Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  Index
  Foreword
  Dedication
  Preface
  Introduction
  Twin Scientists
  Daddy’s Distress
  Breaking the Horse
  She is the Apple of My Eye
  Daddy’s Coronation
  The In-Law Tussle
  Broken Pen
  The Dudda
  Daddy’s Nightmare
  Rise and Fall
  Rivalry and Rebuff 
  Mini Marco Polo
  Royal Dudda
  Facing the Challenge
  Yes, No? May be So
  Crest Fallen
  Psychic-Clash
  Shock Treatment
  Grandma’s Shivratri
  Conquering Death
  Prickly Thistle
  Book in pdf format

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Chapter 20

Conquering Death

Prakash attends his official duties up to 2 PM and then goes home to have tea. Leaving home, he walks the whole distance of four or five miles up to Gagribal lake. There he participates in weekly aquatics and boating races of different kinds for a couple of hours or so.

Thereafter he walks back home in the evening quite exhausted.

At home, he falters and trembles while undressing himself. The loss of strength is so extreme that he feels as if he was collapsing.

Just at the moment, he knocks at the floor of his bed room with his feeble fist to call his wife who is working in the kitchen just below at the time.

In a faint, almost inaudible voice he says, "My darling, kindly spread the bed on the cot for me to slip into it. I feel, I can't even sit much less to stand. I have lost all strength and am unable to move." 

Prakash is helped to slip into his bed.

After a while his son arrives and his children gather around in panic.

In fainter voice almost verging into whisper he says, "Can you call in a doctor, at this late hour? I feel, I am dying."

Visibly a cold shiver grips his son Ram, and family members, shrieks of grief overtakes them. They simply can't locate any doctor whom they could call in at that late hour. With a slight movement of finger-tips, Prakash calls Ram to his bedside, He whispers to him.

"I saw my pet old boy, our roadside neighbour, Dr. Amar Nath Safaya, superintendent of AIIMS, Delhi coming home yesterday. Please call him in. I think he will oblige. Ram rushes in panic and calls him in. Prakash is, thoroughly examined and prescription written. Ram accompanies Dr. Safaya to purchase the prescribed medicine. No fees are accepted by the kind Doctor Sahib.

In the meanwhile Prakash requisitions a hot cup of kalwa (Kashmiri tea) with milk and slips a cup or two. The beverage works and Prakash gains back his strength to the surprise of all.

Ram manages to get the prescribed medicine.

The night passed by in vigorous youthful activity and the usual scribing (writing) in seclusion to meet the demands of educational media of the sub-continent amidst the soothing solace of silence of the moonlit starry night. Prakash delved deep into the depths of contemplation until the pleasant, early morning breeze seemed to rock his cradle to the accompaniment of chirping lullabies of swallows and the sweet symphony of orioles, thrushes and koels which lulled him to sleep?

He found himself alone in his bed room forlorn in an absolutely dreadful atmosphere of silence of the grave surrounded by deserted dwellings of school going children, employees and businessmen who had already locked their houses and gone away to attend to their respective duties.

His life seemed too slipful of his veins and his pulse rate slowed down. He appeared to be moving gradually towards his collapse. He was utterly perturbed in mind and reeled at the horrible sight of a movie film that seemed to unroll itself quickly before his very eyes. He visualised the frightfully woeful scene in which the dead bodies of the parents of a friend of his were disrespectfully carried down to the ground floor of the house by grief stricken kith and kin. He could not but ponder aloud:

" I feel listless and lifeless. I think I am collapsing. I may die any moment. My death knell has been rung. I am ready to embrace death. But----- my unfortunate wife is alone, working in the kitchen just below. Poor woman what will she do ? May be she -----.

Unwittingly Prakash finds himself moving on all fours like a quadruped. He feels like moving down to the ground floor of the house and there to lie down to breathe his last alongside the expected patch to be plastered with brown earth and spread over with a bed of grass for the purpose of final rites prior to cremation. He crawls down stairs with the help of sidewalls.

The moment he enters the door of the dining room he finds his wife just putting the first morsel of her lunch into her mouth while sitting on the sill of the kitchen door and talking to a lonely lady who happened to have strayed that way.

Prakash was stunned and remained motionless for a moment. A flash of lightning shook his nerves and he burst into thinking:

"Poor lady! She will sling off her plate of food, weep and wail and beat her breast if I lay down and die immediately. She will starve today, tomorrow and days after. May be she --- Let me wait for a while sitting at the stipulated place and pose to be improving and gaining strength."

He moves on quickly and sits there as per his mental plan. He waits there to respond to the invitation extended to him by the angel of death.

Expectantly, he awaits to avail of the first opportunity to greet the angel and enter the realms of the void.

Prakash's pulse begins to become feebler and feebler, moment after moment. He struggles to lie down.

Prakash's wife, Prabha finished eating plate of food and went into the Kitchen to attend to her work. The stray woman took her seat facing inwards. Both continued gossiping at the same time.

This provided an opportunity to Prakash to stretch down himself on the flooring upwards.

His fingers gripped the radial artery to monitor his own failing pulse.

The spurting movement of the artery was very faint. It became fainter and fainter till it stopped quite suddenly Prakash fainted but his right hand moved to his left on his breasts nipple fathoming the heart beat. The all too slow a heart beat too failed to tickle his touch-corpuscles at his finger tips. Prakash closed his eyes probably fearing the consternation it would cause by open eyes of a corpse might frighten the mourners especially the children. Prakash lay prostrate in submission. The only vibrations that echoed from the cognitive corners and conative recesses of his brain were the words:

 

Substitute the High seeup of then prayer gon at the end (Om Nama, Shivai, Om Nama, Shivai. Om Nama, Shivai) (Shivai Nama Om, Shivai Nama Om, Shivai Nama Om) (Nama Shivai, Jai shiv jai Sakti)

The spurting of heart apparently ceased. The feeble up and down movement of his ribs revealed to him that he was on the point of exhaling his last breath of life like the concluding flicker of a fully consumed candle.

Prakash felt rocketed up into the dark skies and down. In the meanwhile a flash of sparks like lightning passed through his mind, revealing to him the writing on the wall:

"No thoroughfare,

Tress passers will be prosecuted."

Obviously the god of death Mahakal was crude enough to reject his plea and refuse him entry into his private domain. Somehow in his unconscious and sub-conscious state Prakash found himself placed in a sitting posture. Instantly he struggled to move at a snail's pace on all fours like a fully famished reptile as if moving to the altar of death and crawled upstairs with the support of sidewalls. The process was punctuated by step by step rest to stabilize his gasping breath till he enters his bedroom. There he is pushed by some super-natural power.

Prakash seems to have slipped into his sick bed.

 
 

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