Revati was a believer. She knew the whole encyclopedia of 330 million gods by heart. Through exclusive inner networks of priests and Babas, she had developed a copious knowledge of all the religious remedies that could provide with solutions to any kind of problems. Sometimes she had solutions to the problems that were not even there. It was like the best insurance policy. Monday fasts would provide with a good husband, Thursday puja would make your son good in studies and doing ‘Mrityunjay’ Puja will help you trick the death!
Revati knew everything there was to know about life and luck. So she could not understand how her own life could be in such a despair. She had married into a house, where the man was the obvious ruler-of-the-land, mother-in-law was the ‘Lady in waiting’ and she was a non-existential housefly. Going about and doing things that were unappreciated. There wasn’t much respect for the Lady of the house who had defaulted on delivering a baby for the last three years of her marriage. She knew that if she defaults one more year, her binding contract of the marriage would be over.
So she got on with the complex permutation combinations of various rituals and fasting. Humping days were marked on the religious calendar to sprout out a medical miracle which would rule the world. She fervently prayed to all the gods in her compendium to change her miserable life.
And one rather monotonous summer weekend, when God was in his humorous self, he decided to Change Revati’s life. However, it was yet to be decided that the change would be for better or for worse.
She opened her bleary eyes when the cat, all seven pounds of squirming flesh, climbed onto her belly. Squinting into the sunlight streaming in from the open window, she discovered that she was now the weary possessor of a pounding headache, and at some point, had managed to lose both a tooth and a spouse. A Spasm of panic rushed through her. With a jerk, she propped herself up on the bed. The cat rolled over on the bed like a liquid jelly and scowled in protest. Where was she? It looked like someone’s bedroom. Waking up in a stranger’s bed without her husband aside warranted a scandal that was enough to end her life. Her instinct made a quick deduction. She was kidnapped and was captive in this weird room where everything seemed to be glossy red. The walls, the window, the bed sheet, even the curtains. A brothel? She found herself hyperventilating now. A lightening pain shot from her jaws to the cheek which was now swollen red. Was she beaten? Did she resist their acts? Did they rape her? Did her husband tried to protect her and now was dead, or worse, was alive and had abandoned her as she was touched by others. Her rouge mind had begun to play all the worst case scenario that she could possibly imagine. And Like any other lady, she had a knack for imagining the worst.
She was all ready to break down and cry when she suddenly realized that she was all alone in this room. They had not tied her down. Why was she not tied? Or was it that they had not expect her to be awake by now. She sprang off the bed. This was her only chance to escape before anyone comes back. She searched for her cell phone but could not find it anywhere. Of course, it would be a dumb move to leave mobile with the captive. Still feeling light-headed she searched around to find some kind of weapon before trying to escape. Anything would do at this time. A scissors, or a piece of furniture or a scrape of metal, but all she stumbled upon was an old toothbrush. She fiddled with it trying to gauge how dangerous it could be. Perhaps if she strikes it with force it could prove lethal. This will have to do. She looked around and determined that she could squeeze through the window. Thanks to all her fasting she was malnourished enough to slip through this window. She peeked out to inspect and almost stifled a scream scramming back into the wall. A creepy looking tiger was tied right below her window.
Was her mind playing tricks? What the hell was a tiger doing in this place? Who keeps a tiger to guard a window and that too a creepy sick looking one. It looked famished to the bones. A hungry tiger was not a good news for her. Not that her morning started with any good news. No wonder her captors left her alone. Nobody would try to escape through the window with a tiger on loose. Suddenly a flash of memory rolled into her mind. She had seen this tiger somewhere. She looked closely and realized it was not a tiger but a dog painted as a tiger. Ah! Yes, she had seen this tiger last night in the Jagraata that she had gone to. Her mother-in-law had taken her to this overnight puja that her temple holds every summer. It was the only night out that her Mother-in-law could get in their small town. She had seen this dog painted as a tiger and tied next to goddess Durga Sculpture as goddess’s favorable ride. She gave a fleeting look outside the window and realized she was inside the temple premises. This room should be one of the temple quarters for the priest. How did she happen to land here? She suddenly heard the front door rattling. She had very less time. Armed with a toothbrush, she rolled her sari up and jumped out of the window and made a run for the main road. She waved her hand and the first auto on the road came to a screeching halt. The fastest she had ever gotten an auto in this city. Her luck seems to be working well in the odd area today. She got in and realized she had no money. But that was least of her problems. Right now she had to figure out what had happened last night. Why would anyone drug her and keep her captive in the bedroom of the priest? Her mind gets to work in weaving creative nightmares for her.
