They say what's in the name? A lot I say. My name is Mayaputra. My elder sister is Mayaputri and my younger brother is Mayaputra. I take highway Mayamarg-29 and then take the exit Mayamarg-317 everyday to get to my college, Maya college of Science. The huge bridge that I cross on Mayamarg-317 is called Mahamaya Bridge. My best friend is Mayaputra and his girl friend's name is Mayaputri. In fact every man around me is known as Mayaputra and every female is Mayaputri. I wouldn't be able to tell you my story if not for the names. I forgot to mention that I am a native of Maya Nagari, a country formed in 2027. That day, just like any other day I was at the temple known as Mayapuri praying our goddess Mayapati. I closed my eyes and remembered the day thirteen years ago when I was introduced to my ideal, the goddess.
I had grabbed a window seat. The school bus roared towards its destination. All the one hundred seventy three kids seated inside had been asked to wait for this day since they were born. The first word that a child was supposed to utter was "Maaya". All the toddlers including me were ecstatic as it gave us a chance to be outside the school walls. As per the law 45.131, it was a trip that everyone had to take once they turned nine.
The five hour journey was about to end it was announced. The Mayapati Kumari memorial park (at times called MK Park) could be seen from the bus window and so could be seen hundreds of similar buses each one travailing to get into the parking lot. It took another 2 hours before everything was settled and the country's 100,000 5th graders gathered in the park. The park resembled a huge stadium, in the middle of it stood a huge sculpture. In the short lives that the kids had lived they had seen a lot of sculptures - in schools, at roundabouts, parks, temples and at homes. None of them though were as gigantic as the statue that they saw. The famous statue of goddess Mayapati with her legendary purse in her right hand. The statue was at least three hundred twenty seven storeys tall. There was a small podium at the feet of this huge statue. After a lot of anticipation the moment of our lives arrived. An old hairy man took control of the podium and started repeating the lines he knew by heart. After all, he had been the man in charge for the last 40 years.
"Future of tomorrow; you have already read in your 2nd grade history book about our great country. Our country Maya Nagari, which is greatest of them all, was formed in 2027. The time has come for you to be cognizant of some facts now. What you haven't read yet is that before our formation we were ruled by an ancient country they used to call India". His face filled with hatred as he continued, "I am sure all of you are surprised as you never learned that name in the list of 729 countries you went through in the 4th grade. That's because India ceased to exist after 2103. All the different states India used to rule freed themselves up, got further split and in result became 41 independent countries, ours being the best of the lot. The Indian barbarians ruled our country for more than two thousand years. Then Princess Mayapati freed us up", he paused and let it seep in the young ones.
"The air, the water, the rain, the forests, the food, our breath - we owe it all to her. She fought for our freedom when others were licking India's feet. She the Goddess, She the force, She the greatest soul, She the greatest warrior. That's why we call her mother of our nation. She was a ravishing beauty, an angel Gods had bestowed earth with. Men would drool over her and all of them wanted to marry her but She chose to fight for mankind instead of settling down. She led the war against India for freedom. In the famous battle of 2027 the louche Indians bribed a couple of our freedom fighters who lead her to this very point where this statue is built. They stole her purse that had all her armoury. She was unarmed and all alone. She found herself surrounded by hundreds of armed men. She could have run but she decided to fight with her bare hands and gallantly she fought. She dodged bullets and the hundred men stood no chance but the immoral Indians attacked her with a tank from behind her back. The volley hit her on the head. She fell down but stood up immediately and picked up the tank in one hand while she used her other hand and legs to fight with the soldiers. Another tank came in the scene and then Mayapati threw the tank she had in her hand towards it. The tank flew in the air and fell on the other and both of them burst into fire. She crushed the soldiers at the rate of forty three per minute with her bare hands. She flew and downed fighter planes. The barbarians knew they had no chance. Realizing this Nimonia Jhandi the Indian queen played a devious plan. She sent one hundred and twenty seven more soldiers, all of them wearing AamBechkar's mask". He pointed to another statue in the park and continued. "AamBechkar is another one of our Gods and he was Mayapati's God father. Seeing the masked men she decided not to fight. The merciless soldiers emptied their guns on Mayapati. She just stood there and ate all the bullets. It took a total of forty thousand seven hundred thirty seven bullets to .....", he started crying.
