When my sister fell in love with a Gandharvan

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is from the point of view of a small child whose sister falls in love with a heavenly being and has to face the her parents.

Submitted: April 07, 2015

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Submitted: April 07, 2015

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It seemed like every other day for me before I went out to play. It was sunny and hot . Most men were  working in the paddy fields. Motu, my friend and playmate had already thrown three stones and not a single mango had dropped . We gazed longingly at those sweet mangoes comfortably resting on their trees. There was the usual good smell of food in the kitchen around lunchtime and playing in summer had made me hungry. 

When I went back home around lunchtime that's when I knew something was different . All the elders were speaking in hush tones. My mother was crying silently. My father, the head of the house, being the eldest had an angry face. I had seen this face earlier when I had eaten up all the sweets kept for guests when mom was not looking and fed the left overs to the cow Lakshmi. 

This was the face he had, before he beat me 20 times with a stick. I could not Walk for a week after that. Later Amma told me that I had dishonored him in front of the guests. Amma explained that family honor and reputation are the foundations of our tharavadu, our ancestral house.  "He s the head of the house " she explained, "his reputation is my reputation." 

I did hear from a couple of aunts later that the because of my father’s anger people respected and feared him. They were in awe and terrified - just like me.

This time however his anger looked like he would give 100 canes. My dad’s younger brother, Kelu aleppan was whispering in his ear . Somehow the whispering did not help his expression and I saw it getting angry to disgust to a red faced anger . 

I saw savitri chechi brought into the house . Amma went with her to the east side of the house where all the teenage girls live till they are married off .
Savitri chechi is normally brought in to bring babies. When my father’s sister, Leela Ammayi had a round belly she was called and there was a lot of crying. I had wondered if Savitri Chechi had hurt her but after a long time and a lot of crying, I was startled by the shrill cry of a baby. My father who was very worried and pacing around suddenly looked relieved and happy.

Amma explained I had got a new brother. I was so happy then - One more person to play with . But Amma explained I could play with him but he was too small to play with me . 

However, this time my father was tensed, when Savitri Chechi was brought in ,  but in a different mood "Will I have a new brother or sister ? " I had asked Kelu Aleppan. 
"Shhh.. go play outside ."
Kelu Aleppan was never like this . 
 

Everyone was busy and I was hungry. So I went back to the orchard and began climbing the mango tree . That's when I saw Savitri  Chechi  in Chiri  Chechi’s room through the window on the upper floor. Chiri Chechi was my older sister. Her sleeping room window looked over the mango trees.  Chiri  chechi was lying on the bed but I could not see her face, only the back of her head. Savitri  chechi was facing the window and touching the spot between her legs .  Somehow this did not feel right. I stayed hidden between the leaves of a tree.

 

The old Savitri Chechi looked at Amma and began speaking.

I edged closer to the window trying to hear what was being said. Amma already had tears on her face.

"Her cover is intact. Yet she is bearing child ."  Savitri  chechi told Amma ."Your daughter is a Virgin  yet her pulse says she is three months  pregnant. This is a divine Birth – a divyagarbham."

Amma turns sharply to Chiri Chechi . " Has a man ever entered your room in the night ? You stopped talking to girls your age the past few months ."

Chiri Chechi looked at Savitri  Chechi  then Amma and looked down, and nodded .

"Who?"

"He called himself a prince among the gods.. a god among musicians.. he is called Lomadevan"

Both elder women looked at each other shocked . 

"He is the Chief Veena  player in Indra's court . He serves the gods .
Yet the gods need him for their entertainment . We met here by the mango trees and that is when he enchanted me with his music . He showed me visions of heaven . He’s a heavenly entertainer - a gandharvan" she went on.

"You are mad !! " cried my mother . “None from our tharavadu has ever spotted a gandharvan or heard them sing or play.”

I knew she was not mad and this was the truth.

I was closest to Chiri Chechi in the entire family . She was very pretty and had the kindest eyes . We all adored her .

Around two months back she kept to herself in her room. I did not why . And we were not allowed to go to the women’s quarters unless with our mother or sister.

When the elders were sleeping around a week ago I had gone to the mangrove and crept near her window in the night, hoping to talk to her.

That's when I heard this wonderful music from near her room . I saw a light coming from her window and as I crept closer I saw a man dressed in rich clothes and jewels. The light was coming from him . He turned around and it was the most handsome face on a man I ever saw. It must have been the light . I don't remember falling off the tree. I don’t remember sleeping or fainting. In fact, I don’t remember anything after .

When I woke up I was in Chiri  Chechi’s bed . She was looking at me . 
"You swear you would tell none about what you saw . It is our secret ." She held out her hand . 
I did not want to but I promised to keep her secret.

 

"Keep this with you . It is his ring ". Saying so she placed a silver ring on my palm. 
A tiny image of a veena was engraved on it along with some Sanskrit  words I did not know.
 

***
Amma began howling and hitting my sister. She also hit her chest many times. I was really scared. Chiri Chechi was not mad and I knew she was speaking the truth. I remembered the ring and immediately climbed down the tree . The room I slept was in the western wing.

 

I had put the ring in a crack on the floor near the bed. Only my hands were small enough to get through that crack. People with hands smaller than mine would not look there either. Holding the ring in my palm I ran to my father.


"Don't punish her " I said giving the ring to him . " It is a Gandharvan who visited her . She told me stories of meeting him. She is not mad .

My father first looked at me. "You knew and you never told me !!" his loud voice rang across the house . There was a dead silence. I looked around . Scared faces of aunts and uncles looked back at me – scared at what is going to happen next. My father resembled the lone tusker in the jungle – none knew what would happen.  He grabbed the walking stick near the arm chair , and the canings began. Then everything went black.

When I woke up, I first saw the ceiling and then the wooden cupboard . I was wondering where I was. Someone had placed a wet towel on my head. I then remembered I was in my mother’s room. Amma just walked in . 

" Where is Chiri  Chechi ? " I asked her. 
Amma burst into tears . "You will never see your sister again . She is gone .. forever .”

" Where did she go to ?"

Amma sat silent for a while. She could not look at me for long or listen to the silence after my question. She left the room .

 

A little after sunset my father came in . The chirping of the crickets had just begun.
" Your mother told me you asked of your sister. You should never speak of her again . People who bring dishonor would be punished and she was punished too . She is dead to me and she is dead to this entire family. " He fixed his eyes sternly on me. “If you wish to stay in the family, she was never part of this household and it should stay that way.”

Kelu  Aleppan  visited me a little while later . He was happy to see me well ." Your sister is somewhere far away. You don't worry of her I am sure she is happy wherever she is . "  and he took my hand and placed something cold and metallic in it. I looked down. It was the silver ring I had shown my father. Then before I could ask more he turned abruptly . 

I looked at the ring. I remember Grandma telling me stories of Gandharvans marrying pretty girls from Earth. My parents should be happy for her. I hope she found her happiness with the Gandharvan , and he took her to heaven like how she wanted. I could make out the outline of the veena on the ring in the faint light of the full moon and stars coming through the window. As the chirping of the crickets grew louder, I heard the strings of a veena playing, the same tune I heard that night. I smiled looking at the moon. My sister was finally at peace.


© Copyright 2019 Veronica Malhotra. All rights reserved.

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