Was she kidnapped and brought to the private quarters by the priest? With news of Ram Rahim Sing doing rounds in newspapers, this seemed like a big possibility. Would her family accept her after something like this had happened to her? Was it the conspiracy of her family to get her ‘fertilized’? She had heard stories about such cases too. Her mother-in-law did seem very adamant about going to this overnight puja. She might have spiked her prasad plate with something that had caused her to blackout. Or was it that they themselves were captive somewhere while the temple people performed their misdeeds.
She willed herself to recall something when a disturbing memory came back from last night. She remembered slapping her husband with a force of a hammer and pushing her mother-in-law over the crowd of people before laughing at them. She gaped in horror! That was it. Nothing else mattered now. Insulting her husband and Mother-in-law in the public guaranteed a definitive end to her marriage. The only possible conclusion she could drive from her memory was that she was doing something that they detested and when they tried to stop her, she thrashed them publicly. Her life was mirthlessly finished.
When auto stopped in front of her house she was not even sure if she should ask the driver to wait to be paid by her husband or to kill herself with the toothbrush in her hand. But instead of asking for money the driver said something rather peculiar to her.
“I don’t want money, just give me a son..”
Revati looked at him baffled. What did that even mean? Had someone advertised that she was looking to get impregnated? It was no secret anyway with all her neighbors giving her all sorts of remedy, but still, it was no business of an auto driver to say a thing like that to her. She could have reprimanded him but she was too scared to be virtuous right now. She just nodded her head and driver went away happily. She rushed to her home and stood perplexed in front of her door. Her life was about to fall out behind this door. Today seemed like a perfect day for her to convert into an atheist. After all those rigorous pujas and fasting and scrubbing the floors of the temple, all that God could give her was the misfortune of this epic level. She took a deep breath, took out the spare key from under the flower pot and opened the front door slowly. Her husband and mother-in-law were watching the morning news on the TV with their back towards her. She decided that it would be just best to fall on their feet and ask for forgiveness for whatever she had done last night. Just as she was about to crash down on the floor her eyes caught the news that was running on the TV.
A reporter was standing next to the temple she had escaped minutes ago and was speaking into the camera with the utmost wonder “Locals here witnessed a miracle last night as Goddess Durga entered the body of a commoner known as Revati. During the last night Jagraata, as the followers sang the Durga Bhakti songs, Revati got up from the stands and begin dancing to the Tunes of drums. When her husband intervened she slapped him with the strength that could only be possessed by a supernatural power. She then went ahead and took the Jewel crown from the Sculpture of the Durga Maa and placed it on her head, declaring that she is Durga Maa. When her mother-in-law-objected to this act, she wedged out her own tooth with a stone to prove that she was free from any kind of pain and worldly misery. She then proceeded to throw her mother-in-law into the crowd like a dry leaf.”
Revati watched her image on the TV dumbfounded. The followers were falling on her feet while she flashed her bloody smile at them. They adorned her with bright Red drape made for Durga Maa and all her jewelry. She walked to the mirror in a haze and looked at her image with a shock. A long, red and golden drape was tugged on her head and a jeweled crown for the deities hung wobbly on its edge. Her forehead was covered with Bright red Sindoor while her jaw was now swollen by her gallant act of pulling out her own tooth. She looked exactly like in the TV recording from last night. It was all coming back to her vaguely now. The news cut to the Priest who was the witness.
“ I knew Mata has come the moment she touched my forehead and blessed me. I requested her to stay in my quarter but today morning she just vanished. A true miracle!” He said reverently.
Just then Revati’s husband turned around and looked at her startled.
“Mata has appeared in our home” He cried as he fell to her feet. Her mother-in-law followed the suite after a second of shock. Revati had half a mind to explain that she did not vanish or appeared anywhere, rather jumped from a window and took a modest auto till here. But the reality was so blatantly plain in front of the miraculous story on the TV that she thought best to go with it. It all made sense now, why the auto driver was asking for her blessings to have a son of his own. Why the room that she woke up in was red, which was the favorite color of Durga Maata. She wondered, did Maata really came into her. Did Maata really choose Revati’s body as her vessel? Of course, she did, Revati thought. All those Friday pujas weren’t for nothing after all. She knew she was special. Just as she sat on the sofa, a hot cup of tea was presented in front of her, not by her mother in law, but by her husband… well by her follower. She smiled at him and blessed him.
The reporter in the news spoke at length about how people of the town were going to build a special temple for the new Kalyug avatar of goddess Durga, Revati Maata, as they called her. She was now a religious celebrity. Revati smiled happily sipping the tea. Her life was finally changed.
Meanwhile, somewhere in that small town, a notorious teenager was planning his next prank over the summer weekend. It was indeed he who had mixed the recreational drugs in one of the Prasad plates which was picked up by Revati by mere chance. And now he planned to mix that recreational drug in the Municipal water tank. He was not worried that he will be caught. People would attribute it to some or the other miracle. Because don’t we all love to shoot the common sense square in the face and worship the madness we don’t understand.