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Seeing the power that the sealed vagina wielded, the women brought their daughters as well who they had left behind earlier fearing who would marry them if they lose the basic essence of womanhood.
In Laajpur, a notorious town on the outskirts of Delhi, strange things were happening. The events had baffled everyone. Initially, some had dismissed it as sheer foolhardiness and some as an act of sorcery. But now people were beginning to panic.
It all began after the arrival of that girl. From where she came, why she was there and to whom she belonged, no one had any idea.
It was the chai wala at the railway station who had spotted her first. Under a peepal tree, the girl was sitting cross-legged and devouring pakoras in a paper plate. She was all alone. No male relative or friend to escort her at this time of the night. It had never happened before in the town. Everyone knew how dangerous it was. Even an eighty-year-old dreaded venturing out alone after sundown. Families lived in a permanent state of paranoia to protect their daughters.
It was this lawlessness which had earned Laajpur the epithet of rape capital of India. An NGO had reported last year that this was one of the prime reasons behind the high rate of female foeticide and low female literacy rate in the region. It was a rogue town within the heart of this democratic country and the brunt of this anarchy was borne by females.
The girl would arrive at the tea stall every night and sit there for hours. Her presence had started to make the men uneasy. The swearing, loud crackles, impromptu jokes had a nervous edge, not that they were scared of her, but because the sight of a female in a male territory was frustrating, a challenge to their supremacy. They even hurled abuses at her, poked her with their mean eyes but the girl would keep sitting there, eating pakoras at an unhurried pace. Some tried to chastise her, had she run away from home? Was she lost? But she would not even bat her eyes to acknowledge them as if they were like a transparent sheet of glass. May be she is deaf and mute, they concluded. But then she thanked the chai wala sweetly when he brought a cup of tea for her. Later he told others that her name is Rmaa.
‘But how do you know, did she tell you’, a customer asked.
‘It is tattooed on her arm. I saw it when she stretched her hand to take the cup.’
‘What more is tattooed? Did you peek at anything else’, the men winked at each other and broke into loud cheering, eyeing the girl like a piece of meat.
Even in her loosely fitted orange blouse and long green skirt, which she wore every day, they could figure that she must not be more than fourteen or fifteen. There was just a hint of curves in her dress, which the men fantasized with an open lust while sipping tea one after another. In a way, the chai wala was glad of her presence because it had made his shop earn profit like never before. And thus he didn’t mind offering the complimentary tea and snacks to the girl.
This had almost become a ritual, but one night, true to everyone’s premonition, the girl was pulled into a van by a group of boys looking for an adventure. This all happened right in front of everyone, at least fifty people in their full senses. But no one uttered a word of protest. It was a normal affair for them and in fact, the girl had asked for that. Haven’t they warned her so many times? And besides one of the boys was the son of the Police Chief.
Next day the girl was sitting in her usual spot with the same aloofness as if nothing had happened. Everyone was astonished. In such small towns, this kind of news travels faster than its digital versions.
‘There is no vagina!!!’ The group exclaimed in unison.
The grapevine was brought by the school peon where the four boys, who had abducted the girl, studied.
‘Yes, that much his mother could gather out of him when she found him hiding in a cupboard. Other three are also equally scared.’
The story that finally emerged after the gossip and facts were pieced together was beyond anybody’s comprehension. Almost everyone refused to believe it.
She was taken to the fields next to the canal where the boys had planned to rape her and then dump if she resisted much. But no need arose of that because she, almost obligingly, followed them. Also, there was no need of bruising her body or tearing her clothes as she herself lifted the skirt when they pushed her on the ground. At first Surendra, it was his turn this time to hit the jackpot first, thought that he was hallucinating because of ganja. But then others also recoiled in disgust (and horror). There was nothing, no hole between her legs. It was all sealed, like a dead-end. How was that even possible, they wondered aloud while the girl kept lying on the ground with some mock satisfaction on her face. This increased their frustration further and then in a fit of renewed rage Surendra pressed onto her. But in the very next instant, he was yelping in pain. His thing was scalded like it had touched hot iron. The laughter of the girl was still reverberating in the night sky when the boys started the van in hurry and ran away.
The news of the sealed vagina was spreading like wildfire. The tea shop was minting money as more and more customers, even from far-flung areas, were thronging the place to catch a glimpse of the girl.
But the actual chaos began when women started arriving one by one, unescorted. The peepal tree had transformed into a sort of a shrine. Somebody brought a worn carpet and spread it near the seat of the girl. A makeshift screen from an old saree was pitched to give them some privacy.
‘Rmaa help us,’ the chai wala strained his ear to catch the conversation. Or did they say Maa?
