“Kasyam maranam mukti” means dying in the holy land of Kashi leads to liberation. A belief as old as the kashi city itself, probably hundreds of years. It’s a city which symbolises the circle of human life. birth, life and death…..
Her father named her Rashi as she was the first girl born in their family after five generations. Kashi’s father was a Brahmin and a staunch devotee of lord ram. She was the apple of his eyes. In fact, everyone loved her in her family especially her chacha ram Mohan Chaturvedi. He was the only member of the family who completed graduation & took up a job. Kashi’s father was dead against this decision. The matter worsened when chacha married a girl from another caste who was his colleague. From that day, chacha started living separately with his family.But he always kept in touch with Kashi.He loved her as his own daughter, although its a different case that he didn’t have a child of his own.
“why can’t I study further,” asked Kashi.
“samjha kuch apni ladli ko kashi ki ma” scoffed her father “ladki jaat ko ye sab shobha nahi deta . Uska dharma vivah or vivah ke baad apne pati or parivar ki seva karna hai “
“sahi toh keh rahey hai tere pita. College pura kar liya. Biradari ki sabse padi likhi ladki hai. Or phir aaisa rishta roz roz toh nahi aata”said ma.
” Par ma kya ladki ka dharm sirf vivah or pati or parivar hi hai .Kya mai apne jeevan ke faisley khud nahi le sakti .Mujhe padhna hai . Or phir principle sir bhi toh keh rahey they ki agar mai dhyan se padhu toh civil services mai bhi chance hai mera “
“KASHI, khabardaar ko ab kuch or boli toh . Aaj se do mahiney baad teri shadi hogi…..bas yahi aakhri faisla hai mera” snapped her father n rushed out of the room .
The “final” decision was not acceptable to her. She decided what she wanted to do.She picked up few of her clothes, some books & left a note for her parents.
Pandit Chaturvedi was burning with anger.
“who ladki mere liye mar chuki hai. Or mera apne chota bhai usne ussey sharan di hai. Ussey bhi mai sare natey todta hu “. No one dared to reason with him.
Many years passed.Kashi cleared her exams and went on to become first SDM from her region. Her picture appeared in all local newspapers. Her mother saw her picture and kept a cutting in her old cupboard. She couldn’t dare to show it to her husband or any other family member.
Kashi was receiving wished from all her friends & teachers. Many people known to his chacha came too to congratulate her on her success. But she wasn’t as happy as she should be. She worked hard for so many days n months for this, but when the success finally embraced her, she couldn’t enjoy it. She was missing her parents.
Some more years passed. She attempted to contact her parents many times but in vain. Although she heard that now her parents don’t leave their paternal house. Her brothers have thrown them out because of some property disputes. They leave in an old age home which once was funded by his father.
She couldn’t bear it anymore. She was a lament to face her parents, whether they choose to accept her or not didn’t matter. She went back to Kashi. Her heart was filled with so many emotions. She was anxious, nervous at the same time the excitement of meeting her parents after so many years kept her on edge.
“bitiya panditji toh pechle saal hi yaha se chale gaye .” said the old caretaker.
” par kaha kaka. wo toh ma ke saath yahi rehne lage they na ” said a surprised kashi
” ab kya batau bitiya . Tumhare bhaiyo ko woh bhi manjur nahi tha . Kehne lage unka naam kharab hota hai .BIchare pandit ji or dulhan kaha hai pata nahi ” sighed the caretaker.
“ab mai kya karu .Kaha dundu unhe ” kashi”s mind stopped responding. She returned to Allahabad broken and grieved.
One day she was sitting in her office, working on some case. her peon entered.
“madam aapse koi milna chahtey hai “
“kon hai badri “
“kehte hai kuch purana faisla hai .Apse theek karana hai “
She couldn’t understand what badri was saying, still decided to see the visitors.
An old couple entered her office .
“ma, babu aap “she jumped out of her chair
“ye aapko kya ho gaya” they were hardly recognisable. Old clothes, unkempt hair, fragile body.A far cry from their illustrious past.
“Bitiya, sab karmo ka natija hai. Log apne aakhri samay mai kashi jatey hai mukti pane . Mai apni ‘KASHI’ ke pass aaya hu ….mujhe mukti de de meri bachi .” tears started rolling out. No one in the room said anything for next few minutes. Eyes were doing all the talking & tears were washing all the wounds..
A year later, kashi was standing on manikarnika ghat, the place where aatma attain ‘moksha’. She was holding a burning torch.Some 11 pandits were chanting shloks at the back. All the people who knew panditji came to pay their last homage. Her brothers were standing on her left with respective families. On her right some police officers and constable following the regular protocol.
She moved ahead & lit his father’s pyre as per his last wish.HUndreds of people gathered around to witness the first ever cremation done by a girl.An age old adage broke, yet no one was complaining !!!!!!
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Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself