Category Archives: Non-Fiction

time and reflection

The Lost Generation


( pic source: google)

  I was studying in class five or six, I guess. Vaguely do I remember the exact year when I first saw her. We used to look at her with a steady gaze of wonder and curiosity. Of course we laughed seeing her and then we would say ,”bichara ka bata aako hola ,  Ko holai? Usko parivar tai ka cha holai? ( where on Earth has she come from?  Who is she? Where is her family? ). And so on our quieries would bundle up unanswered. It definitely was not the time of social selfies or famous facebook and although I have no picture of her I hold a very clear vision of the woman deeply engrained in my memory.
Her uncombed, tangled, dry and dirty hair was cut short perhaps by the local people around who rescued her from her long battle against the tiny mighty mischievous minions sharing their long habitat in her head which was their home .  Most of the time, she  always wore a smiling face, giggled when someone teased or called her with her single” bugs bunny” teeth protruding out her dark lips. She didn’t have a sharp nose nor did she have big eyes, but her small tiny eyes seemed heavy with lines lined up with her ascending age ; her features familiar to the faces around. If an artist had used the earth to create an exact figure like her, then her skin color would be no different than the earth used. Apart from her face I do not remember because most of the time she sat in a yoga position with an old rugged  blanket covering her whole body except her face. Her dark tanned face did attract a hundred curious eyes. So not everytime is fair and beautiful attractive but her attraction was far different from them.
In a time when dark clouds hovered above, tempting the Earth to drink more of it, when road pits seemed more like tea pots containing milk tea, and the drains seemed cooking something awful , I saw this woman in the same place beside the same old yellow building, this time with a yellow plastic shielding her from the continuous rain,  and she looked more  like a  chameleon as if absorbing the yellow colour of the that building. It was an amusing sight for us as children and we laughed looking at her and she in turn laughed looking at us.
I have no idea exactly for how many days or months and years she became a parasitic part of that place. There were  rumours in the air about her history that she belonged to a good family and it was only after the death of her husband that she was degraded to such a beggarly state. But only God witnessed her past. Perhaps her family still existed or perished away or perhaps she did not belong to where she was now, no one knew. Whenever we passed by her she always exchanged smiles with us. Her eyes glowed with joy with her rich smile; her smile being the only makeup she could apply. Nowadays people carry smiles in their wallet I suppose.
We were used to seeing her in the same place posing like an ascetic but she did not stay there to gain enlightenment rather she was deprived, deprived of everything,everything that a normal person enjoys.  But she was not like other beggars in the street because she never begged and to her fortune the local restaurants did help to fill her appetite and other than that she  wanted none except a home but not a single person came claiming a relationship with her.
We know there is a lack of old age homes in our country and admist us lives people without any shelter. Her family abandoned her ; I abandoned her ; the society and the world around abandoned her, except the street dogs who themselves were abandoned and homeless. Her presence was  lost among the generation who were lost in their complex cultivated universe.

Years after when I passed  by the old corner where once she breathed the impartial air with her rich smile, I saw the vacant space, the yellow wall renewed and refurbished but still missing the presence of the same old frail and fragile figure which once had been its Sunakhari (wild orchid) and now a part of ”the lost generation”and only a subject of my writing. At least the wall did not abandon her.

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Superstition – the fear underneath

– Puja Rai


In a world where we brand ourselves as the modern people, where the gifts of science and technology lightens our daily work, still do we carry the very old and heavy load of Superstitions from the past.The hereditary chain of superstition never ceases to end and it is superb in its performance from the day it was born. The roots of this tree has buried deep into the soil and its branches are spread far and wide,  the only difference is that it does not produce oxygen that would help and benefit the entire living beings on Earth. But sadly the seeds were sown by no other than the human hands.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines superstition as a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. In our country and in all the corners of the world we encounter a variety of superstitions; some are minor like we think a cat crossing our path might bring bad luck, so we  usually  stop until and unless another person walks before us. So, it kind of ignites the selfish nature within you and sometimes it is major, a super societal issue, like a woman , accused of being a witch and so she is burnt with the unanimous approval of the whole village or the sacrifice, be it of animals or babies and children for what a superstitious believer would call “for a good purpose”. Actually it is the fear within us that drives  the superstitious impulse of men. As far as we are alive, we do not want evil of any kind to befall upon us or our family. And so we believe in superstitious manuals or the magical remedies of what we call in our vernacular, the Dhongi Baba’s and other people who are  skilled in manipulating the uneducated lot. Sometimes even the educated lot fall prey to their art. We can get pages of information about the consequences of superstition in the Internet. Until and unless people uproot the tree of superstition (whose fruits we have been eating and drinking down the ages) and think in a more rational way, it will continue to stirr the fear within and stay as a social stigma, a scar in a civilised society.
In my home town in the hills of Darjeeling, superstitious beliefs are still in vogue but it is not of a major kind. Many stories are told by our parents hinting us not to be superstitious and I remember them, the most touching one was the story of a very old woman in a village who because of being very old with a shaggy wrinkled face was accused of being a witch; she lived alone in a small hut. She had a son who after being married had left her. Children in the village were scared with her but sometimes they would go and peek through the door. One day to her surprise, her son returned home with his wife and her grandchild. How happy she was to receive her family, more happy to see her grandson. But happiness did not stay long in her home because  when the child caught fever, her daughter in law thought that it was her witch mother in law who was ruining their life. So the next morning they left her once again alone and empty. No body cared, except few who sympathised with her grief. That night the sky poured down heavily accompanied by thunder and lightening. The next morning, the weather was calm and quiet and the whole day there was not a single sound from the old woman’s house. In the evening few children curiously ran towards her house to peek in through the window and saw her pathetic old body lying on the floor, cold and lifeless, only lices in her hair seemed alive. She had tried to warm herself with few clothes and sacks she had. All the villagers saw what was before them but it was too late for them to realise that they had ignored a living flesh for some kind of superstitious beliefs.
This story filled my eyes with tears.  And we would think the son must have regretted too.
The most common form of Superstitions in most of the families is that when a girl is healthy and bleeds each month, she is considered impure to participate in any kind of prayer service and she is prohibited to touch the alter or visit any holy temples, unless her menstruation is over. I was somewhat shocked when a friend of mine once told me that during such time, she is not allowed to go to the kitchen or touch any other utensils except hers. Furthermore, she is not allowed to serve the meal to any of the male members in her family. This was surprising and new to me because our family is very liberal regarding such beliefs. Did God prescribe such rules? What is a healthy menstural bleeding to do with prayers? Later I came to know that this happens all over the country.

