Prompt for week: 9th February – 14th February 2015
Post a 1000 word or less snapshot from one of your works-in-progress.
Here is mine…
A Historical Fiction …
Brugupaadam: At Shiva’s Feet
Suicides always intrigued me. The act itself needs a lot of detachment from the world, from its pleasures and pains. I think it takes tremendous courage to end one’s life voluntarily. Many may disagree as they call of it an act of cowardice. They believe, when circumstances become indelible baits in one’s life, the choices are few and far. And we humans unequivocally choose the easy and lazy way out of problems and people take the easy way out of the world. Being a historian and branded by the world as an eminent researcher, I’ve given credit to their arguments. Nevertheless, I have often questioned the intent and the state of mind of the person that ends one’s life. What is the trigger? Is it one or many? Is it psychological, social, economic, religious or political? May be it is a combination of all of them that prompts one to take the extreme step? I wanted to tease the variables out to identify that ‘one big variable’ that is common among all suicides. That which takes home the majority share in the prize, snatching away a life with it.
My opportunity came with an invitation to explore and discover the reality behind a historical event in Andhra Pradesh, India. It was a ritual called Brugupaadam that took place on the Srisailam Hill during the 13th CE. The area was then being ruled by Rani Rudrama Devi the reigning queen of Kakatiya dynasty. It was definitely not a happy place during those days.
She succeeded her father Raja Rudradeva at the age of 14. There was growing resentment among the princely states as most of the rules considered it an insult and below their dignity be ruled by a female. There was religious fanaticism with Acharya Brahmadeva trying to sway the politico-economic decisions with his insight into stars and his ability to foresee the future. Social norms and mores grounded in superstition and dogma. In such social circumstances, there was a ritual of mass suicides or Brugupaadam as the people then called it… Why? How did it come to life? Why did people accept it without questioning the truth of it?
“Could I get you anything Sir?” I jolted out of my thoughts and looked at the flight attendant in Blue and white uniform and a ton of makeup.
“A glass of water please,” I said.
“Sure. Please fasten your seatbelt Sir, we’ll take off soon,” she said trying to be extremely polite. Must be new at her job, I thought and smiled back out of courtesy. We Brits are such prudes, you see…
My thoughts drifted back to the conversation with my wife a couple of days as I clicked the clasp of my seatbelt into place.
“Marie, you are just getting paranoid. It is perfectly safe in India,” I said, for the umpteenth time trying to convince my wife of my decision.
“Tom…There is a war going on there…” she said.
“What?! Don’t exaggerate. It is just an agitation for a separate Telangana State.”
“Yeah, whatever you call it. People are killing each other. Why do you want to spend you sabbatical in India? Why can’t you be in London and do your research here?” she said, ready to pick an argument with me.
“Listen, it will be fine. We already discussed this. Moreover, Munju and Ravi are there to help me,” I said cupping her face, looking straight into her eyes.
“I am still not convinced,” she stood her ground as she wrapped her arms around my waist, leaning her head on my chest.
“Okay, how about we take a holiday after I comeback from my assignment? And may be buy that diamond necklace you’ve always wanted?” I threw a bait my last resort, at her.
“Really? You are a darling…But promise me you’ll be safe and keep in touch,” she said raising her 5 and half foot slender frame to kiss me.
Women and jewelry, never fails. I smiled and looked out of the window and the flight 347 from Heathrow taxied for takeoff.