Brides of the Well : a short story

On this morning Saraswati struggled to get out of bed.

Well, I say morning because the birds had begun their morning raga’s. Long before the beautiful hues of blue streaked the sky across the dry land. It was the one time that the land felt magical and mystical. A land claimed over the years by the desert. Few shrubs remained to tell the story of long gone days of the changing of the seasons through hues of green, to golden and then brown. Furrows cut and burnt into the white caked mud told the story of a river that once must have flowed.No one spoke much in the village of Baramur. What needed to be done was simple and ritualistic. Nor was there the usual merriment of festive occasions provoked by the mating rituals of young men and women. For if heard carefully this was a village of older people. The dominant sounds of the day would be the dry cracked sounds of older vocal chords, not contradicted by the clear sing song lyricism of the young men and women.

Quietly Saraswati put on the bells on her anklets, making sure that the sound would not wake up her husband. She loved this sound, and would walk with a step harder than normal, so that the other women at the well would her be envious of her anklet bells. It was the only thing her parents could give when she left her village in a time that seemed so far far away now. And as Saraswati walked by her husband she rebelliously put her foot down hard to play with destiny a little. But she knew that the emaciated body ravaged by the desert and by age, snoring through an open toothless mouth would not wake up till the flies flowed uncomfortably across his mouth looking for left overs.

But a thrill passed her every time she did that. Imagine if he woke up to discover that his wife was not at all the woman that he stored away in one corner of his mind ! Saraswati rushed out, bent over and coughed. Her back ached, but there was no escape. They said that this was how it was, but at fifteen Saraswati’s heart played a song with what lay on the horizon,

And so it was everyday. Just as the hues of blue showed the silhouette of the village, young girls emerged like ghostly shadows from a fairy tale. These were the child brides of the well’ as they had become known to villages far away. As the rivers and the wells retreated into their distant sanctuaries, leaving in their wake villages and communities desolate but for older people unable to move to the cities to fight another existence, another life, as always the Caste system provided the solution. This was after all a village of higher castes.

The priests let it be known that for young virgin to be married into a higher caste would absolve her whole family and their lineage of bondage into servitude. Young low caste girls were consecrated by the priests in temples (some for periods longer than normal) and amid much ceremony, a procession of 20 young girls were sent from outlying villages to Baramur. It was a strange sight – young girls nervous and giggly, walking into a village to welcomed by bent old men and women, anxiously looking for young high caste men that had agreed to marry them. Only when the marriage rites began, and as the drums played and the girls emerged from the huts with coy smiles on their faces did they realize that the bent old bodies in tattered turbans were about to become their husbands.

Saraswati remembered Paras, from another village who ran away screaming half naked. She was just 12. Three weeks later she returned. her family had closed the doors to her, busy as they were paying obeisance to the higher Gods of the high caste community. She was sent to the temple to be purified of her sins by the priest, the rituals of which had gone on for 3 weeks. Finally Paras had nowhere to go, but to where she was told that her new Gods and her Karma had deigned for her. The village of Baramur to her 73 year old husband.

Saraswati and most of the other girls were more fortunate. Their husbands had little interest in their young bodies, or the energy to indulge even if they did. But there were more immediate pressing needs. Some of the old people needed nursing even in the daily chores. The houses needed to be cleaned and meagre kitchens needed to be kept going. But beyond that there was a more fundamental need that the girls had been brought for.

Water.

The nearest working well was 12 kilometers away.There was no path even and the only way to get there was by foot.That’s how the name came – “Child Brides of the Well”.Each day the girls walked 4 hours to the well, and back 5 hours laden with pitchers of water.As they would for the rest of their young lives.

But there was something about Saraswati this morning. Paras was intrigued. For 3 years they had walked together to the well. Mostly in silence. After all there was not much that could provide young girls fodder for gossip in Baramur. And little drama. When Paras’s mother in law had started to beat her in a drunken state. In a fit of rage Paras had slapped her back and the whole village decided that she needed to be taught a lesson. For two whole days Paras was not allowed a single drop of water.

Then there was the time when Saraswati had started her menstrual cycle. She panicked and could not tell anyone. Terrified that blood stains would be found on her clothes, Saraswati would tie a rag full of fine desert sand around her parts to absorb the blood, and so naturally she had an internal infection. Each day Paras and Saraswati would use a couple of handfuls of water to clean her parts. That was the secret that bonded them together.

That they had used a little of the water they carried all the way back to the village for their own use.

