Micchami Dukkadam

Ashish hailed from a wealthy Jain family and Meera from a middle-class south Indian family. They met when they were studying in college and instantly fell in love. Ashish’s parents, especially his mother, were not keen on this relationship due to their status, but Ashish’s stubbornness left them with no choice but to approve. On the other hand, Meera's parents never objected to their relationship but expressed concern for Meera's well-being. Ashish and Meera finally tied the knot immediately after completing their graduation. The initial days were tough for Meera as she adjusted to a North Indian family, but she adapted and changed her lifestyle, food habits, and routine with a smile. However, her mother-in-law never showered love on Meera; she found faults in everything Meera did. Despite this, Meera neither raised her voice nor gave back answers. She always followed her mother-in-law's instructions. Meera also tried her best to bring harmony and peace to their relationship. A year and a half later, Meera succeeded in doing so. It was the Paryushan time, a significant yearly religious occasion observed by Jains in August.  Paryushan concludes with a festival called Kshamavani on Ashwin Krishna Ekam, also known as Forgiveness Day. On this day, Jain followers seek forgiveness from one another for known and unknown mistakes. Meera's sincerity and compassion touched Ashish's mother deeply. She decided to acknowledge her wrongdoing and seek forgiveness from her daughter-in-law. She first invited Meera’s parents to her home. She then held Meera's hand in front of the entire family and said, “Meera, please forgive me for whatever trouble I have caused you. Despite my misbehaviour, you never raised your voice and took good care of me like a daughter. I am really sorry.” Upon hearing this, Meera's eyes became moist. She replied, “Maa, please don’t say that. You are a gem, maa, and I consider myself fortunate to be your daughter-in-law. Let us begin anew and leave all the bitter experiences behind.”   The entire family clapped, and the room filled with laughter and happiness. Meera’s parents also heaved a sigh of relief. The holy festival acted as a catalyst, strengthening the bond between them. Two years later, Meera and Ashish welcomed their twins into the world. The family’s happiness knew no bounds. They named their children Raman and Radha. The children embarked on a journey surrounded by luxury and love not only from their parents but their grandparents as well. As the kids grew, they showcased their talents in various fields, like sports, music and languages.  Their musical prowess, in particular, stood out. Raman and Radha excelled in singing, capturing the family's attention and, more importantly, their music teacher, Parvati. However, destiny had a different plan for the siblings. Teacher Parvati showered love and attention on both the children. However, Radha often felt that their teacher never recognized her work and discriminated between her and Raman.  Call it fear or overconfidence, Radha rarely won competitions, while Raman was way ahead of her. Raman uploaded videos on social media and gained recognition and applause, further boosting his enthusiasm. Radha, though equally talented, lacked the recognition she craved. Her parents, Ashish and Meera, recognized her efforts, encouraging her to pursue her dreams. She continued to pour her heart and soul into music. Yet, the absence of appreciation dampened her morale and initiated the growth of discontent within Radha's heart. Radha's journey became an internal battle. She strived to make her mark in the world of music, but success seemed elusive. The distance between Raman and Radha grew with time, and eventually, the seeds of jealousy started to sprout.   The growing tension between Raman and Radha was evident. The siblings, once inseparable, were now drifting apart. Sensing the brewing conflict, their parents felt helpless. The parents consoled themselves and thought this was a temporary phase and would pass. But they soon realized they were wrong. Raman and Radha now often fought and argued even on trivial matters. Both changed their divisions in school and whenever their eyes met, they would change paths. Radha decided to switch to a new music teacher who was young and dynamic. Even at home, they chose not to engage in conversation with each other. One day, Meera decided to talk to Radha in an attempt to understand the actual problem. Sitting in Radha's room, surrounded by musical notes and instruments, Meera gently broached the subject. "Radha, my dear, I can sense something has been bothering you for a long. You can share it with me. Maybe I can help you resolve your issues." Meera said, her eyes reflecting concern. Radha hesitated at first, but feeling the warmth of her mother's embrace, she opened up. She spoke about the constant comparison with Raman and the love he receives from everyone. Meera listened attentively, realizing the burden her daughter had been carrying.  She hugged Radha tightly and replied, “Radha, you and Raman are incredibly talented in your own ways. Your journey maybe different, but that doesn't imply that you are inferior to anyone. As parents, we are proud of you both."   