Short Stories >> Atam Vishwas >> Longing For A Sindhi
Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
As Ram's mother entered the hall, wiping the sweat from her neck, she noticed that a crowd had gathered to see her. She laughed and said, "Kishin's mother, what has happened to you? You did not come yourself to receive me at the airport. But your poor grandsons were waiting with a placard with my name on it. Oh, but please get up and give me a hug. We are meeting after so many years".
Kishin's mother continued to sit on the sofa. Pointing to her knees she said, "They are very painful" Then, Ram's mother moved away the child sitting next to her, and she sat next to Kishin's mother, hugged her and kissed her. Now Kishin's mother's daughters-in-law stood in a queue, waiting to touch Ram's mother's feet.
Ram's mother's luggage consisted of wheeled bags. Kishin's mother gestured to her grandsons who took both the bags and kept them in a room.
A maid servant came in pushing a wheeled table on which were some papads, biscuits, water and tea.
Ram's mother said, "Oh, what will I do with tea? Please get me cold drink or something. It is so hot in your Bombay". Kishin's mother told her daughter-in-law to increase the air-condition. Then she sat down to talk about Spain with Ram's mother. Ram's mother said, "I am living in actual heaven. First you tell me. Why did you return from America?"
"My dear, I had gone for twelve months but..." Hitting her legs she continued, "Firstly that wretched winter, and then, the English language which I don't understand. So, I would be sitting for days together like a dumb person. My grandchildren would teach me a little but they were so busy in playing, TV..."
"O my God, Good you came back! How can one live like a dumb person? That too in old age! I am surrounded by my grandchildren. I give them idols to bathe, to dress. I have taught them the JAP SAHEB. They are playful and mischievous..."
"They must be doing that in English?
"What English? I myself am not a London - educated grandmother that they will talk in English. My son and daughter-in-law have learned Spanish, because it is used in business also. They have also learned a little of French and German. But why should I lie, they speak Sindhi in front of me. I had told them once that they may speak in any language when at the shop but at home, I get angry if they speak in any other language. Listening to Sindhi language being spoken is like a cool breeze in summer".
Kishin's mother started laughing, "You have taught them cleverly..."
"My dear, you call this cleverness? Once when they had put me on a train to go to Ajmer all alone, an old man had given me cold water on a station. I told him "God bless you Abba". The old man was overwhelmed and said, "My dear Amma, you are a Sindhi. That is why I will get a double blessing".
I asked him, "Why Abba? Why will you get a double blessing?" Then he replied, "Amma, during the holy months I have always been offering cool water to everyone at this station; just like we used to do in Sindh. But today, listening to a few words of Sindhi blessings felt like a cool breeze in a hot summer".
"O great, my good-hearted Ram's mother! Now tell me, do all your grandchildren talk to you in Sindhi?"
"Now, again you are asking the same thing? My grandchildren speak to me in Sindhi. While feeding them every spoonful of milk I tell them-Kheer Piyande haaren, Ta Vaar khusanda Maarey..." (Sindhi Proverb)
"Enough. Enough. Now one may say that you are less of a grandmother and more of a teacher at home.... I would not have the patience to do the same".
Forgetting about her knees, Ram's mother patted Kishin's mother's knee and said, "Amma, you pay for your own deeds".
"Oh, my Amma, you hit me so badly. I am in so much pain now...".
"Kishin's mother...Kishin's mother...What has happened to you? You have become crippled. Why don't you get up and walk? You didn't even get up to hug me. You are sitting like a lame person. When you go to America you become dumb. And you are a few years younger than me".
"Yes. Yes. I remember everything".
"Just see how I make you walk and laugh before leaving! We both don't have any problems of money. I will make sure to take you to a few Homeopaths, Allopaths, Magnet therapists and apply other Home remedies and make you walk with me".
"Oh, you will make me walk? If I am able to walk with a strong and healthy person like you then I will surely pay you a visit in Spain too. But what is this hugging and kissing that you have learned?"
"It is a custom in Spain. Men and women greet each other this way. And you know very well that my whole life is spent in Spain. But everyone abroad has a desire to come to India. This year my sons asked me, "Amma don't you wish to visit India this year?' I said, "Sons, ofcourse I wish to, but I have a great desire to see Sindh first". Right now, I actually wish to meet my best friend in Bombay..." I hardly expressed my feelings and my son had already booked my ticket to Bombay".
Kishin's mother said, "My sons only need my services. But though I love their children, I don't like their arrogance. They are surrounded by maids and servants..."
"I too can afford many maids and servants if I desire so. But I have taught everyone that they should have so much love for each other that they should never back out to put in any effort to see each other happy. Daughters-in-law, sons and grandchildren have such a connection between them that when my husband died, they wouldn't leave me alone even for a moment".
"And they all converse with you in Sindhi? Their Covent education was all wasted?"
"Shut up my stupid friend! Some one may hear you. Convent education is for their business and what about all that I have taught them with each spoon of milk? Should that go wasted?"
Shaking her head Kishin's mother kept reflecting for quite some time. Suddenly she remembered something. She rang the bell near the sofa and a servant appeared. She asked Ram's mother, "What will you have? Soda or Lemonade...?" Saying this, she covered her mouth with her dupatta and began laughing.
Ram's mother answered, "That lemonade which we would open with our thumb in Sindh..." Saying this she burst out laughing too.
Kishin's mother told her, "Your same laughter of Sindh has filled me with a longing for Sindh and Sindhis!"
- Translated by Arun Babani