Short Stories >> Vichoro >> Don't Value (Qadur Kaanhe)

Short Stories

Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani

"Falling in love with thankless people I wasted my young years".

The melodious and sweet voice of Geetu was coming out from the bathroom, mingling with the cool morning breeze. It reached the ears of Gul's mother who stopped midway while bathing her idols.

Tears flowed down Gul's mother's eyes. As she was dressing up the idols, and had just opened the Geeta, her daughter Geetu, who was slim, matured and clear skinned, came out of the bathroom and began hanging the used clothes on the hooks. The song on her lips was cut off by a coughing fit. Her mother turned and told her, "My dear see that you bring your medicine today".

Irritated, Geetu said, "First ask your daughter-in-law if she will give me money for the medicine?"

Nirmala replied from the kitchen, "If you won't even spend money on your medicines then why are you earning by stitching?"

In a loud tone the mother-in-law replied, "What are you talking? You will now not give her money for the medicines? As it is she labors in the house, loses her eye sight running the machine. And when she earns five-seven rupees you are eyeing that too".

Nirmala came to the kitchen door and said, "I'm not asking for myself".

Geetu who was drying her hair at the door said, "You say that I must buy clothes from my stitching money. Now you say that even my medicines I must buy from my stitching money. Tomorrow you will say that I should eat from my stitching money Then why should I do the stitching?"

Entering the room forcefully Nirmala said, "Ammi are you listening to her? Is she doing me a favor by stitching? If you don't want to stitch then you may go to hell." Geetu answered, "Yes yes, why should I stitch? What burden have you taken of mine?"

"Haven't I taken your responsibility? Till you didn't earn from stitching we were doing everything. The money I get for the house expense is spent here itself. I'm not enjoying myself".

The mother-in-law said, brushing her hands, "Now you are talking too much. You are enjoying too. You are enjoying as much as your husbands is earning. Look at Geetu. The poor thing is only slogging in the house".

Nirmala frowned and said, "As if I have troubled her".

The mother-in-law put her head down into the Geeta and said, "I would atleast say this much that you don't have any value for such a gold-hearted sister-in-law".

Putting her finger on her chin Nirmala said, "How I don't value her? That guy did not value her who did not consider her beauty and love but stressed on dowry. What value can I give her? She is getting the best to wear".

Geetu sitting on the cot, rubbing her feet with a towel said, "What best have I got? You have even bought me four dresses at one time ever".

Nirmala came and sat on the floor with her mother-in-law and said angrily, "Look at her Ammi. What should I tell her? When have I ever got four or eight dresses at one time in this house that I have not given this madam?"

In a calm manner the mother-in-law said, "You get everything but even then you blame your luck. Your husband too gives you his entire salary and you do whatever you have to with it. You live the way you want to and nobody tells you a word".

Nirmal left her mother-in-law's side and went and lay down on the cot. In utter anger she said, "He hands over his salary to me because he knows that I will spend it cautiously. You were always running short of cash. I am making everyone happy but even then there is not a penny's value for me".

The mother-in-law closed the holy book forcefully and said, "There is no value for you? Actually you should value me who has given up all control while alive. Baba what value to expect from you when my son himself did not value me. He simply disrespected his own mother".

Gul came down from the loft and said, "What are you all arguing about? Amma I actually freed you from daily hassles and given an opportunity to pray and be peaceful. You used to be so hassled while handling household accounts. Now you are so relaxed".

"Oh God!" the mother put on her spectacles and started reading the holy book.

Her son smiled and said, "Just wait. Now there is a little one coming. You can sit and pray to him".

"You are married six years and you have finally shown results".

"You don't have any value. What was my salary before? Did I have the capacity to bring up one more being? Now leave all this aside. Nirmala just see, is this shirt well stitched?"

Geetu stared at the shirt collar and said, "What are you asking Nirmala? The corner of the collar is slanted. If I had stitched this you would have thrown it aside. What value can you have for us after all?"

The brother said, "Keep quiet now. Finding the turmeric the mouse considered himself a grocer. What do you know about gents stitching? You continue stitching blouses and petticoats".

The sister's face turned sad. The wife said, "She has stitched my blouse too very tight".

