True Faith - Season 3 Bonus

- Subhash, Giddaluri

The whole village had come together in a procession to watch her daughter drown. Doused in holy colors, wearing garlands, Parvati felt as though they were sacrificial lambs.


It was all she could do not to tear up, but she couldn’t; she had to be strong. For her daughter, she had to be.


Chitti clung to her like an infant monkey, bewildered by the actions of the villagers. Her grip was so strong that her tiny fingers dug into Parvati’s arms.


“What is happening, ma?” Chitti asked meekly, peering out through the pleats of her saree. Parvati paused. “They are—”

madmen who are planning to drown a four year child to placate the floods, she might have confessed. But that wasn’t going to happen. She wouldn’t let her daughter drown.


fanatics who foolishly believed every word that the rabid priest said, she might have admitted. But such truths were not spoken blatantly.


“—celebrating because you saved the goat yesterday,” she finished, pushing a stray lock of hair behind Chitti’s ear.


Chitti’s face lit up, and she released her grip. “Really? Then I will save more, more goats later on,” she said, stretching her little hands as far as she could.


Parvati looked away to hide the tears swirling around her eyes.


As the procession passed between the wattle-and-daub shanties, people stretched their arms to touch them and prayed. When they came to the open area, they sang and danced.


With each passing step, desperation gnawed at Parvati. Her mind was a mess of useless thoughts: to turn around and make a break for it, to snatch a dagger from dancers and kill the priest for good…


Before she could pick a feasible useless thought, the procession was at its end where the alley opened into a grassy sward that ended abruptly just behind the monument of Lord Krishna where the flood ate away the land.


Here, everyone was quiet with a look of apprehension playing about their faces as they watched the rolling body of water lashed and thrashed against the land, threatening to devour the village.


The priest stood beside the monument — a bear of a man, wearing kasaya wrap, his head all shaved but for the long, oiled braid that sprouted from the back of his head. He regarded the

people at the gathering with his severe, squinty eyes for a moment before declaring, “Behold the wrath of gods!”


He swept his hand at the raging flood. The flood crashed against the jagged edge and sent up a spray of water over the villagers.


“We have sinned, oh yes. As we have been for generations. Our fathers, forefathers, and their fathers… Now that the fruit of sin has ripened, the gods have unleashed this calamity upon us.”


The flood thrashed so hard that the ground beneath their feet trembled.


“But fret not! For I have gone into penance and sought the solution. And gods have answered me in my dreams.” The priest looked around complacently. “My fellow villagers, the gods seek a pious soul to serve them in the heavens, to tell them the happenings of the mortal world, to bear their teachings.”


The villagers stirred fervently.


The priest finally turned to meet the eyes of Parvati. “Oh Parvati, such honor is bestowed upon your daughter. Please hand her over for the sacrifice.”


Chitti buried her head into Parvati’s bosom, panicked. Parvati clenched her fist and bit out, “I won’t.”


The world had gone silent save the roar of the flood.


The priest frowned. “Ignorant woman, do you know what kind of honor you’re denying your daughter?”


Parvati shifted Chitti to a side and drew herself tall, defiant. “If it’s such a boon, take it yourself. I’m not handing my daughter to anyone.”


The villagers gasped at the audacity of the widowed woman. Green veins popped over the priest’s shaved head. “You’re denying the wish of gods. Do you know the consequences of angering the almighty?”


Parvati didn’t back down. “Gods wished for a pious soul, you say. Then I ask you, who among here are more pious than you? Why, are you not pious?”


The priest was perplexed. “I… I am needed here to guide the villagers in the path of gods.”


“But your gods need you in the heavens. Are your mortal duties more important than gods’ needs?” Parvati shot back.

The priest took a step back. “You… the devil is in your tongue. Men, seize her! She’s the reason why the gods have unleashed this flood upon us.”


The villagers exchanged glances dumbly, but no one moved.


“Seize her!” the priest roared. “Do you not care about the wrath of gods?”


Another exchange of glances. At last, after much hesitation, Ramana, a burly man, moved out towards Parvati.


“Don’t believe him! He’s fooling you,” Parvati tried to persuade.


“Maybe,” Ramana admitted with an apologetic look. “But we can’t take risk. I’m sorry.”


Parvati felt an urge to laugh in rage. They couldn’t afford to risk it so they would rather kill her daughter in cold blood?


Tears streamed down her cheeks. She tried. And failed.


She put down Chitti and told her to run. But Chitti refused to budge. The little girl clung to Parvati’s leg with all her strength, wailing.


Just as the man’s meaty arm reached them—


—a violent wave crashed against the land, and the ground under the priest gave away.


The priest went down with a scream, scrabbling at the ground, trying to gain a purchase, but to no avail. The flood caught him and pulled him under.


The villagers’ jaws hung. Ramana’s extended hand went limp.


Parvati’s gaze lingered around Lord Krishna’s monument which stood perfectly fine despite the landslide around it.


As the clouds parted, a shaft of light descended upon Lord Krishna’s face, limning his benevolent smile in golden hue.


Parvati went down to her knees and kowtowed. She trusted gods, just not the priest.

And the gods had proven her right.



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