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SUBSTORIES

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They sat in the dampness of the grass, not looking at each other’s faces, not even once, not even at all. The roaring of the river was getting louder and louder. When the icy water rose to touch their feet, Eve whispered, without turning her face from the setting red sun – “Might be raining in the hills.” Draupadi did not hear it. She was not over blaming her existence yet. When the water wetted her feet, she didn’t withdraw them, she didn’t move at all. The heat of her heart rushed through her veins to warm the freezing water.

“Why did you do it?” – finally, her trembling lips moved, pressing her nails against her palm hard.

“Do what?” – asked Eve, surprised thinking what she meant by that, and relieved that she opened her mouth at last.

“The apple, why on earth did you take it? It was life, and death too. The cause, and the result too. Everything that the earth witnesses, or we witness in the earth is because of it, right?” Eve could see the red sun burning in her eyes.

“You too believe that? Can’t you…can’t you make out that it was all a conspiracy? Yeah, right, I shouldn’t expect you to know. They conspire, we fall- you and I, sometimes without knowledge, but most often knowingly!” Eve took a deep breath.

Draupadi couldn’t hide her confusion – “What do you mean?”

“It was all a plan- the snake, the apple, and even the fact that if it was not because of me, we wouldn’t have had to toil down here. The snake ain’t Satan. Or maybe God and Satan are the same- I don’t know. After all, He is a he. He wanted to make Adam lofty and lordly. If not possible, me weaker. So they made the plot together that the blame and mistakes could be fed to me, and I could be drained of my dignity. They made me feel guilty and feasted on my guilt to nourish their superciliousness.”

Draupadi stared at Eve with her eyes wide open.

“Well, it was just a beginning. When the story of my ‘sin’ slowly started fading away, they made up new ones- cultures, norms, religions, virginity, clothes, beauty… and when any of us dared to question these, we were sluts, skanks, and whores.”- Eve sighed.

“You’re right. How come I never figured out all these!” Draupadi felt the coldness of the water, she was shivering. She drew her legs up.

 “It is not your fault, dear. Or maybe it is. All these lies were before you, always. They walked with you, ate with you, slept beside you. But your eyes were just blinded, with what they call love and care. They were sugar-coated, vibrant venom we consumed until it was too late to be regretting.”

“You mistook me. I loved none. Nor did I crave for the care. They lost me when they won me. Do you think being called Panchali was a compliment? Love never blinded me. It is not because I loved one among them I was chosen to hell. I saw their pride crumbling, dignity tearing, because of me. It brought me joy, it made me laugh. I caused their destruction. That’s why I was chosen to hell. After all, He is a he!” Her eyes welled up, and she couldn’t breathe. She tucked her head between her knees. 

Eve stared at the woman sitting beside her with the respect that she had for no one before. She felt that she would never forgive herself for all the things she didn’t do- For not being a Draupadi to Adam, for remaining the cup in which he kept pouring the venoms, for imparting it to all the generations that sucked her breasts.

Draupadi raised her head and continued with her voice wet with tears- “But my resilience, it was of no use, right? My story got manipulated, as did yours. Two substories we are, within the main one, passively fading and slowly disappearing into the background. We screamed, and they portrayed it as the melody we sang.”

The crickets’ chirps doomed the roar of the river. The moon shed a tear for the two bleeding hearts. It created whirling waves in the river, yet no one saw them. Eve wondered if it was the time or the river that flowed faster? No one knows that either. The moving lights in the bridge didn’t make their eyes blink. And from a car rushing across it, they heard Hozier singing:

“Take me to church,

I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies,

I’ll tell you my sins

so you can sharpen your knife,

offer me that deathless death.

O good God, let me give you my life!”

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