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Short Stories

Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani

It looks as if on a deserted night, in some room full of musical instruments, the song, the meody, the beat has left the room. Only the windows of the room are open from which the shimmering rays of the Moon were seeping in. Certain desires and wishes in all the corners of the room are on the verge of their end and amidst the smoke of the incense sticks surrounded by the rays of the moonlight your face repeatedly appears like an image of a dreamlike woman.

My mind asks why one remembers those whose memories refuse to fade. But what else of yours has been left with me except those memories? This room of the hospital.. The smell of phenyl.. I don't know what all has been wiped off. It seems as if there is no complaint against you within me. Your image is like that of a Goddess. I wish that day you should have not kept quiet. You should have said at that very moment, "this marriage is not acceptable to me" and you should have broken this bond which was just a bond of only a thread. But when that thread grew into a relationship you should not have broken it.

It is two years since and there is no bond between the two of us. Both our mothers who had tied us in this relationship are no longer alive today. Even then the world acknowledges me as your husband and you as my wife. In this way this irony of life continues! But as the end of this irony is coming nearer I feel the desire to meet you more and more and to get rid of that restlessness I had come to meet you on a scooter but ended up breaking a leg.

I have broken a leg yesterday but are you aware what had all had broken within me when you left my house? On that day all my relationships had collapsed just like a roof that collapses over a house and my heart became like an uprooted settlement.

I know how you get disturbed on anyone's smallest pain. You were brought up with so much love that you considered other's pain as your own. But my pains..?

Forget everything. The moments of complaints are no longer here. The wounds have been poisoned. Tomorrow my leg will be amputed. They were supposed to do that today but I don't know why they didn't. Why should others be concerned about my life when I myself don't care about my life. It seems as if the poison has not spread only in the leg but it is spreading in my entire body. Who knows what will happen by tomorrow. Perhaps it will all end in fire.

Alone with this lonely heart there is no desire to go on living any more. But a small pain remains in me- what will happen to the sleek bangles on your arms and your earrings? I love these ornaments on you. At times I would come to your maternal street only to look at them. You ignored me even after seeing me. The distance between two hearts could never be removed and tomorrow the distance will be even more heart rending. Perhaps then there won't be any distance at all. You will forgive me for everything that you had not been able to forgive all this while. It is an old tradition in our society to forgive everything to the dead soul.

But you are not the woman to follow old traditions. I remember those days when Amma would reprimand you saying, "Daughters-in-law keep friends, go to college, talk freely to strange men.. What kind of lifestyle is this?"

I also was silent, as if supporting my mother's thoughts and you too lowered your head and said, "I did not know that even in high status families life is throttled like this".

I don't know how much passion you had for living a life. Amma wanted you to wear clothes and ornaments like that of a business family but you seemed to belong to a different world altogether. You never mentioned about clothes and ornaments. You were always against old rituals and traditions and I had never learned to go against rituals and traditions. Our upbringings were different and so our thinking was different and so our ways of life too became different. Even then the days that I am spending are the same days that you are spending.

Sometimes birds bring me tales about you - That you passed BT. That you are the headmistress of a school. You organized some Sindhi program. You gave a lecture somewhere. You helped a cousin to give up alcohol. You taught a fair skinned cousin to respect his dark wife. Amma had referred to you as the daughter-in-law who put the family to shame. I had also agreed with her. But now, when my heart is free of any anger for you, you appear to me as a white Lotus, a shining diamond. But the shine of the diamond is only for the world. The glass that considered itself equal to the diamond was cut by the diamond. Who knows how many cuts are there on this heart of the glass. And now I realize how many pieces your mind must have broken into when I did not hesitate to hit you. At that time there were flames in your eyes. You stood up. I have not understood till today where this hardness is hidden in a woman's body. But I clearly recognize that hard image that appears on her face when there is an attack on her tender emotions. You opened the door and walked over. A woman and so much courage! We came into life with innocence and on disappearance of that innocence we realized that the life had been cut off, and by the time I realized all this you had gone much ahead. Though I knew even before that you were ahead of me but I had not understood it. The BT exam has put a stamp on you while, I don't know how many exams I have given in all these years, running this pen shop.

So many girls have purchased pens from me at this shop but I did not find your soul in any one of them. How I wish you had come to my shop and bought a pen and you would have written your exam papers with it and passed. But what would have been achieved by that? The same would happen what has already happened now, because no one had explained to me that marriage is not a destination but a big step on the path of life. Even after marriage you kept wanting to progress while I became content after getting you. After all getting a woman like you what discontentment can stay so that a person will try to go on and on! But even this was a mistake. One day you called a group of neighboring friends and were telling them the story of King Janak, that how this king, inspite having everything had placed his foot in fire. That night I had told you, "Perhaps King Janak must have not got a complete woman like you who has taken on herself the burden of seven generations". And I got breathless while laughing but you did not laugh at that time. Why would you laugh? You were certainly complete but you desired a complete man. But in our society it is difficult to think like this. It is generally believed that every woman is suitable for any man. When you would discuss freely national matters with my cousins on the open terrace, I would quietly walk down. Perhaps such a hurt had prevented you from laughing and you remembered the story of Kalidas whose wife had hurt him by reminding him of his foolishness. At that time I had been caught by a feeling of inferiority. How I wish you had understood that feeling of mine. But it did not happen that way. You started hating me. My inferiority was pushing me down a valley. I started hating you even more and in this way the distance between us started growing.

It is late in the night. There is a total silence in the entire hospital. All the lights are off and the lamp of hope has blown off.

Good bye my queen. As you have broken all rules, from tomorrow you may also break the dress code of a widow.

There is one thing. How do I write it? It is difficult for me to do so. But if a dying man does not write his will then who will? If you find a suitable man for yourself, you must get married. Whether you need them or not my blessings will always be with you.

I still don't feel like ending this letter. I remember an incident of one day. You were reading Meghdhoot to one of your friends. My attention was on your friend. You took a deep breath and said, "Women like Bhikshni are freely available but where would you find man with a heart like Yaksh?"

But today, after so many years of separation do you know what kind of heart this soul that is about to leave this body is made of.. Perhaps it's the separation that creates the heart of Yaksh.

My writing is not stopping. So many memories of the past are passing through my mind. But my hands have no energy. The last words are illegible. Yours.. Even if you don't consider me yours or not.

- Translated by Arun Babani

The End


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