Kalyani is the village goddess. It is said, that her ancestors, the Kashetty’s, are the family that is blessed by the dear goddess Kalyani, who decided to continue to be reborn into the same family forever after. When Kalyani wanted something, the entire village would work towards getting it done. Everyone is permanently at her beck and call. Every year, during the spring, the village holds its annual festival at the village temple, where she blesses her many devotees, and sometimes, performs some stray, well thought out miracles.
On the twelfth day, of the thirteenth full moon, the Kalyani temple of Shabarnath bursts out in an abundance of colors like never seen before. A display of fireworks from all over the world will color the night sky, an arrangement so beautiful, that even the dogs would face their mortal enemies to view it. It seems as if the night is meant simply for the celebration of the goddesses’ blessings in the village, for even the moon and stars begin to shine as bright as the fireworks. Colors as blue as the ocean, as green as the evergreens in the Western Ghats, as red as the rose, and as white as a lily, will adorn the homes in the little village of Shabarnath. These are the only colors one can see each time the goddess is born, and they are always her favorite.
A large feast with generous meals is served in the temple all week long, with stalls at every corner arranged just like the goddess would like them to be. Performers from all over the country will be brought over for the people’s amusement. No expense would be held back, for it was the pride of the little village.
It is the one night in the year, that all the people will gather together- irrespective of caste and socioeconomic status, to praise the goddess that saved the village from the night terrors that gripped the minds of the men for over a decade before she arrived and cured them. The goddess was so pleased with the gratitude that was shown to her that she decided to reincarnate into the same loving family that provided her with shelter in those dark times.
Back at home, Kalyani creeps out of her room in the middle of the night to look at the fireworks display in the open ground. A beautiful maiden of fifteen, she is the goddess of the village. Everyone loved her, and everyone praised her. However, something is amiss. She isn’t the goddess. She has never protected anyone. Her mother passed away when she was born, just like her mother’s mother did before her. They would never live to see thirty. Goddesses of the Kashetty family would become pregnant at the age of twenty-five; the same age the goddess was when she came to rescue the village. The goddesses would often be married off to the goddesses’ advisor, who could provide for them and upon their death, marry the woman who would help with the upbringing of the goddess. An advisor would be groomed from her very birth, to become her husband, and then the father of the future goddess. He was kind, good-looking, and of course, from a rich family that would be able to provide for the goddess’s whims and fancies.
But Kalyani’s father is different. He is good-looking, and from a rich family as well. However, he isn’t the kind-hearted man he seems to be. His sole purpose, or what was taught to him at least, is to work toward maintenance the myth of the goddess’s blood running in the family. That is why her mother had to die. Developments in science meant that young women stood a better chance of survival during childbirth, but that was not the case here. She knows that she will have to die before the age of twenty-six. That is her fate. She knows the man who will be her husband for nine long years before he marries the woman he really loves. He is big, strong, good-looking, and from a rich family. He is the son of the cousin of her father.
It was his idea for Kalyani to perform the miracles. “Healings” would cure any faith that strayed away. The goddess is, after all, the only way that the family can stay in power, with little or next to no government influence in the village. Every source of power would continue to be in the hands of one family.
The temple festival too is very cunningly organized. The outsiders are given strict orders about communication with the villagers. Any deviations would result “in serious punishment”. This only meant that the person would be pushed into the heart of the jungle nearby, where the tigers roamed free. The rest is history.
Kalyani knows what her fate is, but she also knows that she has the power to change it. She will only have to play the same game that her so called family plays- they, play on the emotions of the villagers.
Kalyani, with her hair out wild, black curls like tiny whiplashes ready to destroy anything that came in her way, eyes the color of cinnamon bark, with skin only a shade lighter, walks through the crowd that she commands, with her very stride singing a song of praise in honor of her ancestors, and the miracles she is due to perform that night. She walks to her throne in the temple, her father and advisor beside her, and takes her place as soon as the village is struck by the sky’s loud roar. The people fall to their knees in praise of her, chanting mantras in her holy name. She looks down and sees the thousand people willing to do her bidding. She begins with the traditional demand for gold, silver, and rubies. Then, she goes on to talk about her ancestors, to whom they owed their lives. She has in her, the voice of an angel, with the power of the devil.
Her hair begins to flow with the wind, getting longer with each passing second. Instantaneously, she begins speaking in a tongue, that to the common folk is utterly incomprehensible. The crowd trembles in fear, for they believe that she is displeased with them. She grows taller and taller with each chant, and rises from her throne, with her voice, booming over the winds of the mountains, demanding freedom. Never had such fury been unleashed, never had such fear spread among the people. They hadn’t come across a goddess so powerful since the goddess Kalyani herself.
Never, had freedom been given so willingly, yet fearfully. Never, had she tasted freedom the way she did now.
“That is quite a story you came up with Marsha… I would like to know how the rest of the tale goes. We’ve run out of time today, but how about we pick up the same place we left off next week?” said Talia, closing the file in hand.
Marsha meekly looked down, picked up her bag and walked out of the office.
Talia hadn’t moved. She was marveled by the sheer madness in the eight-year old’s mind.
She fingered the edge of the file at hand, careful to not cut herself over the edges. She then looked down at the first page in the file that read ‘Marsha Addams. Diagnosis: Schizophrenia’
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