Short Stories >> Atam Vishwas >> Packing Girl
Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
"Has Sunita gone to sleep early today?"
"First you have some water and then you ask about Sunita".
"But is she okay?"
"Yes, she is absolutely fine. Wake up Sunita. You have got your dad worried".
Sunita woke up. Putting a glass of water and papad on the table, the mother said, "She is absolutely your daughter. If she doesn't go to five neighbouring houses, she doesn't taste food".
"Look Bhabhi, you are insulting me again. I have fixed a job for myself today. After this you won't find me at home. Talk nicely atleast today".
"O God. An ultimatum! But tell me, what good job have you got?" the father asked.
"She has become a grocer, making small packages".
"Look Bhabhi, if you don't want to talk, I'll go away".
"Go. But where will you go? You have only one room in your house. No terrace. No balcony. No compound. Not even a store-room where you can hide yourself from us".
"Your taunting has grown with age Sunita's Bhabhi!"
"It is the same for everyone. You are not much younger to me".
"Will you stop now or will you make me very angry as I have just stepped into the house?"
No. No. Please have papad. Now my daughter, talk...talk. I'll keep quiet now. You yourself told me that Shoba's father was taunting you about your job of packing parcels!"
"Dada. I have got a job in a pharmaceutical company with a pay of four and half thousand rupees".
Patting his daughter's back, the father said, "Then you will become a bigger earner than your dad!"
"What about me? First, I was serving one. Now Ill have to serve two". Bhabhi said angrily.
"My dear, you can hire a servant then! So, Shoba's father is calling it packing packages job?"
"Yes. Dada he is saying that Sunita's father got his daughter educated till Matric so that the girl would go and become an officer, sitting on a table and chair. But look at her, she has agreed to become a compounder. Shame. Shame. Dada he taunted me a lot".
"My dear, his habits are like this. He did not get his own daughters educated. So, he is jealous. Let him be".
"And there is Devika's mother. You know hat she said? She said", Sunita you don't consider yourself as a lesser human being, doing the job of packing medicines. Do you know that because of research in medicines so many deaths have decreased in the world? In the past a woman gave birth to twenty children. If ten survived, ten died too. "That woman is of a progressive mind". "Then why don't you bring her and keep her here! Do you know that the entire neighbourhood talks about her that there is no one as irreligious as her" Bhabhi's anger grew.
"Don't you have to cook today?'
"Ofcourse! Is Devika's mother going to feed you today...? I have kept everything ready". Bhabhi clenched her teeth.
"How envious you women are. Shakespeare rightly said..."
"Are men less envious? If I ever praise any man in front you, you would pull me by the hair and your blood would boil till you threw me out".
"Leave your mother alone. I just praised Devika's mother and she is so furious".
"I am telling you, bring her and keep her at home. What else? Should I hang myself?"
"You are really crazy. If people praise actresses then do they bring them home. You take me to Geeta Bharti, then should I bring her also home? Leave troubling me now".
"Won't I get mad if you compare Devika's mother to Geeta Bharti and actresses? A two-penny teacher, she sent her daughter to college ...Why are you twisting your face? I am not abusing her".
"A teacher means a Guide, a Guru, a Mentor... If you call her a two-penny teacher then what worst abuse can there be?"
"Now Dada, you both keep arguing. I am going to somebody's house in the neighbourhood".
"No, my child. This is the time when all the male members return home in every house. I am giving your mother some tranquilizer. Her nerves will ease and she will be alright".
"Are you awake?" "Yes, I am awake. Tell me".
"I am unable to sleep".
"Why? Are you afraid that Sunita will lose her job? But now..."
"I am remembering the taunts of Shoba's father to Sunita".
"What was that drunkard saying? He is such a scoundrel of a low-caste".
"That's the pride he has, of his caste. He says 'people like us never get our daughters educated and not even share their earnings'..." "Leave that illiterate alone. We too have not shared our daughter's earnings. I have gone on saving all her money she has earned. I have spent the interest in the house but the capital earned in eleven months is safely saved. As long as I am able to earn, I do not need even a penny from my daughter's earnings".
"The rascal is saying that Sunita has become good-looking after working and she even dresses well. So, he has challenged that very soon she will elope with a boy".
"Let the crazy man keep talking. Our Gobindram's son is waiting. Now he has a good job too. They have also asked for her. We will get our daughter married next month itself. We will give her the cash which we have saved from her earnings. We will not have a lavish and elaborate wedding".
"The rascal has hurt me so much with his taunts that I cannot explain. He has neither educated or married off his daughters and he advices me to keep a strict watch on my daughter so that she does not elope in the night!"
"Why will she elope? She is a sensible girl. If she is interested in someone, we will not stop her. If she wishes to get married, we will not be an obstacle in her way".
"Arey listen. Can you hear the shouts outside?"
"Wait, I shall go and see"
"Keep quiet. It could be a thief".
"Even a thief should be caught and handed over to the police, isn't it?"
"Open the door... Who is that?" "Devika's mother".
"At this time? Everything okay? Come. come".
"There is the police outside. They have arrested Jaman's daughter Shoba. She had run away last evening with the compounder of Dr. Seetal". Devika's mother said, walking inside.
"O God! The idiot was advising others".
"How much I told him to get the children educated and employed so that they could have an open mind. But he would say that working girls are all spoilt. Now let him who is spoilt".
"My dear. Still waters will surely gather moss!"
- Translated by Arun Babani