Thamasoma Jyothirgamaya: a short story
It was Diwali eve. Shashi flung her slippers on the air dismally as she reached her abode burned-out of all her energy on day long calls and work. The faint sound of crackers reminded her that tomorrow is Diwali. Tomorrow being a official holiday didn’t excite her, though the facet of taking rest assuaged her minds.
She held an iconoclastic blissful mindset for the fact that Diwali falling mid-week so that haunts of lone long weekend is deterred. She placed the Laptop backpack on sofa and strolled to kitchen to take the pack of dark chocolate from the freezer. Casting herself on the beanbag, she took a bite of the cacao candy to charge up with instant energy. Yes, the cacao morsels banished traces of fatigue. Taking a deep sigh, she nestled her hand into the pouch and pulled out her smartphone.
Ignoring WhatsApp pop-ups, she opened Facebook and rambled past few newsfeeds. Swiping down beyond few posts, a post from blue tick verified account, caught her attention. The post was from VJ Manisha Krishnan the host 'Who is the next Asha Bhonsle?' reality show:
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me, too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
(Please don't share. Do copy-paste)
Reading this, she neither wanted to hit the share button or long press to copy the post. Her experience had a wider scope and cannot be fit into the realm of this post. As she re-read the post, the motion picture of her past started playing in her mind.
June 12, 2003:
Eyes and right fore-finger scanned through the sheet printed with Dot-Matrix Printer. The scanning motion mellowed down, when her eyes beheld the name etched in dots: Shashi Kumar. Cells of jubilation reached her eyes, but she restrained them from bursting out till she checked her registration number. Yes, Shashi has cleared the NIFT Entrance Exam to join the National Institute of Fashion Technology, the best fashion institute in India. In joyful tears, she boarded the bus to Adyar as blood vessels in her legs pulsated swiftly. Jumping out in Santhome, she hopped into Sri Krishna Sweets shop at Santhome high Road and grabbed a box of ladoos and perambulated to her home in long steps. As soon as she reached home, she went into the pooja room to thank her gods and goddess by lighting lamps and circuited the gods with lit camphor vapours and bell rings. The tinkle brought her mother to the pooja room, who stood in piety waiting for her daughter to complete her supplication.
"What's up Shashi? You have done pooja two times since morning", her mother asked in a puzzled tone as Shashi opened her eyes.
"Ma, your daughter is going to become a fashion designer. I have passed the NIFT exam", she said in mirthfulness as she placed a laddoo onto her to mom's mouth.
"NIFT has been one of your dream schools. But, appa is keen on getting you admitted in Anna University. Let's see"
"Amma, only handful of people get through this exam. Appa, should feel proud that his daughter studies in one of the best fashion schools in the world."
But, Shashi had a hard time convincing her father, who didn't want her daughter to enter the fashion world. She regretted for scoring a top marks in the state of Tamil Nadu. Had she known, her father would protest she would have flunked in her engineering entrance.
Her father, being an alumni from College of Engineering, Guindy didn't want her daughter to loose the perks of graduating from this great institution for which she is more than eligible with a highly competitive cut-off of 299 out of 300 in her quota. She didn't want to disobey her father. So, she took the Electrical and Electronics Engineering in the lineage of her father who was a regional director in the Electrical Board of Government of Tamil Nadu. In four years, she will be eligible to print Shashi Kumar, B.E. (EEE) in her marriage invitation.
August 8, 2006:
Shashi is in her third year of bachelor’s. Without much bout, she cleared the interview of POWERGRID, a public sector company. She deemed in her mind that her father would be happy to see her daughter in the same stream similar to his. But, Anil Kumar, the director of TNEB had other plans for her daughter. He didn’t want his daughter to just have bachelors degree, but a masters degree too. Securing a master’s degree seemed good to Shashi, so she agreed to take TANCET without much fuss.
February 11, 2009:
Sashi was called to HOD room by the department attender. Meeting the HOD Dr. Ajith Narayanan is not an unusual thing for her. He was her project guide in UG and continues his guidance in PG too. But, this conference was not related to her project, but for a job offer in EEE department of Anna University. Becoming a Assistant Professor at Anna University is a prestigious one. The HOD didn't want the University to loose one of the brightest minds in electrical engineering. After having rounds of discussion with the vice-chancellor , he offered this to Shashi, who could be an Assistant Professor and also continue her research in power electronics, thereby getting a PhD in four to five years.
Indeed, it was a great offer. Securing this scholarship acme from Anna University could be the best erudition she could ever choose. But, she had to consult her parents before saying yes to Dr. Ajith.
To her dismay, her father expressed his dissent over Shashi taking up the offer as he wanted her daughter to enter the courtship of marriage before she gets into deep research with electronics. Almost most of his colleagues got their daughters married. So, having a daughter at the age of 23, exerted much pressure of Mr. Anil Kumar (father of Shashi Kumar). So, he could not approve his daughter taking up a five year long research. Shashi took life as it came without rants. So she didn't make hue and cry over her father's decision. Hunting starts for Shashi's better half.
January 26, 2010:
After several months of searching, Shashi Kumar, M.E. (Power Electronics) gets married to Nitin Muthukumar B.E. (CSE), PGDM (IIM-A); Delivery Head, Ramco Systems, Chennai. Hefty dowry was paid and lucracious wedding took place at Savera Hotel, Chennai. Dr. Winner Jawahar, Vice-Chancellor of Anna University and Smt. Verkadu Kumarasamy, the Power Minister of the Tamil Nadu State cabinet attended and greeted the newly married couples.