 

As the evening shadows came, and Paras and Saraswati would approach the village after hauling their now full pots of water. Exhausted, they would pause by the lone tree at the outskirts of the Village and pray fervently. When spotted they would swear they were dutiful wives praying for the long lives of their creaking husbands. But the prayers were secretly directed towards a different God. Rather than the God of Eternal Youth, they would be praying to the God of Water. Praying for the Well to dry up.

The Gods seem to be answering their prayers too. The well was going dry. The next well was too far to comprehend. When the water ran out, the girls would be freed. Their village would finally die out and the young girls, no longer needed, would be free to go. Having fulfilled their Karma, the High Caste God’s would deliver them a different destiny.The Well was used by all 14 villages in three districts that it served. Only one of the villages used to get water supplied in a tanker pulled by two tired cows, as a dirt track still led to the village. That was because the distant cousin of the mistress of a district politician owned land there, and would visit with friends in noisy modern four wheelers. That was always an occasion, because the villagers would pick empty beer bottles left in their wake. Anything to store water in. Paras and Saraswati often wondered at the exciting lives of the young girls that went to that village to get married.

But Paras still wondered at the spring in Saraswati’s step today. The bells on her anklets seemed to beckon even the birds to gossip. Paras wanted to know what secrets the birds shared with Saraswati. Her footsteps on the parched earth were no more the rhythm of the plodding of a cow. The parched earth seemed to come alive with uncertain dance of each step.

But Saraswati would not tell. She just giggled and put a distance between her and Paras. The shadows cast by the early sun were still long enough to connect the two, and Paras tried to capture the secret by constantly tugging at Saraswati’s shadow. But then Saraswati took her Pitcher off her head, and lay down on her back. Stretching her arms wide to feel the coolness of the yet young earth on her body. The shadow was gone, and Paras suddenly felt completely naked. Never before had she taken this journey without the comfort of another shadow always walking side by side. The rhythm that kept them going these years, was suddenly broken.

Now if you were a Vulture swooping down to investigate, you would be forgiven for being confused. For lying still, hands stretched in the vast flat yellow landscape were two young bodies. It is not often you saw food potential so still yet breathing life as if they had just discovered it.

Paras felt as if she could hear Saraswati’s wild heart beat through the fluid earth. She felt hers responding, afraid that miles away, back in the village they would hear their rebellion.

“you were touched ?” Paras almost afraid of the next word “……..Where ?”

Their fingers touched. Lost in some imaginative world, Saraswati gently led Paras’s hand to her breast and laid it there.

“and .. ?”

As Saraswati took Paras’s hand down and held it between her thighs , Paras panicked and tried to escape. But Saraswati suddenly leaned over and looked straight into Para’s eyes. Holding them with a fierceness and intensity that told the story of the unimaginable.

Something changed that moment. Did the winds pick up ? Carrying Saraswati’s words across the land to her lover ? The birds went wild, confused at century old rules being broken. The desert throbbed in resonance with Saraswati’s breathless words as she poured out every acute memory of her encounter with absolute intimacy. Not even the Gods, nor centuries old tradition had the power to stop the discovery of a young girl of her feminine self.

“Who …”Caught in the first flush of Saraswati’s forbidden words, Paras was now panicking.

“The boy”Saraswati was suddenly coy. Had she revealed too much ? Would Paras possibly carry the secret in her belly forever ? But Saraswati was feeling brave today. She felt a surge of power.

“The boy that comes every six months with his father to sell medicinal oils”

It was all too real for Paras now. The panic swept up engulfing her entire self. She leaped up and screamed at Saraswati.

“Sin ! Sin ! “The Vulture squawked as the birds died down. Paras kicked dirt into Sarawati’s face. Again and again.

The sun was stronger. Higher. The shadows were much much shorter.

Saraswati ran after Paras. The Pitcher precariously balanced on her head. Desperately trying to keep up with Paras’s shadow. For where could she go without it ?

“I will die if you tell”Saraswati screamed. “I will deny it ! The whole village will know you are a liar “.

The wind was not listening anymore. The birds had lost interest. The Vulture looked for other prey. The sun directly overhead now, was casting no shadow. Paras and Saraswati were free of each other, but Saraswati kept shouting, till she was hoarser than the morning crows.

Paras whirled around. and slapped Saraswati hard. So hard that Saraswati’s pitcher fell down. But even then the instinctive laws of Water kicked in. Paras caught the Pitcher on time and roughly handed it back to Saraswati.

