ISBN to be allotted
Krishnaveni is the Godsister in this unputdownable thrilling page-turner. A young girl from the shanty slums of Virudunagar in South India, Krishnaveni is a cute girl, with long black hair and large soulful eyes. Left to herself she would have been quite happy to be an average schoolgirl and then leading an average normal life led by millions like her in India, but fortunes and fates have entirely different plans for her.
Forced to commit a murder at the age of seven. Raped at fourteen and pushed into prostitution thereafter. A terrorist’s moll at seventeen, and a hardcore terrorist herself at eighteen. On return to Madras at the age of twenty, Krishnaveni embarks on a life of crime. From a bordello operative to owning wine shops. From organized usury to gambling syndicates. From gangs, extortions, real estate deals and construction. Krishnaveni’s fortunes travel through a tortuous path, which eventually makes her Akka; the Godsister!
India’s master storyteller Dr L.Prakash has narrated in his own inimitable way, a saga which would probably be the biggest novel published in English language!
Excerpts from the beginning of the book for your reading pleasure. Matter copyrighted. (C) Dr L.Prakash. For permission to copy for review, or other uses, please email the author at [email protected]
Krishna is probably the most beloved and affectionate God in Hindu mythology. Krishna in Sanskrit means black or dark. Lord Krishna was extremely dark complexioned and called thus. Veni is a Tamil word which means tresses or hair. Krishnaveni would thus mean black–tresses, with seven year old Krishnaveni had in abundance. At seven, she was in an awkward age. She had developed a sudden growth spurt and had rapidly outgrown her clothes. She now appeared skin and bones. The only redeeming feature of course were her eyes. These were large, dark and soulful. They had a capacity to look at you searchingly and peer deep down into your heart and make you feel guilty of all your sins.
No wonder Pichaiamma avoided looking at her daughter’s face especially when she returned home after doing some hanky panky as she slyly tucked the folded currency notes into her blouse. Pichaiamma could be literally translated as mother of beggars. An awkward name if any, but she had been named thus on an astrologer’s advice who told Pichai’s parents that their next child would progress to full term only if they named her something obnoxious like a dustbin or shit-pile. Yes! Tamil Nadu still has people named Kuppan or Kuppamma. After six miscarriages and still births, the distraught couple was willing to promise absolutely anything. A promise was thus made to the Goddess Kali that if it was a boy he would be Kuppan – shit-pile. If it was a girl then she would be named Pichai beggeress.
Getting back to our main story, Pichaiamma was always wary of her daughter’s soulful eyes which seemed to know all her shameful secrets. But Pichaiamma was helpless. She was neither flirt nor a nymphomaniac. What she did was because of need. Krishnaveni and Pichaiamma stayed in a single room tin shanty in MGR colony in Virudunagar town, which was a medium sized place in south India between Madurai and Kovilpatti.
Pichai had a job but it was not permanent. She was employed as a roller of fire crackers in a fireworks factory in nearby Shivakasi. This job kept her gainfully employed from the months of March to September. From October to February was a lean season, and like most casual laborers Pichai too was devoid of a job. The cracker factory paid decent wages and thus the earnings during this period could stretch almost to the breaking point. But when she faced a sudden emergency, as she had this year, Pichai would exhaust all her savings by January itself.
During these times, she had to fall back on to the world’s second eldest profession and while she returned from her trysts, had a quickly shift her eyes, least her daughter was able to peer into the innermost depths of her soul. On that day Pichai’s needs had been extremely urgent, because the next day was the first Wednesday of the month.
2. Oldest and second oldest professions
Before we go on to why the first Wednesday of each month is quite important for Krishnaveni and Pichaiamma, we are going to digress a little and offer appropriate explanations about the world’s second oldest profession. This has nothing to do with the main story and those of you who are curious about the large eyed girl, her loose moraled mother or the importance of the first Wednesdays of each month, are advised to jump to the next chapter. This is a technical chapter and like many more to come, would educate in an entertaining way. You would never feel that knowledge is being rammed down your throat, because it would be coated by an interesting story.
