Benson Riang



Benson Riang


Shakti (Strength)

Shakti (Strength)

12 mins

It’s been a sultry, breezeless and dry kind of day so far, so much so obviously perceivable and evident due to the lifelessness like conditions being worn by the succumbed trees and vegetation, absence of nearly any stray animals and denizens rushing population the streets like the usual days, whose absence was being substituted only by the intolerable hot blaze of wind known as ‘loo’ rushing and dominating over the deserted streets and the sullen flora and fauna.

And of course, above all, the prime supreme influencer of all the ongoing and happening phenomenons, in the world, the everlasting immensely powerful in its influence, an embodiment of both tremendous strength and the source of origin of life on earth, the massive stardust entity, the sun, which stands as the proud bear witness of today’s meterological occurrences, its pride being reflected in its intensity which resulted in solitariness, as there being no one to appreciate or despise its overwhelming pride in its power, only with an exception of an individual, who has also graced the unbearable weather, whose name even signifies the eternal strength or ‘shakti’ like that of the sun which is also depicted as a symbol to denote the aspects of immense strength in many different conceptual ideas.

Though Shakti knows the mere significance or meaning of her name, it was also very much known to her knowledge that she really doesn't imbibes those conceptual qualities or aspects, as her name suggests, otherwise she was as very lifeless like the deserted weary surroundings, as very sulken like those of the affected flora and faunas, whose aura and overall persona are embraced by ghastly silence making her a rather stygian teenager, like that of the eclipsed sun, blocking all its strength and energy to be showered upon.

But today, such innate qualities of Shakti can be justified by the recent event of her grandmother's sudden demise, due to which Shakti had arrived in town with her father, to participate in her grandma’s funeral ceremony.

“Will you miss your grandmother………. ?”

Will you remember her!” asked Eshan, Shakti's father to her.

Shakti nodded her dizzy struck head, trying to shed off her sorrow in the act.

For Shakti her grandmother had been the only one and perhaps the closest one, to understand her situation. She was her forever companion throughout the crucial growth years, always had been a strong pillar of support in every possible way, always nurturing, pampering her, almost substitutionally fulfilling the place of a mother which Shakti had lacked in her childhood……. . but there was one aspect of her grandmother which really used to puzzle Shakti a lot of times during childhood, which was her grandma’s deep evergreen state of silence, constantly present in her like her shadow overcasting its spectre of dark existence settling in her.

Shakti used to wonders a lot and used to come up with an explanation for her grandma’s overcome condition that used to engulf her at times like waves.

After reaching her grandma’s residence, both of them were being acknowledged by their close relatives for managing the time to come to see off shakti’s grandma for the last time, who had now been overturned in. But Shakti didn’t even bother to accept their acknowledgment because it includes her uncle too, amongst the pair consisting of her cousin and aunt. For she doesn’t very much like Nathan then and now as her uncle. It’s not like she intentionally created this vast stretch of rift between her and Nathan. Such a detrimental image of him was drawn in her mind due to her uncle’s constant interference in their lives like the “Kebab mai haddi”colloquially equal to “A weed among the roses” type of situation. He spent no stone left unturned to create havoc in both her and her father’s life.

Her father told her that once when he finally earned himself a handsomely paid job in the city and decided to throw a small intimate party, to mark a new beginning, a new drift of time, on the day of the party, around six that evening, when the doorbell rang, Eshan was busy getting things ready for the evening’s party, wondering who had turned up so early, he grumpily went to the door. It was Nathan. “I’m here to help you” he said with a smile. “ How much can you possibly do all by yourself. ”Holding forward a rose that had a long slender stalk, he bowed dramatically, “Congratulations. For now, you can stop being jealous. ”he sneered. Eshan knew that the emphatic “all by yourself”was hardly intentional, but it bothered him. “Jealous of what?” was Eshan’s reaction to that statement as far as the story of the incident goes.

Ultimately he was there to sort of mock eshan by presenting him the rose to metaphorize his unfortunate state of left alone to balance the responsibilities of his unnerved daughter and half psychosis mother on his shoulder after his wife eloped with her affair, so as to signify that it was him {Eshan, the unfortunate rose, bearing the weeds or throns ( referring to his daughter and mother) in contrary to his consideration of Nathan as a weed among the roses}.

But one time when Shakti fell sick, her uncle went too far with her, in the absence of her fellow family members, when her grandma and the rest of the family went outside for Sunday prayer service in the town’s church, her uncle sneaked into their section of rooms in the house and dared to conduct an assault on her, tormenting her core and stripping her soul naked shattering her self-esteem into tiny shards.

She heard him saying, “ Filthy dirty product like you should be only let to suffer and thrown like your bogous father and grandma. ” With a full high heat of rage scaring her already fever stricken heated body. It was after this incident that she stopped being the jolly-full cheering child, never knowing her uncle’s motivation for the act, never lnowing what he meant by those words he said and in the end, never disclosing the incident to anyone, even to her grandma.

When the procession left the house for the final ritual of the funeral, Shakti curiously decided to go through her grandmother’s room in specific, to see and feel of her last remnants lingering around in the form of her ghostly body odour and some of her relics that she had decided to pass on to her next generation, since she was advised to stay back with her cousin for them being of inappropriate age to witness the final ritual at the cremation ground( this sparks a puzzlement in Shakti as they were religiously christinas but the final rituals of her grandmother being taken place in the cremation ground instead of cemetery.

Amidst the eerie nature of her grandma’s room, she sat on her grandma’s bed, re-cherishing and recalling her good time with her. Suddenly her eyes fell upon a dust covered small what it seems like to be a diary in a heap of chaos of other belongings, lying on the floor at the foot corner of the bed. Instantly, she recalled the time when her grandma used to place herself in front of a diary and spending a brief period of time, scribbling something which she didn’t bother to go through then as a kid, but after which her grandmother used to get transformed into her dense comatic state, full of silence, like an effigy, which was rather used to disturb Shakti in a way. she made up her mind to finally go through the diary to find the answer to grandmother’s misery state of the past.

To summarise what she got to know about her grandma’s recorded history from the diary, it goes like this – 

She was born and raised in Dhaka, the the then east Pakistan. Born into a Brahmin hindu family and named Durga (it came as a shock to Shakti since they were Christians), being educated in the university of Dhaka and haking graduated with political science which led to her involvement in leadering a women’s group in protest against west Pakistan during the language movement in between the time period of the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971. Incidentally, she fell victim of those thousand women who were being raped in reaction to the protest committed by west Pakistani armies in order to teach them a lesson and in for brutal purpose of creating a next generation of so called “ pure and racially superior muslims”. After being brutally raped and beaten mercilessly, she somehow fled the country and came to india to seek refuge in the time of genocide. It was here in india that she gave birth to a boy child who happens to be shakti’s father( This very fact came to Shakti as an unbearable weight of paranoia on her crushing her underneath it. So basically, her father was born as a result of a disgustingly horrific act done out of pure hatred and insolence. Now, Shakti realised what her uncle meant the time he assaulted her that day by calling her filthy lineage product. )

After giving birth, Durga decided to stay back in india only, until she found a very generous and pious man( shakti’s grandfather), who happens to be associated with a Christian missionary body who raised a helping hand for the refugees along the border fringes of country (India). Only then by marrying him, she converted herself into Christian giving her hindu identity. It was followed by the ill-treatment and remarks by the so called “ pure Christian and hindu community” for being not Christian at birth at the same time for being made to convert into Christianity by the hindu community and citing her as a property of the Christians now. With her grandfather, she had her aunt-Moni-who is presently married to Nathan, and had a boy who is shakti’s cousin now.

It was after a while, Durga’s husband stated to disaaprove Eshan as his son, not having being his legitimate son and disposing him by referring him as “dirty product” which was followed by a continuous set of heinous deeds in the form of physical abuse and regular taunts. Unable to bear such nuisances from her husband’s side as well as from the society, she left him and decided to start her own life with two children. For never a day passed without showering a rainfall of unanswered tears, flavoured by the supply of ill treatment by her neighbours for being divorced, raped, husbandless woman tagging her as a filthy woman who was unable to protect her “Maan and maryada(Respect and dignity)”whipping her with terms like “witch”, “characterless woman” , “slut”. etc).

Still, she didn’t broke down easily and didn’t move an inch from the determination that she has set for herself and her children aiming to stand up for oneself in this sea of misbehave and patriarchal chauvinism and to make her children as much successful as she had been after working hard day and night, to prove and shut the mouths of those people questioning her character, by giving them an answer to all the insults like a strengthful tight slap across her ill-commentators’ face in a way by her being feisty and bold and silent determination rather than the physical way of answering. But when moni got married, she had told her son in law about this and initially acted so well as if he has accepted the dark history of the family. But then he started to show off his real image, like Durga’s husband, by almost always confronting her with an announcement of abuses for being so cheap to make her daughter marry him to get rid of her shame and passed it to him in the form of his wife.

It was his behaviour because of which her grandmother fell ill and was on the verge of surrendering herself into dying in the hands of the guilt and utter shame. she just couldn’t handle all these atrocities that was being done to her since time immemorial. . . she has lost all her strength and boldness to confront this time up against another mountain heap of insults born out of Nathan like she used to do in the past.

Blank…. .

That was the last statement that she scripted on her diary.

From this Shakti learned and realised that it was due to this continuous abuse carried out by that obnoxious and monstrous uncle of hers because of which her grandma had passed away suddenly of heart attack even though she never had any kind of ailment on any of her organs.

With that, her cousin brother entered the gloomy room to inform the arrival of the family members from the ritual ground. Shakti dived herself in thoughts of her grandmother being taken to cremation ground instead of cemetery so as to signify and pay homage to her religious identity of being hindu by birth at the same time her being associated with a revolutionary movement in her native country which made her the strong woman she had been till her last days.

Shakti came out of her room and without even wasting any moment, she found herself standing in front of her uncle.

“What are you looking at ?” said Nathan with a tone of sudden fear and surprise. Now, Shakti is the one facing the face of the source of irresistible onflow of abuse and comments that were being shooted at her late grandmother’s sulken face, tormenting her and shattering her insight into pieces just like what had happened to Shakti herself in her pre-pubertal days.

She was the one now wearing that bold and determined look in her hot gleaming eyes, resonating with the hot weather around her, waiting to burst out an answer to the perpetrator’s face, like that of the hot blaze of the loo wind that gushes out against the face like an answer for the hot weather, as if she has now inherited her grandmother’s boldness and determination knocking at the door to let it through as an answer in the form of a……. . SLAP!!!!!!! right on Nathan’s face.

Finally , she had allowed the silenced tsunami of rage and anger being born from both her and the spectre of her grandma’s inner dimensions in her, to flood out the veins of her, giving the immense strength (Shakti) to her nerves and muscle equivalent to her own and her grandma’s ( Durga who is also an embodiement of strength and boldness) for it to subside down with finishing it off at the cheeks of Nathan, who was the main root cause and perpetrator of bring such disdain and despair in their soul…breaking down the silence of her and her inherited strength out of her grandma’s spectre inside her at the end which is then followed by a complete silence worn by the faces of her relatives, having seen “the act” from “SHAKTI”.

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