“He swore I was the only one”

Paras’s confession was not as passionate as Saraswati’s, but just as fierce.

The shadows were long again as the sun wilted and got tired of the hot day. But Saraswati and Paras no longer cared to be in each other’s shadow as the Well came into sight.

Nor did they pay much attention to the 50 odd women fighting for the narrow space on the perimeter of the Well. The Pitchers defined the Caste of the women. The upper caste ones had brass pitchers, but even though adopted into the higher caste, Saraswati and Paras could only afford clay Pitchers. It was a struggle to get your pitcher into the well and yet avoid it smashing against the brass ones or the side of the well. But this was a daily chore and both the girls went through the paces. Other matters on their minds.

Paras carefully watched her footsteps. She carried a much heavier load on her head than when she started. Balancing her pitcher on her head, she wondered if Saraswati still had a spring in her step. She had left Saraswati far enough behind for her not to notice. Paras tried a spring in her step. Like a little dance. The pitcher almost fell and Paras just caught it in time. But a little laugh escaped her.

“Paras !!”

Paras froze. Had Saraswati noticed her ? She looked around, and Pitcher carefully balanced on her head, Saraswati was running towards her. Secretly Paras was glad. Five hours was a lonely walk back without another shadow to keep you company.

Saraswati came up to Paras. She looked down and danced a little step. Daring Paras to do the same. Paras did, and the two young girls, having discovered a common spring in their steps, giggled.

“He’s not coming back for six months”

“And we will be on this journey everyday”Replied Saraswati.

“For the rest of our lives”said Paras sadly.

“No, replied the now optimistic Saraswati “Only till the Well runs dry”.

“Only till the Well runs dry”Agreed Paras, as both the girls lowered their pitchers and knelt in fervent prayers.

The village of Barmur was creaking to a halt. Getting ready to give up on the rigours of the day, hoping the dreams of the night would provide an escape to those that could sleep. They searched anxiously for the last two girls to return from the Well. Needing the Water and their young hands to do the nightly chores. In the distance the saw one long shadow. Just one.

Had one of the girls run away ? Moans of tired curses escaped the lips of those that imagined the chores that would get left. Already there was talk of how to make one girl do the work of two.

But to those that looked carefully, they would have seen two girls, their hands on each other’s shoulders. A spring in their step.

Two girls and one shadow.

 

@ Shekhar Kapur

47 Responses to “Brides of the Well : a short story”

  1. TWINS says:

    HI SHEKHAR,

    BRIDES OF THE WELL IS A WONDERFUL SHORT STORY.

    I AM AMAZED. GREAT IMAGINATION AND PRECISE DESCRIPTION .

  2. kedar says:

    dude…

    good one…but LIVE 8 is still my favorite…LIVE 8 is more ugly but more poetic, more haunting yet more compassionate…

  3. Chunmun says:

    A shadow. Of hope, companionship and trust in a future yet unexplored.

  4. shekhar says:

    thank you, shekhar

  5. anshul says:

    well written, somehow evokes memories of temple scenes in Dor – two women ensconed in a shared destiny by misfortune.

  6. ruchi says:

    Speech less, I am sure this is a fact not friction

  7. Kishor Vyas says:

    Great Sir ! very emotional and touchy !

    Kishor , Nashik

  8. Chinmaya says:

    Touching story….brought back memories from Sunil dutt’s ‘ Reshma aur Shera’. So many years on things in that part of the desert world seem the same for young lives….

  9. Neeta Bali says:

    Thanks, beautifully written – pulls you into this world of old and young…..and within and beyond the laughter and ultimate intimacy of the two girls……somehow dangerous and scary…….it left me trembling, hope and fear at the same time, for the future ahead…..
    Waiting for Paani, with the same trembling excited breath……

  10. vivek jain says:

    First i wud like to tell good piece of work 🙂 It really reminds abt d past decade of d film industry 🙂

  11. brahmastra says:

    The fact about the caste system is that, in the ancient golden days, all castes had to live by respective disciplined codes. It was a social engineering in which responsibilities, control and abilities of various social tasks were clearly and efiiciently honed and harnessed.

    For example, the Brahmins – or the top caste – were supposed to live only on charity, abiding by a sattvic lifestyle that included strict penance, vegetarian diet, chanting of mantras, meditation and such which would give them the superiority in intelligence, virtue and a deep connection with their inner selves that put them in the best positions to consult the Kings (with authority) to set policies, decisions etc. The kings were also humble enough to know their place in front of these sattvic brahmins, and they had their own code to live by which was to hone their administrative and war craft.

