hear me?” screeches of Brahma followed Narada for some distance and died out afterwards. Narada had left Devalok, laughing.
“You are a rebel, you know that son?” asked uncle Vishnu with a beatific smile dancing on his face.
Narada returned the smile and remained silent after long hour of narrating the tale of what transpired at Pushkar.
“Son, Devi Saraswati would have called me a fool, had she been present here, but I cannot help but ask, what did she mean by- Obvious truth the plain harbingers of which lay all around…” asked aunt Lakshmi, the docile wife of enigmatic man sheepishly.
“Hah! That is my mother, dear aunt, cryptic and obvious at the same time. You remember the hymns composed by those sycophant poets?”
“Tell me aunt, do lotuses flourish in moving water?”
“No, only in stagnant water”
“Does Jalkapi ever trod the shallow waters of the river shore?”
“No, such a giant inhabits the deep waters”
“Do swans abandon their habitat just like that?”
“No only when…” Lakshmi stopped as all the pieces fell in place.
“Water becomes stagnant, Jalkapi are found ashore probably to escape the foul water with lowered supply of Praanvayu (oxygen), lamentations of Swans immigrate to lake for want of fresh water. The signs are irrefutable; the truth is- Saraswati the river is drying. My mother is Vaani, the sound of the world, she will never leave the world voiceless. She is alright.”
“Be that as it may, Narada, but what do you wish to do rest of your life son?” enquired Vishnu scratching a mosquito bite on his arm.
“What I have always wanted to do. What I was born to do-roam the lands, compose music, tell tales…”
Narada looked at the calm, milky water of Ksheersagar Lake for a long time. A new tune sprung up in his mind. He adjusted his Veena, cleared his throat and recited a song of such sublime beauty that moved Vishnu and Lakshmi to tears.
Picture credits: Veena Player, By Maqbool Fida Hussain, Contemporary