Short Stories >> Acha Var Garha Gula >> First Love (Pahriyon Pyaar)
Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
"Since many days you are not getting sleep early as before."
"There doesn't have to be a reason for everything."
"There has to be."
"This where we disagree. You have a tendency to look at everything like a mechanical toy and examine every part separately, and I see a Sita, a Krishna or a Ram in these mechanical toys and I bow down to them."
That is why you have become so worthy of my love” Shewak warmly pressed his wife's hands in his. "But there is something that is troubling you in your mind."Lajwanti took a deep breath and then said softly, "I'm confused about a question."
"What is it?"
I'm wondering whether one’s first love is true or is it just a common thought?"
"My Angoori has begun to think really big." laughed Shewak.
"No, it is not a matter of joke."
"Are you remembering your first love?"
Lajwanti felt a shiver go down her spine, but she said, "Shut up!"
Shewak mischievously said, "Look Angoori, You are my first love, though you may now say that you loved Sanmukhdas more than me because he came into your life before me.."
Lajwanti put her hand on her husband's lips and putting her head on his chest she went off to sleep quietly. But till late night they both were awake, pretending to sleep. They both were aware of this fact but they refused to accept it.
Shewak rubbed his eyes and said, "Oh you are still awake"
"No, I just woke up" said Lajwanti, surprised at herself. She found this as something new. She sat on the bed, besides her husband and said, "The storm is so strong. Looks like it is going to bring destruction."
"Destruction doesn't happen like this. Just go to sleep."
"An aeroplane in this storm.."
"Now just go off to sleep and stop worrying about aeroplanes of the world!"
Lajwanti wanted to say, "And if the plane carried somebody dear whom I loved for the first time, then?" But she didn't say anything. For the first time in life she realized how difficult it is to keep a secret. Now the rain had begun pouring with force. Lajwanti went and lay down near the children, covering herself and thinking, "Why do planes crash every year? Perhaps people’s impulses bring them to such planes. That is why Sanmukh's impulse too.."
Oh God. Again she felt a shiver down her spine.
Her mind admonished her "Who is he to you, that you are thinking about his life and death?" Somebody was singing a song in the corner of her heart, "not seen you for long time, Oh my love. Where are you.."
Her mind became as troubled as the atmosphere outside. When she fell off to sleep even she did not realize. When she woke up in the morning and opened the doors and windows. She looked up at the sky, It was absolutely clear. Lajwanti picked up the newspaper, there was no plane crash. Her mind became clear like the sky outside. She quickly kept the tea on the stove. She began waking up each child with love.
Shewak too woke up. Keeping a pillow on his knees, he said, "hey you girl, you wake up the children with so much love and what about me, their creator?"
Lajwanti at first got into a doubt and said, "When did I say that?" Then she controlled herself and said, “Why do you call me 'girl'? You don't call mother of three children as a girl"
Shewak, wiping his eyes said, "Look at your disheveled hair in the mirror. Who will deny that you look like an unmarried girl?"
Lajwanti felt shy. Shewak got ready and left for his office. Two children left for school. As she picked up her little one in her arms, Lajwanti's gaze fell on the photograph on the wall and she got frightened. In the picture a girl dressed in black-starred cloth was running in the dark night. Below it was written ABHSARKA.(Negative)
Lajwanti looked around the entire house. Each object was placed in order. She was surprised at herself, wondering how all this had got over so quickly. Her mind asked, "Are you ABHSARKA yourself?"
Lajwanti said loudly, "Chee" and got up and turned the photograph towards the wall. For quite some time she played with her little son, but within her was another woman, who kept trying all the different colored saris from her cupboard, which were matching her body. She liked a green sari with yellow motifs. "When I had worn this sari and gone to the bank, the manager was surprised when I wrote my name as Mrs. He looked up and asked me, "Shrimati?"
I looked like a girl in that sari. Yes. Miss Lajo Dansinghani and I was in Matric, when Sanmukh Hukumtani had mischievously told me, "hey Kumari, now start writing your name as Shrimati Hukumtani."
"Are you talking from your heart?"
"No, with my mind…You are always in a hurry for everything."
"There will be many other boys in the college where you are going to appear for your exams."