    So, all castes had the humility and wisdom to accept that, in the larger scheme of the universal design – which includes reincarnation and eventual enlightenment – they belonged to a hierarchy. The lower castes were definitely inferior in evolution, BUT in a way that a child in the 2nd grade is inferior to one in the 10th. Eventually they will both pass out of high school.

    Genetics would easily confirm that the offspring is very often quite similiar to its parents. When you breed 2 monkeys, you’ll get a monkey, not a parrot. So when you breed 2 Kshatriyas, you’ll probably get a Kshatriya. So caste by birth was really not a bad idea in any way. And the amazing thing is this still holds true today. Even though India has gone through some churning of social aspects, the Hindu higher caste are still some of the most intelligent and successful people in the world. In fact, we can safely say that Hindu Brahmins (not all of them, but in a relative way) are probably the most evolved people on earth today. This is a mix of the aforementioned caste genetics and deep experience gained from a larger number of births than the others.

    There are some countries/peoples in the world (again, relatively speaking) which seem shallow in culture and too occupied in external identification/gratification. But these are lesser evolved souls, souls that have not taken a large number of births as many in the east. They may sparkle from the outside, but that is just nature’s compensation for the inferiority within.

    These are the indepth aspects that only Hindu teachings can make accessible to the masses. If people can know these things indepth instead of whining about communalism and casteism at every mention of Hinduism/Hindutva, it would turn these confused, insecure Indians back into themselves so a true Hindu society can be established that could lead the way for the rest of the world. All other religions – though Hinduism is not a religion – are outdated and useless at this time.

    Any religion that tells you that God is somewhere outside or other than your deep Self is a relgion of ego and not the spirit. This is the simple premise to judge religions and do away with them.

  12. Chunmun says:

    Yes, it does doesnt it Anshul?
    The narrative sounded familiar and thus compelled me to revist this page.

    It also revived memories of a few lines that were once penned down for an assignment on Gender Inequality in Rural India. Strangely enough, the academic who led the elective, bore a strong physical resemblance to you, Kapur Sahab.

    To Dr. Vikas Pandey, whose life was cut short by a very unfortunate accident, I re-dedicate those lines, and if one may be allowed, dedicate them to the “two shadows and one soul” of Brides of the Well…I would like to believe that they resonate with the reality that still, unfortunately, continues to dictate the journey of life sisters and brides of many “wet and dry ” wells in rural (and for that matter, in urban) India

    ” My birth is never a celebration
    my exisitence is a burden
    my mind, my body and my soul are not mine
    my identity is not mine

    When will I get my share of rights?
    when will I be able to call my identity mine?
    when will I get my equal space under the blue sky?
    When? When? Oh When?”

    – Me, TISS, Mumbai, 1998-2000

  13. Beautiful !

    Also made me think – Relationships formed around water or the lack of it are complex indeed , and how much we tend to take for granted in our lives !

  14. kavitha says:

    Beautifully written with an idiom and flair that ingeniously surfaces many embedded subtleties around gender, caste, traditions & more evoking emotions that cut across many dimensions of the human spirit. Is the story a dramatization of existing realities, or a fictional output of imagination? It may not be far-fetched to imagine it could be the formerparticularly in remote corners of the rural Indian landscape.

    For some unexplainable reason, this story reminded me of the film Osama (2003) — a Golden Globe Best Foreign Language film where the story anchors around a young Afghani girl who dons the outward appearance of a boy to conceal her gender, to support her family, and to evade repressive tribal/Taliban customs towards girls & women. As a trade-up from heinous retribution for this crime, the village elder serving as an arbiter of justice, offers her in wedlock to an old village mullah. Saraswatis position in this story seems no different.

    Ive often wondered how repressive traditions, rituals and cultures came to stay in some sections of the Indian sub-continenta civilization centuries ago known as one of the most advanced and one that espoused progressive attitudes towards women. A civilization that held the feminine gender with such reverence & esteem that was probably unparalleled in any other part of the planet. Ancient India, in fact, had women in positions of imperial power and authority while rest of the world (as recent as the middle of the last century) were igniting feminist movements and fighting to break glass ceilings. How is it that a country — whose centuries-old knowledge bases include treatises on wedlock and companionship (as being symbolic of two souls uniting on a sacred dimension) — has come to forbear its degenerated axiom? Namely, wedlock as an arrangement of convenience and servitude to the patriarch, and submission to patriarchal belief systems ? Saraswatis bridal destiny is a reality for many of the children of rural India.