A profession is defined in the dictionary as engagement in an activity on payment. The world’s oldest profession was religion and the second oldest profession sex. The primitive man, who lived in groups, probably lived in an atmosphere of camaraderie and the strong helped the weak. There was no concept of work or payment. Everything was hunted or gathered, and shared on principles of might is right. The lame disabled got their share on grounds of compassion. And then came the shaman or the mystic man, religious Guru, soothsayer, priest or mystic. This was the first man who engaged in a profession. He sold his wits for gain. He instilled the fear of God into his fellow men and extracted his taxes.
Over a period of time, religion stabilized itself as an honorable and extremely remunerative profession and in our modern days probably is the most lucrative profession in existence. There are a few who would contradict me on this point of being lucrative, none would disagree with me that religion is the oldest profession known to mankind.
Then came the next profession. Nature had intended sex to be pleasurable for of it were not, the species would not procreate and peter off. The moment the female of the species learnt the art to trade sexual favors for profit, the second oldest profession of prostitution was born. Certain vicarious social psychologists even label marriage as a legally accepted prostitution, in which the weaker female of the species trades her body for comfort, protection and company, but I do not subscribe to this view.
Now getting back to the story, Pichai was a part time prostitute who turned a quick trick during emergencies. If the venue of the tryst happened to be their shanty, Krishnaveni would be sent away. Else the mother would go to the customer’s house. She had done that on that day, and hastily shifted her eyes, when she came face to face with her daughter. But she could not help it as she had no other way. The next day was the first Wednesday of the month.
3. Mottai Mohan
The first Wednesday of each month was an important day because on that day the mother and daughter would catch the state transport ratty bus to Madurai. The drive took a little over an hour and a half. From Madurai bus stand, they would take a cycle rickshaw to Arasatridi area to Madurai central prison. It was at this place that Krishnaveni’s father was serving a ten years rigorous imprisonment on charges of grievous assault and culpable homicide not amounting to murder; under sections 307 and 304(a) of the Indian penal code.
Mottai Mohan had gone to prison when Krishnaveni was about two years old. He had served about half his sentence and could expert his first parable in a short while. The jail manual provides two days a month to allow friends and relatives to meet convict prisoner, but Pichaiammal could not afford to make more than one visit a month. Mottai Mohan understood and had advised them to come not more than once a month. Occasionally Pichai would be too busy in the cracker factory and give a miss to the monthly visit. All in all, she managed to make about ten visits in a year.
She had carried Krishnaveni when she was young and later the little girl walked behind her mother trying to match her tiny steps to her speed. But last month Krishnaveni had actually led her mother. She would always become cheerful and enthusiastic prior to her prison visits. She doted him and worshiped him.
Mottai in Tamil means “baldie”. Mahesh had a hereditary called adolescent cranial alopecia and by the time he was seventeen, was totally bald. His eyebrows too started thinning though he found that he could grow a beard and moustache. At nineteen, his baldness had become an integral part of him and his name was fixed as Mottai Mohan.
He lived in a poorer section of Virudunagar and was an orphan. He had never shared any information about his parents with his wife. He survived by petty theft and pilferage till his late teens and then suddenly reformed. At least, he was outwardly reformed. No one seemed to know the source of his wealth but while in his twenties Mohan developed a sudden affluence. He had enough money to buy a Shanty in M.G. Ramachandran colony. No documents were signed or receipts given. The goon who sold him the tin and asbestos structure had wanted cash and had shaken Mohan’s hands after he had pocketed the money. This house now belongs to you and your descendants, the goon had assured and the deal was done. The house however was nothing fancy to write home about. A twelve by ten tin shanty in a slum neighborhood with an asbestos roof, Sintex plastic door, and a rough caked earth floor. A small town like Virudunagar had became developed enough to produce its own Shanties.
4. Love at first sight
Virudunagar was basically an industrial, cluttered, town. The nearby Shivakasi was the national fireworks capitals with dozens of units busy producing fire crackers for the festival of Deepavali that came in the month of November – December.
All these industries needed labor and the force was provided by migrant workers from the villages down south, who had found farming too difficult. The arriving migrant workers produced Shanty towns of palm thatch, tin, corrugated asbestos and plastic. Mottai Mohan had purchased one such shanty though no one knew the secret of his sudden affluence. However he proved to be a quiet boy, remained to himself, and caused no trouble to himself and others.
