The white bubbles emerged. With increased intensity; few milky drops fell outside. The bubbling ceased as abruptly as it had begun. Milk rushed into her narrow nostrils and she slept peacefully in the creamy atmosphere.
Rama squirmed in bed like a worm. Gaurab initiated his morning rituals, cleaning himself off the debris, her scent. Scrubbing hard, he was reminded of the final touch-ups. Durga Puja was approaching. Ma awaited his creativity.
‘Where is my tiffin? You witch, why are you still lying as if you have done some great work? It’s because of you we have been put through this ordeal, the third time in a row. Have some mercy on me.’
Rama clinched herself out of the charpoi which was her bed in the hovel.
I pray to you Ma, this Durgotsava bring an end to this suffering. May there be justice. The hand that shapes you, kills your form. Where is your verdict, Ma?
Rama could echo her feelings in silence. Somehow, she managed to pack some rice and fish for Gaurab.
As Gaurab reached, the artisans of Kumartauli were working in full swing. Today was the last day. He directly approached his masterpiece. The idol he had been dreaming for months was finally going to be a reality. The perfectly threaded eyebrows, light red tinge on the lips, golden flowers adorned in each hand gave him the much-needed satisfaction. The 5ft tall art piece would be auctioned at a fair price and the rich, bejewelled Ma would smile on this poor artisan.
He spends the entire day working on his goddess. ‘His Goddess’ that’s what he liked to proclaim. By evening his masterpiece was completely ready. The last stroke of black color on the eyebrows made her look elegant as well as aesthetic. He covered her with a pristine, white piece of cloth. Lest the earthy dust offended the heavenly Goddess.
He washed off the paints from the hand, scrubbing hard like he had done this morning.
He turned. Nothing.
The sound terrified him. He turned around to look for any intruder in the workshop. But none. A small wrinkle seemed to have erupted partitioning Ma’s vermilion. The then exuberant Goddess looked wrathful. He stood transfixed again to admire his work.
Crack! Crack!! Crack!!!
He needed to repair it immediately. But Ma wasn’t ready. As he tried mending the crack, the entire idol came crashing down. The entire masterpiece collapsed on him. The debris smothered him. He gasped for breath but failed. The people around rushed to help but it was too late. Rama was called immediately.
She was perplexed at the sight. Had Ma made a verdict? The Goddess he adorned, the masterpiece he waited for years was the reason for the artisan’s death. And what a day to meet such a dreadful end!!! The kalratri came on the day Gaurab had drowned his newborn daughter in milk.
Was this a mere coincidence? A serendipitous encounter for all forms of Ma.
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