Short Stories >> Yugantar >> Devoid of Wisdom (Akula jo Aandho)
Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
Picking up the Gita,the mother called out to her daughter saying, "Anita, I suppose that during the period when this Gita was written, the people must have definitely had some appliance like the T.V. Otherwise, how could Sanjay have narrated the story of the war to Drishtiraj,from miles away?"
"It is quite possible, but I think that Drishtiraj was not blind. He was devoid of wisdom. His blindness has been used only as a metaphor. Otherwise it was not possible for a sensible man could give birth to a hundred Kauravs.And with so many children, he must have surely tried to discipline them. He must have punished them so much that they must have become merciless. There was no humanness in father nor the sons. So much so that they did not have any royal sense of shame while dis-robing their sister-in-law Draupadi in the wide-open assembly".
The mother said, "But why did Gandhari blindfold herself?"
Anita answered, "I feel that the mean Drishtiraj married the beautiful princess of Gandhar, but he was always doubtful that she may love somebody else. And so, she too blindfolded herself, keeping in mind her husband's suspicious nature. How can a sweet natured woman save herself from seeing the characterless behaviour of her husband and her sons?"
The mother asked, "Anita, how did you understand all this so well?"
The daughter answered, Mom, I have opted for the Psychology course in college...and...?"
Mother asked, "And what?"
"And I'm seeing at home how Dad keeps shouting at you, intoxicated by his brute force and rowdiness. He also beats up his sons at small things. He thinks that he can punish his children by pulling their ears and make them into idols of good character and hang them up on the wall. And what is the result? The elder son Ramesh snatches things from neighbouring children by bullying them. Dad even beat him with iron rods and then... The day Dad was drunk and abusing you, you used an abusive word and told him "Keep on drinking" and Ramesh bit dad on his arm...Using all his power, the father sat on his sixteen-year-old son's chest and was strangulating him. The son also simply threw him off ...Even then dad did not learn any lesson. His rowdiness...Proclaiming all the time-I am the bread winner... I am the head of the house...Ramesh should leave my house or I will kill him".
Remembering that frightening incident, mother burst out crying, "Stop it Anita! Don't remind me that. Today I am longing for my son, like Kaushalya. But I am tolerating my husband's injustice. Yes, I too have blindfolded myself like Gandhari. There was no other way for me. Even today, he is controlling such an innocent daughter like you and I am turning a blind eye to it. If I even utter a word, he comes to beat me in the kitchen".
"Mom, you don't worry at all. I don't belong to the times of the Gita. I am in a good job and I shall marry and go off after I find a suitable partner".
"Yes, do exactly that. It is better to be independent rather than live in this merciless person's prison. He has closed all paths for me. He doesn't permit me to have any relationship either with my parents or with my in-laws. For me the world is all blank, as if I am living in a graveyard".
The daughter embraced her mother and said, "Mom,will you agree to something?"
"If I don't marry...?"
"What will be achieved by that?"
"I shall save money and buy a new house for you. We can bid good bye to dad and leave his house".
"No, my child. This your large-heartedness, but how can I, Gandhari, become so selfish?"
"Mom, you yourself have been saying that iron cuts iron, then why don't you become selfish in response to dad's selfishness?" The mother took a deep breathe and said, "My daughter, this is the life of a woman. If there is a tussle between two selfish people then both the iron rods will give out sparks which would engulf you children too..."
After some thought the daughter replied, "It is not as if you both have not fought before. When you cry out loud after facing dad's abuses, insults and rowdiness, aren't these too sparks of the fire for us children...?"
"Yes" saying this, mother took the Gita and tried to put her attention into it. The tears kept flowing from her eyes. Leaving everything aside today, her daughter sat before her. Suddenly she asked, "Mom, instead of reading the Gita, why don't you think about why are we like this. So different and cut-off from others".
Closing the Gita, the mother said, "I feel that thinking about this is your job. I am getting up".
Finally, Anita too got married and left.
One day the mother said, "Everyday, returning from work, you bring a bottle and sit at home...Instead at this advanced age, we could visit relatives or perhaps go to some Satsang together...I feel very lonely at home...Had Ramesh been here I would have been busy with his children..."
Ramesh' father was furious, and said, "You got an itch again? Shall I bring the hammer? I'll break your bones if you mention that dog again".
Ramesh's mother kept quiet in the corner, shedding tears.
Her husband again began his attacks on her. "You are mentioning your relatives again and again. From where have they come again? Has any relative ever shown any concern for you?"
With tearful eyes Ramesh's mother replied, "Seeing your temper nobody dares to step into our house".
