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The Pocket Watch

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

In a world with patriarchy running through its’ veins, two women decide to stand for themselves, choosing their freedom and peace of mind over pettiness and riches.

“The Pocket Watch” by Rajiv R Nair talks about the ingrained patriarchy, casteist behaviour and subtle ways to take action against society.

Cover Photo by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi

“Paru, I think I’m ready to be the next heir to the family property.”

“Vighna, do you want to do this? Aren’t we happy being whatever we are?”

“Why is it a problem, ma? You and dad were the ones who took care of the property and turned it into a prosperous estate and now everybody not only wants to own the estate, but also want to take away our own farmhouse that you have built from the scratch along with dad!”

Adjusting Shiva’s photo frame on the wall, “Vighna, I’m afraid those vultures will not let you even keep the farm house. If given a chance, I would happily walk out of this situation with whatever is given to us and start a new life elsewhere.”

“I’m only doing what was taught to me by you, ma. To be kind and to fight for what is right. I don’t care about what they plan on doing or how they are going to deprive me of my justice”, a stubborn Vighna walked out of the room.

That evening, all the elderly from the community and the entire living lineage of the dynasty arrived at the common hall. The mood of the hour was festive. It was that time of the decade when a new heir to the family estate was supposed to be announced and the ones who are eighteen and above are the contenders who will be eventually elected and will be the face of the community for the next decade.

The previous ceremony was called off due to the untimely death of Shiva who was supposed to be the natural heir to the property despite his elder brother contending. Shiva increased the profits of the family's farming, poultry and dairy sections in the estate extensively during his time, therefore, gaining all the accolades and praises of all the elderly. He was therefore made the head of the family posthumously even after his death.

A decade later, Vighna was one of the contenders and everyone except Vighna was sure that the leadership of the estate would eventually be transferred to Dattatreya who was the son of the elder brother of Shiva and one of Vighna’s cousins.

The auspicious time has come and the community head stood up and took a look at all the family members who have attended, “I want each person to try and uplift the community. We should take inspiration from Shiva who lived his life as a proud member of the community but unfortunately lost his life in the midst of reviving the family estate to its pinnacle.”

He took a deep breath.

“I am giving my blessings to Dattatreya as the next heir to the family property and I would like to congratulate Vighna for participating in the contention process. I would like her to accept the complimentary gifts and also vacate the family property, along with her family, to accommodate the new heirs.”

This was the expected outcome. Parvati’s face went gloomy as she was sad for Vighna who thought she could overpower the system just by being in contention for something so obvious to discredit her presence.

Vighna raised her hand, “I would like to speak a few words before I leave my home.”

Parvati wasn’t really happy and nudged Vighna to not go over to the stage and cause even more embarrassment.

“Hi everyone. I’m Vighna and I would like to congratulate Datta on his victory over me. I didn’t even know that there was a competition here because me being the actual heir of Shiva should eventually be the heir to the estate but since I’m a woman, I am stripped of my family name and property.

“Also my dad was not a proud member of your discriminating community and every single person here is no saint because you couldn’t support him when he married someone he loved. You were all so proud of your community and its great heritage that you wanted to abandon one of your own.

“And later, when he returned with me and my mother, you didn’t let us into your houses because you were too ashamed to have us back and banished us to the old and battered farmhouse that nobody ever wanted in the past 100 years. My parents struggled and renovated it into a spectacle and now all of you aren't even hesitating to snatch it from us.

“All your methods are blindsided towards women in the family and according to you, we are in no way capable to be the heirs to the property but you want us to bear your sons who will eventually take the property.

“My mom and I have decided not to stay here anymore. We are done with all your inhumane treatments and hypocrisy. It is time we took decisions for ourselves because after my dad’s demise nothing has gone our way. Every action or even a friendly conversation with us has always been a plan on your part to get hold of our own farmhouse.”

Vighna shook hands with her brother, wished him good luck.

She walked back to Parvati and hugged her. Parvati was shocked but was proud of her daughter.

She spoke to the community head about their decision to leave and asked him to settle whatever they deserved in the community’s opinion.

Both of them walked back home and started packing.

The doorbell rang.

“Hi Vighna.”

“Hi Datta, why are you here? Your dad will be devastated if he sees you here.”

“I just came here to say that I am sorry for not being able to help you or fight back in whatever has happened earlier. I myself am clueless about all of this”, a dejected Datta handed Vighna, her dad’s pocket watch.

Parvati walked out to the door, “It’s okay, my son. I’m glad you at least understood that something was going wrong and that they were biased against us. I just want you to not grow up to be like them in the future.”

“I will try my best, Paru aunty. I will take leave now. Bless me.”

Parvati blessed him. Walking back to the room, Parvati looks at Vighna who was holding the watch close to her heart, “You know what Vighna, I feel super light now. I feel like, I can sleep happily tonight and hereon I am sure we have a great future ahead.”

Vighna saw the initials P&S engraved at the back of the watch and smiled at her mother, “Our time has come, Paru. It is just us now, like always.”



This contribution won the first-runner up in the Creators Contest 2021.



This contribution is edited by Sreekar Ayyagari & Tarun Chintam & photographed by Vaidurya Pratap Sahi.



This flash fiction is available in a paperback & ebook.

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