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Burning Beacons

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Are humans only as powerful as their thoughts? Does karma affect them? Does God exist? Do they possess a soul? Are they prosecuted for their deeds? Are they controlled by the omniscient irrespective of their beliefs? Are all of them bound to the laws created by Holy Men? Should they always procreate by sex? Is evil subjective?


These are a few questions Rajiv R Nair & R. S. Chintalapati discuss using their novelette titled Burning Beacons. Through the story, they show how culture and perceptions are rapidly changing. The writers converse how the previous generations are consistently wailing regarding the change while the new generations mistakenly presume their ideology is progressive and everlasting.

 
Cover Photo by Pankaj Tottada

Contents


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Credits

This contribution is written by Rajiv R Nair & R. S. Chintalapati, edited by Ahna Sahi, Sree Raj, & Tarun Chintam & photographed by Pankaj Tottada.

 

Product

This short story is available as a paperback & ebook.



 

Chapter I

Day 0: Sex


A newly married couple discuss the possible gender of their child to realize that they have different choices. While agreeing that a healthy child is a common request, they are also surprised to realize they disagree on the name considering their differences in opinion on characters from epics.

 

As the cold winds swirled into the room through the open window, Bhaskar looked at his wife as he felt her for the first time. He could tell she was controlling her pain but her eyes were filled with tears. Unable to witness her agony, he pulled himself out of her and when he did, he could feel her bleeding.


He looked at her for a moment as she took a deep breath. A moment later, he leaned forward and kissed her. As she kissed him back, tears rolled down her eyes as she closed them. The nineteen-year-old Radha, he married a day ago, caressed his black curly hair after they kissed.


Looking into her eyes, Bhaskar could see her willingness before he felt her again. For a while, the couple moaned in pleasure before he passed the life gifted to him.


As he did, he truly felt the transcendence of power within and it was like never before and as she received it, she ushered in joyful pain looking at the man whom she chose to lead her life with.


Taking a deep breath, Bhaskar rested on his wife’s bosom feeling her heart pace. He felt the wait was worth every minute and life has never been more complete.


Feeling his warmth, Radha asked, “What would you wish the Gods for? A boy or a girl?”


Placing his chin between her life preservers, Bhaskar replied, “I would like to welcome Saraswati. What about you?”


With a smile, Radha replied, “I wish for a girl too. It would be like my elder sister being reborn.”


Recalling how the lack of medical facilities led to her ten-year-old sister dying of sickness, Radha curiously asked, “What if the Gods give you a son?”


Thinking about it for a moment, Bhaskar teased, “Looks like madam would, after all, prefer a son.”


Glancing at her husband, Radha laughed before confessing, “It was my father’s wish. He wanted a grandson named Arjun. Though I would love a daughter, I would prefer a boy equally, too.”


Leaning forward, Bhaskar stated, “Arjun? Rather than name our son of an overrated protagonist, I would name him a fallen antagonist.”


Finishing his sentence, Bhaskar kissed his wife on her neck. When they looked into each other’s eyes, Radha replied, “My husband should certainly read Mahabharat once again. Maybe then, he wouldn’t root for the fallen and realize the reason behind such a fate.”


Listening to her, Bhaskar just smiled. He knew she wasn’t completely wrong.


A moment later, he mentioned, “Honestly Radha, it doesn’t matter who it is. I just hope they are born healthy and continue our bloodline with at least the respect we hold now.”


Radha couldn’t be more glad. Her husband’s words gave her more pleasure than their actions.


Meanwhile, Bhaskar lay on her bosom and closed his eyes before falling asleep. Caressing his hair, Radha closed her eyes too.


For a while, she could see a man in his thirties standing behind them while three young children were playing before them on the floor while she sat beside her husband posing for a picture.


She lived the moment for a few seconds before losing it.

 

Chapter II

Day 15,702: Death


When not a single person in this world cares about another’s existence, the motivation to live for a socially dependent person ceases. The lawfully unaccepted notion of ending one’s own life doesn’t seem to be a choice but rather a destination. The misery of the mental self is strikingly dangerous with unforeseen consequences when not controlled.

 

Placing his plate of warm noodles on the dining table, Radheya recalled Mitram. He thought about how Mitram would have stopped him before he tasted his unusually sweet noodles.


Though he thought of taking a look at the portraits of all those whom he loved, Radheya started stuffing noodles into his mouth without wasting another moment. When he finished his noodles, he felt nothing.


It took a few moments before the intended reaction kicked in. While he was experiencing the pain, Radheya recalled the online friend he invited for dinner. Observing the clock, he knew that she wouldn’t even arrive for the next twenty minutes.


Moments before his mortal form lost its soul, Radheya couldn’t help but think, “Why did I even strive in life if this is how it would have ended?”


More than pain, Radheya dreaded the thought of what would happen next. He was certain about Gods and demons being nothing more than mere elements of the mind and firmly disagreed on their existence in the fictional concept of the afterlife. However, when facing death, the uncertainty certainly terrified him.