Pichaiamma’s parents had landed in the colony and rented a hut at the edge. The father found work in a saw mill and the mother found temporary work in a firework factory. Seventeen year old Pichaiammal was a dark and dusky girl, whose youth had produced a glow to her body. The mother had sought a job for her in a fireworks factory. The young lass was a point of hot discussion among the youth of the slum, and the parents were worried about the speed with which she was growing. Mottai Mohan too was impressed by her, but unlike other boys who viewed her with lust, he viewed her with love, because he had fallen in love with her, the moment he saw her.
He approached her parents and made an honorable proposition. He wanted to marry their daughter. He told them that he was reasonably financially affluent. He told them that he owned his Shanty rather than living in a rented one. He also told Pichaiamma’s parents that he was an orphan, and did not want any dowry. To the girl’s parents, this was good enough an offer. Serial droughts and crop failures had almost ruined them, and their lands were fully mortgaged to the village money lender forcing them to emigrate to the city. The way things looked, it was high nigh impossible for them to even imagine repaying back the loans and reclaiming their lands. It almost appeared that the compound interest would add up to exceed the value of their mortgaged lands and that the lands would be swallowed by the money lender.
Under such a situation, it looked more than likely that the parents would not be able to arrange adequate dowry for Pichaiammal, who despite her silly and obnoxious name was turning out to be a really pretty maiden with the passage of each day. Pichaiammal too had seen the bald, dark muscular youth gazing at her longingly a couple of times, but had not though too much about him because in her mind, her Prince Charming with whom she hoped to spend the rest of her life was someone entirely different. Mottai Mohan had approached her parents when she was not at home and thus she was unaware of his proposal.
5. Shattered Dreams
For Pichai’s father, it was indeed a god sent opportunity. He was getting a son-in-law, without the need for spending on a dowry which he could ill afford. Though the boy looked a little odd due to his premature baldness, he was otherwise muscular and healthy. He did not boast of a regular job, but seemed to be affluent. Furthermore, he had done the honorable thing to approach the parents for her hand, rather than try to seduce her. The fact that he lived alone and actually owned his Shanty was an added point. When Mottai Mohan left their house, the girl’s father was feeling relieved in a way because he had found a solution to his teenaged daughter who was growing in geometric proportions.
Pichaiamma’s mother however was not too happy with her prospective son-in-law. For one, the premature baldness made him appear much older than his age. Secondly the boy was too dark. As it is, their daughter was fairly dark. Such a union would surely produce coal black and ugly children. But that was not all. The girl’s mother refused to be impressed by the boy’s affluence. Also the fact that the boy had no known source of recurring income, was a matter of serious concern. When Krishnaveni returned home that evening, she saw her parents engrossed in a serious discussion and it took her a while to realize that the talks were concerning her. The Shanty was not big enough for her to go away to another room. All it had was one room, and thus Pichaiammal sat in one corner listening to the discussion among her parents.
The father was extremely persuasive and with a sinking heart, Pichaiammal realized that her mother was also becoming convinced and was finally agreeing to her husband. They even started discussing the wedding date and poor Pichai was shocked. From the repeated use of the word bald, she could get a vague idea about the groom. The jet black well muscled, bald youth who would stare at her like a love sick puppy, when she went to the hand pump to fetch water. Oh! No! Anyone but him! How could she marry him?
But fortune has a way of working its own designs in its own particular way without particularly caring for what the poor affected mortals though or worried about. Pichai’s father was persuasive and gradually the mother saw reason too. There was no point in unnecessarily delaying things. With the passage of time, the daughter was not growing any younger. They did not expect to win a lottery in the near future. They may not quite get an offer for a dowry-less groom like this. Only he who grabs an opportunity at an appropriate time reaps the benefits.
The groom was respectful and servile enough to be an excellent son-in-law. There was no doubt that he would turn out to be a loving and caring husband to their daughter too. Before the evening was over, the parents had decided to say yes to the boy when he returned the next day. With a sinking heart, Pichaiamma saw her glass castle of hopes shatter to a thousand bits!
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