English Literature Short Story

“Bhairavi” (Short Story) by Veerender Patwari

Written by GNK

Gnk English Des

31 May 2022

BHAIRAVI (Short Story)

By Veerinder Patwari

Dr. INDER HAKEEM, a Kashmir born N R I settled in New York has forgotten everything about his roots but retained his liking for Indian Classical Music & fondness for Raag Bhairavi . Perhaps the only Raag which provides a round the clock scope to convey feelings of usual & unpredictable ,soothing & ecstatic or suffocating & agonizing situations & circumstance ! Thus a trustworthy companion for sharing both joy as well as pain ! He loves *BHAIRAVI… an unmarried music lover*, his face book friend for the obvious reasons. And when she invited him for a face to face meeting he cancelled his all appointments including his award ceremony in London. He has reached & is enthusiastically waiting for her under the gorgeous Chinaar tree close to the worshiping place of the Kheer Bhawani shrine.

A very long journey from New York city to Tulmul ,a village in Kashmir has been very comfortable but not as amazing as his first visit to this shrine! Just a look of the shrine has revived nearly sixty year old incident. His grandfather, Late Pandit Manohar Bhat , popularly known as ‘Mann e Hakeem’ (Ayurveda medical practitioner ) had organized his Thread ceremony (Yagnopavit) in the premises of the shrine. That too in an elaborated manner. The whole family & close relative had travelled in Doongas’ ( Mini house boats) thus enjoyed the slow speed music packed journey followed by five days stay in the shrine. He was amazed to see a small temple in a spring which was surrounded by stone paved premises with too many majestic Chinaar trees! And too many Devotees performing ‘ Parikarmas’ (Devotional peripheral walking) of the Holy Spring. While reciting devotional Vedic Mantra & allegoric songs in praises of the Holy Goddess everyone was expressing joy about the favourable colour of the spring water & expecting a miracle ! THOUGH he was very young , yet he knew that the entire family & neighbours’ cornered his mother , Shoba for being daughter of Bodhraj Charjee nick named ‘ Bodh e Paanyuch ! Or being hated for being Srikrishen Hakim alias Siri e Communist’s wife . A deeply religious wife would never get some relief from her progressive husband who had rebelled to marry her against the wishes of his high caste family & conservative society. As such stresses & strains created by the usual discriminated treatments had frozen her facial expressions. When ,while performing one hundred one Parikarmas of Holy Spring he noticed a majestic smile he shouted to convey that Kheer Bhavani has made my mother smile ! That was the impression what a very sensitive ten year old boy had registered in his mind. Obviously he had a great faith in the shrine. BUT his eight year old staunch faith was shattered catastrophically. And then got completely wiped with subsequent unpredictable happenings. Remembrance of the event which changed his life is very painful for Inder . Feels as if scratching his own nearly fifty two year old un healed wounds. That was the last time when he had come here. JUST one day before his departure for joining a medical college he had come here for seeking blessings. SHOBA had accompanied only for the restoration of her mentally disturbed son’s confidence. They were delighted by the favourable colour of the spring water. Though escorted by Indu & her face partly covered by a shawl yet she was spotted by some known people. Brow raisers had mustered a voice against a widow whose husband had committed suicide in police custody just twenty days before ! Intriguing process of harassment was initiated while performing Parikarmas with whispers & ridiculous body languages. And then hyped by exploiting her being the daughter of late ‘ Budh e Paanyuch ‘! ( PAANYUCH,The person who accepted the belongings of dead people.) Thus alarms were raised as if wild fire had broken. She was blamed for tarnishing the image of her respectable father in law in particular & the community in general. Thus mobbed ,targeted & pressurized to leave the premises. In spite of their pathetic physical & emotional vulnerability . Indu’s father,as an administrative officer of the festival, had been sarcastic while removing the shawl Indu wanted to set right. He had snubbed both Indu & Inder rudely & pushed Shoba crudely! THIS incident coupled with subsequent happenings have left no desire for the restoration of faith or salvage his ancestral roots. He has come here only with one point programme . A meeting for planning a new epoch with host friend Bhairavi. BUT she has not only disappointed but also put too many doubts & speculations for his immediate considerations. Why is he unnoticed even after four hours ? If she could send a prepaid taxi to received him at Srinagar Airport ,she would not have hesitated to receive him at taxi stand ? Has she changed her own proposed sequence ? ! Can the change be incidental or it is deliberate ? Has he been taken for a ride for his overconfidence without experience !? As such realises he should have asked for her profile picture then when he posted some of his latest photographs . Thus convinced that he is left with no option but to wait ! But what will happen If he is left high & dry ? Will he be punished for his conviction or his intentions!? Will he be hated & ignored for being Siri e Comrade’s son or just pardoned for being Mann e Hakim’s grandson?!