"Oh yeah. First of all I stitch for and then you say it is tight. You don't know anything about fashion and you say it is tight".

Gul said, "Everybody is concerned about his value. Have you first valued me? I am earning so much and feeding you all at home. By now no one has even prepared the breakfast".

While going to the kitchen Nirmala said, "You first go and take a bath and see how I serve you a breakfast in a few minutes".

As Gul came out after a bath, Nirmala served him breakfast. Geetu had started the machine. The mother had finished her prayers. She told Nirmala, "Dear daughter please heat up my tea"

Gul made a bitter face and said, "Amma you've still not had your tea?"

The mother was sitting on the cot, pressing her legs. She said, "What are you saying? I can't hear anything in the noise of the machine".

Chewing his food Gul said, "Now starts the song of her machine. I have said a hundred times not to make any noise till I go to office. Can't one consider somebody who slogs like a donkey?"

Geetu stopped the machine and gave a sharp look to her brother. The mother said, "But what were you telling me about the tea?" "I was saying that you are praying till so late when there is hardly any use or result of it, and there this good lady waits for your tea till ten o'clock".

"Oh my children what value can you have for my prayers. Had I not done so how would you be blessed with a child after six years?"

Gul was listening to his mother without any interest. He quickly tied his shoe laces and left the house. When he reached the office he observed that the same thing was happening there. The superintendent was annoyed with the office staff, saying, "You take one hour lunch break instead of half an hour. The officer blames me not you. Look at this Mr Gul; he is just coming in now. Why sir, was your wife not leaving you?" Gul was not prepared for such a sudden attack. He said angrily, "Yes, my wife was not leaving me. OK?"

All the office staff began laughing. Gul was embarrassed and went and sat on his seat. The superintendent did not leave him even then,he shouted and said, "Gul this is the second time you are late in this week".

Gul was bending down and he frowned and said, "What about the whole week that I have been leaving the office late? Has anyone noticed that?" The office staff again began laughing but the superintendent was still angry. One of the staff, while pulling out a file from a rack near Gul whispered in his ear, "Looks like today the superintendent has been reprimanded by his officer. Actually he is a hard working man but the officer doesn't value him".

The superintendent shouted and said, "Hargun why do you take the longest break for lunch?"

Hargun answered from there itself, "But I'm equally good at work too .My worksheet is a proof of that".

Hargun's answer was fearless but so childish that the people couldn't help laughing.

Burning with anger, the superintendent started going through the worksheets. Looking at Hargun's worksheet he looked up at Hargun and said in a bitter tone, "Handling the maximum cases does not imply that you are working more than everybody".

Hargun said in a soft tone for just the clerks near him to hear, "Never mind. I am not replying to you. I forgive you. How can you value me when you yourself have not been valued?"

Foe a long time there was pin drop silence in the office. The officer again called for the superintendent. Everyone was excited and began talking a lot. Hargun was quiet. He put his hand gently on Gul's shoulder. When Gul looked up the veins of his face were still very taut. Hargun said, "Let's go for tea".

Stubbornly Gul answered, "I won't come".

Hargun said, "I will even carry you in my arms and take you".

Thinking about something Gul stood up. The clerk Mr. Mehta, from next table too stood up and said, "I am also coming to have tea".

In the canteen the three friends began speaking about office issues. Gul began talking about home matters. "Everyone seems to be talking about the same thing-value me. Wife says I'm not valued. Sister says I'm not valued. Mother says I'm not valued. It is all so strange. And this stupid superintendent does not value us".

Mehta said, "We are in the same boat. We are not valued at home nor at the office. At times I'm so frustrated that I want to commit suicide".

"Suicide?" Hargun burst out laughing.

Gul agreed with Mehta and said, "You are right friend. One should commit suicide".

Hargun pushed aside the empty tea cup and putting his arm on the table he said, "You both are too much. You are only expecting value from each other. The society that has given you small houses, half-hearted jobs and incomplete education and has not valued your identity at all and you have no complaints against that society. In fact from home to office we are all stuck in one circle and only after breaking that circle can a human being respect and value another human being".

Gul said, "Friend you always talk philosophy".

Hargun hit the table and got up, saying, "Get up friends, there is no value.."

Gul and Mehta burst out laughing.

- Translated by Arun Babani

The End


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