"All desires are of the body.
Why would the soul, immaterial and undying as it is, need anything at all?"






























































Her life had been a long tale of darkness. No light, not even a ray of it.
 
For starters, she was born in the dark-skinned lower caste family which, as per custom, had to live outside the village. In the marshes, where the mangroves grew so thick that not a ray of sun reached into their houses. They could not light a lamp as they could not afford it.
 
She could not go to village in the day time as her family was amongst the untouchables - her shadow would defile anything and anybody that it fell on. She had no right-to-form-a-shadow.
 
So she went into the village only at nights, to do the menial jobs like cleaning toilets, collecting and burning garbage, and scavenging food from the discarded bins of the tent-houses.
 
Despite such wretched survival, she was blessed with a physically fit body. It must have been a blessing, isn't it? Because thanks to it, on some days she would get good food to eat. On the days when the priest would grab her hand and drag her into the dark chambers of the temple to do things to her all night, while she gorged on the sumptuous food he threw at her. Most in the village knew about her affair with the priest, yet they chose to keep mum as the priest was a powerful man. Some lesser men would look for a night when the priest was out of town and compete with each other to offer her food, in the dark chambers.
 
All womenfolk of the village hated her, for being a manipulative woman who lured their men into one-night-stands. They cursed her to death.
 
Yet, unmindful of the curses, she continued to tread her life, lived in abject darkness - from the darkness of her skin, to the darkness of her house, to the nightly dark of the village, and finally (on blessed days) to a good meal in the dark chamber of the locked temple. A life that never saw the light of day. A life that seemed like one dark extended night that stretched from birth to death. Yet she continued to stand - a lifelong one night stand.
 
 
 
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Yashomati maiya se bole nandalala,
Radha kyun gori, main kyun kala?

(An adolescent Lord Krishna questions his mother, Yashoda,
as to why is Radha so fair while I am so dark?)


The bhajan filled the air of Haridwar on the bank of river Ganges as Krishna, the fair skinned lad of the temple priest pranced around the steps, looking for Radha, the dark-skinned daughter of the crematorium keeper. Given the huge caste difference, Krishna and Radha's friendship was unusual, and not accepted by the elders, and so they met secretly.
 
Every time the above bhajan played in the temple, Krishna would chuckle. Being a fair-skinned person, he could not relate to Lord Krishna's question. So he would just laugh away the bhajan...
 
Krishna took the risk to meet Radha secretly as he loved the curves of Radha's voluptuous body and the fire she aroused in Krishna whenever they met. He had not seen such a well-endowed female body in his caste. "Probably because she works so hard," he would say to himself.

And as for the dark-skinned Radha, she loved to bask in the attention of a fair-skinned boy. It was a sort of redemption for her. When Krishna would dance to her sexual music, it compensated for the indignation her low-caste family faced at the hands of the fair-skinned upper-caste community.
 
Yet, for Radha, sex was never a means to take revenge. It was, above all else, a form of love, where she found a true and uninhibited bond. In that orgasmic moment, she always saw an innocent Krishna, with a raw and divine face, bereft of any hierarchies of colour or caste; just one pure soul ineffably connected with another.
 
For Krishna, Radha was just a means to satisfy his lust. He knew that someday he would marry a fair-skinned pretty lady from his caste and settle down. He hoped he would still be able to use Radha later on too. Her curves were too irresistible to let go. Krishna had secret flings with many low-caste ladies around the temple, but Radha was his favourite among them.
 
So as the bhajan played on, Krishna finally found Radha in the corridor behind the temple. His lust peaked as soon as he saw her and he grabbed her hand. A shy Radha smiled back and gestured him to come later. But Krishna had other ladies to go to, so he could not wait. He naughtily and hastily dragged Radha into the abandoned pantry of the temple basement.
 
For the next couple of hours, a heart throbbing with sexual arousal would enjoy the abuse of its power of social superiority and gender advantage by exploiting a pure soul's weakness for love. The darkness of lust would ejaculate itself all over the fairness of love-filled empathy and affection. While the bhajan would play on..


Yashomati maiya se bole nandalala,
Radha kyun gori, main kyun kala?
 
(Asks Krishna, why did Radha have to be fair while I am made to be dark?)
 
 
 
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"Haven't I told you not to stand on the road and hitch a ride like that?" shouted the brother. He was very upset at the sister. This was the third time in 2 months she had come home with the complaint of being molested. He had warned her not to get into those cabs which offered a ride. "Why don't you just wait for the bus?" he tried to advise her.
 
"But the buses are so crowded, and those old men are always leaning on me. Isn't that molestation too? And not all cab drivers are bad, okay?" revolted an exasperated sister.
 
She was upset that he was debating with her when he should be consoling.
 
"I know these cab drivers, or any male driver for that matter. I have walked on that road so many times but they never stop to give me a ride. When they see women walking, they will all slow down as if it's some social service they are doing."
 
Sister looked away as if in disgust of her brother's argument.
 
"They have no goodness sister. It is not helping you that matters to them. You have no value in their eyes. They only value your body. That's what its all about. They want to help you in the hope of getting a favour in return. That's why you had a third molestation attempt in 2 months. Don't you get it? They only value your body..."
 
"Please brother. I had enough of your parochial judgments. I have many guy friends and they all value me properly. The world of men has kind souls too..."
 
"You never know sister. Maybe your guy friends are just waiting for a weak moment. The body of a woman is what a man always values..." trumpeted the furious brother. "I will prove it to you. I will hitchhike on that road tomorrow. And let's see how many of your so-called kind men stop to give me a ride..."
 
And next day, as he had announced, the brother walked the road, waving at every car passing by, asking for a ride. The sister followed far behind, watching him. Many cars slowed down seeing her, but she ignored them. The same cars just drove past the brother, even though he gestured at them.
 
Sister did not make any judgement yet. She watched with patience.
 
Then finally one car stopped to pick the brother. It was one that had not slowed for her. Sister was overjoyed. The brother had just been proven wrong. She got into the next available cab and rushed home to face her brother. When she reached home, the brother had not yet reached. She waited for hours, and he wasn't to be seen yet. She stayed up the whole night waiting for him. The next morning they found the brother's body dumped on a street far away. His kidneys were missing.
 
While a woman is valued for her entire body, a man, it seems, is valued only for his kidneys. The world of men is, after all, still kind to the women.
 
 
 
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As far as he could remember, he had never seen his father. He had never enjoyed fatherly love first-hand, yet he knew the concept well; firstly, from observing the fathers of his friends, and, secondly, from the detailed accounts his mother told him about how caring and affectionate his father was. The son yearned to see his father, yet he never could come face to face with him.
 
"Your father does a lot of hard work for our sake," his mother would tell him, "he travels far and wide so he can earn a lot of money. That money is what takes care of us."
 
"But why don't I get to meet him anytime?" the son would pleadingly question.
 
"That's only because whenever he comes home either you are at school or fast asleep. On many nights, he has kissed your forehead before he left for work. Haven't you felt the kiss anytime?" mother would ask.
 
"No, I haven't at all..." and then he would think to himself, "I should sleep light next time."
 
His mother would show him photos of his father, and then show the gifts and toys that the father brought for him. "Look at this grand house," she would say, "and the nice furniture, the food we eat. All these are provided by your father. If it wasn't for him, we would be on the streets."
 
His mother's words were sacrosanct for him. He never doubted her love, care or her stories. She was his world, his holy spirit, and he was thankful to the father for keeping his mother happy.
 
Every night the mother would narrate tales of the father's travels, and he would sleep in rapture. He would dream of himself going on those expeditions some day.
 
One day, when he got home,  he had a strange question for his mother. "Mom they were debating about the existence of God at school today. Most of my friends believe in God because they are scared of him, but I told them I believe in science. As long as there is no solid proof of God's existence, I don't think we should believe in him. Isn't it ma?"
 
"But you see his pictures all around. Isn't that proof enough, son? And there are so many tales of his adventures that everyone talks about. Can't you believe those?"
 
"Anyone can make up those stories ma! And those photos are just someone's imagination. I think I need more solid proof. Something that science can accept."
 
There was silence in the house. Mother paused from her cooking, turned back to look at the son, smiled once, and got back to her cooking.
 
"Okay, I got it. I will ask dad when I meet him. I will be meeting him soon, right ma?"
 
"Indeed, my son..." and the mother flashed her angelic smile once again.
 
 
 
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The kid froze, partly in embarrassment partly in fear, as the mother stopped to hand over the food packet to the dishevelled beggar on the pavement. It was her daily routine. And as was his routine, the beggar would sit up, receive the packet, and thank her by briefly folding her palm into his hands. There would be routine tears of joy in his eyes.
 
"Why do you bother so much about him mummy?" asked the kid.
 
"My son! Just because someone is on the street, it does not mean they don't deserve care." replied a proud mom.
 
"But mom, there are so many people walking by. Why don't they care too?"
 
"I can't speak for the others dear. I just know that, for me, humanity means caring not just for our near and dear ones, but also for those who are disadvantaged and ignored. It's what makes us a good human being dear," and the proud smile shone brighter.
 
"But isn't it dangerous? He touched you with his dirty hands. What if it causes an infection? And what if he is mentally unstable and attacks you? Or follows us home mom?"
 
"Yes those risks are there, but that does not mean we stop caring, do we? And I will just get home and wash my hands thoroughly, isn't that alright?"
 
Kid agreed. And they walked on, towards home, dodging the uneven pavement and scurrying walkers. They had walked a few yards when the kid abruptly stopped and bent down to pick up a comb lying on the pavement. It was a shiny artefact that had fallen off some pocket or purse that was in a hurry.
 
"Hey what are you doing? Throw that away. Are you stupid to pick up like that?" thundered the mother.
 
"It looks so shiny and it was on the street. I don't think it belongs to anyone mummy!"
 
"Do you just pick up something lying on the street just like that? Do you have any sense? Look at all the people walking by. Is anyone picking up like that?"
 
"No mummy. But I was just..."
 
"Don't you argue with me. You should know it is absolutely wrong to touch something lying on the streets. Moreover, the comb may have been used by someone. It will have lice and dandruff and what not.."
 
"But I will wash it as soon as I get home mummy!"
 
"You won't understand.. " and mother plucked the comb from the kid's hand and threw it away. She kept cribbing about their soiled hands until they got home.
 
 
 
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