Too Many Facts About Mina
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- Mina was born during the reign of Shah Jahan - That is, about the era the Taj Mahal was built (1632 - 1643). No, she had nothing to do with it whatsoever.
- Mina was sold by her parents under the expectation she would become a devadasi (that's the modern name) - a temple prostitute. She remebers this as a desperate attempt to support a large family.
- Dalits (known then as Untouchables) weren't the primary source of devadasi back then, but she certainly doesn't remember meeting an Brahmin devadasi.
- She was relocated a good distance from her home for her "training". She either doesn't remember where this was, or never learned the name of the location to begin with.
- It was during an escape from training that her "boneless nature" was discovered by her owners. She never quite made it to the populace - who spoke a language she had yet to learn - and her grey eyes made her quite identifiable otherwise, even if she could slightly alter her complexion.
- Eventually it was decided by a few of the monks that, if they were going to make any use of her, she had to get a different deal. One which she could be convinced that she had chosen.
- Two Brahmin Monks started trying to train her shape-shifting capabilities. During this time she figured out the third eye and four-armed forms.
- After which, the three - more or less trusting each other - started on a pilgrimage to different temples, with worshiper's alms funding the journey. The Monk's claims as to what Mina was varied considerably between temples - Untouchable never being one of them - and they never went straight between two neighboring temples, either.
- Mina went along with it because the got attention and a cut of the alms.
- Occasionally they would experiment with more radical forms - many went poorly. Nagin went over well, though.
- After a few seasons, the monks were getting tired of a nomadic life - so new monks were brought into the scheme, one at a time. This began a cycle that ended up lasting over 150 years - New monk comes in, becomes "enlightened" to the nature of the scheme, old monk retires to live out his days wealthy. Mina conveniently "forgets" where old caches of money are. Their potential stomping grounds were wherever a Hindu temple sat - Modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
- At some point, "Chakki blessing" became a pay-for service. Mina would, depending on the amount of alms given, examine a grindstone by pushing her hand, head, or whole body though it. It only took a hand to tell if it was cut properly, but people would pay for a show. A lot.
- The performance, though, was extremely detrimental to her body. She noticed her vision was getting worse, though assumed at first she was "finally getting old", as at 120 you'd expect someone to at least have more grey hair. What she didn't realize was the full body treatment, which the current set of monks of course encouraged people to pay for, was removing any trace of human organs which she didn't think to rebuild after the process - teeth and hair were somewhat preserved, eyes obviously less so, skin was noticable if absent, but everything else became a incongruous mass - not that this effected her normal bearing.
- Through the generations of monks, the scheme itself was muddled. Eventually, She got a true believer that was convinced he was a disciple worshiping a demigod. Trying to calm him down... he took the news that Mina was a Untouchable extremely poorly. "Convince the other monk to help form a mob against her or die" poorly.
- When she escaped - because how can you expect a 150-years-proficent shape shifter not to escape - she started going over her records of the old money caches. Some were gone, some were in now-worthless currencies, only good to be melted down, but many survived.
- No, actually she got a new pair of glasses. She still has some 200 year old frames - though she won't wear them now, because modern lens grinding is better.
- Eventually, once she had secured enough of the old caches to live comfortably for a very long time, she started searching for her home town. Not being a heavy Hindu area, she'd was never quite sure if she'd been back near it.
- Eventually she found family - several generations removed, but those grey eye genes holding on with tenacity. Her hair still not completely white, she became the old aunt settling down after a hard life. She married, hoped to live out her days.
- And then her first husband died without giving her children.
- Her Niece's and Nephew's Kids were having grandkids. She moved - the family had members in many towns - but the reputation started to proceed her.
- Some time between the 1st and second husbands she was off doing childcare for British Colonials - perhaps because she had come to the conclusion that she'd never hold her own baby. She became fluent in speaking and reading English, and essentially received a basic western education along with her charges (over the span of serving several families). English occupation, after the East India Company had been disbanded, at least had a stable banking system for her accumulated wealth, willing to serve a Untouchable if she spoke to the appropriate people (the non-hindus), although she never completely depended upon it.
- Eventually, about the time she remarried, she moved back to family and started being more open (to her extended family, at least) about her past. Aunt Mina became the family's secret. And the one that always gave good gifts.
- Having gotten tired of retirement, Mina got a silk loom. there were decades she'd use it and decades she wouldn't, but she was quite competent.
- First she was an older wife, then after a move, a younger wife, another move - all to different towns with family near - a widower.
- Uddyam is Mina's third Husband - and his second wife. He thought he was too old to remarry, and started working in a traveling Tent Cinema. Eventually his own family caught up with him, And marriage to Mina was proposed - knowing she was a widower. But, they had met before.
- Mina had spent almost two straight weeks at the Tent cinema - enough that Uddyam started inviting her back to the projection "room". He easily gathered that she knew a lot of stuff, didn't care about money, and was depressed.
- When the cinema was about to move to the next town - exactly like a tent circus - Mina invited him back to her home.
- When Monsoon season came, he was back. And a Wild man. And didn't run away screaming when he found out Mina had no bones.
- When his family found him on the circuit the next year, having expected him back *with them* over monsoon season, when the cinema wasn't going, he let Mina's name slip.
- A few months into their marriage they decided Uddyam really did want to keep up the cinema travel - and having those few months together might actually be better than being together the whole time. Thus, the monsoon cycle repeats.
- That was 15 years ago,
- Jyoti grew up with aunt Mina around - and when her own mother passed in her late teens, she was of such a nervous disposition she actually forced her husband to follow Mina through a move. She's one of the few of the family who will deny Mina's secret to Mina's face - and to give her stability, Mina lets her. So Mina's behind her loom a lot - not that she minds, it's somthing to do - earning money rather than living off interest.
- Usha is Jyoti's oldest daughter, and a firecracker of a girl - possibly because Jyoti overwhelmed herself by being a mother to too many too fast.