The outer courtyard was crowded, my cousins, and brothers, all were sitting around the bone fire. The whole mist which was dripping down in December seemed tucked in the white teeth of we children. Teeth chattered, trying to be encapsulated, to drove away the bone-chilling winter. We lived in Himalayan foothills. We call it Tarai in Hindi, it is region of northern India and southern Nepal running parallel to the lower range of himalayas.
Seesam twigs were in great demand for bonfires. It was not a minor achievement to occupy the warmed palace near to bonfire. In joint mansion, crowds, dearth of profused people, living on the pinpoint of mutual spears, it was not easy task to keep equilibrium hue alive. Even it lived, it soon burntout in makeshift flame. I lived in a shell, mother, brothers, cousins, grandfather grandmother, uncles, aunts all lived in joint mansion. Both front and back open courtyard was there, it was commonplace for members, not legally divided on the individual basis. The joint mansion was cluster of private flats, where kinships lived, and cooked in their kitchens, but on the main entrance lock dangled singly.
Mathematics of the minority, the majority was not uncommon in that cloistered cocoon. I want to say, to my readers that neither these words are mere a paragraph, shaped on the paper nor they are viscus waves moving in conversation. They remain always alived, standing steadfastly and moving fastly at same time in the memory lane, effacing the time and tense barrior. Though whenever I leap back, they get mangled in the nostalgic friction.
“yes physics of friction, and mathematics of ities are story of every human mind, it is strange in few segments we live, every thing seems stale. We are creatures of God’s monotonous moment. Look I am Christian and I now belong to minority, my grandfather was major one before proselytization,” cook quipped, he was gaping at me persistently, it seemed his facial muscles had paralyzed, which happens after bell’s palsy.
I had read somewhere that If someone is suffering form bell’s palsy then artificial tears are needed for the eyes, to sooth them they are needed. My nostalgic glance when forbade to obey me, then my cook also came like artifial tears.
I felt stangled, he came and I spoke, felt lightened for a brief.
“Isn’t a vicious cycle had been created between both of us, I told in a grateful tone.”
As he gave a peal of big crackled laughter, a tiny boil erupted out of myleft shoulder which was otten mangled due to continous bites f mosquitos. I twirled back forty years ago–
I saw the tiny child facing the clash of minority and majority. He lived in the big mansion, within encircled wall there was wide boulevard, both sides have looming Ashok trees. Father liked Ashok trees so he had planted in profuse amount, though mother didn’t like it. She had her own reason “mother Sita sat down beneath the Ashok tree and she suffered so much, even faced the fire ordeal. Ashok trees are inauspicious,”
But father was not agree.Ashok trees flourished there.
Children played in the open courtyard, among winter’s mist, sometimes sat around the bone fire, chattered, yelled, and weaved humor. But an abiding sense of being discriminated against, always hovered in his mind. He was proficient in manner and thought, his school marks sheet of written exam always assured his learning capability, but viva examination was an ordeal, his outlet seems jammed at the main moment. School report card’s total marks dipped.
“Have you a tongue tie,” grandma rebuked. Whenever grandma stared at him a shivering descends down his spine.
It was a day of winter. Dense mist made faces obscure, who were at considerable distance. He was sitting along with her cousins and sisters around a bonfire. He was about six year and his youngest cousin was three year. He was especially dotted with the little one. Children were chortling, pummelling each other. Little one pushed him, in childish irk he rebuked "I would never came to your rescue when any one beat you"
Grandma's ears got straight out!
She beckoned one by one, every child separately and asked if he would come to rescue or not?
“Yes I would” each child nodded
one by one question repeated to all children.
Answer was unanimous. The protective group was in the full majority, leaving him in a single minority. He was standing in a corner, gaping at children who had stood for rescue. In silence they all have declared him treacherous and mean person, the majority gleams in grandeur.
Strident Grandma stared in a vainglorious boost at him. He was stunned with shame and shivered. He felt a drop of sweat wetting his ear and trickling down even in winter. Voice choked in and saliva washed down, he couldn't spit out even after strong urge,
Still after forty years I feels my throat choking. Grandma stares still, though she has gone away long years before.
Dr. Pragya Suman
Footnote: Minority is a fragment from by book, I have completed 55000words. It would take further more pages. Minority was published in a journal Short story published in Otherwise Engaged A Literature and Arts Journal Volume 5. Summer 2020. Quarantine Edition
Photo Courtesy: Rightfully owner