Friday, November 28, 2014

Ganga Needs a Snan

(This short-story is written for Indiblogger's contest #AbMontuBolega for Strepsils. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Through a satirical short-story, I bring out the attention that the river Ganga deserves because, as Montu says, bin bole ab nahin chalega.)
It was in Badrinath that Shuklaji met a hermit who'd asked him to bathe in Ganga to get rid of his misery. Ramesh Shukla, a religious businessman from Darbhanga, Bihar, had been running a successful saree shop for over twenty years, but last year, after his shop caught fire, he had lost his entire fortune. Even after one year of tireless efforts, he had not been able to reinstate his business back to affluence. He cursed his luck for not having insured his shop, despite having planned life insurances for every member of his family.
One month ago, when he visited Jagannath Temple at Puri to pray for his goodwill, he received a life-changing advice to take a Ganga-snan to bring his fortune back. The chief pundit at Puri, after plundering his remaining wealth, enlightened him that everything had been conspired by the will of Ganga-maiyya to remind her son, who had been neglecting her for long, to meet her. Shuklaji took the hermit's clairvoyant words by heart and decided that he would go back into the tender lap of the holy mother Ganga as soon as possible and pray to transform the fate of his family, which consisted of his wife and two daughters of marriageable age.
Shuklaji remembered his childhood that was spent alongside Ganga-maiyya. When Ramesh Shukla was not Shuklaji but just Ramu, he often visited his grandfather's sprawling bungalow at Patna that was surrounded by peepul and mango trees on three sides and Ganga-maiyya on the rear side. His entire childhood was spent jumping in the cradle of the holy river. He owed a lot of things to river - his ability to swim that has kept him fit over the years, his risk-appetite that made him swim through the river from ghats to ghats, his disease-free childhood because the holy water strengthened his immunity. But with time, the pressure to earn and sustain his family had cut his ties with the holy mother.
From Puri, Shuklaji boarded a direct train to Patna instead of his hometown Darbhanga, and when he got down, he straightaway hired an auto to take him to Mahendru Ghat. He stripped himself to his undergarments and jumped into the holy river, without thinking twice. As he completed his first dubki, he realized the sea change that the river of his childhood had seen over the years. The water now reeked of filth, it had assumed a dark brown colour that resembled Jhaji's evening tea and it didn't even taste sweet, instead bitter. Nevertheless, in sheer belief of transforming his fate, he spent forty-five minutes in the holy river, even quenched his thirst with it, and came out only when his fingertips and toes got pruned.
Feeling accomplished and nostalgic, Shuklaji bowed in reverence to Ganga-maiyya before leaving for Darbhanga. No miracle happened for the next two days and he, along with his family, kept waiting. Three days later he sensed a severe stomach-ache and kept dismissing it, until he couldn't tolerate it. He was rushed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his pain in seven hours straight. Police feared a conspiracy and asked for a postmortem report. One day later, the newspaper report read, 'Businessman in loss dies by accidentally consuming poison.'
As promised, Ganga-snan relieved him of his misery and his wife received fourteen lac rupees from LIC the next month, with which she married both the daughters in the following year.

The brown Ganga water at Patna's Mahendru Ghat (clicked by me)

There are places that need cleaning, people who deserve your attention & authorities who need to hear your opinions! Don’t be a silent spectator. Raise your voice and make a difference. We know that raising our voices against all that is dirty in our country is a power that we all have. Let’s exercise the power of our voice & work towards a Swach Bharat. This is what the Strepsil's AbMontuBolega campaign is all about. Kyuki Bin Bole Ab Nahi Chalega!

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