Short Stories >> Kheryal Dharti >> Ploughed Earth (Kheryal Dharti)

Short Stories

Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani

I've been in Mr. Idnani's office since just six months, but I could have never imagined that my boss would value my drafting skills so much. Our Steno-typist Anita was on leave, so it was my duty to take dictation from my boss and type all the letters. My boss said, "Your typing is as good as gems and so is your writing and..". looking at me from top to bottom, he smilingly said, "And you yourself are a gem".

"Uncle..".I burst out and I came out laughing.

It was my daily routine that after returning from office, having papad and water, I would immediately to my neighbor Saroj's house. Her husband returned home late at night, so Saroj looked forward to my company in the evenings. When I mentioned to her about my boss calling me a 'Gem', she patted my cheek mischievously and said, "Be careful or some day you may fall in love with your boss".

I said, "This is too much Sarju! Are you a astrologer or are you learning to predict the future? But you are absolutely wrong. Is any lack of young men in the world that I should fall in love with someone whom I call uncle?"

I came back sulking but even then I found myself walking into Saroj's house the next day. She sat beside me and turning my face towards her she asked, "Yesterday you were upset with me, Isn't it?" I suddenly smiled.

Saroj embraced me and said, "I was just joking. Don't I know what a strong character girl you are? It was because of this that in college I was tempted but you ignored thousands of temptations and came out pure and clean..".

My mind was eager to tell Saroj about a new incident of today. So laughingly I said, "Sarju, today a wonderful thing happened today".

With smiling eyes, Sarju asked, "What happened?"

I said, "My office came to know about my passing B.Com in first class. I saw a bouquet of Rajnigandha flowers on my table with a chit attached on which was written 'Congratulations.' I immediately understood who this could be. I went into my boss's cabin to thank him. He kept looking at me. I couldn't understand how to thank him. Finally I took courage and said, "Uncle, Thank you". and came out laughing and sat on my desk. Other clerks of the office also gathered. They kept making fun about the bouquet and one bald colleague who has a good voice, kept looking out of the window and singing, 'Every one is living, looking at her..". Dear Sarju, what should I say...I could die of happiness. At that moment the boss came out. The office colleagues picked up the bouquet and shouted, 'Boss three cheers for Nirmala. Hip Hip Hurray'. The boss said, 'Tomorrow there is party in Oberoi Sheraton in Nirmala's honor! Oh Sarju I grew red in the face at that time". I pulled Sarju's cheeks.

Saroj pulled me towards and hugged me.

I came home and told my mom that my boss had organized a party in my honor in a big hotel tomorrow. Mom asked, "Why has he not invited us?"

She told my dad about it in the night, "Just look at Nirmala's boss. He has invited everybody for the party except us two parents".

Dad replied, "Good that he hasn't invited us or you would start complaining that you don't have good clothes and footwear..".

I thought to myself that from next salary I shall buy good clothes for mom. So far we avoided visiting relatives and marriages because of a lack of suitable clothes. Dad did not approve of borrowing clothes.

By giving a party in Oberoi Sheraton my boss had raised my status. So many photographs were clicked. On my return home I felt like a small sapling that touched the sky and become a star..".

That day I returned late so I did not go to Saroj's house. I was not used to sharing much with parents especially since mom's desire was not fulfilled; so how could I praise myself and my clothes. I had especially purchased a midi, shoes and purse of my choice for this party.

That night, assuming that I was a sleep, mom told dad, "Did you see our girl today after she returned from the party?"

"Oh yes, she has grown so tall and looks beautiful too".

"So now we have to think about her". Mom said, but dad did not reply.

My mind answered that...marriage means expenses. If there was money why would dad allow me to work...

I had missed one day going to Saroj's house but the next day she taunted, "You have become so rare!"

I told her, "Even if you search me as the Moon you won't find me. Shall I tell you why? Because I am like the breeze... The wave of breeze which is running even faster than the wave of sound..".

Saroj laughed and asked, "Why so? Is your boss taking you on a world tour?"

"No Sarju, just listen to this strange thing. He called me to his cabin and made me sit. I took a paper and pen, ready for dictation, looked at him. He said, 'Today there is nothing to be written, you simply sit quietly in front of me' I felt like laughing. He took out money from his drawer and said, 'now you are a B.Com Steno, your salary is five hundred extra.' I took the money and was rushing out after thanking him when he caught my arm and said, 'Take this imported perfume. It is a gift from me.' It was wrapped in a pink handkerchief. I took the perfume, thanked him and came out. But in the evening after all had left the office and a couple of other girls and me were about to leave that the boss called for me. I told the two colleagues to wait and went into his cabin. I asked him, "Uncle do you have any work?" He said, 'I don't know why but my mind felt like seeing your face one last time before you leave. Now you may go...' Saroj, what can I tell you. Ever since I feel like laughing so much.

