Friday, August 15, 2008

55 Flash Fiction Friday #7: Chapter 1 - Vandhe Mataram!

On 15 August 1947 the nation we know as India was born. Centuries of feudal federation, followed by centuries of foreign rule had finally come to an end. As the British departed, a new India was born. India was now a free and sovereign state. But oppression takes many forms, and for much of India's population independence proves elusive even today. This week, I'm taking a moment to imagine what the morning of that first 15 August might have looked like through the eyes of one of those.

Update: Tiff made a valid point that the original scene was well-set, but the other elements of a true story were a bit thin. I've left the original here to give context to the first few comments, but offer up a new and improved variant. (And trust me, in independence-era India, this would have been a story!)

Bare feet scuffing the sunblasted earth outside the door, she narrowed her eyes against the scalding sun to look around. The Union Jack was gone, replaced by the tricolor. The motherland was free, but how long before independence came to her and the other daughters of Punjab? She spat, "bhar me jao, sab ke sab|"*.

Bare feet scuffing the sunblasted earth outside the door, she narrowed her eyes against the scalding sun to look around at "Free India". How long before independence came to her and the other daughters of Punjab? Her gaze settled on the men gawking at her. Glaring defiantly she spat, "
bhar me jao, sab ke sab|"*.


Notes: *"Go to hell all of you." And a very warm shukriya to Mona of The Two Bits for her editorial contributions (and translation help!).


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29 comments:

tiff said...

You know what? Your 55 sets a scene, but doesn't tell a story.

Think you can?

Gauntlet thrown. :)

Michael Manning said...

Thanks Mojo for the visit. I do know that India's airline industry is booming with lots of travel! Jet Airways Rocks!

Kelly Carver said...

Thanks for the informational tidbit. We tend to forget the critical moments in other countries amidst our own ethnocentricity. And to the 55, well played. It does set a scene, but what a scene to set.

Glad to have you over at kkirch.blogspot today.

Mojo said...

Hm...
@Tiff: Perhaps you have a point. Dr. Mona will probably shriek if I change this one, but a minor tweak should do it I think.

Stay tuned...

ciara said...

oh, the scene is set, but the story is still being written and until all of india is free from its own slavery and such, the story will never end.

i liked it...tweak or no tweak :)

Mojo said...

There. That ought to do it.

Mona said...

Wonderful 55 Mojo!

Tiff...This 55 tells a story like no other.. It is a very poignant tale about the plight of women of Punjab soon after Independence. The British left India, but not before they has ignited the flame of a most gory communal violence. Their policy was to 'Divide & rule' for which they sowed the seed of discord amongst the people of two religions , the religions that had till then co existed in perfect peaceful harmony.

The result was a poignant tearing up of the nation into two factions, whereupon Pakistan came into being. The states that were worst effected were The Punjab & the Sindh.

The women of Punjab were ruthlessly molested, kidnapped and torn away from their kin. Freedom did not come to them without a heavy price and a sacrifice that was shameful. It rendered many of them homeless, & at the mercy of men who ravished them and used them in a way that was unimaginable.Some relented to their fate, while some went mad!

Now if that is not a tale then what is!

Mojo...You did very well, such a poignant history, told so briefly in so few words

It is remarkable, how you captured the entire essence in just one last sentence. that 55 is a masterpiece!

Mona said...

Btwn. i'm up too!

Mona said...

Ah well! you DID place a target in relation there! but it does not change the essence, so I guess this one is as good as the last.( remember, the last is a masterpiece in itself though, for those who can relate & follow!)

ciara said...

it's good both ways...i prefer the first as well. it told a lot w/o having to say too much at all. i agree w mona..it didn't change the essence so it'll do :)

btw-'stinky' isn't stinky literally LOL one day he was being a stinker so i told him he was being a stinky. it just stuck. LOL sometimes he doesn't like it when i call him by his given name now that he's used to the nic LOL

Mojo said...

@Mona: It's not a story I'm willing to compromise on an elemental level. But a minor adjustment ... and I think it works better now.

S said...

Wow that Tiff gal is strict, eh?
Very well done, sir, and a good tweak too!

smarmoofus said...

I agree... the first is better because it gets to the point without explicitly stating it. But both are excellent (when accompanied by the history that I needed to understand it).

Still in OK. Leaving Sunday, probably. Doing fine, but no computer time now that my friend's family is back in town.
-smarmoofus

Akelamalu said...

Not sure it needed a tweak, you did a great job with and without!

I'm up.

G-Man said...

Historical 55's are always fun and educational to read. Great job on this weeks...Thanks for playing, and have a Great Week-End....G

barman said...

Now see I would probably go with the second one not knowing the history. But know that I am in the know, at least somewhat... I like the original better also. Very nicely done and incredible what 55 words can say.

Mojo said...

@barman: In this case 55 words wasn't nearly enough, but that's the challenge hai na?

snowelf said...

Mojo... I like them both, actually. And I got a little history lesson too, and I love learning new things. :) Your Indian goddess reminds me of Mona through and through. Maybe it's just coincidence?
hehe

Happy Friday Mojo!

--snow

lime said...

both are terrific 55s, the factual one and the one that gives a woman's perspective. very well done.

Missy said...

It's amazing what can be learned from those around us about life and culture and changes.

Great 55 Mojo. Have a good weekend kiddo

Mona said...

The second one is as good as the first!

mojo, You rock!!

Mojo said...

@Snow: The inspiration for this came from a Hindi film called Pinjar, so my devi here is actually inspired by Urmila Matondkar (*swoon* -- she's my favorite). That said, Monaji was extremely helpful in the design and construction of this week's offering. So the fact that there's a similarity there isn't just an ironic coincidence *wink*.

Suzie said...

Cant wait to read more? Will there be more?

Mojo said...

@Suzie: This was originally intended to be a one-timer since FLash Friday happened to fall on August 15th this year, but it's an intriguing idea... I've considered doing a "serial" before, I just hadn't considered this subject for it.

But it has possibilities...

Yeah, maybe I'll do that.

tiff said...

AH - see, I'm coming at it from the persective of someone not familiar with the context. As Kingfisher told me, you don't want ot have t oexplain your story. It should speak for itself. Now, I think, it does.

Indeed, it's a tale that deserves many more words. Mojo - well done, and thank you for considering my POV.

SignGurl said...

I love learning new things and especially when presented in only 55 short words. Well done!

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

That's funny. I JUST came from Scratch Bags' blog. She lives in India and told us about the holiday today. It coincidentally washer father's birthday as well. She talks about the holiday as a child too.

And I gotta check out this Flash Fiction Friday thing. That looks cool!

KB said...

So much info in such few words. Am loving this.

Shrinky said...

I'm finally getting around to a rummage through your attics - this piece is a little gem, I'm glad I stopped by.