As he pondered on the question, the doorbell buzzed. Glancing at the clock in the dining room, Radheya couldn’t help but presume that his guest arrived early. Trying to look calm, he walked to the door as he felt the pain in his stomach.


Looking through the peephole, he saw his friend standing steady. He opened the unlocked door to find a stunning girl in her late twenties wearing a black gown standing before him.


As his eyes closed, Radheya mentioned, “You’re early…”


Observing her getting tense, he raised his hand in assurance before he crashed on the floor. The moment he crashed, he could see his astral form still standing.


As his body landed on the floor, the girl just stood there for a moment. She could see he wasn’t breathing and just calmly left. He was surprised that she didn’t even call the police as he had expected.


An hour later, one of his neighbors noticed him lying at the entrance and called the emergency services. A couple of hours later, Radheya’s mortal form was before a drunk surgeon whose quest was to find what killed him.


Though the intoxicated mortal knew that even the strongest leaf shall have to fall when kissed by winter, he was just checking the math of self-killers. Even he knew that the world he lived in was filled with no emotional entailment and just survived on rational investments alone.


After the inspector determined that the corpse owner killed himself, Radheya was surprised to see his body parts were being snatched to be reused. The rest of the poisoned filth was packed into a black bag like a broken toy before being shipped on a conveyor belt that carried many other bodies.


Another officer took a look at the tag on the bag before marking it in his system. In absolute silence, the conveyor belt passed the body into the incarceration chamber and burnt Radheya’s body instantly.


Radheya could see the mortal form that he built for four decades turn into ashes in seconds. As he believed, neither angels nor demons awaited. It was the darkness that surrounded him as he always stated. In such silence, he knew not a single living soul was weeping for him.

 

Chapter III

Day 283: Birth


Feeling a newborn for the first time is an experience that’s unparalleled. Especially when that life is related. It’s like feeling God in mortal form by those corrupted by materialism during their course of existence.

 

Picking up the transmitter, Bhaskar’s manager accepted his request to meet him. After signing a few documents, he waved at Bhaskar to enter the chamber.


He waved again listening to Bhaskar’s plea and Bhasker immediately rushed on his scooter to the hospital. Enquiring his wife’s name at the information center, he rushed to the maternity ward where he found his wife unconscious.


Walking towards the cradle beside the bed, Bhaskar could see his spitting image sleeping in silence. Happiness filled his eyes with tears as he extended his hand to touch him.


Looking at his son laying in the cradle, Bhaskar’s mother mentioned, “The Gods have given you an heir!”


Observing her son staring at the life he sourced, she continued, “Lakshmi will soon join.”


No matter what his mother said, Bhaskar couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful life that was before him. He knew there was a reason henceforth to strive and without a second thought, he promised himself that all his actions should serve his little one.


The moment he felt him, tears of happiness slid his cheek as his mother hugged him.


Touching his adorable finger, Bhaskar mentioned, “It’s him.”


With a smile, his mother acknowledged, “He couldn’t be away for long considering how much you loved him.”


Meanwhile, Srinivas stood before Rudra, staring at his third eye. Staring at the inordinate amount of energy, Srinivas asked, “Why was I summoned, father?”


With a charismatic smile, Rudra replied, “You shall have to relive another dharmic life in-order to become a part of me, child.”


Kneeling, Srinivas begged, “Forgive my sins father. I do not wish to live in that hell. I would rather take any other punishment. Please don’t send me again...”


Continuing to smile, Rudra mentioned, “You haven’t been cleansed yet, child. Your desires should be destroyed before you become a part of me. You were created from me for that specific purpose.”


Accepting his fate, Srinivas pleaded, “At least give me strength father!”


For one last time, Srinivas saw Rudra before being thrown into darkness. He heard nothing but then, he heard his wife and son.


He felt delighted that the almighty had decided for him to be born into the same family, but before long he had no recollection of them anymore.


As Bhaskar turned to look at his wife, his mother asked, “Are you planning to name him Srinivas?”


Not intending to lie, Bhaskar replied, “Not until I saw him. I always wanted him to be Karna.”


With a smile, his mother replied, “Since fallen heroes are today’s icons and distorted comprehension of epics cannot be undone. Taking his mother’s name into account, let’s name him Radheya.”


Silence prevailed for a moment before she continued, “You could have your wish. Just name him Radheya instead of Karna.”


After a moment of thought, Bhaskar suggested, “If it is Radheya, then let it be Srinivas Radheya.”


How is it so far?

  • Loved it!

  • Liked it

  • Forget it

  • Hated it


 

Chapter IV

Day 14,775: Life


Continuing to devote time to elements that aren’t believable is an unquestioned activity though tiring. Such activities make even the lamest individuals question their motives as time passes by. However, the cost of giving up is often based on the emotional value held on them.

 

On a cloudy morning, Radheya opened his car door for Mitram to get in and after cautiously closing the door, he rushed to the driver’s seat.


Turning the key, Radheya mentioned, “I know you would want the window open but it’s too cold and you can enjoy nature as long as you want in the park.”

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