Short Stories >> Nakhreliyun >> Lady with Magic Powers (Kamman Gor)

Short Stories

Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani

After two months Ram-Ma had returned today from Ajmer. Adjusting her pallu on her head and bringing it further on her forehead, she entered into her house but on seeing the fresh blue paint on the wall she thought to herself that perhaps she had come to the wrong house. As she turned back, and was retreating her steps Moole-Ma from the opposite barrack came out putting a dupatta on her head. She said, "Ram-Ma what took you so long?" Immediately Ram-Ma realised that she was indeed in her own house. She kept watching the walls and ceiling of the house as well as the small cupboard in the kitchen. Moole-Ma said, "Your daughter-in-law is not at home. I shall go and call her. She had informed me to call for her from the tailor woman. The poor thing had also gone to the station in the morning". Ram-Ma said, "Oh what could I do, the train was overcrowded so I had to travel by the next train" Moole-Ma quickly went off to call the daughter-in-law. As Ram-Ma was caressing her grand-daughter's head who was sleeping on the cot, her widowed daughter Seelan came along, breathless, dragging two sacks in her hands. The labourer had also put down her trunk. Her daughter-in-law too arrived at the same time. She covered her head and bent down to touch her mother-in-law's feet. As she looked up she saw her mother-in-law looking at her. She felt shy looking at the amazement on her mother-in-law's face. She felt like laughing and putting her dupatta in her mouth she looked towards her sister-in-law who had no time either to talk to her or even look in her direction. She started taking out fruits and clothes from her bags and filled the entire house. As the daughter-in-law looked at her mother-in-law, she was shocked because her mother-in-law's face had become very miserable and she spontaneously blurted out, "What happened Ammi?" Her mother-in-law had tears in her eyes and she couldn't meet her daughter-in-law's gaze. Out of frustration she said, "Who am I? Am I a witch? Oh no, there is no place left for me so I can leave this house forever". Saying this her forehead filled with sweat and she burst out "Hey Ram!" and threw herself on the pillow. The daughter-in-law could not understand anything. She was motionless. Her sister-in-law shouted out, "Arey what happened to you. You are quite fine. What calamity befell on you as you entered the house?" Although she was shouting, yet she was busy opening her bags. The daughter-in-law brought a hand- fan and began fanning the mother-in-law, but when she realised that she was not unconscious but was simply staring at the walls of the house she immediately brought some vegetables and rotis in a plate and a glass of water in the other hand. She said, "Ammi you have come from the hot sun. have some food and water".

The mother-in-law sat down and had a morsel of food and water. She felt much better. Seelan carried a few clothes and tidying the hair from her face, she picked up the soap case from the window sill, and looking at her mother's plate walked out, saying "I am going for a bath".

The daughter-in-law collected the clothes left by Seelan and began putting them in a trunk which was under the mother-in-law's cot. The mother-in-law noticed that the bag was divided neatly into two parts by a partition in the middle. In one part there were a couple of soap cakes, a bottle of oil, a box of liquid blue, some multani mitti etc and in the other part there was a blouse and a few handkerchiefs. The daughter-law put the heap of clothes in that section. There was a long box in that too. The daughter-in-law took out some eatables from it and put them in plates neatly and kept them before her mother-in-law. Placing a pile of small plates and bowls before she said, "Ammi, put the sweets in these plates and bowls and we shall distribute them in the neighbourhood". Her mother-in-law was dumbfounded. She simply stared at her strangely. The daughter-in-law quickly cleared the floor and the house was clean again. The mother-in-law had no choice but to put the sweets in the plates and bowls. In the meanwhile, the daughter-in-law had kneaded some dough and had lit the fire and Seelan too came out of the bath. She remembered the pile of clothes and shouted, "Oh where are the clothes? Ammi didn't I tell you that she won't tolerate me at all? Now what problems did she have with the clothes? I don't know where she threw them". Seelan kept standing there with a crying face, drying her hair. The daughter-in-law, while cooking, said, "Dadi the clothes are safe. We shall get them washed tomorrow. Please eat your lunch first and let us go and distribute the sweets in the neighbourhood" Seelan thought that there would be a big fight and she would say "Yes, I'm a witch. How will I tolerate you?" But the daughter-in-law was not the same as before. As the neighbours got the sweets, they gathered in the evening to congratulate Ram's mother on her brother's wedding. The lady too excitedly spoke of all relatives in Ajmer. She held forth speaking of bazaars, temples and Pushkar.Looking at her daughter-in-law's happy face while serving papads to the neighbours the mother-in-law was intermittently getting very surprised. Suddenly a child came with a message that the tailor Savitri was calling for Ram's wife who looked at her mother-in-law for permission. The mother-in-law thought to herself ‘have you asked me for permission before that you are now asking permission?' but the daughter-in-law was in a hurry, so she said, "Ammi I shall be back soon. You don't worry about cooking; I shall do that when I get back". The mother-in-law too said, "You may go daughter".