"Let them come. I’m not a doll of sugar which they will eat."
Inspite of all that, one day Sanmukh had written a letter to her saying, “You have gone too far with my friend Shewak that I am afraid he will eat away my sugar-doll."
After some days Lajwanti got another letter saying, "I have, on my own, given up interest in the sugar-doll..such a sweet lady is a bell of danger that creates disturbance."
After this, how Lajwanti had fallen so sick and how Sewak came close to her while sympathizing with her is a short tale in which Lajwanti doesn’t find any sweetness today. Today's picture of real life, felt equally ugly like the objects kept under sunlight .The past, hidden behind a hazy curtain, appeared attractive like an artistic painting.
A week passed by. Every day Lajwanti would turn the painting on the wall the other way and the cleaning maid would put it straight each morning. Amidst all this, Lajwanti had come to know some news regarding Sanmukh. That he has returned from America more handsome and rich.. There is a red turbaned guard at his door.. He is laughing and joking at everything.. He greeted his elderly cousins with an embrace..
Once while eating, Lajwanti asked her husband, “When are we visiting your friend?"
"Who, Sanmukh? We shall go some day."
"Why? Are you missing him?"
"No, No. Chatri just mentioned that he is going back in a week."
"He too has not come."
Lajwanti didn't utter a word. She was quiet, lest she gets trapped. Three more days passed by. There was no mention of Sanmukh. On Saturday Shewak said, "Today we shall go for a matinee show movie."
"I shall not come."
"I have already told my office for the tickets."
"I shall not come" Lajwanti's mind rebelled.. He doesn't remember Sanmukh. He just remembers his office friends!
"If you are not coming, so be it. But I have to go." and pinched her cheek, saying, "you continue to glow. What are you eating?"
Lajwanti came and looked at herself in the mirror, her cheek had turned red. She felt that she doesn't have to think anything. She reached the cupboard like a mechanical doll, dressed up in the green sari with yellow motifs. The mirror remarked, "Who said you are a mother of three children?"
The maid asked, "Madam are you going out?"
"Yes, and you don't go out till I return. "She finished her make-up; she looked like a queen and it seemed as if nature made way for her. She got into the bus and looked like the bus was flying. But as the bus stopped at Kemps Corner, Lajwanti's heart starting beating hard. One mind urged her to return but her steps told her, "Have we returned back any time before, that we should return now?” Even then all at once there was tremendous confusion in her mind. It started drizzling. Lajwanti covered her head with her sari Palu. As she was rushing towards Sanmukh Villa from fear of spoiling her make-up she was constantly thinking about the photograph of ABHSARKA.Suddenly she realized she was facing the guard at Sanmukh Villa.
"Whom do you want?"
"Sanmukhdas" Lajwanti could feel her heart beat rising. As she rang the door bell and entered inside her eyes popped out. The entire villa was designed in a modern style. Birds on the walls, French dolls on the shelves, a large nude painting over a window, glossy furniture.. Lajwanti was still watching when in the middle of the hall stood Sanmukh in a long gown.
"Why. Don’t you recognize me?"
"Come, come inside.."
"You did even remember me. You did not come home all this while."
"Oh, I'm sorry Lajo. Frankly speaking I forgot."
"Your first love too?"
"Love?" saying this Sanmukh let a loud laughter, "Who cares for it? It is nothing but lust dear. Well what will you drink, whisky, brandy, champagne or beer?" saying this he came close to her and put his arms around her. Lajwanti got scared. She freed herself from his arms.
"Why, madam doesn't like the arms of her first love?" Sanmukh mockingly spoke in Sindhi emphasizing each word.
"Are you the same Sanmukh talking? You were not like this before."
"Yeah. Sanmukh of States speaking, Lajo. You are very sentimental. Good I did not marry you. I get a virgin girl whenever I want. I can buy everything with dollars. Even first love." saying this Sanmukh started laughing heartily and put some 100 rupee notes towards Lajo.
Lajwanti was furious. She tore the notes and threw then in Sanmukh's face.
Sanmukh kissed the torn pieces of notes and said, "Wait my first love."
Lajwanti closed the door forcefully and went out. She hailed a taxi on the road and said, "Bandra chalo."
- Translated by Arun Babani