Short Stories >> Vichoro >> Expensive Doll (Mahangi Guddi)

Short Stories

Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani

Doll-like Devika was loved by her husband very much, but she could not get along with her –in-laws. She would tell everybody that both the old in-laws are angry at my ways of life and dressing. Over and above all that when Devika produced three children quickly in four years her mother-in-law got an opportunity to get back at her. As a result the house was divided into two.

In the new house Devika would call out to her husband in style and say, "Hey Mister! Now you will have to increase my expenses. The children hardly have any clothes. My condition is also similar, that I don't have a new dress to wear for a party".

Jamnadas had always seen good saris on beautiful Devika, but he would tell himself ‘just as I have a desire for a beautiful wife so she too has a desire for beautiful clothes.' Over that when Devika's friends would appreciate her saris he would feel so proud.

Devika's mother-in-law would come every few months to her house. Even then she couldn't control herself from taunting her at times. One day she picked up a rag piece from the kitchen and said, "These are you affairs! You know the cost of china silk and you have used the baby's frock as a kitchen rag".

Devika angrily showed her the worn out stitches of the frock and said, "Mummy the stitches are completely worn out. How much more old could it get?"

The mother-in-law said, "But my dear remember this one thing of mine. The daughter-in-law who does mend the torn clothes will never be able to run the house".

Devika was furious. She said, "I have given all my life to this home. People are going around, traveling abroad, but I am sitting totally at home like a house wife. Even then you are telling me all this. I have a just a few of these good clothes which you cannot tolerate".

The mother-in-law had been angry since a long time, so she shouted and said, "One doesn't dislike the daughter-in-law's clothes but when the daughter-in-laws are unaware then they hurt in the eyes like thorns. My daughters still have their faces covered and you are flaunting yourself. Why? Don't they have any right on their brother's earnings?"

"I did not get any wealth when I separated! Everybody's destiny is different!"

Devika said these words with so much pride that the mother-in-law got up and while going out of the door said, "You may smile on your destiny. I bless you always".

When Jamnadas got to know of this fight he immediately rushed to his mother who blurted out all that she had heard about Devika, that how in his absence there were gambling sessions at home, how Devika left the children alone with the servants and went every week for a first day first show wearing a new sari. The servant behaves disrespectfully with her and Devika tells everyone "Without this servant I would be in a mess. The poor fellow cooks and takes care of the children and has made me free of everything".

Seeing the effect that her talks had on Jamnadas, the mother gave out one secret saying, "I have heard that many smugglers come to her door everyday. She has kept somebody's money and she gets clothes from others by calling them her brothers. But they also take advantage of her and they tempt her with some or the other clothes. She also goes crazy and starts buying dresses and saris. She is totally buried in debts".

After many years Jamnadas came to his senses. As soon as he reached home he first made an investigation of all the ornaments. There were just a few artificial necklaces and eight gold bangles left in the locker. At first Devika gave excuses that her friend had borrowed the ornaments for sample designs. But from there he came to know when they said "Devika had mortgaged her diamond set and rings in return for a huge sum of money with a big interest rate".

The interest had been multiplied many times and it was now more than the actual cost of the ornaments.

When he returned back Jamnadas he felt horribly ashamed. Devika could dare to speak anything. When Jamnadas refused to eat his food even then Devika could not utter a word. The entire night Jamnadas was upset and he couldn't sleep. Even Devika had not slept. But while feeding her little daughter she went off to sleep. Jamnadas kept sitting all night on the sofa smoking away.

The next morning Jamnadas asked the servant, "How much of your salary is balance?".

The servant replied, "For six months".

Devika stepped out with an excuse to drink water when Jamnadas shouted, "Why haven't you paid him his salary?"

Devika was quiet.

"I am asking you why you haven't paid the servant".

Devika controlled her fears and said, "What has happened to you? After all he is not running away. We'll pay him".

"He is not running away but I am throwing him out. Understood?"Saying this Jamnadas looked towards the servant and said, "Baagu you may leave now with your belongings. You may come in the evening and collect your balance salary."Devika was not accustomed to all this. She grew tense thinking of the entire household work. Looking at the servant still sitting on the floor Jamnadas kicked the floor and said, "Leave just now."The servant then quietly left the house.

For an hour or so there was pin drop silence at home. The children too did not fuss about anything. They got ready to go to school. Jamnadas got ready and said, "I will leave the children to school".

After he left the children to school he came home and pulled his wife by her ears, shouting, "You have not paid the kids' school fees for three months. Why? Tell me. Tell me you beautiful snake! All the ornaments mortgaged, servant's salary not paid, school fees not paid. What have you done?"

