Two Fictions
Tirumal Mundargi

The Maid

During the early nineties he brought home a maid with dog's face.
His mother, removing stones from the rice in the bamboo pan, said, "Where did you bring her from?"
"From the forest. Why did you ask this?"
"You mustn't have brought her," she said.
"What for?"
"I think she's cursed. And she is able to pass the curses onto others who tamper with her life."
"Tamper with her life? I won't do that. She won't curse me then."
"You just wait and see," mother said, going into the kitchen, taking the bamboo pan of cleaned rice. He followed her into the kitchen, leaving the maid at the verandah.
"Do you think you've cleaned this rice?" he asked.
"Yes, I did. I've freed the rice from stones."
"I can still find stones from this rice," he said, passing his fingers through the bamboo pan.
"Some stones might have escaped my aging eyes, my son," she said, checking the rice again, "I warn you one last time. She's cursed. She's capable of cursing you."

Over the next two years the maid grew into a beautiful women, but with dog's face. He consulted a gynecologist.
"I don't want more of them. I mean these dog maids," he said.
"What about male ones?" the gynecologist said.
"I don't want that either."
The gynecologist administered the maid an injection.
"You bring her every three months."

The maid delivered three stillborn babies on a full moon night. The babies too had dog faces. He buried the babies in the backyard garden when the maid had gone out.
Not finding her babies when she returned, she cursed him.
"But your babies are dead, miss," he said.
She went to the backyard garden and tried to turn the stone that he had erected on the grave, but she couldn't. She howled that whole night, and the following night too.

"Why're you telling me all this?" his wife asked "My grandmother used to tell such stories when I was small."
"I think my mother was right."
"You're very tired. Go to sleep."
He tried to sleep but he heard the maid's howls, maybe from the backyard garden where he had buried all her babies, maid's babies, all stillborn.
"How long will it go on?" his wife asked.
"I don't know," he said. "Tomorrow we'll see a gynecologist."

Solar Eclipse

The class teacher in white dress and black leather shoes shouted: "Attention!"
We brought our feet together.
"Stand it is!"
We moved our feet apart.
Once again we brought them close.
We marched, all of us from the eighth standard. Our line entered a dark tunnel, opened up into daylight, then joined a queue.
I needed ice candies, fanning myself with a handkerchief. As they jostled, a woman in a purple sari who stood in the queue said, "I've got the children back home. Oh! This solar eclipse!"
"Impossible!" said a man in blue uniform, wielding a gun.
Hundreds of schoolchildren had lined up, and as one brat tried to jump the queue the line wavered. The teacher shouted, "Don't move! You little imp." He came to one side and ran his frown all along the queue. I too tried to quit, but he pinned me back and said, "No way! You haven't got any chance."