In a small town like this, it is not difficult to recognize people even if they are covered from head to toe. From the manner they walk, dress up, smell or whisper, there is always something to give them away. And thus the tea vendor was astonished to recognize a woman who was presumed to be dead for more than a year after on the behest of Panchayat, the village council, she was brutally raped by almost everyone in the village when her brother eloped with a girl from a higher caste. The woman had disappeared soon after the ordeal. And then there was another one, who bore a striking resemblance to a teenage girl who had disappeared some ten years back after she had stormed media with the allegations against her politician father about incest. There were many more, a mason’s wife, a school teacher, a farmer’s mother, the women who were raped and forced to live with it.
‘We knew that Devi will liberate us from this misery,’ the mason’s wife was weeping at the feet of Rmaa.
‘Seal this vagina like you have sealed yours’
‘Help us Maa, salvage us,’ the women were chanting.
The tears of anguish were floating in her eyes as the girl embraced the women one by one.
With their wishes granted the women returned to their abode, leaving behind the veils which were now fluttering on the lower branches of the peepal tree.
Next day the town witnessed another bizarre episode. The women, who had a phantom existence in this town till now, were now swarming it. There was no fear on the gentle faces rather it was the men who were clouded in panic and frustration as they dared not touch the women however they were tempted, not even in a dark alley, not even if the hussies invitingly exhibited their smooth legs or displayed a carefree smile because they knew the this was the cult of sealed vagina whose curse had already cost the chief’s son his manhood.
The bigwigs of the town were assembled at the Minister’s residence to discuss this phenomenon. At last, they had realized how big the problem was when their own women joined the Cult.
‘This is disturbing the nature’s balance,’ the mullah chipped in as the memory of last night flashed through his mind when his wife had threatened to join the Cult if he impregnates her again.
‘Yes’, the pundit echoed his sentiments, ‘even the monsoon was a disappointment this season. She is a daayan, a witch, who is going to annihilate this town.’
The police chief snarled in a seething temper, ‘kill her in some fake encounter.’ He was looking for an opportunity to punish the girl who had put a question mark over his authority in the town.
The Minister looked glumly around; he knew how severe the problem was. The women politicians, who used to work diligently for the party earlier, were now demanding equal representation in the Cabinet and elsewhere. And on top of that since fifteen days his men had not found even a single item for his pleasure, not even his regular prostitute. And then his own daughter had joined the Cult. The girl is indeed a witch; the Minister thought aloud, she should be stoned to death, burnt alive or paraded naked. If he had his way he would have poured acid between her legs and the hole would have opened itself.
But they all knew that it was now too late to take any such bold action because the popularity of the Cult had crossed even the international border, especially after BBC aired a special segment in its India series.
Seeing the power that the sealed vagina wielded, the women brought their daughters as well who they had left behind earlier fearing who would marry them if they lose the basic essence of womanhood. But now they knew that the gains were higher than the loss. They were tired of carrying the burden of fertility which had started to consume them only. The gift that nature had bestowed upon them to flourish mankind had now become their very weakness and thus it was now time to surrender it.
‘Rmaa Rmaa Rmaa,’ the chants grew louder and louder as the girl salvaged them one by one. The Cult was swelling day by day. Women, even from farther parts of the country and from across the international border, were now swarming the peepal shrine. And the aftershocks of this tremor were reaching far and wide. Schools were the first to feel it when the girls walked in fearlessly.
More than half of the workload of the police was cut down as the crime rate drastically dropped. Women no longer fought for ‘ladies’ seats in local transport. Almost every profession had now female majority as they are naturally flexible and hardworking, thus they didn’t need to make any excuses to escape long night shifts, field trips or any vulnerable position. Be it military or a cab driver’s profession, women were everywhere.
For the first time in the history of the country, almost every social-planning target was achieved. And within one financial year, India ranked among top economies of the world, owing to the surplus workforce. Economists named it — the second Industrial Revolution of the East.
However, this success was making many people restless. The rivals were worried about the consequences if the country became a superpower. And more than that they (the men) were worried about the consequences if the Cult becomes a superpower. So frustrating it was for them to watch those skirts which fluttered with the wind or the sensual body under a six-meter drape. They could not dare to touch even their own wives, daughters, sisters.
They had never even imagined that a single biological anomaly will one day break the myth of male supremacy.
And that it will one day threaten their jobs, the patriarchy, the ecosystem, and the political structure. Already, the workers were holding strikes for equal wages. Next, they will demand more seats in Army, the Space programme and every foundation programme of the nation. Next, the Parliament will be taken over. They could not repeat the folly of having a woman Prime Minister again; the bitter memories of first one were still fresh. The international pressure was also mounting to find a solution to this problem ASAP.