Reluctantly, Radha nodded her head. Meera gently caressed her hair, smiled and closed the room behind her, hoping things would soon improve. One day, Ashish learned about a live concert through a friend scheduled to take place in a renowned auditorium in Mumbai. The venue was huge, capable of accommodating up to 1000 people. Many famous personalities from the music industry often came there to perform shows. Ashish felt that this was a great opportunity. Moreover, merely gracing that stage was a significant milestone. Ashish envisioned having his children perform there, hoping that the shared experience might bring them closer once again. Leveraging his connections, he secured a spot for them in the concert. Initially, Raman and Radha refused to share the stage but later agreed as they didn’t want to miss this golden opportunity.  On the day of the concert, the siblings and their music teachers arrived at the venue on time.  When the teachers locked their gazes, they were surprised to see each other.  “Hello, Parvati miss, glad to see you after ages.” Radha’s teacher, Shilpa, expressed. “Oh, is that you, Shilpa?” Parvati asked in surprise. “Yes, Miss. It’s me. I am so happy to see you and, above all, to share this stage with you.” Shilpa said with a wide smile on her face. Both the siblings looked at each other and then gazed at their teachers. The expression 'what’s going on’ was clearly visible on their faces. “Teacher, how do you know Shilpa miss?” Raman asked "Raman, she was my student years back," Parvati replied, then asked him to get ready for the concert. When Raman realized that he was learning music from a Guru who also happened to be his sister's teacher's Guru, his heart leapt with happiness. However, Radha paid no attention to it, focusing instead on the concert and her performance. There were five more participants from different cities. The programme began on time. One by one, the singers came on the stage and started performing. Each one performed solo and also in pairs. The entire hall filled with applause with every song.  The singer's voice carried the emotional depth of the lyrics, turning them into beautiful melodies. The Flute, Drums, Guitar, Sitar, Santoor, Tabla, and Mridangam all transported the audience to a world of imagination. After the performance of one of the singers, the host came on stage and announced, “Now the next one is a duet by Raman and Radha.”  The audience greeted them with a round of applause. The duet they performed left the audience in awe, and in unison, they shouted, "once more, once more." The cheers continued for almost three to four minutes. Both teachers felt immense pride in their students. The host came back again on stage and silenced the crowd. “Now we present our last song by Radha Jain.” She announced and went backstage. When Radha performed her solo song, her voice and pitch mesmerized the audience, and she received a standing ovation.   Standing behind the curtain, Raman felt a sense of happiness and silently applauded his sister. When Radha’s eyes fell on his gesture, she gave Raman a sharp look and left. "Why were you so rude and displayed an attitude towards Raman when he smiled at you, acknowledging your win? After all, he also won the duet with you. Wasn't this a healthy competition? Radha, I didn’t expect this from you. By the way, do you know Raman? Shilpa asked. With her head down, Radha answered, "Raman is my twin brother."  “Oh, really? No wonder your duet performance was so powerful. When did you rehearse with him? At home, Right? I absolutely loved this surprise, Radha,” Shilpa said and smiled.  “Ok. Tell me one thing. Why did you choose me to teach you music when you already had a teacher who guides your brother?” Shilpa asked in surprise. “I don’t like my brother because he always receives all the appreciation and likes from everyone, including his teacher. She was my Guru, too, but she always favoured Raman and scolded me often. Despite my best efforts, she made comparisons between us. Is that right, Shilpa teacher?” Radha asked, her anger evident in her voice. “I think there is some misunderstanding and….”  Before Shilpa could complete her sentence, Radha interrupted her and said firmly, "No, there is no misunderstanding. Raman does not want to see me climb the ladder." Upon hearing this, Shilpa was shocked and decided not to take the topic ahead at the moment. “Ok. Calm down now,” Shilpa said. “Do you know Raman’s teacher, mam?” Radha asked innocently. "Yes, but it's pointless talking to you now," Shilpa replied, and throughout the journey, both remained silent until they reached home. Shilpa's words echoed in Radha's ears, and she wondered why her teacher didn't answer the question about knowing Raman's teacher. Soon, she calmed her mind, took a sip of hot water, part of her daily routine, and went to sleep. The following day, when Radha met Shilpa, she said, "Teacher, you didn’t answer my question from yesterday. I am waiting for your reply." Shilpa knew what Radha was talking about. She cleared her throat and answered. “I have known her for decades as she was my guru, too. I started my music and singing journey right from age three, and my guru was with me throughout. Like you, I was also confident about my work and took things easy, but Miss Parvati looked at it as overconfidence. She scolded me often, and I misunderstood her then. But when I realized her intentions behind her scoldings, I changed my point of view and attitude. She does not like her students taking things lightly or being overconfident about something.” Radha stood in silence, absorbing Shilpa's explanation about Parvati teacher. "Alright, now that you have all the answers, shall we start our next lesson today and do some practice? Also, I have good news to share with you after our class." Shilpa announced, bringing Radha back from her thoughts. "Yes, sure teacher," Radha said, eager to begin their next lesson and curious to know the good news after the class. After winding up the practice session, as promised, Shilpa shared the good news.  “Radha, do you remember, some days ago, you had given an audition for a reality show called Kaun Banega Sangeet Ka Shehansha?" They have selected you, and you are one of the top twenty-five. “What?? Really, mam, or is this some dream?” Radha asked and pinched herself to check if the news that she heard just now was real.  Ouch! Radha expressed and jumped with joy like a kid. When she returned home and shared the news with her family, Raman congratulated her, and her parents wished her luck.  “Beta, will you not congratulate your brother? He has also been selected.” Ashish said. “Oh, ok. Congratulations, Raman.” She said without any excitement or joy. Finally, the day arrived. Family members, teachers, relatives and friends all felt proud of Radha and Raman. They sat in front of the television and enjoyed the musical programme. The competition was getting tougher and tougher with every passing week. The weekly elimination round added an extra layer of suspense, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats. Soon, weeks turned into months, and ten out of twenty-five participants got eliminated from the show. Now, the top fifteen competed with each other. In the subsequent weeks, the number reduced further, leaving only six contestants. Radha and Raman were among them. In addition to the judge's scores, the audience poll also began. These six participants received votes from their loved ones and fans from all over the country.  The upcoming weeks were crucial as each contestant exerted themselves to excel, making it challenging for the judges to choose the top three out of six. Based on the judge's marks and public votes, the judges ultimately chose the top three of the season. On learning that their children had made it to the top three, the Jain family was overjoyed and on cloud nine.   Based upon the audience poll and judge's scores, Radha and Raman’s scores were equal, one more hurdle for the judges to select the winner. After a brief discussion, the judges decided to have a final round where the two would perform again.  The performance blew their mind. One of the judges said, “The results are out, and the winner is RA … Let's see if you can guess the next alphabet?” Shouts erupted from the crowd, with some voices calling out 'M' and others 'D.' The suspense heightened, and Raman and Radha could feel their hearts racing. They looked at one another, then back to the judges, waiting for the decision with bated breath. “Ok, let me end the suspense,” another judge said. All three judges stood up from their seats and declared in unison, “The winner tonight of this season is Radha and Raman. This is the first time we have declared two winners due to their outstanding scores. Congratulations, both of you.”    The two received a beautiful trophy and a cheque of ten lakhs each. The host invited Miss Parvati and Shilpa on stage to hand over the trophy and cheque. This, for the Gurus, was the greatest Gurudakshina.  After the award distribution ceremony, all four stepped down from the stage. "Congratulations once again, dear Radha. I know you are angry with me, but trust me, I never discriminated between you and Raman. Yes, I was a little harsh with you because you were overconfident and taking things lightly, which could lead to your downfall. You can experience either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. I left the choice up to you, and here's the result," Miss Parvati said and smiled. "Many times, what you perceive as demotivation becomes the greatest motivation," Shilpa said, agreeing with her guru's words. Radha felt ashamed of her behaviour.  Two months later…. It was the holy month of August, and the Jain family gathered to celebrate the Kshamavani festival like every year. Radha didn’t want to miss this opportunity, so she invited both the gurus to her home. Following her grandmother's example, Radha apologized to her teachers and fell on their feet for their blessings. She then turned to her brother, Raman, and with tears in her eyes, said, “I am sorry, bro. I shouldn’t have felt jealous nor behaved with you rudely.” “It’s ok, dear sister. Forgiveness and understanding can mend the deepest of wounds. Now smile and forget everything else. We are incomplete without each other.” Raman wiped her tears and hugged her tightly. The journey of forgiveness taught Raman and Radha valuable life lessons. Author’s note: Ashish and Meera – Parents Raman and Radha - Siblings Parvati- Raman’s music teacher Shilpa – Radha’s music teacher Micchami means Forgive  Dukkadam means mistake Kshamavani (Sanskrit word for forgiveness)   Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!