• Jasmeet Kaur

A song of innocence

In a small northern Indian town named Khaamosh, a middle-class household with a nuclear family composed of a father (S), a mother (B), a daughter (R) and a son (G), appears in the frame on an early morning of March, almost two decades back. After the father's departure to the workplace, the rest of the members B, R and G gaze at one another in silence while relaxing in a small old-fashioned room. They had just finished breakfast featuring a stuffed potato bread (Indian paratha) and a spicy ginger-cardamom tea. Deep within their hearts, they felt awfully contented after this scrumptious meal that was a joint preparation by the mother-daughter duo and they praised God's grace on them. Abruptly, their brown rusty-iron main gate began to shudder with minor jolts. As the sound of the gate approached, all three right away exited the room to have a look at the visitors. At first glance, no one fell inside the view, however, the family noticed some reflections sweeping in from the rear of the gate. By this time, they were all gradually heading toward the gate. After hitting the spot, they found five tiny smiling dusky figures with pearly white teeth gushing out of their mouths contrasting their complexion. For the family, the girls emerged as small incarnations of the Goddess Kali. They were as high as two feet, and stood there without any protective soles on their feet. Their robes were not neat, clean, well-designed and stitched. Plus, their forehead was smeared with uneven red Kumkum. After all, the most astonishing thing about them was that, they were smiling back and forth. Their unkempt hair waved their adorable faces in a photogenic way. What's more, they had tiny polybags in their hands. When asked what they were looking for, they just began twisting their hair and frock fabrics. And their bodies danced to express their readiness to request something. How they reacted, could easily be judged as coming from their third or fourth year on this planet. Well, they swapped smiles and mother politely asked, "Dolls, what are you here for?" And they started popping up with joy. When the mother repeated her question, one of them murmured something with a barely audible voice. They were so young that they did not even know proper language, the family guessed. Anyway, one of them gathered courage and spoke in a sweet voice, "Auntie, Kanjak de do" ('Auntie, give us Kanjak'). Awww, completely adorbs. Their pleasing manner touched the heart of the family and they were stunned to think, what to do for these little angels. Without a second thought, they immediately opened the gate and welcomed the little deities into their abode. G and R were entertaining the girls while mother got busy in arranging some eatables for them. Honestly, at that very instant the family had very little to offer, but mother chose to give them what they had, with ten rupees each, so that they might buy something of their choice to eat. Those were the days when, just with ten Rupees, it was possible to buy a one time palatable and satisfying meal. The mother received the help of G and R to distribute the fruit, the sweets and the money. Oh my Gosh, the food wasn't so much for them, but by receiving ten Rupees note, their faces started to beam, perhaps they wanted to leap with happiness. After placing their food and money in their plastic pouches, they began to run to the main door. Mother looked upon them with curiosity and generosity as well. And she asked the children to stop the girls as she decided to do something else for the unexpected visitors. She walked in and returned after ten minutes with five pieces of cloth for the frocks. R and G were surprised to see, the mother had bought a suit for herself after a long time a day before and today she cut that into pieces. She looked at the children and uttered gleefully that she did not know why she was buying some extra piece of cloth yesterday but the Goddess made it clear today. She gifted fabric to the girls one by one with loads of love and asked the girls to get the frocks stitched with that fabric from their mothers. The girls weren't old enough to understand the value of the fabric. They just clutched the fabric tightly and moved to the neighbouring house, and after a short while family heard the same lovely notes, "Auntie, Kanjak de do. (Auntie, give us Kanjak.)" The children were filled with admiration for their mother, they hugged her, kissed her and promised to buy her a new one. The days passed and just over a month, once again, there was a similar blow to the main gate and the melodic voices sang the same words, "Auntie, Kanjak de do" ('Auntie, give us Kanjak'). The family was taken aback because it was not Navratri's time. They threw themselves at the gate. They had no idea that it was a pleasant surprise that awaited them. There were the same five little girls dressed in newly stitched dresses standing with cheerful faces, uttering only four words, "Aunt, Kanjak de do" ('Auntie, give us Kanjak'). Everyone's heart melted to the innocence of the girls who didn't even know the meaning of their words spoken. They simply knew that if they said those words, they would receive gifts and edibles. They would be loved. They would be welcomed. All the members of the family couldn't help but marvel. Undoubtedly, on that day too, the family welcomed them with the same grace, and showered on them all they could. But their sweet phrase always echoes them, "Auntie, Kanjak de do" ('Auntie, give us Kanjak.').

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* Navratri- This is a Hindu festival which is celebrated for nine nights and nine goddesses are worshipped in this span.

* Kanjak- Kanjak is a ritual during Navratri, which is also called as Kangaroo Pujan. On the eighth or ninth day of Navratri nine girls are worshipped as Goddesses Durga's nine embodiments.

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