    Such occurrences in the villages (like the child brides) are nothing but an aberration. An aberration from the Middle Ages. As is the degeneration of the very basis of wedlock. The legacy of repressive attitudes & customs seen today are realities that are not indigenous, but an abominable import from foreign cultures in Indias invasion history (as far back as the 8th century AD), that came to exploit Indias wealth, rule the Indian people and establish their own cultural & social identities in the Indian sub-continent. Which they did by systematically dismantling ancient wisdom traditions, progressive norms &practices, and ruthlessly overthrowing harmonious social structures that were an anti-thesis to their own orthodoxy and belief systems. Even a cursory attempt to understand the genesis of child marriage (or confinement of girls/womens role to within the home) will indicate that it was a response mechanism and a system devised to protect the girl child/women from predatory indulgences of the foreign conquering class. While it may have been relevant to the context of those times, it stands no ground either in Indias glorious historical past (before such invasions) — particularly in a civilization where Swayam-vara ( or self-selection of ones partner, through ones own desire and choice) was the prevalent social order. Nor does it stand ground in Indias current contemporary context where conquering foreign cultures that followed repressive and orthodox belief systems are long gone and done with.

    Any dogmas, rituals or traditions that lack humanity, compassion and dignity at its core are gross digressions. Practicing them in the name of religion, godly gospel, polluted priesthood, rule of law or anything else, make them no more venerable.

    And until such aberrations are understood in their larger context, media and story-tellers alike will continue telling stories of how repressive the Indian society & culture isat best proliferating a shallow understanding of Indias truly progressive genetic make-up that was systematically displaced. And displaced to birth a new, repressed psyche & social order akin to Brides of the Wellwith the brides of its once progressive land continuing to be compromised to distant wells until its waters run out & dry.

    A spring to this note : two girls, one shadow — a beautiful closing thought to the story!

    As Aristotle said:

    A true friend is one soul in two bodies

  15. Chakra says:

    Electrifying contribution from Brahmastra; and his state of mind shd be the goal of each and every Hindu…….I wonder if all of his posts were published on this blog in the last 5-6 years!

  16. mehru says:

    shekhar this is the europe correspondent of the indo asian news service (ians).
    I would like to email you a few questions regarding a feature on the berlinale 2011.
    please let me know if I may?
    mehru

  17. Ariana says:

    Nice post, lovely sad story.
    @ brahmastra you made me laugh dude….really..you think caste was based on genetics and not on power and money?
    Dude, so you think its okay for a higher caste to rape a lower caste woman? Its okay for a higher caste to expect a lower caste child to clean his bathroom. Get a grip on reality.
    Caste was based to a certain extent to preserve gentic composition, but that gentitic compostion was an exterior expression. Like skin color (even though to most westerners all Indians look the same color) and eye color. SO for instance if you have blue eyes (take for instance Raj kapoor) and you marry you aunt (Krishna kapoor) you have the same maternal genes and the chances of your chiildren having blue eyeys is higher than, if say you marry someone who does not have the blue eye genetic expression. Pure and simple. It aint rocket science.

  18. Janita says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    you wrote the short story(guess reality) which made me sad, sorry, I felt sad at heart for all the children, young women who serve to a purpose without being loved from the heart for their being.
    There is no love without grief, because love means to be open, real and true to someone.Love can be good, love can be bad, sometimes be happy, sometimes be sad! But it can break your heart in two, when you love somebody who doesn`t love you or betray somebody (somesoul) confidence.
    Good that you end with joy( not to be alone” two gilrs and one shadow”) and shared sorrow(the walk to the Well/walk of live).
    It’s time for changes.
    Maybe a portion of love for yourself/for another for other and respect for everyone the same quantity would be a good start.

    To brahmastra:
    I feel sorry for your limited point of view towards other cultures,religions and people, have you forgotten you are still human, live on the same planed, your are talking about human gens and compare them to monkeys and your conclusion is that brahmins are
    “the Hindu higher caste are still some of the most intelligent and successful people in the world. In fact, we can safely say that Hindu Brahmins (not all of them, but in a relative way) are probably the most evolved people on earth today. This is a mix of the aforementioned caste genetics and deep experience gained from a larger number of births than the others.
    Maybe some need double portion of love for other and less love for themselves.

