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I could sense that someone had sat down on the other side of the mosquito net. Perceiving no way out of this situation, I said with some enthusiasm, "That will be nice. Tell me a story to cheer me up."
"If you want to hear a really funny story then let me tell you about my life," the voice said.
The church clock struck the hour of two.
"When I was a human being and still a child, I used to be scared of one person - my husband. My state was like that of a fish caught by an angler. It was as if a complete stranger had hooked me and was pulling me out of the deep and smooth waters - there was no escape. Two months after our marriage my husband died, and my relatives lamented the death on my behalf. My father-in-law, after a careful study of the signs and portents, told my mother-in-law, 'This girl is a vishkanya (poison bride)'. I clearly remember those words...Are you listening to me? How is the story?"
I said, "It is a good story. The beginning is splendid."
"Then, listen further. I happily returned to my parental home. Days passed and I grew older. People avoided telling me directly, but I knew I was very beautiful. What do you think?"
"That could be true. But I have never seen you."
"You never saw me! Why, you have seen my skeleton! Hehehe! I am jesting. How can I prove to you that there were two large and beautiful eyes in these two empty eye-sockets! And there could have been no comparison between the gentle smile that played on rosy lips and the ghastly grin of these exposed rows of teeth; I feel like laughing and at the same time I feel angry when describing the beauty that was blossoming every day over these few dry bones. Renowned doctors of those days would not have believed that my body would be used to study osteology. I know; a doctor, while speaking with a friend of his, had described me as kanakchampa - I was a beautiful flower; there cannot be a skeleton in a flower!
"I could realize that when I walked, every movement of my body scattered showers of beauty around me just like a diamond which, when shaken, dazzles the surroundings. I, occasionally, spent long hours looking at my two hands. Those hands could have reined any arrogant man in the world with their sweet touch. I think Subhadra, who drove away Arjuna in a chariot, had similar arms and fingers.
"But my shameless and eternally-old skeleton has presented a false picture of me before you. I was helpless and could not speak for myself. It is for this reason that of all the people in this world, I hate you the most. I crave to appear as the gorgeous 16-year-old that I was and dazzle you with my beauty, to snatch away the sleep from your eyes, and to rid you of your desire to learn osteology."
I said, "If you had a body I would have touched it and sworn that I have not an iota of interest in osteology. And, your splendorous beauty has pierced through the darkness of the night and is glowing. You do not have to say more."
The voice continued, "I had no girl companions. My elder brother had vowed not to marry. I was, therefore, all alone. I used to sit under a tree in the garden and think that the entire world loves me, all the stars are gazing at me, and that the breeze is conspiring and blowing past me heaving sighs. All the young men in the world have gathered at my feet - this is what I used to think; But that caused my heart to ache, I know not why.
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu