Hail Mother Supreme!

Thakur Tej Bahadur- this name sent shivers down the spine of mostly all the residents of Kharegaon, a small village in Gujarat.

Yes, he was very much like the most defiant and egoistic landlords there. He rode around the village on Dhanno, his favourite horse. The name was an inspiration from Thakur’s fancy for ‘Sholay’.

On that fateful day, Rani caught the eye of Tej Bahadur as she played hopscotch in the Ramlila maidan.

“Oh! What a perfect match,” thought Tej.

He looked at Satwant Singh, his guard who nodded understandingly.


Mala fumed inwardly as she sat kneading the dough in preparation for dinner. Rani sat by her repeating like an obedient parrot, “Do ekkum do, do dooni char…”

She whirled around and caught Rani by her hand.

“How many times have I told you not to play in the Ramlila maidan.”

“But Amma, Raju and Chiku were with me. You know that it’s the best place to play outdoor games.”

“Don’t you dare argue, dear! Tej Bahadur and his men are bad, especially to girls here. Please understand.”

Rani hardly understood but thought it best not to interrupt Mala. Her eyes wide open, she mouthed slowly, “Do ekkum do, do dooni char…”


The next day, a scream that rose from Ramlila maidan had men, women and even animals stop in their tracks and rush there instantly.

‘The buffaloes bellowed, the boys shouted, and the birds flew shrieking from the trees.’


Urmi’s scream made her drop the clothes she was washing into the stream and run with her. As she neared the maidan, she was caught in the onslaught of varied emotions that made her dizzy.

Raju and Chiku came running to her and hugged her crying.

“Masi… Rani..” was all they could say between sobs.

Mala was smart enough to connect the dots. She fought back tears, shrugged many a consoling hand, and ran back home. As she sat in darkness, absent-mindedly watching the moon lazily wandering in the sky, her thoughts wandered back to Rani.

My dear child, where would she be now?


Mala quietly made her way to Rajwada. She could hear faint sounds of ‘Shehnai’ as she neared the place. Though they seemed hardly a melody, a strange sense of joy washed over her.

She had invoked the Gods before setting out on her first brave mission.  She was unsure whether her sickle would help her.

Mala quietly jumped over the fence of the farmhouse. With hushed feet, she successfully managed to avoid the hideous watchdogs and reached the mansion.

She crawled up the walls to the well-lit and decorated room. She saw Rani in a bride’s dress lying unconscious. Not stopping to wipe her happy tears, she lifted her and quietly slid down, chanting ‘Jai Mata Di’

As she entered her village, chants of ‘Jai Mata Di’ barely managed to catch tired Mala’s attention.

Little did she realize that they were for her- the first person in Kharegaon who had managed to stop one of the innumerable child marriages that happened there!


  1. Sholay- A popular Bollywood movie of the seventies.
  2. Do ekkum do, do dooni char- Multiples of two as told in Hindi.
  3. Jai Mata Di (Hindi)- Hail the Supreme Mother!
  4. Shehnai- A mouth instrument generally used for playing Hindustani Classical music.
  5. Ben- a reference to sister in Gujarati.
  6. Masi- a word that is used to refer to an aunt in Hindi.



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