A sudden diversion of attention has diverted the curiosity. A beautiful lady who had almost run to have his glimpse & then disappeared in the morning has created curiosity. Accompanied by some more ladies she has given a smile ,addressed him as Doctor Sahib to convey acquaintance . Offered him Kashmiri Qahva in a typical Kashmiri style & then left.. Does she know him ? ……?? Who is this lady addressed as Ragni jee by all those who are around ? CAN she be Ragni alias Bhairavi ? ……?? INDER has very few face book friends. All of them his patients who have met him & thus sought his personal consent before requesting for friendship on face book. BUT Bhairavi …unmarried musical friend had touched his heart then when & he had accepted her request for friendship. In spite of the fact that her face book page had no profile picture , & no biographical details .But her face book wall had too many old Hindi film songs of 1950/60 which he used to enjoy & Indu ,his only friend in life! INDU PANDIT was the only girl in the group ten students learning vocal classical in a local institute run by a radio employee who had an obsession for Raag Bhairavi . He used sing too many Bhairavi based film songs & convey different feelings of joy &pain . Then he used feel amazed to declare it as the only Raag which can be performed any time during 24 hours ! INDU & Inder both in their teens, had identical domestic environment & thus used to sharing their feelings ,in coaching classes & during daily long walks & talks as if born for each other. INDU’s father ,Trilok Pandit was a very prosperous, highly qualified & shrewd revenue officer who wanted Indu to join administrative services .But his wife, fond of musical programmes wanted to nourish her daughter’s talent for singing while as Inder’s father , Hakeem Srikrishen alias Siri e Comrade ,who believed in the conception ‘ All works for Identical wages ‘ thus wanted his son to concentrate on singing . And join his group of performers which was following the path of IPTA (Indian People Theatre Association ). BUT his wife, though being a radio singer yet wanted her son to concentrate on academics for ensuring a dependable livelihood. She had planned a career for her only child with a financial support after selling her late father’s property. DURING five years of joint musical & academic tuition classes they had never followed the love legends of Kaamdev & Riti or Romeo & Juliet. They had instead life for each other, logically , emotionally & practically as if singing Raag Bhairavi round the clock throughout their life. Everything was favorable till Sirie Comrade was hand cuffed publicly. Sirie COMRADE , a revolutionary poet , singer & a brilliant stage performer had entered in Russian novels right from his college days. Initially behaving like the characters of novels thus nick named as Siri e Pavel & then very well known as Siri e Comrade who used to oppose his father on press & platform. Blame him for exploiting his knowledge of diagnosing all organic diseases with a touch on patient’s pulse ! And then monopolizing treatment for asthma, piles &dissolving stones in Kidneys with self-made patent medicines for accumulating wealth. SHOBA , his co performer on radio & social work had realised the reality of life during her first week of marriage & thus come out of a dream world. But Siri e Comrade had his own stubborn plans which , according to him were important parts of a revolution. HE had organized a mass strike of sweepers but his own associates had betrayed & got him hand cuffed in public. THAT was a period when Kashmiris condemned all activities which resulted in defame. So no one had come forward to help him. His own defensive & revolutionary arguments had complicated his case. His ideological rivals had politicised his good will social work as anti national activities & thus ruined chances of release . When his case was presented in court , he got psychologically frightened by his own self & before Shoba could engage a good lawyer , the sensitive poet committed suicide! Subsequent happenings had turned circumstances from bad to worst. INDER r had joined medical college, so Shoba was left alone to face very odd situations .Her visit to Kheer Bhawani shrine was linked with her keen interest in a non-kashmiri young bank manager named EshwarBhagat. She had no relatives from her fathre’s side &her husband’s relatives had completely condemned & boycotted her. Foul smell had confirmed her death on third day. Eshwar had informed him about the tragedy & had handed over his transferred accounts to him. During the mourning of thirteen days even his very close relatives were either vindictive or cold . And then he had to face a catastrophic moment when nobody offered or accepted to keep the keys of his big house ! Thus forced him to leave the place which he never saw again. HE passed M B BS .M S & he was a thirty year old lonely man when he migrated to America & has been working & living as a cardiologist since four decades . He has been living a lonely life & listening to very old film songs is the only mental relaxation . WHILE remembering his past & visualising a soothing smooth future with his friend does not know when had slept in open under a Chinaar tree. IT the dawn of his second day in the shrine & he is enjoying low pitch chorus song sung by a family in the surrounding vicinity. Recalls the days when his mother used to sing such devotional songs . But this time does not feel involved devotionally. HE is surprised to find his body clad by a costly Pashmina shawl & instantly convinced that someone very affectionate must have obliged him . Who other than Ragni ?! THUS keeps on thinking & guessing possibilities. IF she is Ragni ,pet named Bhairavi then why is she hesitant in conveying her reality?