Superstitions in our vernacular is called ‘Andhabishwas’ or simply ‘blind-faith’. We would ask our Thulobaba (Grandpa ), “ठुलोबाबा , तपाईलाई अँधोबिस्वास्  मन्पर्छ ? ”
(Grandpa, do you admire superstitious beliefs?) And he would narrate one anecdote from his life. He said , ” it was our tradition to organise sacrifical ceremony in memory of our ancestors whom we believe would look after us after their deaths. I still remember how our baba and your great grandpa sacrificed animals like goats and hens and the blood offered to the ancestral spirits  upon a rock, impersonated as our ancestors in order to please them. There would be blood everywhere and the sight was not so pleasing to the eyes. I did not belive in such superstitions so I had made up mind not to follow it and so you all never got to see it.”
Unlike others, grandpa never did believe in dhami jhagris or local priests so he never took any children to them, instead he chose doctors. But my grandma would secretly take us for the local check up when we fell ill. But without superstitious beliefs, some fraud people would lose their share of profit. When I was about fourteen years of age, my Ama had shown my birth horscope paper to a local pundit who planted in my Ama’s mind that her daughter would get married at an early age of sixteen and to avoid such ill circumstance, he had prescribed her some remedies and in return had received some good number of cash. My poor anxious mother, she did all the remedies. By now I would have become a mother if only the so called future prediction was true. Thus, I believe that the Fear sometimes of future provides fuel  to superstitious beliefs.


  Now in the present scenario , it is the hot time of Elections and not Superstitions. But the branches of superstitions have stretched towards the political arena and it is able to showcase a magical  mirage before the majority that is similar to the works of  the fraud priests and babas , manipulating the minds, earning maximum Votes and laughing out loud after they have succeeded in fooling the public. But it is in the power of the public to see through the knitted hole what has long been knitted by the political parties and polticians by shedding off their long old veil of Superstitions and ‘Andhabishvas’ or blind faith we have in political parties and their sentimental speeches. In a world where trust  is hard to find , we must be rational , careful , smart and witty enough to judge what is right and wrong because our precious votes voices our hopes and aspiration.


(Pictures compiled from Google)
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Hailstorm Hit ” The Hills”

– Puja Rai


                   White crystals on the road

It was 31st March 2016, me and my friends marched our way back home after our usual classes. No sooner had we stepped inside our cosy rooms, the sky just poured down its heavenly droplets for its beloved earth to take shower. Ah! The smell of freshly soaked earth. The dust in the air disappeared as if out of fear which I could sense myself when I heard the Thunder shouting upon earth. But then the sound made on the roof of our house grabbed my attention instantly. It was as if someone had emptied his bags full
of marbles on the rooftops of our houses.



I  imagined that the battle had begun between the gods and goddesses. Their precious pearls had dropped upon our roofs and the children and adults in the hills all enjoyed the sight with awe and wonder. All of a sudden our hilly Darjeeling was blanketed with white quilt but not soft and fluffy like snow. Never in my life had I encountered such hailstorm in Darjeeling. Thank God we were fortunate to enjoy the view from our windows. But many were outdoors who very  closely felt the Wrath of Heaven. Within an hour the roads got choked after being all covered with six to seven inches of hailstones.


            Roads after hailstorm



It seemed much like a Snowfall in Spring. Many people assumed it to be a Snowfall when the pictures went viral in social medias. But no, it was hailstorm and a powerful one. It was as if the icy paths of Heaven had smashed off because of the war of the titans and the broken pieces of crystals now covered the hills. But as always our hill station looked lovely, marvelous and magnificent as ever. And so that evening Facebook was flooded with selfies. Even I took a walk  with my sisters taking pictures .Apart from the locals this was a pleasant surprise for the tourists who thoroughly enjoyed the enigmatic sight. The whole town looked like a beautiful bride in a white gown.

The sights are soft to the eyes but hard on the head.
Yes harmless it may seem, harmful it might have been. In places like Loreto Convent School, the roof of the basketball collapsed but it was God’s mercy that no one was  injured. It took time for the roads to get clear and majority of students as well as other pedestrians had to carefully make their way back home.Who on earth can question the work of Nature or God? We are unaware of the time and consequences natural calamities brings with them.

In a place like Darjeeling where Thunder and lightening accompany the evening, the Spring season surprisingly brought Hailstorm to the Hills as its guest and in place of Snowman of winter, we had Hailman of spring in the Hills.


                    Picture of the Hailman.