Mahatvapur was a very small village situated in the heart of Odisha, a small state in the eastern region of India. It was a conservative village, and so was the mentality of the villagers. They were people who believed in discrimination. The thoughts of the society was that women are only suited for household chores.
My father, a farmer, worked day and night to earn a 3-time meal for his family and to give his children a better future and my mother used to help him in his work. We were a family of four, my parents, me and Samarth. My father Amarnath had to work very hard. It was difficult to grow crops in our village due to scarcity of rain.
There was a government school in our village where the villagers used to send their kids. One day after coming back from school, I started cooking dinner. It was the part of my daily routine to come from school and finish the household chores. After about an hour or so my parents were back from their work. My father sat down on the mat and my mother went inside the kitchen.
After a few minutes I served the dinner on platters and served chapattis and vegetable curry to my father and brother.
‘Shakti’ my mother called me from inside. I went inside the kitchen and saw my mother opening a box; it contained colorful bangles. She smiled at me and said, ‘I bought these for you’. From childhood I had a fascination towards bangles, my happiness knew no bounds at the sight of those rainbow colored bangles. I took them from my mother and went outside to show it to my father. My father stared at those bangles happily and then at me. I always loved that smile on him.
I asked my mother’s permission and went outside to show it to my friends. After about 10 minutes I came back and as I was about to enter the house I overheard my parent’s conversation.
‘Our neighbor’s daughter Malini is getting married next week. The groom is very rich’ my mother was telling my father.
My father nodded. ‘Don’t you think that Shakti is also nearing the age to get married? She added. ‘Once she gets a good groom, the load will be taken off our chests’ said my mother.
This statement was enough to make my father angry.
‘She is our daughter, not a load for us and she is just 15, we should focus on her education’ replied my father. ‘At least don’t speak about her like that, if she would have heard what would she think about us?’ continued my father.
‘I am just trying to secure the future of my daughter, I just want her to be happy’ said my mother.
‘If you want to secure her future than think about her education, make her independent, and don’t think about marrying her to some rich spoiled-brat’ my father replied.
My mother would have said something else but my father gave her a look which meant the end of the discussion.
My father was always the one who would encourage me and my friends to go to school; the one who believed that women are not inferior then me and always encouraged me and my friends for higher education.
The next morning as I was preparing to go to school, I heard someone shouting. I went outside, out of curiosity. Outside, I could see that the entire village was standing on the street. They were looking at something. I somehow managed to get through the crowd and then I saw her. She was tied to a banyan tree, wearing a saffron-colored sari, open hair; red and swollen eyes, maybe due to crying. She was wounded and a handkerchief covered her mouth.
Suddenly two villagers holding bamboo sticks; came out of nowhere. They went near and started beating her. They were hitting her so hard, she could have died and I had to rescue her. I ran towards the tree, when I felt someone pulling from behind.
‘Shakti, what are you doing?’ asked mother still holding my hand.
‘We have to save her’ I murmured.
‘Let that Pretansh die’ said my mother.
‘What is a Pretansh mom?’ asked my little brother with innocence, I didn’t realize that he was standing there.
‘Pretansh, who feeds on others happiness. It sucks out all the happiness of a person’s body and turns them into a Pretansh’ said my mother in a whispering voice.
‘But mom, how’d you identify whether a person is a Pretansh or not? asked Samarth
The Pujari Ji(Priest) of the Mahakali Temple helped us identify that this women is a Pretansh. The Mahakali Temple was situated in the North corner of our village near the dense forest.
What would they do with her? I asked.
‘They’ll kill her and save the village’ said my mom. After that, all the children were sent to school.
That evening when I came back from the school, I was thinking about the same incident that happened that morning. When I was crossing by that banyan tree, I saw that no one was there.
Where is that woman? I thought. When I entered the house I heard my parents talking about that woman.
‘They have taken her to the fort’ said my mother.
I went inside the bedroom and changed my clothes. I cooked dinner as usual and served it to my family. Then I had my dinner and went back to my bed. While I was lying in my bed I was thinking about the same incident. Suddenly I saw a ball of light in front of my bed emerging from the surface. I got scared but I was unable to get up. I could hear voices coming out from the ball of light. It was as if I was glued to my bed. I tried to escape but couldn’t.
‘Go, save that woman’ the voice was telling again and again. After about a minute the ball of light disappeared and I woke up. I never realized that I had fallen asleep. I was sweating; my clothes were drenched.
Should I go to the fort? Asked my heart
‘No you shouldn’t’ said my mind.
But, what if the woman is innocent, what if she is not a Pretansh? Would you let an innocent woman die? Asked my heart
I got up from my bed and went to the terrace from where I could see the fort.
What should I do? Asked my inner voice.
So what is going to happen will Shakti go to the fort? And what about the woman? Is she really a Pretansh? Just a little wait for the next chapter and you will find out. The next chapter will be out on 15th July, 2017.
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See you on Saturday.
Lots of Love
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Chapter 3 out now click below