    Janita

  19. brahmastra says:

    Ariana,

    “Dude, so you think its okay for a higher caste to rape a lower caste woman? Its okay for a higher caste to expect a lower caste child to clean his bathroom. Get a grip on reality.”

    Is that what was said? Why twist the words to suit your agenda? My earlier post validated the depths of the origins of the caste system. It had sprung out of humility, compassion and divine wisdom for efficient functionaing of society. Reality is a lot more than what you have been conditioned to believe like a parrot.
    As they say, You are your own worst enemy. The lower caste people do a lot worse to themselves than the higher caste. Look at your dalit leaders..these dacoits have looted, raped and oppressed “their own” a lot more than any higher caste. This constant embedding of victimization emotions into the lower caste by pseudo-intellectuals and miserable do-gooders has been more problematic than any actual abuse.

  20. brahmastra says:

    Janita,

    Looks like you need some loving!!

  21. Janita says:

    I think every human live is worth the same. It? not my job to twist words.
    ’m not Ariana,
    It’s not okey to rape anybody .Why can’t everyone clean for him/herself when they have 2 hands ?The cast from where you are doesn’t matter to me(spoken personally,my opinion) .The sentences which I wrote came from the bottom of my soul not to hurt, not to do damage.You are self secure, you rate over other humans.
    Yourself you don t like the feeling. Do as you would be done by!
    For me it was an discovery,it was not ment to be an offence.
    Spare your energy for high cast person, politics and problems which have a meaning to you.I coexistence but have no meaning to you.Sorry Brahmastra.

  22. Chakra says:

    I dont remember if raj kapoor had blue eyes; karan kapoor [son of shashi and jennifer] for sure coz he inherited them from his australian mom’s genes. If I remember correctly raj, shammi, shashi all had greyish-brownish tinge in their eye colour.

  23. kay says:

    Dear Mr. Kapur,
    Hope you are well. I am huge fan of yourself and movie “Elizabeth”. it was truly masterpiece. Can you send me your personal e-mail address to jiloo123@gmail.com
    I have some important content I would like to send to you.
    Regards
    God Bless. x Kay..

  24. salu says:

    dear sk,
    a nice journey through the village…….miles n miles away, the whole day for fetching water from the far well…. the kids… brdies Saraswathi and Paras never leave us… quite haunting … with succint description you were unveiling a huge world..huge world of beuroracy and …. the innocense of childhood….aspirations ..dreams and the revolt ..yet to come could be read and foreseen… those unspoken are more sweeter indeed….
    thanks for let us have such a nice piece of art… rather should i call a page of life we unseen………..remain with a prayer to saraswathis and paras……..

  25. salu says:

    dear sk,
    a nice journey through the village…….miles n miles away, the whole day for fetching water from the far well…. the kids… brdies Saraswathi and Paras never leave us… quite haunting … with succint description you were unveiling a huge world..huge world of bureaucracy and …. the innocence of childhood….aspirations ..dreams and the revolt ..yet to come could be read and foreseen… those unspoken are more sweeter indeed….
    thanks for let us have such a nice piece of art… rather should i call a page of life we unseen………..remain with a prayer to saraswathis and paras……..

  26. siva prabu says:

    wud like to see this story on a screen sir 🙂

  27. Geetha says:

    Love the story

  28. Ariana says:

    @ brahmaashtra..going by your words, its okay to jump in the pyre afetr your husband? the puranas say so. I see Indians who create filth in India and do so with Impunity, becauae cleaning is considered a “lower caste” job..no wonder the whoel country smells like a dump.
    Those very Indians have no qualms cleaning up after themselves abroad (sone dont, but thats another story)
    Nobody is twisting your words
    Listen to yourself..let me take the liberty of twisting yoru words here ..I have replaced Lower cate by Indians and higher caste by White..
    “The Indians were definitely inferior in evolution compaerd to the whites, BUT in a way that a child in the 2nd grade is inferior to one in the 10th. Eventually they will both pass out of high school”

    Thin about that before you run your ignorant mouth. Mera bharat Mahan…

  29. Ariana says:

    Janita I agree
    Everybody should clean up thier own mess. and this whole caste system where somebody is too good to clean up after themselves is the reason why the country is the way it is.
    Nobody is superior because of thier caste thats like saying the white (and the white supremist groups seem think so)
    are superior than desis or non whites.
    Read Shekhar latest post and you’ll see why centuries of opression has made it such a hard barrier to break.
    A country where a 5 year old lower caste girl is raped by higher caste men, because of venturing in thier yards, is a country I am glad I left behind 20 some years ago.

  30. Ariana says:

    Another thing Brahmasthra..Two wrongs dont make a right.
    Take your brahmasthra and use it to clean the Ganges which is the most polluted river in the world.

  31. brahmastra says:

    Ariana,

    Are you a victim of something? Many of these oppressed low caste today are probably reincarnates of British and Mughal oppressors of yore. You are too boxed up to absorb such wisdom..give it up, rest your mind, and be humble.

  32. Honest says:

    @brahmastra: You sound exactly like European racists around 1900, when they were trying hard to convince themselves, why they should continue to colonize the world. Give me a break, the Indian caste system, as it was and is still being practised, as Shekhar’s next post on Bandit Queen shows us, a rigid and oppressive system. Had it allowed people of lower castes to take up the position of policy makers, would I have agreed to your accolades for it. Unfortunately its not the case. By virtue of social oppression and with the help of other ruling castes, Brahmins and Kshtriyas have managed to maintain their power and deprived masses of social and economic empowerment. Just like ARIANA I am not a victim of something, to be able provide a different point of view. People, who have to ask others to be humble are the most dangerous ones. A lot of abused people following a particual Art of Living are trapped in this psychological mindgame. Don’t impose it on others! The difference between your and people like Ariana is that you think in an exclusivist manner and she doesn’t.

  33. brahmastra says:

    Honest,

    Your compassion is misplaced. You are trying to be a hero, give it up, be humble 🙂 The workings of this Universe are way beyond your or my tiny mind. If you want to analyze this Maya, you need to know everything about it..do you? Can you guarantee that who you view as the oppressed were not oppressors previously? These low caste people you are whining about..what would you say if you found out they were these British or Mughal officers from a previous life? Are you of the opinion that monkeys should be thought physics and allowed to operate on patients? Is this hierarchy of the food chain a creation of the high caste? Do you know that the 3 Gunas rule the nature of all beings, and that the Brahmins were programmed to be dominated by the Sattva guna through their disciplined lifestyles? Do you think the compulsion for Brahmins to live a humble unindulgent life on charity was a play for power? Do you know that the Brahmins of yore have given humanity powerful teachings/vibrations to reach God consciousness among other things?

    Could it be that there is no comparison between European racists and Hindu supremacists because Hindu supremacy is really true? I am not advocating racism at all..this is the problem with you pseudo-intellectuals, you miss out on the simple things. Race is different from genetics. And all decisions are made from an exclusivist manner, aren’t they..or else how would you reach a solution?

  34. Ariana says:

    Brahmashtera you are what iis wrong with India today. Instead of putting using your energyn for soemthing positive and I can give you many better thing to do like (stop child abuse, poverty, child labor, clean the ganges etc..) you waste time harping on what may have been and justify a social scourge like caste ( and maybe child marriage?, it was the norm in the past, right?)
    Those who dont learn from History are condemned to repeat it.
    your refrain is no better than the europeans who invaded America and destroyed a 10,000 old culture (the native americans) because they were “uncultured”.
    Who knows about previous life or future lives, the only thing we know for sure is the present and a present where a 8 year old girl is married to a 70 year man, where a place of worship or something as simple as water is denied becuase of where you were born or “caste” is wrong on every level. Until the 1960’s in the US you couldnt eat or drink in a white restaurant and people of “color” (Indians included) had designated water fountains for “colored people” only. The Whites (the ones in the south) bemoan to this day losing the Civil war, and have refrains like “the South will rise” becuase they believe “colored people” should eb slaves?

    Is that any different than caste?The term Brahmin in the Vedic period actually meant one who has realized Brahman, the eternal universe. However, later on Brahmin came to be identified with the highest of the four castes, the Brahmins, who by virtue of their purity and priesthood were held proprietors of rituals. -source wiki

    think about that.

  35. Chakra says:

    wht is the big deal abt colored ppl not allowed in many places in the 60’s? It is still prevalent today! The natives is a whole different story. They won some wars initially but later on driven away as they are very much like indians, different tribes and languages.

    Is wiki your primary source of info with regard to the country that you have left 2 decades ago? If you have left for good then how abt abandoning the trash-talk? What did the rest of the US achieve by winning the civil war? Welfare state?