Devika had no answer. Jamnadas remembered something. He immediately took the keys and opened the Godrej cupboard. The saris were hanging stylishly on the hangers.Jamnadas opened the locker and asked, "Where is the money gone from here?' Imagining the calamity of this shout Devika slowly said, "I haven't taken that".

"Tell me the truth." he took her hand and pressing it repeated, "Tell me the truth".

Devika felt an iron grip on her soft hand and her eyes were filled with tears. Sobbing she said, "Yes yes. But don't ask me now. I am getting a pain in my chest." saying this she sat on the floor.

Heaving a cold sigh Jamnadas said, "Go and lie on the bed".

There was a knock on the door. Jamnadas came out. A cloth merchant was at the door. Very softly he asked, "Madam not at home?"

Jamnadas replied, "Yes she is there."But even then the merchant started to leave. Jamnadas shouted, "Wait here" The merchant waited. Jamnadas said, "We are going out. How much is your bill Take it and go".

"Sir I haven't brought the accounts today. It must be around seven to eight hundred rupees.. But today I have brought a few imported saris".

Jamnadas took a cigarette and lit it with a lighter saying, "Take all your money tomorrow and after that never come back to this door." The merchant was surprised and kept looking at Jamnadas. Jamnadas said, "If you promise never to come back here you will get your money, otherwise just forget about it".

"If you say so I can get the account diary right now from my house"

"Come tomorrow." ordered Jamnadas. The merchant run away quickly.

Jamnadas kept pacing about for a long time. Suddenly he saw his aunt's sister approaching. He was surprised," How has Dayal's mother come visiting us today?"

"Is the daughter-in-law inside?"

"Daughter-in-law is dead!"

"Dead? What are you saying Jamna? Why should she die? I will be destroyed".

"Why will be you destroyed?" Jamnadas asked with a frown on his forehead.

"My son she has borrowed six hundred rupees cash from me on interest". Dayal's mother said in excitement.


"Oh my son it is eight months ago and since three months she has not even paid the interest. If it was my own money it was okay but my daughter has saved each penny by sewing clothes." Dayal's mother began crying.

Jamnadas threw the cigarette butt and crushing it with his foot he said, "Come and take the money from me tomorrow." He looked the other way in disgust.

Dayal's mother left. There was a sound of soft sobbing coming from the room.

Jamnadas came into the room and closing the door he asked, "Have you borrowed from anybody else also besides Dayal's mother?"

All this while Devika had stifled her cries with a piece of cloth in her mouth to prevent Dayal's mother hearing her cries. She now burst out crying and threw herself at Jamnadas's feet.

"What new drama is this?"

"This is not a drama. I have committed a mistake. Please forgive me this time".

"After having destroyed me you are asking me for forgiveness? What kind of a wife are you! What all you have done? Tomorrow I shall sell of my shares and pay off your debts and then I shall send you to your parents. I am not beating you. What more can I do?" Devika clung to her husband's legs. She pleaded, "Where will I go with four children? Forgive me this time".

Jamnadas said, "Whom should I forgive? You, the snake, who simply blew off my wealth? You put my reputation to shame!"

The Godrej cupboard was still open. Colorful saris were hanging in the upper shelf. On the cupboard door were hanging many purses. There were piles of children's clothes in other two shelves. And under the cupboard were over a dozen latest shoes and sandals. Beating his chest Jamnadas asked, "Why did you buy so many clothes? Answer me"

Devika had no answer. She was only pleading for mercy with her beautiful big eyes.

Hitting his head he said, "Your desire for beauty has ruined not only you but me also".

The next day Jamnadas sold his shares and after paying off all the debts he once again asked Devika, "Is there any other loan left still to be paid?"

Devika denied like a criminal.Jamnadas did not eat food even today, he just continued smoking. Devika kept on cleaning his ashtray every now and then.

Devika's destiny was still hanging on a cross. All the children had grown up in a single day. They spoke softly and did not quarrel among themselves. They did what they were told by the mother, without any mischief. It was midnight. The house was silent like a cemetery. Devika had put her little daughter to sleep beside her.

Jamnadas was sitting on an armchair near the window, smoking the last cigarettes of the pack. He looked around once all around the house, taking note of the sadness spread in the house; throwing away the cigarette he got up. Tightening the belt of his housecoat, keeping his arms behind him, he came and stood near Devika's bed. Devika's eyes were still moist and there were dark circles under her eyes. The freshness had disappeared from her face. There were lines of worry and pain on her forehead. She did not move even after seeing Jamnadas. She slowly asked, "Will you really drive me out of the house?"

Jamnadas, a picture of pain, kept staring at this expensive doll!

- Translated by Arun Babani

The End


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