Poem: Tapoi

Alok Kumar Ray

Tapoi was a little, cute and lovely girl, seemed more fresh than a freshly plucked flower
Among her seven brothers she was the youngest, only daughter, a talkative doll
Her parents treated her as the apple of their eyes, remained as shadows to her all the time
Hailed she from a rich trader family (Sadhaba), offshore business brought for them glory
She was loved and pampered by all, her brothers and their wives were in their toes to fulfill her demands with a single call
A golden moon (a moon shaped golden ornament) she demanded once, bargained it letting others no chance
Sans any second thought her family members obliged to her demands like a leader's command
Her parents died by the completion of the golden moon, the sky fell upon her
Her family came under debt trap, misfortune came with its belongings to grasp at
The time of maritime voyage arrived in the meanwhile, her brothers went out for trading with biota (ships) despite of the weather so hostile
By the way they instructed their wives to take good care of their only sister, pay heed to her all needs hence after
Influenced by the fallacious ideas of a Brahmin (upper cast) widow all her sister in-laws barring the youngest one started ill-treating her, made her the scapegoat, scolded, thrashed in black and blue
Like a domesticated animal she tolerated all bad and inhuman treatments patiently
She waited for her brothers arrival keeping a stone on her chest
Only the youngest sister in law remained affectionate, caring and supportive during her life's period of rough weather
Once while wandering in the jungle she saw girls worshiping Maa Mangala (Mother Goddess) with utmost devotion
She joined with the girls, offered khuda (broken rice) and observed fasting for five Sundays
Her prayer was answered by the Goddess and her brothers returned after doing business briskly
Knowing her story brothers hatched a plan to teach their wives a gruesome lesson
They adorned Tapoi as Goddess, wives were informed to visit the ship (Boita), worship the Goddess and welcome husbands traditionally
While they were performing rituals Tapoi avenged her sufferings by cutting each of the wives' nose except the youngest who was her savior.

Bio: Dr. Alok Kumar Ray is a senior lecturer who teaches Political Science to undergraduate and postgraduate students. He has edited three books in social sciences containing articles of research scholars. Textbooks on political science written by him are being taught in different universities of Odisha and Assam in India. He has contributed research articles to a number of journals, periodicals of national and international repute. He is a bilingual poet (Odia and English) whose poems have been featured in national and international anthologies, journals and newsletters. He has attended a number of national and international poetry meets. He lives in Jajpur in Odisha, India.

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