Saroj asked, "Doesn't his wife come to the office?'

I said, "She does come but she just laughs but does not talk to me".

She said, "You yourself talk to her".

It was strange that the very next day Mrs. Idnani came to the office with her two children and came to speak to me saying, "Your photographs have come which were clicked at Oberoi".

"Oh" I took the photos and started seeing them. I felt that the lady was just watching me, that is why I looked at all the pictures without raising my head. After seeing all the photos I told her, "Can I take them home to show them to my parents? I shall return them tomorrow".

She did give the photos but uttered, "Ravan"

I asked, "What?"

She answered, "Nothing". She made a grumpy face and left.

I came and told Saroj the 'Ravan' incident.

Looking at the photographs Saroj said, "Can you see that in every picture, the boss is standing close to you?"

I said, "So what? How does he become Ravan? Moreover I kept referring to him as uncle in front of her also..".

But one day another strange incident took place.

Boss called me in the cabin and said, "I tell you to sit in front of me. You will be surprised but perhaps you don't understand this thing. Sometimes one starts liking somebody. Why does one like somebody? There is no reason for that. He simply wants to love her. No reason for that. At times there is a desire to embrace her".

I told him, "But uncle you are so big and your wife ..".

"Wife! I have never loved my wife even for a moment. Nirmala can you believe that I have never ever felt like embracing her and kissing her".

Listening to my boss's talks I kept laughing to myself. As I was getting to leave, he pulled me by my arm and said, "Sit down. Where are you running away now?"

I wondered whether one can stop an educated girl from running away. But his arm was holding me so tight that I felt blood running to my face.

Lowering his head, boss said, "I don't why I keep thinking about you day and night and this desire doesn't seem to get satisfied..".

"Uncle I have to attend a wedding with mom. Can I leave?"

Boss looked up with a sad face. He appeared very unhappy. How I wished that such a loving man had a good wife...

The blood wsa now flowing not just threw my cheeks but through my entire body and I felt my feet above the ground... Have I become a fairy...Thinking of such happy thoughts I came and fell into Saroj's lap.

When I told her the whole story, Saroj said, "No wonder his wife had said,'Ravan'

I said, "But he is not a Ravan...he has never loved his wife".

teasing me, Saroj said, "Oh yeah, he has never loved his wife. He has just produced two children. You idiot, having pity on thet 'Ravan' you might destroy the home of that mother of two children".

"Chh" I was irritated with Saroj that day.

I came hoe, had a cold shower and got ready to go for the wedding with mom and dad.

Dad said, "Now the daughter is earning so the mother has bought beautiful dresses".

Really mom was actually looking ten years younger in her new sari.

Suddenly my boss reached my house. We were all surprised. There was a fragrance in the whole house.


"Hi Nimo...She?" Uncle kept his hand on my hand.


Out of confusion mom pulled a stool instead of a chair for the boss to sit.

I took the stool and offered him a chair...

Mom realized her mistake and turned pale.

My boss asked, "Is she really your mother?"

"Yes" I nodded.

"As if a pigeon has escaped from Noor Jehan's hands". boss said. We both, mother and daughter burst out laughing. Dad came out of the next room with cards in his hands...

"Daddy, my boss Mr. Idnani". I said.

"Oh" dad shook hands with him. "Your destiny has many Ids. Nirmala has told us that you are planning to open two more branches".

"Exactly. She is right. That is why I have taken the trouble to come to you".

Dad and I looked at boss in surprise.

"The thing is that Nirmala's friend had called and said that she could get her a job in her office with a bigger salary. But we like your daughter's work so much that our office will not let her go but will offer her a bigger salary immediately".

"Aha". I laughed inwardly.

Mom and dad got busy in entertaining the boss. He told me on the quiet, "Come to office early tomorrow. Only I know how time goes without you".

I grew courageous and joked with boss, 'One moment passes as one era'!

"That's it. That's it" laughed boss aloud.

Dad came in and asked, "What's the matter?"

Boss thought of himself as a college student and he laughingly said, "This is our private code language"

While he was leaving, I noticed that his gaze was stuck on mom. I said, "Uncle Bye".

Boss stood up, with a cigarette in his mouth he asked dad, "If you are interested in whisky, you are is in the car..".

