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Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Two orphaned siblings who mostly relive their happy memories from their sad past are bound to serve an unkind foreign Lord to repay their debt. When their lives seem hopeless, they revisit a well-wisher through whom they change their life course.

“Brownlings” by Harsha Modukuri & R. S. Chintalapati is a tale of three individuals willing to pay their lives as a price in the pursuit of liberating themselves.



This contribution was co-written by R. S. Chintalapati, edited by Tarun Chintam, photographed by Pankaj Tottada & acted by Ameerunnisa Begum.



This short story is available in paperback & ebook.

Cover Photo by Pankaj Tottada

Every Sunday evening, as soon as Raghav returned from his Lord’s bungalow to his hut, he and his little sister went for a walk. She was three years younger to him and was named Lakshmi. From their hut, they crossed the paddy fields, where Raghav worked occasionally, after which they walked past their Lord’s guest house.

A mile away from this guest house, resided river Champavathi and the closer the siblings got, they noticed that the roads ended first and this was followed by the absence of thatched roofs. They always felt they have entered their mother’s abode which was the dominion of nature.

The siblings always reached the bank before the moon woke up and turned the blazing sky into a black blanket as they loved to witness the change while the river sang.

The river was Goddess Champavathi herself and was worshipped by their mother before fever took her and the goddess’s materialistic form was their father’s livelihood until he was shot by Lord Andrew.

It was a foolish rebellion against his Lord that killed the father and it was his debt that killed his children’s future. As a repayment, Raghav was taken as a slave by the Lord himself.

The siblings were small and thin for their clothes since they had to wear whatever they got at the bungalow. The rest of their expenses were met by the little amount Raghav earned. Once a year, he tried to fulfil a few of his sister’s little wishes like buying her a pair of bangles.

They both had black eyes and brown skin, and whenever Raghav worked in the paddy fields, he was usually covered in the mud until his hips and Lord Andrew barked, “You brown dogs got a fitting job, didn’t you?”

Raghav and Lakshmi never spoke during their walks to the banks because they always saved words for the night. They rested along the banks of the sliding river, played with the water and Raghav often tried his best to catch some fish.

Lakshmi built sandcastles every week, but not one of them survived until next week. When it got dark, Raghav ignited their lantern and Lakshmi always remarked downhearted, “This place reminds me of Amma and Appa... At least, she should have stayed with us after they left.”

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