SHE should have talked to him when she spotted in taxi stand ? MAY be the first impression might have demanded second opinion ? AGE difference might have hinted a communication gap & thus put her on the fence ? HE has determined to break the ice & initiate a free & frank talking while walking exactly the way he used to do with Indu. But before he could find Ragni , his attention has been caught by a very tall man’s entry in the premises. Memories of a college friend are revived . SIX feet three inches tall Moti Kaul was sarcastically addressed as Mooti Pitt’e ( Moti the smallest ). He used to be a hero during matches an object for satires & mockery. Even teachers used to make a fun of his abnormal height. HE remembers the incident when lodged a complaint but before he could narrate his tale of woes, the principal made a fun of him ….. “ Mooti ! All of us are shivering ! Please broom the clouds which have hidden the sunshine !” HE had smiled & all present around others had laughed .But then, when they were alone he had hugged him only for crying hysterically……. YES ! The first known face spotted in the crowd of devotees is his friend Moti Kaul. It is an incidental refreshing meeting after five decades. BOTH thrilled to find their peculiar speech unchanged. Inder’s speech as if singing a song at low pitch & Moti as if narrating a news bulletin ! Feeling amazed while reviving memories of the period when known people used to be in close contact despite time consuming communications. Thus realising the pain in jet age when the whereabouts of close friends & relatives, scattered after migration remains un traceable . MOTI KAUL has been living in Mumbai since twenty years & has lost personal contacts with most of his college mates . He has just arrived to participate in a family get together organized by his niece who is born &brought up in America but sincerely close to her roots. Unaware of the surrounding activities & passage of time, they have entered in their past & thus sharing the memories of too many social ,cultural ,economical & political incidents . And their eight hours long process of talking during sitting ,strolling & eating would have continued if Both the friends have shared Ragni’s deep concerned about the lady in vulnerable condition. With his genetic capability of diagnosing diseases with a finger touch on pulse ,Inder has diagnosed the diabetic stroke & rehabilitated the sinking lady with a spoon of sugar. Thus keeping spectators wondering whether it is patient’s own spiritual strength or doctor’s miraculous healing touch. RAGNI is surprised to watch the strange behavior of both patient & the doctor. As if trying their best to avoid each other despite positive waves. Provides communication assistance but feel doubtful when Inder quits without giving reasons. INDER & Ragni are face to face . Both reacting sharply to their conversation .Inder wants to return the woolen shawl but Ragni denies having offered the courtesy ! Denies having any relation or link with the patient. Feels offended when linked with Bhairavi as a musical meter or as Bhairavi his face book friend ! And then conveys specifically that she is a software engineer who lives in America. And then had to narrate an incident regarding a memorable acquaintance. ABOUT ten years before she had felt acute breathlessness during an air travel ! Air hostess raised an alarm & Dr.Inder Hakim a co passenger, had rescued her. SHE had then ,registered the prophetic face of a savior , who had diagnosed her cardiac problem with just a fingers touch on pulse. Given her relief but suggested immediate clinical check-up. She had registered doctor’s peculiar musical voice ! As if singing a song on very low pitch. An incidental noticing of the familiar face in taxi stand with musical voice confirmed she has met the great man & thus remained in search of the moment when she could talk to a hero who had saved her life. WHEN Ragni left he opened his laptop to contact the friend who has invited him. But she has already sent a massage twenty hours before. He is reading it again & again. * Life is a collage of multiple situations & circumstance which may usual & unpredictable ,soothing & ecstatic or suffocating & agonising ! Bhairavi could help in conveying & sharing genuine feelings for better understanding. I tried & almost succeeded. Had been enthusiastically waiting at taxi stand. And then when you reached I was not shocked but surprised when someone else rushed to receive you. I was delighted to see the lady once again with you. Is she your daughter or daughter in law ? Or your friend …? …?? I am returning you mother’s shawl. When my father had removed it I had collected it ! Determined to put it on her shoulders. Could not do so ! Sorry !! Be happy & enjoy life . I will not eclipse your efforts !!* IT is midnight. He is very tense. Wondering whether he has been taken for a ride or he has been misled by his own reflections of wishful thinking? And that too at the far end of his life. Reading the massage again & again but unable to conclude. IT is early morning & his third day in the shrine has begun with Moti Kaul introducing Ragni as his niece & Ragni serving a glass of Qahva without conveying any bad feelings for the vague question he asked. Moti Kaul has gathered some interesting information about the lady who was saved by Inder. Quoting a B.S.F. officer, the lady Indu Bhairavi is an unmarried ,retired senior I A S officer who has been living permanently in the shrine premises. She does not socialise & lives the life of a recluse. Though fully equipped with latest electronic gadgets she uses lap top for listening old Hindi film songs. INDU Bhairavi has recovered & Ragni has already told her about Dr. Inder’s confusion. ******** RAGNI & her relatives including Moti Kaul have left the shrine fifteen days before. Devotees keep on coming but very few stay for nights. But Inder he & Indu are still there. INDU is very week & unable to walk without a support. She keeps on chanting all Vedic Mantras which Shoba used to chant. While as Inder is punctual in performing one hundred one Parikarmas of the Holy Spring every morning & evening. Hoping the colour of spring water turns same which his mother had seen sixty years before. May be the Holy mother make Indu also smile & the laugh. BESIDES that he has been in touch with B S F / State Government officers for getting either extension of his visa or a medical visa / passport for Mrs Indu Hakim . VEERINDER PATWARI

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