I had begun by sharing a short story. You know, I have decided - I'll mark every year by sharing a short story.
This story dates back to my high school days. Back then, summer hols meant visiting grand parents - going to native place :) One corner of the attic in my maternal grand-parents' place was (probably, still is!) reserved for dumping old books and magazines. On some afternoons, this would be my time-pass haven.
If it was the jokes that lured me to the college mags, it was the articles and features in English mags like The Illustrated Weekly of India, the short stories in Kannada mags,.... I read this story in Sudha, a mag that has launched so many Kannada writers, and, a mag that is still around :)
The story, then ...
Here's Parvati, waiting for her husband, Shankar, a Yakshagana artiste, to come home.
Now, Yakshagana is one of the few surviving folk arts of Karnataka - characterised by elaborate costumes, drumbeats, music, impromptu dialogues & dancing. Touring companies of artistes play out stories from the mythology and the epics. Like most other Indian folk arts, the female characters are portrayed by men. Yakshagana is traditionally played out in the open air. Come rains, and the artistes go back to their homesteads.
Well! Let's return to Parvati.... all excited, because, she's learnt something new at the village well. Shankar's troupe will be winding up for the season at home ground - with the story of Mohini - Bhasmasura. That means, Shankar, who specialises in playing female characters will be the lead! Parvati has never seen her husband on stage. She is very eager to... she has heard everyone praise his performances and it makes her feel so privileged - to be the wife of a much admired man. She can't wait to see Mohini - Bhasmasura - the story of the seductress who tricks the demon into killing himself.
At last! D-day arrives and, dressed in her best, Parvati goes to the show with her friends. As the story progresses, her husband's effeminate act makes Parvati quite uneasy. Relieved when the story ends, a very disturbed Parvati goes home amidst bantering & teasing from her friends. Shankar follows after some time, minus all the make-up and as Parvati knew him. But, she finds it impossible to delete the Mohini act out of her mind. Unable to physically relate to Shankar and depressed by it, Parvati kills herself :(
..... A sad story :( Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the author of this story - a woman, perhaps?
You know, I think, it is unfortunate that unusual stories like this one have a limited reach - thanks to their regionalised themes.