September 20, 2013:
Judgement of mutually consented divorce between Shashi Kumar and Nitin Muthukumar was pronounced at the Madras High Court. By the terms of judgement, Nitin Muthukumar has to pay a alimony of 50 lakhs rupees or forty thousand rupees each month till the end of Shashi’s life.
The divorce didn't look terrible to Shashi compared to severe tsunami of griefs that battered and brought her to ground zero in the span of three years.
Shashi had to go through severe trauma from male chauvinistic Nitin who treated her just like an object to be used and trampled upon. For progressive lass like Shashi, all dreams of romantic life were shattered by Nitin who depicted zilch love for her. One year into their marriage, her father died of cardiac arrest unable to digest the fact he had given his daughter to a serial tormentor.
The only reason, their marriage lingered for three years was Ananya who was born on June 24, 2011. Due to his torment during pregnancy period, Ananya entered this world as a pre-mature baby. Also Cri du-chat syndrome was detected by doctors when she was in the womb, which is a rare genetic disorder due to monosomism. Having partnership with an evil bloke bothered her more than having a special child Ananya. She poured out her love on the baby, who was her only source of comfort apart from her mother. If Shashi, a bold lass, who held the epitome of scholarship during her erudition had to go through terrible life such as this, she couldn’t imagine the miserable plight of other women.
After two long years of battling with the genetical disorder, Ananya breathed her last on April 9, 2014. She could not take in more. Her mother left her and the world only three months ago. Encountering back to back whammies wrecked her soul. She stayed with Nitin only for the sake of Ananya. When the person who held them together expired, it was time to legally loosen the bonds which never existed. And, they did.
July 7, 2015:
Shashi Kumar, M.E., M.B.A. got placed in Alstom India as a Regional Systems Quality Manager after completing her Masters in Business Administration from Symbiosis University. Though she deserved more for her skills, her corporate career kick-started with Alstom India and only 4 months before she was made the Quality Manager for South Asia.
A mobile call woke up from her flashback. It was Keerthi, who wanted Shashi to accompany her to the pub.
After leaving her tormentor, she started keeping company with Johnnie Walker Red Label whisky, which could be found in her refrigerator on all days. Getting silent highs and passing out was her usual sleeping dose everyday.
She left the following message to Keerthi:
You carry on girl. Have a great night.
She pulled the small table close to herself and brought in the bottle of whisky, coke and some ice cubes. First she poured the golden color liquid, followed by the sugar coated water then water, with two ice cubes as toppings. Leaning on the bean bag, she took sip of the liquid mixture. Thoughts of the evil world haunted her. Lot of questions on Diwali popped up in her mind.
Was evil eradicated by the defeat of naragasura?
If so, why there is evil now?
If there is evil left, why do we celebrate Diwali when we don't see light anywhere around me?
Do God really pay heed to my bells I ring to get his attention?
Will burning out 1000 walas, 2000 walas bring light into our lives?
The idea of Diwali made no sense to her at the moment. As few more rounds of alcohol mixtures went in, she passed out lost in thoughts.
On Diwali morning, the bluster from 5000 wala saravedi made Shashi regain her senses. She was lying on floor carpet with bottles of coke and whiskey accompanying her in her slumber session. She thought, how she used to celebrate Diwali with her parents and friends in her Santhome neighborhood and she planned to visit the temple, atleast on a Diwali day.
After getting relieved from mild hangover due to drinking binge, she dressed in simple attire and drove to Kabaliswarar temple, Mylapore. She stood before the gods with palms caressing each other. In search of light (thamasoma jyothir gamaya) she made the following prayer:
God, I don’t know whether you listen when bells are rangs to get your attention. I only see only darkness around me. In this dark life, I don’t know where my life is heading to. In this Diwali, help me see light.
She was not sure, whether GOD heard her. But, she had some sort of peace in her heart.
To kill time, she drove towards beach from the temple. Dark had set in. She glanced elderly amblers walking in pavement also at the couples seated on sand at regular intervals. In the elevated portion of the sand, where waves will not hit, she removed her socks and shoes and gently walked towards the sea.
Like the waves that gently pawed her feet in this dark setting, will she meet the light?
Is there a hope for her? Is there a way for her?
She returned and wore her socks and shoes. She trampled the sand and went for a casual walk like in deep search of something. In the lull of ocean waves, a soothing refrain of song caught her undivided attention. Her feet tread towards the path, where song waves traveled. The refrain sounded like this:
Light of the world
Who stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see…
She walked even closer to the singers as she heard these lines coherently:
Humbly you came to the earth you created
All for love's sake became poor..
Without any understanding, drops of tears escaped from her eye. A group of 5 to 6 girls sitting around in a circle sang this song. The strings of Guitar embellished the glorious lyrics. She stood there, gazing at the group. A girl in the group noticed an unusual lone eye pair noticing their singing session. So, she approached Shashi,
"Akka, we are from Women's Christian college. We just sing our heart out. Would you like to join us?"
"Thank you", replied Shashi quietly and sat among the group.
The group was benevolent towards Shashi and they gave a small brown book to her at the end, writing her name on it.
They added, "Akka, if you are free on Wednesdays, please come and join us".
A subtle love showered brought tears to the brim of her eyes. She placed the received book into the trouser pocket and walked to her car. Sitting in the car, resting her forehead on the wheel, she cried her heart out. She didn’t know, why she cried, but the deep agony within her escaped out as tears.
She drove through the Light of moon and colourful lightening crackers along with ‘The Light' that travelled along with her in her pocket safely.
Will she have an encounter with the Light?
The Light that travelled with her would not return empty. It would accomplish it’s purpose and succeed. So, she found the light.