    Plz dont tell us that u r using ariana huffington’s name to blog on sk.com

  36. brahmastra says:

    Ariana,

    You are confusing several irrelevant things. White supremacy is stupid because it is based on racial supremacy and ego..its is like saying that a Doberman is better than a Labrador. And the fact is that a majority of white people are inferior to many easterners as far as spiritual evolution is concerned. All that glitters is not gold!

    However, the caste system was based on simple genetics of the logic that the offspring will derive the qualities of the parents..if you disagree with this logic, then sorry you are not as intelligent as you think. It is no secret now that human genes are affected by lifestyle, so when Brahmin parents live a sattvic lifestyle that involves chanting powerful hymns, doing yog and meditation, eating a vegetarian diet, being minimalists, abstaining from alcohol and other poisons, and so on, their offspring is bound to derive an ascended set of genes. On the other hand when you have the Shudras eating dog meat and involved in activities of a lower nature, their offspring are bound to bear the same qualities. Of course, there are always exceptions. And there is also the effect of aura vibrations which probably validated segregation such as “untouchability” to an extent. There are still many vegetarian Brahmins/Jains who refuse to eat in any place which serves meat..it’s about the vibrations.

    Of course the Brahmins/Kshatriyas of today cannot be compared to those of ancient times. But, if you want good teachers and leaders, they are still the best bet because they still carry superior genes. Because of the rise in materalism, the merchant classes have become more powerful.

    Don’t compare irrelevant issues. Ground yourself and get some clarity..try to live a Brahminic lifestyle, and you’ll get upgraded.

  37. Ariana says:

    No Chakra/brahma, as a matter of fact, comments from Indians like you are my primary source to the mindset of the indian. Strange huh? Perhaps time to lay down some rights and pick up some responsibilities. Dont worry about the US, worry about yourself.
    No Ariana is my name and I don’t read the huffington Post, so how about you stop heckling me brahma? Cos this is not a personal agenda.

  38. brahmastra says:

    Ariana,

    How ironic to have a name like that and not be a white supremacist!

    Instead of giving generalized opinions that we are pure evil and you are a saint, why don’t you explain objectively what is wrong with anything that was mentioned in my previous posts? Please do not compare racism and genocide of Native Americans with the caste system..very very different things. The caste system ‘was’ an optimal solution in its times, but it got progressively misused.

    All I’m saying is we need to re-invent it so we can set some well-rounded standards for the leaders of society. The first thing any business consultant worth anything will do to a sinking company is evaluate and reorganize its management structure.

  39. Ariana says:

    Dude, you are not worth my time or energy you are the typical argumentative desi, who thinks he is having the last word. Pity that you dont use all your arguing for a better cause, perhaps then you might be a happier and less bitter person? Perhaps…

  40. Chakra says:

    I somehow feel that u shd visit ur hometown and tour the streets and landmarks; am sure it will act like a detox and help u 2 get rid of some bitterness 😉

  41. brahmastra says:

    My posts are getting censored. I guess there is a preference of argumentative v-desis over argumentative desis..LOL

  42. Ariana says:

    First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view [] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”- From To Kill a MockingBird.
    Peace

  43. brahmastra says:

    Ariana,

    When you kill a mockingbird, you’re a murderer. When you kill many you’re a conqueror. When you kill’em all, youuuuu’re a God – Megadeth with some changes by yours truly.

    No relevance, just sounds cool that’s all..had to say something to all your quotes..LOL
    Peace (sells but who’s buying?)

  44. Shilpa says:

    Hi Shekhar,

    This story did leave an unsavoury aftertaste on my tongue much like the colored dust left by butterfly wings. I like the happy glimpses you have given in between which help the reader to not feel depressed throughout but ponder over the fact that Saraswati does have a hope, something to cheer about, a person to look forward to meeting to. The last sentence is an apt ending, poignant.

    Btw If I was u, I would sure cut out the comments once they become a chain of arguments between 2 or 3 people. The comments for this story read more like the ones on youtube… 🙂

    Shilpa

  45. I feel like Ive been to three county fairs and a pig roast.

  46. Dominic Ndege says:

    I think some well informed pundits slowly stopped discoursing objectively and instead engaged in emotional tongue lashing. we should stay focused in our debates.

  47. Teena says:

    Dear Shekar,

    Can you tell me what is the role of water in this short story? It is so ambiguous ….

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