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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes

J. Kaval
The sun was already up in the sky and the earth was feeling its warmth. I was on the way from my village Guniagrahara towards the city.


At M.S.Palaya junction I found a commotion near the Sri Krishna Hotel that has often provided me breakfast. I stopped and parked the bike nearby stationery shop. I paved my way into the centre of crowd. I saw an old woman aged over seventy lying near the sewage close to the entrance to the hotel. Her walking stick was near her, broken but in the drain. Her paunch where she used to keep her panmazala and money was intact on her midriff. Blood was oozing from her mouth. An array of ants started arriving to eat her. Dirty water laundered her tattered body.
The pedestrians looked at the crumbled body and slowly turned away murmuring
“Poor old woman! Thank god, she’s dead.”
“What a pity! She ended like an old bitch on the street.”
“Hare bhai, if you don’t have lot of money you will also end up like her in the street”
“Like her there are hundreds in the Garden City.”
I heard people commenting and whispering.
“Please inform the police,” an agitated youth said.
“Kindly contact the city corporation”, a gentleman added.

Nobody was coming forward to do anything. Not even the owner of the hotel. No one wanted to get involved with the police. I also wanted to flee from the scene. But I could not. I knew her from the last six months.

Her name was Rajalakshmi. I saw her at first near the BEL inter-junction signal. She was begging at every motorist stopped there. She was neatly dressed and mannered. She was asking for a rupee with a sort of dignity.

One day I met her in front of the mini supermarket at Jalahalli mall Complex. I asked about her. She revealed. Her husband died of acute asthma four years ago. Her son Damu was working as a gateman in a factory in Peenya industrial area. Her daughter-in-law, Sumathi was a domestic servant. They lived in a one square room thatched with tin sheets in a slum near Gokula the railway line. She said she was happy and contented till Damu got his third child within four years of a love marriage. Damu could not care for his mother’s personal needs such as dress, soap, oil and pan. She started begging. Later on it became her profession as family pressures increased. I used to see her often on my way to the city. Once I met her in front of the post office. She looked tired. I offered her boarding and lodging in a home for the aged. She refused. She said she loved her grandchildren, she could add something to her family’s income and she was collecting around hundred rupees ($2.00) per day by begging.
Perhaps she did what she had wanted to do till she breathed her last.

I asked the auto-rikshawallahs in the junction to help me to carry the body to a hospital. They were afraid of police and unwilling. I called the local parish priest for some assistance. He was so busy with parish work that he could not come. I called up the Little Sisters of Charity for their Ambulance. They said they would send. It never came. I could not contact the local Musaliar the leader of the Muslim community. I was told by the bystanders he was busy with the marriage of her daughter. Finally I phoned to my friend Dr.Kumar an IPS officer. I explained to him my predicament. He readily sent his jeep with his driver

We took Rajalakshmi to The doctors pronounced ‘brought dead’ and issued death certificate. We took her to her slum near the railway line. There nobody ever knew of a Rajalakshmi and nobody identified her. We could not find her one square house hut though there were plenty on either side of the railway track. Finally we carried her to the Victoria Hospital run by the Government.
“Saab, I have to leave now. It is already three in the after-noon. Major Saab has an appointment with the Chief Minister today at four pm”
“Thank you, sir. Tell your Saab that I will call him later”

The driver left. I sat on the broken bench on the verandah of the Victoria Hospital not knowing what to do just for the archangel to appear.

© kaval June 2011


The Chambal ravines appeared bereaved of their gala and gaiety at the advent of winter. It was misty, windy and cold out side. Sr.Krupa, the director of St.Martha’s Medical College, looked at the early visitors. They seemed terrifying, tense and tired. But she smiled at them lavishly.

St Martha

They were five robust men covered all over by heavy woolen blankets. She could not guess what was in their hands or in their mind.
“Madam. I came here to ask you for a seat for my son Kiran.” Ram Lakhan, the elderly man opened up.
“I’m sorry, sir. In fact the admissions are closed. It is too late.” Sister said very politely.
“Rev.Madam, please, it is very important for our family. I am a Takur, illiterate and uncouth. But I do not want my son become a Don or dacoit but a doctor. I have come all the way from Bindi with much difficulty. I have no idea about the formalities. I am very hopeful. Kindly oblige us,” He pleaded stooping his head.
“Sir, I’m very sorry. I know you have come from a far off place. Unfortunately there is no seat. The classes are full. What can I do?” She revealed, “I’m helpless indeed.”

Ram Lakhan thought she was bluffing. He was annoyed and looked at his right-hand man. The man brought out a leather bag from under the blanket. He opened it and threw bundles of one hundred rupee bills onto the table in front of her. He also shoved handful of gold ornaments.
She looked at the small fortune. She could build a ward with such an amount. She smiled at them understandably. She then very mildly but sternly said, “No way, sir, absolutely no way. This year there is no chance at all. Sorry, we do not accept donation of any kind.”

Ram Lakhan believed she was lying. His eyes became red hot. His moustache shivered. Lips trembled. No one would ever say ‘no’ to him. He got up. His gang brought out their rifles and pointed at her. He swiftly moved to the chair. He closed on her. He caught hold of her neck by his steely fist, the only one he had and lifted her like a doll.
In the commotion the woolen shawl around her neck fell to the ground.
He then saw. The sight shook him like hell.
“Hare Ram! Hare Ram…You have nothing below your elbows!” he murmured.
He looked into her eyes. He saw two bullets twinkling.
Her face was serene and composed like the winter sun.
He put her down slowly and carefully with reverence and awe as if she were a thin burning candle.
“Oh God! I didn’t know. I have one and you have none. I am sorry Madam. Keep the money for the poor. If my son is destined, let him be.”
“Thank you sir, I am sure one day your son will become a doctor.”
He, his son and the gang left the office in utter silence.
She was smiling away all the while.

And several years passed…“Joe, do you believe?” Doctor asked.
“A beautiful story! I didn’t know you’re a story teller.”
“That I’m not, but I’m Kiran, and the CMO of this hospital.”  Pointing to the photo of the Rev.Sister Krupa on his table he quietly said, “Look at it. That smile still lives in me.”
My eyes welled with tears. But I was happy for the scoop. End

[Joseph Kaval is a freelancer since 1960 writes both in English and Malayalam his mother-tongue. He writes essays, criticisms, book-reviews, short stories and novels. He has authored three books of fiction. His works have appeared in both national and international journals. He conducts classes on creative writing for college students. He edits and publishes Katha Kshetre an international literary quarterly in English from Bengaluru since 1999.
© J Kaval June 2011
joseph.kaval at  
kathalok at

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