Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Love a man! Really??

“Honey. Did you choose one this time?” Namrata asked Varsha softly. Namrata knew the answer her daughter was going to give but was hoping to be wrong.

“No.” Varsha said dashing Namrata’s hope. Varsha was in her thirties now and Namrata was worried now. Namrata wanted a grandchild to play with but Varsha didn’t seem to care.

“What was wrong this time?” Namrata asked. Varsha had been making excuses since the past ten years. Namrata didn’t understand but tried to be open about it initially but now, she was getting tired of Varsha’s excuses and anxious to get a grandkid.

“I don’t know.” Varsha said looking down. She really didn’t have any more excuses to offer. She hadn’t even seen them so choosing was out of the question.

‘At least she was being honest.’ Namrata thought to herself. Namrata knew that Varsha was one of those new-age career focused girls and Namrata was proud of her for that. However, Namrata was getting older and her priorities and wishes were changing accordingly.

“They are all good guys.” Namrata said kindly. Her sister had found a good repository of guys for Varsha and Namrata was confident that Varsha would definitely like one if she would just look at them.

“I didn’t see any mom. I just couldn’t do it.” Varsha spoke quickly wiping a few tears from her eyes. She knew it was stupid but she still couldn’t help but tear up. The past always brought terrible memories to her.

“Kicauph?” Namrata asked impatiently. Varsha nodded silently. She had not yet looked up at her mother.

“How long are you going to carry this Varsha? A. It wasn’t your fault. B. It was ten years ago and C. It isn’t that big a deal anyways. Let it go.” Namrata said.

“I know. I just don’t find any of them charming. Besides, Kicauph was chosen for me. I.. I.. loved him mom.” Varsha said.

Namrata was shocked to hear this. She had heard of rumors of such kind of behavior from some girls but she never thought she would have a case like that in her own house. A woman loving a man, even the thought was preposterous.

She had heard of a time when this used to happen. Women and men were similar and were considered equal. She even read a few fantasy tales where women were oppressed by men who were stronger and considered superior. However, Namrata believed that this was all wishful thinking from the writers. How can a man be as strong as a woman?

A six inch tall figure with a brain capacity no better than a dog, man served only one purpose — sperms. And they were plenty good at that. At least the ones that were kept in the market.

Each human birth had two or three offsprings — a girl and one or two boys. The boy would be around 2 inches and was immediately taken by the doctors to the farms where the boy would grow to become a man. It took the man around 5 years to grow after which the good ones were put in the market for sale to potential buyers. The bad batches were generally disposed off.

At the age of 15, she would get a boy of around 5 years as her coming of age present. She would then have to keep him secure and well for 3 years till she was 18. After that, she would mate with the boy and have an offspring of her own. As the life of each man was around 20 years, it gave the girl around fifteen years to decide on a particular man.

However, once mated, the man deteriorated quickly. On an average, once mated, a man would last around 3–4 years maximum. Thus, if a woman wanted to have multiple off-spring from the same man, they would time so that the first child is when the man is around 13–15. This was mostly due to the fondness and attachment women had for their men and their wish to let the man live a long life.

Of course, it doesn’t always happen always. Being such a fragile creature, men have to be cared for and accidental deaths were frequent. In fact, for over 40% of women, the first man doesn’t survive till the woman is 25. The average age of men was also around 15, despite the full age being around 20. Diseases, early mating and sometimes, sheer negligence caused men to die off quickly.

“Kicauph was just a man, sweety. Your aunt has sent so many options of better men. Pick one of them and forget about Kicauph.” Namrata said hearing these words not for the first time. They had had these arguments before as well. Varsha had never been this open about loving Kicauph before but Namrata had begun to suspect.

“He was my man, mom. It was my fault that he died at the age of 10. He didn’t get to live at all. All because I couldn’t listen to you.” Varsha said once again tearing up.

Namrata came beside her and stroked her hair gently. Namrata’s heart was beating fast. She didn’t know how to deal with the situation. How could Varsha love Kicauph like this and why did she feel so guilty about it.

“You were only 20 dear. And it was a split second mistake. Anyone could have made that.” Namrata said recalling the incident.

Varsha and Namrata had gone shopping after her college. Kicauph was in her purse playing with a toy Varsha had bought for her that day.

“So, have you given a thought to giving me a grand daughter?” Namrata asked.

“A few more years mom. I was thinking that if I mate when I am 25, Kicauph will get to live his whole 20 years.”

“Sheesh! You and your affection for that man. If I had you when I was 20.”

“Yeah. And you tossed your man immediately after that. Were happy with the result, were you?” Varsha said jestly.

“I had already decided to only have one kid. Keeping Bara was useless expenditure after that. I had a daughter to take care off, you know.” Namrata said with a carefree tone. She had never understood Varsha’s affection for men. They were simply tools. Why keep them after their utility is over?

Before Varsha could come up with a retort for that, she slipped on the sludge that was on the road and fell. Kicauph fell out of the open purse directly in front of the oncoming traffic.

Namrata could never forget Varsha’s scream and even she was affected by the sight. However, Varsha was shattered as if a family member had died. She cried and cried for days and went into depression. Namrata tried to cheer her up by bringing new men for her so that she could take her mind off Kicauph but nothing worked.

“But I made that mistake mom. I lost Kicauph and I don’t think I can become intimate with any other man.” Varsha said.

Namrata’s mind whirled hearing such words from her daughter.

“Give it a try. Don’t you think Kicauph would be sad thinking that you have given up happiness because of him.” Namrata said. She was feeling weird using the words thinking with a man but she could have a daughter not having a kid. If this nudges her daughter into getting a man, so be it.

“You really think so.” Varsha asked Namrata astounded. She had never thought this way.

“Of course dear. Kicauph loved you and would have wanted you to move on.” Namrata said going with the flow. Varsha thought of Kicauph as a sentient creature so Namrata would have to treat him the same.

“Maybe you are right. I will think over it. But I can’t make any promise.”

“Just look at some men. You don’t have to take any decisions right now.” Namrata said soothingly.

“Thanks mum.” Varsha said and smiled at her mother.

“Great. Then tomorrow we will go to my sister’s place. She has some good collection for her daughters. You can look at them.” Namrata said. Varsha nodded in approval and went to her room.

Namrata exhaled a sigh of relief and smiled.