Even religion was on the brink of extinction. The priests at the Shakti Peeth temple were vexed to see that the goddess had stopped menstruating as the water of Brahmaputra was no longer turning red. The vagina of the deity was sealed and so did of other female deities worldwide. The mankind itself was on the brink of extinction. Who will carry forward their lineage, the men worldwide wondered.
A high-level meeting, comprising of important religious heads, scientists, economists and representatives from the international community was called to discuss this disruption in the laws of nature.
Open the Hole — the conference concluded unanimously.
Cabinet passed a law overnight and National Emergency was invoked. Holding marches, tea gatherings, even debates became a punishable offense. A curfew-like situation was imposed in the country. The peepal tree vanished without a trace. Even the roots were pulled out from the earth, leaving behind a gaping hole which was filled with cement and over it a marble bust of Father of Nation was installed overnight.
An expert team of doctors arrived in Laajpur. And as the commandos guarded the high-security cell where the girl was held unconstitutionally, the Cult surrounded it from all sides irrespective of the fact that the loudspeakers were blaring the warning of Shoot At Sight.
The medics began the preparation for the procedure. The girl was lying on a makeshift operating table under the effect of anesthesia. The surgeon moved towards her with a scalpel glinting in his gloved hand. A loud gasp escaped his lips and the tool slipped from his hand as the surgeon looked there. He had never seen such a thing. There was absolutely nothing, not even the mark of a stitch or any conjurer trick. The girl had no hole between her legs. It was not a myth, after all, the surgeon and every medic present in the room thought aloud. Fear was clearly written over their tensed face.
‘Rmaa Rmaa Rmaa Rmaa Rmaa Rmaa’
‘Maa Maa Maa Maa Maa Maa Maa’
The chants in the background were getting louder and louder.
The surgeon picked up the tool and tried to concentrate on what he was ordered to do. Open the damn hole, the supervisor barked into his confused head. With a shaking hand, he lowered the scalpel to make an incision. But the moment it touched her there, the steel melted in his hand and evaporated. And one by the one, the tools, cot, flesh, weapons, everything present in the room began to melt.
The chants were still piercing the gloomy air when the earth began to shake violently. The men were unsure whether their dying brain was playing tricks on them or they actually witnessed a mythical legend when two giant hands emerged from the hole that had formed in the earth and carried the girl back.
Laajpur, with its over one million inhabitants and the girl, had vanished, wiped out from the face of the earth.
It was a sinkhole, the investigators concluded. But not even a single blade of grass ever bloomed on that soil ever again. It was barren.
That was just the beginning.
First, the rains changed its pattern, and then the crops began to fail one by one, the land turned infertile. Sinkholes were reported all over the globe, swallowing cities without any trace. Delhi, Lahore, Mosul, Gaza, New Orleans, Istanbul disappeared one by one.
The Earth is sealing its vagina, environmentalists reported the incredulous phenomenon.
The apocalypse had begun.
Published here and here earlier.
Image source: © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar, via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only
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Vartika Sharma Lekhak is a writer based in India. She is the author of the short-story collection – Bra Strap and two anthologies – When Women Speak Up, and The Take Off.
The short-story collection read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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In the last few days I was having a conversation with my younger sister about relationships, and she said something which hit me hard.
I have seen a lot of people feel uncomfortable sharing their age, but I have no such hesitations. I am 32 years old and my younger cousins tell me that I belong to the ‘old generation’. If you are born in the year 1990, you are still considered among them, but if a year less – 1989, you are from the old school.
Being an elder sister, my cousins come to me seeking advice about studies, career and relationships, but when I try to help in the way I understand, the only reply I get is, “Didi, leave it, you’ll not understand it. Aapki generation aur hamari generation mein bahut fark hai. (There’s a lot of difference between your and my generation).”
In the last few days I was having a conversation with my younger sister about relationships, and she said something which hit me hard. Though she is from the new generation and I am from the so-called old generation, we share a lot of mutual thoughts and interests. We spoke about love, how the generation born after the year 2000 perceives love.
You ask any SATC fan. We all wanted a friendship like the one that the 4 girls shared. A friendship that was a rock. A friendship that seemed to withstand the tests of time and in general, life.
I confess that SATC (Sex and the City) has a special place in my heart. I must have watched the 6 seasons and every single episode at that, countless times. Seriously, there was nothing like sitting back with a glass of wine, a bar of dark chocolate and an episode of SATC, after a hard day at work. It renewed me. Made me laugh.
So much so, that I even ended up going for the special SATC bus tour when I visited New York in 2019.
Now some may call the show frivolous but for me, it was pure, honest entertainment. I was in love with the fashion, the ‘fabulousness’, the fun! And it had its moments as well. Moments that were truly thought-provoking, moments that made its viewers take a good, candid look at their own relationships, particularly their female friendships.