Haley is a professional nerd with a penchant for researching historical figures.
An Indian Snow White Named Shakti
Mataji sat on her windowsill overlooking her garden as she embroidered the linen collar of her husband’s shirt. They had plenty of money to buy clothes, but she felt like the small touches in their garments showed her love. Soon, she would begin making the clothes for the baby that she knew was growing inside her still slim figure.
Pausing her work, she gazed across her garden as she daydreamed about her child. More than anything she wanted a little girl. One who she could dance with, and teach all the things that mothers must teach their daughters. Mataji envisioned her daughter's skin as smooth as the lily’s petal, and lips as bright as the red orchid. More than anything, she prayed that her daughter would be strong, and independent.
Seven months later in the middle of a heat storm, Shakti was born crying and screaming at the gods. It was as if the child already knew that they would steal her mother from her before she had a chance to catch her breath.
An Uncertain Future
Shakti flourished under her powerful and affluent father’s unfaltering attention. When her father, Kumud, noticed Shakti’s preference for the outdoors, disdain for dolls, and her general lack of feminine skills, he decided that it would be good to have a woman’s presence in the house. He was a powerful man with a successful career. But his social skills were lacking, so he hired a traditional matchmaker.
Salai the Matchmaker was a renowned matchmaker by this time. She cost quite a bit, but she never failed. With Kumud's qualifications, it at seemed as if finding a surrogate mother for Shakti would be simple. Almost all at once, all the interested young women began to withdraw their interest. After a month only one had decided not to take their chances on this handsome man.
The one woman still interested was Lana, a British woman in her early thirties. She was educated, attractive, and most importantly, interested. Worried that Lana would hear the rumors that scared the other women away, Salai pressured Kumud into marrying the woman. They wed soon after.
Lana was as jealous and petty as she was attractive and manipulative. Six years into their marriage, Kumud was lovingly watching Shakti play. He made the mistake of telling Lana that one day Shakti may be more beautiful than she. Two weeks later he passed away on a family trip, due to an ill-timed heart attack.
The Most Beautiful Child in Mumbai
Shakti mourned her father. The headlines read, “Most Beautiful Child in Mumbai Loses her Father.” All she knew was that she felt as if on one sunny afternoon in the countryside, her entire world had fallen apart.
Her luck seemed to change as well. She barely escaped accident after accident. First a car wreck, then food poisoning, and then an attempted mugging. Each time she barely escaped with her life. On the last attempt she overheard her attackers talking about how they were hired to attack her. Shakti finally understood that these occurrences were not accidents, but planned attacks.
After the attempted mugging, she fled her step-mother’s home and went into the streets of Mumbai. Here she learned to lead a life much different from her previously blessed existence. Here she learned to stand up for herself, to make her own way in life, and to lead others. Slowly, she formed a family of seven other children who looked to her for leadership. The children were young, but they enjoyed hard work and looked out for each other. They were all they had in this world.
Shakti Finds Her Family
A year passed with Shakti on the streets. She fiercely protected her tribe of misfits, while attempting to keep a low profile. She knew that she was never safe so long as her step-mother was alive.
One night she befriended a journalist with a kind heart. He was trying to bring attention to the plight of the orphaned children in the slums. While she led him through the twisting alleys, he managed to snap a photo of her. Even though she was a street urchin, she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
He planned to save her by making her famous. She was placed on the cover of every newspaper in town. Touted, once more, as the most beautiful woman in Mumbai. Some even referred to her as the Goddess of the Slums.
Frightened, Shakti moved her family and went into hiding. However her kind heart was still her greatest weakness. One day. an old woman stumbled into the den of the street urchins. She was starving and sick. Shakti took her in, and nursed her back to health.
The goddess of the Slums Gets Her Revenge
A week later, Shakti, silently slid into their makeshift kitchen. She thought she heard a noise, but everyone should have been out. She saw the old woman poisoning what little food they had.
At first, all Shakti felt was rage. Then she realized that all of the food had been poisoned. This was an attack on her entire family, not just on Shakti.
Moments later, she looked down past her blood covered hands, at the old woman's lifeless body. She knew what she had to do.
Lana wallowed in her new found wealth as she enjoyed her lavish dinner. She normally wasn't one for meat, but tonight's tasted divine. It tasted even better since she paid for it with her dead husband’s money. Now she could relax since there was no one to question her claim to the money.
As she finished the last bite of her meal, she looked up to see the Goddess of the Slums smirking.