A roadside market in Uttar Pradesh – Part II

Posted: January 21, 2014 in A roadside market in Uttar Pradesh, Short stories, starts & writing


Shani Surya, the only child of Yama and Chahaya Surya, was born in West London at dawn on a freezing February; the momentous occasion coinciding with a complete solar eclipse. Such an auspicious beginning was bound to have some bearing on the girl’s character and path through life.

Her father hadn’t become aware of the eclipse until the following day, stuck indoors as he was, pacing a windowless corridor while Chahaya lay wailing in stirrups in the delivery room. Sipping tea in the waiting room of the Perivale Maternity Hospital the next morning, Yama came across a snippet in The Evening Standard which briefly described the spectacular sight. The occultation seen throughout Southern England had occurred, it read, as the sun rose from the horizon; the blazing corona dazzling through the lifting fog. The report had created such a vivid picture in his sleep-deprived, endorphin-drunk mind that it seemed remotely possible his daughter may actually have been the cause of this astronomical phenomenon. The sun must have been forced to shield its own blinding eye from the awesome, radiance of his newborn daughter. He made sure he let everyone he met know the story. The story grew over time to become a heavily embroidered account worthy of ancient myth, but in a corner of his mind he treasured its minute fragment of truth.
So from an early age her father’s enthusiastic adulation had filled Shani with a very sure sense of her self-worth. A supremely confident, intelligent and outgoing young girl, Shani had no problem making friends. But she also had no problem in assessing and casting her critical personal judgement on others. At times there was a coldness in her, a bitter resentfulness that came upon her for no reason. She had no trouble rationalising the cutting remarks and sarcastic tone whenever a boy, working up the gumption to speak to her, approached her in the street. She had no problem ruthlessly shooting down any unwanted advances. But she found it impossible to explain this kind of hurtful behaviour when it manifested itself in the school yard or amongst her peers and her closest friends were the ones stung by her withering comments.

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