Pushing Gods Out

Shanti is married into a clan of human gods. There is her husband Rampal (Keeper
of Rama), his parents Ramdas (Servitor of Rama) and Rampyari (Beloved of Rama),
as also his brother Ramprasad (Gift of Rama) and others. For the partial namesakes
to fulfil the purpose of their being, they must have Rama, and they are waiting for
Shanti’s womb to deliver him. As part of preparations, the family consults a priest,
who enters with his Encyclopaedia of Superstitions.


‘‘The male child is the cradle of civilization,’ the pundit announced. ‘Without a boy, the
family is doomed, since there is no one to carry forward the name. A cradle must be
made. Yes, a cradle, handmade by the father who desires to see it filled. And he
must rock it before the sun comes up and before the sun goes down. This will lead
any malefic powers astray and deceive them into believing the baby is already born,
and there is little they can do to harm it now. And when Shanti is enceinte, the ruse
must be continued. A pair of Rampal’s pants is to be hung near the cradle. This way,
the evil sprites will not dare come near and replace the baby with a changeling.’ The
pundit paused.


But it is not just the men preparing for the coming of their Rama, Shanti too is waiting:


He will come, she thought. Her Rama would come. And before all the necessary
good he would perform in the world; he would be her personal saviour. Sita, his
consort one day, would have to wait. Shanti would be the first in line. Rama would
always choose her before any other woman. She would nurture him with the milk in
her breasts; look after him while he slept, keeping away all evil. She would even
strike him if he did not do her bidding. He would have to see that other men had been
cruel to her, vile and unfair, and that he must be different. He would take note that
society has given her little while taking her everything. And if need be, he would go
against its very grain to protect her and bring to her the honour that had been denied
her.
He would avenge her against other men and bring their heads on pikes if that be her
wish. At last, she would be the Queen, and he her Prince-Minister-Viceroy. He would
be her servitor. She would develop the strongest of umbilical cords to nourish him,
and feed him with not just the food of her body, but also her thoughts. He would
come into the world with thoughts precisely like hers. They would be soulmates,
made from the same flesh, the same blood, with a common mission to liberate her.
So far, her body had been a cage, but he would grow safely inside it. She would keep
him there till he had developed the wings to fly out and liberate her from the worldly
cage that imprisoned her. The umbilical cord would be clamped and cut, and blood
would be spilled, but it mattered little, for she would create another one – tangible to
her though intangible to the others – and the two would be inseparable. He would be
the last piece of her bodily puzzle, and when he left her empty to come into this
world, he would fill that void with his service and devotion. He would be the second
and last man in her life. The first was required to provide the seed for the garden of
her body. Now, the soil of her soul would nourish the seed into an elegant sapling
and then a sturdy banyan tree. No matter the height and breadth he may reach, his
roots would always be in her.

Such can be the resolve of a mother.


The family decides that Shanti must deliver outside the sphere of modern medical
practices, and inside the home. Modern doctors and nurses are too mechanical in
their work, and with the use of anaesthetics and their strangely carved tools, the
mother cannot experience the painful ecstasy of childbirth the way nature has
ordained.


The thought that she would have to form a sac in real life and put her child in it,
saddened Shanti deeply. But it must be done, she told herself. She reconsidered her
other weapons, and once again, her mind latched itself to the umbilical cord, the
intangible one, which she would create once her Rama was delivered. But would that
be enough? The question presented itself for the nth time. When the mind asks
endless questions without receiving any concrete answers, it starts attacking the
body. It was either that or Shanti’s water had broken.


When it is finally time to push her Rama out, Shanti is no longer sure if she wants to
carry on with her plan. There are too many risks. Shanti does not want to play men’s
game. She would not only be risking her own life but also of her Rama’s. But perhaps
it is too late. Her body has stopped listening to her mind. When Shanti’s sister-in-law
puts her hands on her stomach to induce crowning, Shanti places her own at the
bottom to keep the baby from coming out. There are loud cries. The women panic.
Shanti’s mother-in-law thinks that she is possessed by the devil. Hearing all this
noise, Rampal enters the room and notices blood in the basin. He asks his mother if
it was normal.


‘What are you doing, bewakuf aurat, stupid woman? Why are you preventing him?’
Rampal forcefully removed her hands.


The carnival of birth was finally over. The inability to decide whether it was Rama
who had let her down or the other way around, had left Shanti devastated. How did
one discern the outcome of a war when no participant won? Rampal had lost
because he didn’t get a chance to play a role in the war; he was supposed to wait for
the boy to grow up before he could even begin. The pundit had lost because his
religion of science had failed him. Shanti had lost because she realized that the
nature of her body was stronger, more powerful, than the nature of her mind. She
had wished to keep the boy inside, but her body wanted to play differently. The same
body that provided her with the powerful tools to create, preserve, and deliver life,
had taken a morbid revenge on her. By misusing the navel string as a means to
strangle her Rama, it had given a different meaning to the life-enriching vessel.
‘My own body,’ she cried to herself wordlessly, ‘my very own body wouldn’t do my
bidding. I am its conductor, but I cannot direct the way. I feed it, but it has
regurgitated only disloyalty. I clean it, but it has come out unclean. How could I then
be sure if my flesh had torn and become Rama, he would have done what I asked of
him? Just a few minutes ago, he was well and alive within me. And that was where I
wanted him to stay – inside me. But no, my body has a mind of its own, and it is full
of ambiguous intentions. It refuted the idea that my precious Rama would have been
safer inside me than in this world, where he would start off as a pawn, and perhaps

with the right tutelage under a worthy minister, become the great king’s guard,
fighting his battles and protecting his honour. And men also achieve greatness when
they sacrifice for the common good, which none can define and none can agree upon
unanimously. But this rule is for men alone. A woman’s greatness, on the other hand,
comes largely from sacrificing herself. Here I am, son-less, yet alive, while my body
has strangulated a part of itself. Was it me who killed my Rama? Did I tie the knot
around his neck? It was me who wanted to create another cord after this one was
cut, I confess. But my body did not permit it. It did not think it right to let me carry out
my plan. Yet my plan was honourable! It was. I merely wanted to be happy with my
chains.’