"She died but freed us up. One week after that horrible day we won our freedom and Maya Nagari was formed. The MK Park that you see today was built in her memory. You have already seen hundreds of her statues that were built across our country after we attained independence. But this one is special as this is a 24-carat gold statue. From this year onwards the law 23.145 of the constitution will apply to all of you under which everybody needs to visit this park and pay homage to the goddess here at this park once every year. An absence will result in one year rigorous imprisonment. Class of year 2744 it's your time to carry forward Mayapati's legacy". There was a huge round of applause. I didn't clap. I didn't because I was lost in the monument and the legend of Mayapati had completely mesmerized me. "She will be my idol from this day on", I thought. Year after year, I came to the park with my parents. They would always ask me to close my eyes and thank the Goddess for bestowing me with life. I would have dreams of her fighting with hundreds of men and cutting them into pieces.
I started reading books and visiting websites of her. There were millions of websites on Mayapati, each one appraising the legacy. The KR browser (the only internet browser available and named after KaanKheench Ram, Mayapati's cohort in the fight for freedom) we use to surf the internet had bookmarks for 10 of these websites and these bookmarks could not be removed. The homepage was fixed to www.mayapatikuwaanri.com and it could not be changed either. I put up a huge poster of her in my bedroom. In 8th standard we learned the 145.781 law of constitution which was known as RFI (Restriction on the Flow of Information). This law meant that information could not flow out or in of the country. The news agencies and web were limited to Maya Nagari. Guilty were punishable by death penalty. We were told that it's evil's regime outside our country and this law protects the evil to spread in our country.
It was the rule 101.3 that stated that the parents had to name their odd numbered kid either Mayaputra or Mayaputri based upon the gender. One year after this law was created a new law 101.4 was penned that meant the naming rule now applied to the even numbered kids as well. It kept things simple. 41 out of the 73 students in my college were named Mayaputra and 32 were named Mayaputri. Long time back there was a protest against this rule as people pointed out that it was becoming difficult for them to communicate. Mayaputra, the then prime minister worked with Mayaputra, the then law minister and formed a committee which comprised of 3 people - Mayaputra, a businessman; Mayaputri, a famous actress and Mayaputra, a social activist. A legendary decision was taken and it was formulated that people would use their father's name to distinguish themselves.
I finished my prayers and started walking towards my house when something hit my head. I immediately fainted and woke up in a police station. My head hurt. I was told I had broken law 23.145. I cried out that there were still ten more days as per my calculation for the one year cycle to be complete but no one listened. I was thrown into the prison for a year.
I cried all day long but the authorities were not ready to listen to my pleas as their systems mentioned me as a defaulter and I had broken the law. It was never about that one year that I worried about. The law 23.146 of the country stated that when one gets imprisoned after breaking the law 23.146 a red colored tattoo 'X' will be created on the face of the defaulter. A new tattoo will be created every time the law is broken. That made it easy for people to identify people who had disrespected the goddess. It was a social stigma for you to have that tattoo on your face. One would lose all their friends, would not get admission in a school or a college, would be disowned by parents, would struggle to get a D-grade job, would have to pay double taxes and would only be able to marry someone with an 'X' on their face. People with an 'X' on their face were social outcastes and were known as Xalits. The thought of it all sent a shiver down my spine as I realized what my life was going to be. I looked up and prayed and cried out loud, "Goddess Mayapati!! Why me? I was your ardent devotee. Why do you make me suffer?". I was told that I was being kept in a holding area and based upon a selection tomorrow I will be sent to the prison.
On my second day there, the 'X' tattoo was created on my left cheek. I wanted to kill myself when I looked in the mirror. I decided to find a way to get rid of the pain once and for all, but something changed my heart. After the tattooing ceremony I was taken to a large hall where stood hundreds of guilty children, men and women. The hardcore criminals had multiple tattoos painted, their faces an ugly mess. The jailer, a middle aged short and fat guy screamed at the top of his lungs, "You the unforgivable, the heinous crime you have committed should lead to a capital punishment. But we are all Mayapati's sons and daughters and we believe in peace and prosperity, just like she did. All of you will get a chance to revive yourself. All of you will be put to work for a holy cause till your sentence is over. You will have to give your soul to your job to wash away your sins". Soon after, all of us were being divided into various groups and each group was assigned to a different job. Some had to give hand to Mayapati's temple's construction, some had to work on Mayapati's websites, and I was put in the statue department. I would be taught to be a sculptor and would be creating Mayapati's statues that year. It was an enlightening moment. I immediately cancelled the plan to kill myself and decided to devote myself in her service. In the evening the statue group boarded a bus and we started our journey to the prison. "She wants me to devote my life to her", I thought. "I will give my soul, my body in her service. It will be my duty till the day I live". I felt asleep with all the great thoughts sprinting across my mind.