Dad replied, "No thank you. We have to attend a wedding of our relative..".

"Ho ho ho..". Boss's laughter did not sound human any more. He left.

Dad changed his clothes and accompanied us.

We were late for the wedding and as we entered the hall I heard a remark, "Moon and Star".

My boss had earlier referred to mom as Noor Jehan and here also she holds an importance like a Moon. I wondered that at my age how beautiful she must have been! I had never thought about this.

But what was this. From wherever I was passing in the marriage hall all eyes were lighting up. At first I thought it was my imagination but l saw that a match maker took my mom aside.

When mom came to dad and me her face was very bright. She told dad that the match maker told her that the boy on the stage, sitting with the groom and the bride has come from abroad. He is a millionaire and wants to get married and go back within fifteen days".

Dad asked, "Is he not putting an advertisement in the newspaper?"

Mom answered stylishly, "He desires a Sindhi girl and he has liked Nirmala".

"She's talking nonsense" dad said "a millionaire will expect atleast lakhs. And above all he himself is so handsome..".

This conversation was for me to hear.

I looked in the direction of that boy. He too was perhaps looking at me, but seeing me looking in his direction this handsome man lowered his gaze. And when was directly looking at me my heart beat increased. I thought he is a man but he is better looking than a woman.

"The match maker is saying that this Daulatani boy has liked our Nirmala..". mom was telling dad. Perhaps it was for me to hear.

I suddenly felt as if a dancer had appeared on a musical drum...and she is dancing on the drums with anklets on her feet...There is an vast land around the drum...The whole vast land was ploughed...The Sun was trying to figure out something within the uneven folds of the ploughed land.

The match maker again appeared like an eagle. This time she took both mom and dad aside. I was smiling gently and Mr. Daulatani came and offered me an ice cream plate.

"I've just had an ice cream" I said.

"You will have to eat this one too..".

I asked laughingly, "Is it a compulsory...?"

"May the request to the Gods for the beauty be accepted".

I took the ice cream plate in my hands. His each word was ringing in my ears. In simple words, he had separated my soul from my body and raised it to the sky. His smiling eyes gave me an attractive gaze and he went back to his own place.

Mom and dad were now besides me...That attractive look that had ploughed my mind's land was still stuck in my eyes...The dancer was dancing forcefully on the drum with Mehndi feet. Redness had begun to appear in the rays of the Sun...It seemed as the sky had disappeared above and the ground below my feet had given way. Perhaps I was floating in the waves of the winds and dancing to the music from the musical instruments...

Mom asked me, "Nimo, do like this Daulatani boy?"

I immediately nodded my head "Yes"

I looked at dad, he looked stressed out. Mom suggested, "Let us say a yes to the match maker".

"Hold on, our daughter is not rotten fish we have that you want to give away to Daulatani. Is Daulatani a reputed family?"

"Reputed families are asking for big dowries," mom argued.

"Some one will surely know the value of this diamond".

"You don't know the greedy Sindhi mothers of grooms that is why you are saying this".

"Keep quiet now. Just today she has got a salary raise...let her bring in some money at home. Then we shall find many such Daulatanis..".

My dad has been more of a boss than a father at home. So it was the boss's decision...I accepted.

The dance came down from the drum, the Sun had set and the ploughed land dried up.

We bid farewell to all and left the marriage hall. I came home quietly, in a gloomy mood. I the morning as I was getting ready for office, mom came and asked me, "Have you been crying Nimo?" I had a tear stuck in my throat. I took my purse and quietly left the house.

When I reached the office I got the news that boss is leaving for Bangkok today. He came just for a few minutes to office and called me in his cabin and said, "Little Angel, I am going to Bangkok for shopping. After don't let anyone sit on Indra's throne. Understood?" I was feeling sad.

Boss caught my hand and said, "Friends have forced me to go with them. Otherwise I would not like to go anywhere without you".

I was still quiet.

Revolving on his chair and having a pen on his lips he said, "When you don't laugh it feels as if the light has gone out of the moon. Just see how I get rid of my friends and come back soon. Nimmu, it's not just you but I too feel the same. I cannot stay even a moment without you. I wanted to be with you in a big hotel this evening but my friends have forced me for Bangkok...Atleast laugh a bit Nimmu...I have troubled you a lot. But I am even more troubled than you. I'm not enjoying anything...There is no life in this body..".

I don't know why there tears in my eyes. I came out of the cabin. I sat on my seat. The previous steno had returned. She was sitting at her typewriter and watching me keenly. Then she went and brought a glass of water. I wiped my tears and gulped down the water.

Boss came out of his cabin, greeted everybody, tapped me lightly on the head, laughing, he went away. From behind the old steno said, "Bastard"

After many days I found time to talk openly to Saroj. I told each and every detail, from the Daulatani boy to the boss being called Bastard.

Saroj fell into deep thought. She looked up and asked, "You too have started loving your boss?"

"No not all "I said, trembling. "Atleast you don't accuse me of that Saroj. Every one in the office thinks that I have done some magic on him but I am not responsible for uncle's attachment. If his wife had given him some love perhaps..".

"Huh". Saroj said hatefully. "You heard the old steno calling bastard. You heard his wife saying Ravan and yet you have respect for uncle!"

"I have respect. Dad always says that a Sindhi boss always treats his Sindhi employee as his family. That is why he allowed me to work with Idnani Ltd.Otherwise he was totally against me working in private firms".

Saroj said, "Perhaps other Sindhi bosses may be treating their female employees as family but Idnani doesn't seem of that type. You are not married so you don't understand his tricks. He is making you restless and enjoying his life..".

"This is not possible. He is more than my dad to me..".

That night Saroj came over to our place with her husband. In course of conversation she said, "Dad now you should get Nimo married".

Dad was happy to hear the word 'dad' and he laughingly said, "Almost everybody's daughters are about thirty or thirty-two years and earning. She is not a burden on us that we should get her married in a hurry".

Saroj said, "True girls are not a burden but there is a right time for everything. The Sea-shell waits open-mouthed for the drop. If she gets the drop she is prosperous; otherwise without the pearl she remains a dry shell".

Dad said, "Just look at our circumstances, I am busy earning for our survival. My wife is just a simple beauty without much intelligence. But the girl has grown up and it is said that somebody will come and throw a stone at the ripe fruit. So a right match will come for her..".

Looking at this attitude of dad, Saroj said, "Your dad is sitting complacent".

The whole month passed by. Suddenly a friend of uncle appeared. He came and asked me, "Cream, when is your uncle coming?"

'Cream!' I became alert. This man looked a loafer. So I answered rudely, "I don't know"

He laughed, showing his teeth, "If you don't know who knows? Just call him".

I answered straight faced, "His call is expected now. He gets a direct line from there".

"You naughty girl...Hahaha..". For quite some time Mr Ambwani kept laughing. The call actually came that time. He snatched the receiver from me and started talking. "How much shopping have you done in the whole month Yaar? Only five? Here? Cream? Leave aside ordinary household matters...You enjoy flowers...what worry do you have of money... Give it to Cream?...Oh Cream here take the phone".

I took the phone. But what is this? There is a cross connection. "I'm telling you to come back without any delay".

Boss asked from Bangkok," Cream why your voice is so different?"

The voice from the cross connection said, "How come you have remembered my nick name during my marriage? Yes I am cream but consider all happiness as finished. Come back as soon as possible..".

What has happened?"

"What can I say "said the female voice "The daughter is very sick"

"What has happened to her? Why don't you tell me?"

"Black Face!"


Phone disconnected.

"Why don't you tell me..".

Now the line was just connected to me. I quietly kept down the phone.

Mr Ambwani said, "Cream what has the boss told you that you have become so pale?"

I looked at him angrily. While leaving Ambwani said, "He is trouble but you are catastrophic".

The next day boss returned from Bangkok and came straight to the office from the airport. He opened a bag and gave all the employees some gifts. He gave me a gift too.

He called me to the office and said, "Don't think that I have brought just that gift for you. I have all this for you". He opened the flap at the base of the bag and removed magazines on which was printed, 'Sex Literature'.

He looked at me with meaningful eyes and said, "Finish reading all this tonight. Tomorrow you and I will be alone in a big room of a posh hotel..".

"Uncle!" I said angrily and got up to leave.

"Easy, easy" he started rubbing my arm, "Look, don't be a child. Only plutonic love is not everything. I have loved you so much. I cannot bear to see my doll in somebody else's arms".

I felt like telling him "Rascal, Cheat! Your daughter is just a couple of years younger to me".

I patiently tried to stop water and fire flowing from my eyes and came out of his cabin. I typed my resignation letter quickly, threw it on his table, banged the door and straightaway came home.Instead of going home I went to Saroj's house. I hugged her and sobbed for a long time. "Saroj you are right. You are right. Uncle is a rascal".

Saroj wiped my tears with her sari palu". Uncle is a devil but your dad is also brainless".

- Translated by Arun Babani

The End


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