The daughter-in-law slipped her fair feet into a pair of black slippers and left. Once she was gone, all the women folk came closer to Ram's mother and said, "The field is now clear. Now at least reveal your secret to us". But what she spoke oabout herdaughter-in-law had in fact thickened the plot. The mother-in-law said, "I am cursing myself for my daughter-in-law's state. Perhaps I am the unfortunate one who tortures her and makes her so fragile.The moment I have left the house, I see that the house has freshened and the lady has bloomed like a flower. Who knows from where she has gathered so much energy. She has cleaned the house and organised all the kitchen utensils". Moolas' mother said, "I cannot tell lies but the poor girl has been doing the work all by herself. She has been sweeping and swapping the floor and has painted the house with her own hands. I stay opposite and have been watching all this from my house".

"But I still wonder from where she has gathered so much enery to work like a donkey and yet become so healthy and pink?She has come into this house since three years and not once have I seen her cleaning the house or picking up a broom and sweeping the floor.Shw would be just lying on the cot. My mother wsa always struggling and would be so tired and the little work that she would do would be with a grumble-mumble". Saying this Seelan came closer to her mother and sat".Every body was wondering this energy. Ultimately Kheema's mother opened her mouth.She became solemn and pursed her lips in such a manner that everyone became eager to hear her.She said, "Keep this to yourselves; this is the work of Savitri the tailorI know that Kaman Ghor very well. That girl is a terror. She has her entire in-law's family running round her little finger" Hotu's mother butted in, "The lady knows black magic too.She is only stitching and teaching other girls. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law are all for her.Sometimes she is gossiping with the girls,reading books and newspapers and yet her mother-in-law feels that nobody elsein the camp has such a wonderful daughter-in-law as hers" Kheme's mother hit the cot with her palm saying,"To hell with that mad woman". She pursed her lips and said, "That lady is such a stronhead. Every week or two she is at the movies with her husband. Every day she steps out proudly and confidently with a new dress like a vamp..."

Gope's mother who is Savitrineighbour and who lives in the barrack next to Savitri said, "Truth shall always win and falsity will lose but I tell you even though she goes to the movies regularly ,if one talks to her she replies in such a well mannered way as if pearls are falling from her mouth. She has started watching films now, but when she married and came the house was in shambles, she was very simple in her dressing and stayed at home.For months together the poor thing would be bending down, stitching then. She would charge a small amount Now her stitching is valued and she has become popular.Ofcourse the moment she stepped into the house she took her mother-in-law and sister-in-law in her control.She removed the maid too and started saving through miserliness and made a few things for the house. Only after that she could be happy and earned some respect".

Khema's mother shook her head and said, "Yes,yes this is true. When Savitri got married and came they did not have anything.Just broken cots and torn mattresses, their house was like that of sweepers. Biut anything is possible to achieve through black magic.Her mother-in-law is so thrilled and the sister-in-law is all for her". Ram's mother was scared and said, "I was advised by Amar that I shoue friends with my daughter-in-law, but as soon as I went to Ajmer the girl fell into the company of Savitri.. I am a simple woman.I don't know anything about magic and all".

At that time the daughter-in-law entered carrying a small sack of clothes.Everyone's lips were sealed.They all kept watching her for a while.She quickly went to the kitchen and lit the fire and began chopping vegetables to cook.As the local temple bell rang everyone got up together. Khema's mother said, "it is twilight time and it is not good to lose one's breath in gossiping about others". The daughter-in-law was well versed with Khema's mother's nature, put her head down and continued chopping the vegetable and smiling too.

As all the ladies came out of the barrack Moola's mother, sniffing nose powder said, "Ram's wife is really too much. If our daughters-in-law had seen us sitting like this they would have shouted their lungs and said, "It is time for your son to return home and you have still not started cooking? You mother and daughter are just sitting and gossiping. Now the temple's sound was heard. Gope's mother said, "God you are great..." Everyone dispersed and went to their respective homes.