"Why don't they step in. Moreover, why should they even come over? Everybody is happy in their own lives. Who needs another? We are barely hand-to-mouth and how can we maintain relationships..."
"What will anyone take away? And why are we hand-to-mouth? There is enough to eat and live..."
"Shut up you fool, or I'll pull out your tongue".
Then Ramesh's mother got up and went and sat on a low stool in the kitchen. Thinking about her condition she began crying. When the postman knocked at the door, she was frightened. Telegram at this hour? She immediately tied a knot to her dupatta. She bowed down to the picture of the Saint in the kitchen. By that time, her husband received the telegram and arrogantly came towards the kitchen saying, "Your daughter is returning from abroad tomorrow". Now the mother's heart started beating hard.
Seeing the joy on her face the husband said, "She is coming with two children and she'll make you bankrupt".
"So, aren't you anxious to see your daughter too?" Ramesh's mother asked him, gathering courage.
"You have become rather proud to hear about that daughter of a bitch". He went out to pick something to hit her with. The wife then closed the kitchen door from inside.
There was loud thud heard from the bathroom and then there was a silence for a few moments. This was followed by a loud cry of Ramesh's father, "Oh you, the daughter of the unfortunate. You've finished me..."
From the kitchen door, Ramesh's mother could see just one arm of her husband, with the fist tightly closed, on the bathroom floor. She came out immediately and she saw that her husband lying unconscious on the bathroom floor with one hand on his chest. With his other fist he was trying to control the pain in his chest.
Opening the front door, she yelled in a muffled voice, "Is there any one to help. Any God-sent person?"
Within fifteen minutes the entire house was filled with people. They picked Ramesh's father and put him on the cot. Someone said, "He is drunk and he is stinking of alcohol".
One on the neighbouring old ladies who had also walked in, lifted his arm and realised that there was no life in it. She immediately said, "Where is the man? He has reached the Gods. Where is the question of intoxication? Go and fetch that South Indian doctor who lives below".
No one moved to call for the doctor. Then Ramesh's mother said, "I will pay his fees but somebody go and bring the doctor".
Then one of Ramesh's friend ran out fast, but on arrival the doctor confirmed what the old lady had already said, that it was a massive heart attack and he had died instantly...
Ramesh's mother the rest of the night in the corner, like a sack. At dawn, when Anita arrived with her two children and three bags, the entire neighbourhood woke-up again and this time, instead of men, a few women came into the room and each one, according to her sense of wisdom, pleaded with Anita to take her mother along with herself, after completing all the rituals regarding her father. Here she has been so isolated that she is not in touch with anyone and neither is anyone interested in keeping contact with her. Anita was well aware how her mother had suppressed her nature but she did not utter a word to anyone. On the twelfth day, after the Brahmins had finished eating, Anita noticed that a man hurriedly walked into the room quickly and sat besides her mother.
"Ramesh!" Anita shouted, looking intently at him. Then the mother too started sobbing, "Oh, you have left my son as an orphan..." she said.
The mother could recognise Ramesh but she was broken inside ..." What kind of Ramesh is this? A long beard...Sunken eyes and stinking of alcohol!"
Anita asked, "You never contacted mom all these years".
"Arey Baba, I had come to your wedding too, but none of you recognised me. The one who recognised me, glared at me from a distance and said, "I will kill you if you speak to anyone here".
Looking at his appearance the mother thought that he was another image of his father.
After the crowd left, the three of them sat down to talk after dinner. The mother gave Ramesh his father's clothes. He shaved and had a bath.
Anita said, "Ramesh, now you can live here and look after Mom, I live abroad..."
"You are free Didi, I have lived a very difficult life outside this home, I have been really unhappy".
"Brother, I have understood you in these few days. It is only your outer appearance that is of a vagabond, but your mind is pure".
The mother said, "Just watch how I will nurture him with good food, ghee...But if he mentions alcohol then neither I am his mother, nor he is my son".
Putting his arm around his mother Ramesh said, "I promise you that I shall not have alcohol nor will I shout like dad".
The sister lovingly said, "Then my husband will surely invite you abroad".
The day Anita was to leave her mother's face was worth seeing. She embraced Anita and said, "Don't lose heart my dear!"
Ramesh said, "Just look, we belong to such a cultured family, though now we are just three members".
"No, it is not so Ramesh. Actually, it is a reciprocation. If we connect lovingly with relatives, they too do the same".
"But for that one has to believe in goodness of others". Mother said.
"Oh yes, I understand that. Dad made that mistake of isolating himself. Alcohol and abuses were his primary goals in life..."
The mother was watching the sky into the bright future.
- Translated by Arun Babani