The Circle of Power

She looked at him with pain and fear in her eyes. He stood above her, holding a frying pan by the handle. She was bleeding from the corner of the mouth, where the edge of the pan had struck her last. She lay cowering in a corner as he began his next bout of assault on her. He was drunk senseless, and all he could see was the weak, helpless being he was bethrothed to... the woman he owned, and not loved. What was she for, if not to satisfy his demands whenever he demanded, or bear his frustrations when he was frustrated, or feed him when he was hungry and leave him alone otherwise? Who cared whether she had problems of her own, she hadn't brought enough happiness from her father's home... she wasn't permitted to have any troubles... and here she was nagging him about getting medicines for the baby. He whacked her again with the pan, slitting her forehead.

As she lay bruised and bleeding on the floor, he saw the simple gold band that proclaimed their wedding vows glinting dully on her finger. He saw the more expensive diamond one on his own finger, the one her father had sold his cow to pay for. His ring was the Circle of Power that night.


He choked with gasps and guttural groans, his face a grotesque mask of terror, his legs kicking wildly at the empty space beneath him. She sat at a distance on the mud floor, calmly watching him hanging by a noose from the hook on the ceiling. A stool stood fallen on the ground below. A short distance away stood her brother, with a nasty expression on his face - one that had anger and satisfaction mingled in a grim smile. She still bore the marks from her husband's assault two weeks back. The scar on her forehead stood out in sharp relief in the dim light of the lantern. As his struggle grew weaker, she looked around her. The TV set,the fridge, the jewellery from their wedding that he had locked up in his cupboard, the money in his bank account and the house.. it would all be hers now, the prerogative of being his wife. She could get a job in the department he had worked in, she knew people there. They would be sympathetic to the plight of the widow whose husband had committed suicide. Friends and family would chip in to help her stand on her own feet.. Being a helpless widow actually helped a lot.

As she looked into his unseeing, bulging eyes and contemplated how he was more a husband to her in death than in life, she looked at the diamond sparkling on his lifeless finger and her own simple ring that promised a new life for her and her baby. Tonight, her ring was the Circle of Power.

The Colour of Love : Blue

The robin soared across the vast blue sky, beating its wings and feeling the wind rush past. Never was any being on earth as free as this bird. It flit left and right, dodged a tree, nipped at a hanging guava, trilled cheerfully at fellow robins in their nests. Its red breast, cocky feathers on top of its head and bright eye shone with the radiance that is the prerogative of the Free.

The robin watched the azure sky turn from light to darkness. It followed Nature's paintbrush, as the Heavens turned from pale blue, to cobalt, to violet and finally to an inky indigo. The robin dozed off happily on its perch, dreaming of its flight tomorrow, when it would touch the clouds again...

The robin woke up, and looked around. Where was the bright sunshine and the crisp morning breeze? Why were there brown woven ropes around it? The robin struggled for flight, but was pulled down by the net. The bird catcher sneered as he watched the robin haplessly flapping its trapped wings, chirping frantically, its eyes wild with terror. As the bird catcher caught it and put it in a cage, the robin looked up for one last look at the vast blue sky that was his home and birthright, the sea of clouds floating lazily, carried along by the wind that blew only in the sky. It beat its wings against the bars, screeched pitifully to be let out of its bonds and set free. The bird catcher pulled a sack on the cage, and all went dark...

The robin saw light again, but it was different. It was yellow, and it was hanging from somewhere above the cage. The robin hopped around in fright, and hit the bars with its wings again. Its wings hurt now from being cramped, and it longed to stretch and flap.

A pair of eyes suddenly came into view. They were peering at him in wonder. And they were the colour of sky. The robin hopped a tiny hop closer to those eyes that seemed to him to be the sky itself. They were big and round and the clear blue of the morning sky. The robin's heart soared as it approached the blueness, its wings spread in anticipation of its long awaited flight.

The little girl, the owner of the big blue eyes, was startled at the robin's approach, and rushed off to hide behind her mother's pallu. She peeked at the robin from behind the safety of her mother's saree. The robin was her new pet, and she had decided to call it Bibs, because she thought the red breast looked like the bibs her mother made her wear while eating.

Bibs was shocked and perplexed. The sky had disappeared suddenly, and it was still within bars. The little girl's father hung the cage on a hook in the balcony, so the robin could have fresh air and plenty of sunshine. The darkness of the night was upon the sky now, and the robin slumped, exhausted...

Everyday, the robin woke with the sunrise, watching its beloved sky turning from indigo to violet to red, the orange flames eating into the blackness, and finally blue. The robin chirruped mournfully, its soul trapped as much as its body behind the cruel bars.

Each day, the robin spent fruitless hours battering its wings against the cage, willing the lock to open and set it free. It watched its fellow robins alighting on a nearby branch, and then taking off into the open. It flapped its wings harder, tearing them, its claws and tiny beak ripping along the iron rods that prevented it from keeping its appointment with the wind and the clouds.

The robin didn't eat, its feathers lost their lustre, its eyes lost their shine. The robin was slowly, but surely, dying from within...

The little girl saw the robin's attempts to escape, and was scared at first. Cautiously, she approached the cage, and would spend hours simply looking at the bird. In her little heart, she could feel the tug of the robin's helplessness, though she didn't quite understand why.

On the day the robin stopped trying, she realised something was wrong. The robin lay listlessly on the floor of the cage, its unseeing eyes staring at a distant point in the sky. It didn't rise even when she touched the cage, but a feeble lift of its wings assured her that there was Life in this robin yet.

The little girl tip-toed to her father's room, climbed a stool and groped with the tips of her fingers for the tiny key that held the cage shut. Her tiny face screwed up in concentration, she stood on her toes to find the elusive key. She finally managed to push it off her father's dressing table and quickly picked it up off the floor.She ran to the verandah, stood on a chair and twisted the key in the tiny keyhole, her fingers slipping and sliding as she struggled to hold the key properly.

The robin saw her eyes, hypnotised by their resemblance to the object of his desire. Innocence and humanity shone from the child's eyes, and the robin gathered hope from their depth. It rose weakly to its legs, took uncertain steps towards the cage door that was suddenly open. It stepped out tentatively, and stood for an unbelieving second at the door that had held it imprisoned for so long.

It shook out its battered wings, gave a tiny wobble and then rose into the air as it flapped its wings. With every beat, the wings became stronger, the old vitality flooding back into them. The robin sang out of pleasure, and the little girl laughed delightedly at its merry song. Never had she seen the robin as happy as it was now. Freedom was its at last, and it rushed to meet the sky again. It soared into the clouds, and flew strongly into the wind. As it suddenly flew into a clearing in the clouds, it remembered the blue-eyed girl who'd returned its freedom. It rushed down to the little girl's balcony, and perched in front of her. As it looked into those blue eyes, it saw in them what it held most precious and dear - it saw a vast and clear blue heaven.

And as into the heavens it flew..
The Colour of its Love was Blue

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