After four to five days there was a gathering in Moola's mother's barrack, opposite Ram's mother's house. Ram's mother had brought all the paraphernalia for a Chillum party from Ajmer.The Chillum was being smoked and there was a lot of gossiping doing the roundsAll members of the gossip gang were present.While smoking on her Chillum Kheema's mother asked, "Ram's mother, my prediction was right Isn'it? Your daughter Seelan is under the control of your daughter-in-law and the poor thing is supporting her sister-in-law. Poor thing did not get any happiness either in her maternal home or in her in-laws home. Now just trust in God and see one day she will control you too through Savitri's black magic" she again began smoking. Ram's mother was quietly listening to everything. Gope's mother, supporting that, said, "Please don't reveal the middle and to bottom. If she did not agree to what you said, she would have not listened quietly". Moola's mother was saying "Shh Shh". Khema's mother understood and all were quiet. Moolah's mother's house was divided into two with a thick jute curtain. Moola's mother was sitting on one side from where one could see a part of the door and the gang of older ladies was on the inside. Every one was asking Moolas' mother in gestures, "Who is it?". She simply put a finger on her lips and gestured them to keep quiet.Now everyone was eager to listen. Moolah's wife was on the other side of the curtain, cooking vegetables.

"You are busy chopping vegetables. Give me a cup of flour. I remembered while busy I stitching I forgot that the flour is finished. Tomorrow when the wheat arrives I shall clean it". Everyone recognised that the voice was Ram's mother's daughter-in-law. They were all talking about her and she had arrived.

Moola's wife said, "There is enough flour my sister but you are really too much. After stitching the whole day,now you will cook? Oh yes mothers-in-laws have to only gossip and daughters-in-laws have to slog".

Ram's wife said, "Don't dare to say that. This is not Ammi's age to do hard work.Inspite of it she does work of buying groceries, vegetables, grinding the flour and all that. She is the one I have in all my good and bad times. My sister-in-law may go aaway sooner or later. If she is called back by her in-laws we will not stop her. The poor thing keeps helping me in stitching and cooking". There was a silence for a few moments.

Again ram's wife laughingly asked, "why are you so surprised?"

"Won't I be surprised? You have removed your maid too". This was Moola's wife talking.

"That's it siter. One day when ammi went to Ajmer the maid had not come. At first I was terrifed at the thought of the maid not coming. Savitri the tailor woman had come to my house. I told her, "Please send your maid to my house".She answered "We don't like the work of any maid. Our hands are intact". So I took courage and began doing the household work. There was so much dirt all around the house. The maid had mess on the corners of the house. I cleaned all that by scratching them. I realised that there was nobody to complain and nobody to asy anything. The more I awas cleaning the more happier my mind was getting.The next day too she did not come. I cleaned the floors and the ceiling. I cleaned the bulb with awet cloth. In the evening when my husband came home he was shocked and said, who has made the house sparke?' I said, "Who else is there but me".he was extremely pleased and said, "It like Diwali today". In the night he kept pressing my feet saying that I had done so much work I might fall sick.But I was more surprised that I could eat well and sleep well and don't ask aboutbthe way he was loving me".

The women behind the curtain were all listening to this. Both the daughters-in-law were laughing as they were tickling each other or so.

There was a small shout. Ram's wife was heard saying, "Oh my God. You are too much. Can't you see that I have hurt my finger with a needle". There was a sound of "phoo Phoo" Ram's mother unconsciously asked, "How did the needle hurt you Daughter-in-law?" Everyone became cautious as if they were all caught stealing together, which became evident due to the silly behaviour of Ram's mother. Behid the curtain, Moola's wife was saying "Shh Shh. I had forgotten that there was a Chillum party in Amma's chamber".

Ram's wife peeped through the curatin and facing the party said, "Ammi you are here?"

The mother-in-law just kept looking around.

Khema's mothre's face just darkened. Suddenly Ram's mother cressed her cheeks and said, "My dear Don't worry, I will come and cook food for Ram"

Ram's wife went red in the cheeks in joy, by this unique behaviour of her mother-in-law. She took the bowl of flour and went away.

Khema's mother now burst out mockingly and caressing Moola's mother's cheeks she said, "My dear, I will cook, you be relaxed". And then she hit the cot with her hand and said, "Oh bother about them! Just aslight needle prick and the mother-in-law is breathless".

She got up, picked the cloth of sniffing powder and everyone else gotup too. While leaving Hotu's mother taunted, "Now just wait how you also will serve your daughter-in-law like Savitri's mother-in-law".

Ram's mother wsa affected by all thses taunts. She quietly smiled and walked towards her barrack.

- Translated by Arun Babani

The End


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