Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Chapter 1

Allahabad was originally called Prayag, which means sacrifice. There used to be a sacred Peepal tree on the banks of the Ganga, from which people used to jump into the sacred waters and commit a sacred suicide, positive of the fact that this led to their attaining salvation, Moksha, freedom from the cycles of birth and death, from eternal suffering.

Emperor Akbar was immensely fond of the city and renamed it to the present one. Allahabad literally means "settled by God".

The politics keeps changing its name to Prayag, then Allahabad, then Prayag, then back to Allahabad. The Allahabadis couldn't care less. It doesn't change the pace of their easy life, doesn't give extra limbs to their standard ambitions, doesn't make them any more or less of the Hindus and Muslims they have been their entire quiet lives.

The city, by whatever name one chooses to call it, lies at the confluence of three holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and  the Ancient Saraswati, which is present only in soul. This is called the Triveni Sangam. Every year pilgrims from the length and breadth of the country and beyond it gather at the four sacred cities of Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik to bathe in the holy waters and take it home.

The Mahakumbh of 2001 was much more significant, a lifetime opportunity for every devotee. It happens once in every 144 years, due to the remarkable alignment of the planets which repeats itself after this particular time period.

Around 60 million people gathered at Sangam that year. It was the grandest event the city had seen.
Her grandmother came here and stayed for a month every year. Family members would often join in. This year because of its significance made the party a little bigger than it usually was. She came to visit grandma occasionally. The crowd had always wanted to kill her in the nightmares. She could never bear to be in one.

This time when she came, they made her stay for a couple of days. Her mother wanted her to. She couldn't refuse. They had all gone for the holy bath in the morning. She stayed back, and warned them of the stampede. Her cousin brothers couldn't stop laughing, they kept teasing her till the minute they left.
She had waited for an hour, and wondered why nobody had come back. The ghats weren't that far from their camps. Two hours now, she hesitantly stepped out to look for them. Before, she realized, she was lost in the murderous crowd. Then the smiling Sadhu appeared and things were never the same again.

Somebody kept a hand on her shoulder, she turned around startled. Grandma stood there, clad in her ivory widowhood, silently questioning her grandchild's dilemma.
She realised her feet had turned numb in the waters, she had lost the sense of time and place as she mused on the sequence of events that had brought her here.

 "Lets go bachha"  grandmother said smiling.

While walking back to the camp, she fell into her cauldron of thoughts again. She felt very young, very naive and at the same time so aged that the world seemed all newly born to her. The feeling had begun to take over her senses. The nightmares had stopped but her own personality was becoming intertwined with some other entity. She talked about things nobody knew, she knew about things she had never seen, she had seen things nobody had. Often she couldnt answer people the simplest question to be asked. She couldn't tell them her name.
She wasn't sure.


  1. I'm getting a taste of my own medicine, and not liking it one bit. This is really gripping!! Please, rohu - please write the whole thing and post. Please? :D

  2. Wow....gripping!
    Bring out the next part now :)

  3. What's in a name is my thought for the change of name of the city. And ivory widowhood is a great phrase...