Next morning as we approached it - I could see it, the prison a huge building and I looked to the skies and asked Mayapati to help me in my quest. There She was, her statue as soon as we passed through the prison's main gate. It gave me an infinite amount of strength. I had not spoken with the others in the bus as all of them were guilty. I was not. They had broken the law and I loathed them. They made me sick. Their sheer presence made me puke. If it was not the love for the Goddess, I would have killed myself. We were taken to a big hall, that had hundreds of beds in line and I was assigned to one of them. There were ten to twelve columns of beds and they stretched to as far as I could see. There were her statues all around these beds. There was one right in front of me. A thought then exhilarated my mind. I would see Mayapati's bright and smiling face every morning I open my eyes.
Life in the prison was not a piece of cake. We had to get up at 5 am in the morning and pray for an hour. We were taught great Mayapati hymns, which we had to sing in the morning. After that we got 30 minutes to get ready and breakfast was served at 6:30 am. We were required to work from 8:00 am till 8:00 pm in the morning with an hour break for lunch. The evenings ended with the prayers once again. I remained with self and never spoke with anyone. I was put on task to work on a statue that was being built to be unveiled in next year's Independence Day. My entire focus was to contribute as much as I could towards that statue.
After five months, I wrote a letter to my parents asking them not to worry about me as the Goddess's blessings were with me. A week later I got a letter back from them. That's what I thought. What I got back was my letter only as I was told that my parents refused to accept the letter and had sent a message that they had disowned me. It broke me, my heart turned into million pieces. For that one moment I forgot my goal, the goal to serve the Goddess and dedicate my life to her. My world came tumbling down, my knees felt weak, they no longer supported me and I fell down on them and started crying profusely. Then something happened. I felt a hand working on my hair. Little soft warm hands gently caressing my hair. Someone had touched me after 5 months. I felt better. I never knew a touch could feel so good. I turned and then I saw an angel. "I hope everything is OK", she said. My jaw dropped as her enchanting voice echoed in my ears. She stood there innocently looking into my eyes. I saw myself in those big eyes as I would see in a blue river. The contours on her face made my head spin. Her skin sparkled in the sun shine, the wind made her hair wave like the exuberant ocean tides. Her nose and the 'X' on her face glowed like a constellation. With my mouth open I was like a born blind that never saw a thing in life and then one morning wakes up to realize that he can see, looks across the window and sees the bright sun, the rain and the rainbow. She left me in that state.
That touch got too much for me. I could not sleep. I forgot my evening prayers. I forgot my morning's. I tried to find her everywhere but did not see her for three days. All I could think of was those eyes and the sight of me in them. Then one morning while working on a statue I saw her. I approached her and as soon as she realized she tried to escape. I ran after her and held her hand. "Go away! You don't want to talk to me. You don't know me. You fetter stay away from me. I am going to fe executed in a month's time", she said. It came as a shock and my grip on her hand loosened, and then ours eyes met again. I saw myself and I pulled her towards me and told her, "I don't care". She started crying and before we realized we were in each other’s arms. It was pure magic. Time stood still. She was holding me tight. "I am Mayaputra. What's your name and why are they executing you?” I asked her. That musical voice once again sprinkled on my ears, "I am Pooja". It was a strange name as I had never heard it before.
"I..I.. d.d.d. don't felong to Maya Nagari, I am actually from Raj Nagari Mumfai. I had to run away from my country, the greatest country. I had to run away from there as they were going to execute me". I stood there perplexed listening to her story. If there was one greatest country, that was mine. She explained to me that she could not pronounce the letter 'b' and uttered it as 'f'. This got her into trouble with the authorities in her country because she would pronounce Mumbai as Mumfai. It was a punishable crime in her country to call Mumbai by any other name. She fled Raj Nagari Mumbai and found an asylum in Maya Nagari. "They caught me praying my God Raj FakwaasKare and as per the law 1.12 of your nation I was sentenced to death".
(to be continued.....)
(to be continued.....)