f
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Debashis Biswas

With more than 15 years of experience in book sales and distribution, Debashis currently oversees Leadstart’s business activities in eastern India and neighbouring countries. He has previously worked with several leading book publishers and distributors.

Walid Jalal

Walid has 7 years experience in online listing & marketing Working in SEO firm & Publishing sector. He worked in a Restaurant as a Manager in Sharjah for two years. He loves cricket & cooking.

Jayati Sarkar

Jayati has been into literature studies and has pursued her Mphil in Australian Aboriginal Poetry from the University of Calcutta. She is an avid reader and her love for books has brought her to the field of Publishing. For years she has explored the other side of the book as a reader and now she works with Leadstart as the Senior Executive in the Editorial Department. Her work profile includes working closely with Authors, managing the projects from end to end and also working with national and international publishers for management of Secondary Rights.

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Ashwini has about a decade’s experience in design. She is a Master of Commercial Art, who has worked in the publishing and advertising sectors as a visualiser & designer. She was judged as the third best in the state, when she finished her foundation course in applied art. She is a practicing calligrapher in Modi Lipi (a script in the Marathi language) and is a Rangoli artist who has won several accolades in those domains. During the popular Ganesh Chaturthi festival, several idols of Ganesha in varying sizes get made, one the most important finishing touches to the idol is that of painting the eyes, which Ashwini has practiced to perfection and does it for hundreds of idols every year. In addition to the above, she is also a trained classical dancer, a national level Kabaddi player and loves cooking.

Ananya Subramanian

Graduation in journalism and love for books, led Ananya to take up a career in publishing. With her experience in the field, she has come to believe more and more in the power of stories and the people who tell them. She is a vegan and an animal-lover; and loves to dance, tend to her pet plants and often find solace in solo travelling.

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Mahendra Rawat

With more than a decade’s experience in book sales and distribution, Mahendra comes from a family immersed in the book trade. He worked with several book distributors and publishers before his current assignment with Leadstart.

RAJESH KRISHNAN

With more than 15 years of experience in book sales and distribution, Debashis currently oversees Leadstart’s business activities in eastern India and neighbouring countries. He has previously worked with several leading book publishers and distributors.

Rajesh Krishnan

Rajesh comes with over 3 decades of experience spread over various business domains. He oversees Leadstart’s business development & sales across southern & western India, Sri Lanka and Middle-East. His hobbies include dancing, trekking and travelling

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Bhavika Bharambe

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Preeti Chib

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Malini Nair

Malini is passionate about Literature and Business Management. After her MBA (Marketing) from St. Xavier’s, she took up roles that involved sales, marketing, costing, MIS etc. in multiple sectors like Banking, Insurance, E-broking, and even the Steel industry. Eventually, her passion for languages and books compelled her to re-route her career to literature. This led to a career break and a Masters Degree in English Literature; post which she took up a role at Wordit CDE & Leadstart, enabling her to work towards both her passions.

Chandralekha Maitra

With two decades of experience as a book publishing professional, Chandralekha began her career as a features writer and columnist, working with publications across India, before moving into book publishing full time, with India Book House. She received her training in editorial title management from Book House, London. Over the years she has worked with some of the finest publishing houses in India and overseas, and across genres and markets. She has also worked with Osian’s-Connoisseurs of Art, India’s first auction house, gaining in-depth exposure to research and publishing in the fine arts-antiquities-cultural heritage genres. Additionally she has had a parallel, specialist career in Human Resources, working at Group HR, Tata Group, among others. She continues to write, train and mentor in this domain as her publishing commitments allow.

Raj Supe

Aka Kinkar Vishwashreyananda, Raj Supe is a poet, storyteller and novelist, as well as a seeker and devotee of Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath. An MBA by education, his career spanned advertising, research and creative consulting, before devoting his time to literature and spirituality. His works include Three No Trumps (novel), Sagarika Anusagarika [Echoes of Nine Rivers] (poetry), Pilgrim of the Sky (spiritual memoir), and translations of religious texts such as Cloudburst of A Thousand Suns and Jai Jai Ram Krishna Hari. He has also worked on film scripts with Ram Gopal Verma and Ashutosh Gowariker, and on plays with Makarand Deshpande.

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An alumnus of IIT Kanpur, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Stanford University, Dr Nanda is also a National Science Talent Search Scholar. He holds five Patents and is a published author of 50 national and 52 international research papers.

Swarup Nanda

Swarup has over a decade and half’s experience in multiple business domains related to content. Prior to his entrepreneurial ventures, he has worked with a couple of MNCs in the media space. His passion for literature and books is his motivation for building Leadstart.