Short Stories >> Yugantar >> Where do I go (Vajan so vajan Kedhan)
Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
I am fed up with all of you, but where do I go? You all will suggest Sursati get married.
But Bhau is in a government job and he does not own a shop. Hence, he is always short of money. From where should he collect funds to buy a husband for me? The poor fellow waited long for me to get married first. Finally, Ammi told him, "Son, you go and get your beloved. Sursati is only thirty-three years old. A proposal will come for her, if it is in her destiny. There many women who are forty and fifty years old, still waiting in other families.
Finally, my dear brother brought a bride home. No dowry. Nothing! I don't know how he liked a stupid girl from some strange family. There is not a single talent in the girl. I once asked her, "Oh, doe-eyed, while putting cardamom (Elaichi) in the milk, did you throw away the lid?" As soon as I asked this, the girl lost her temper! I overheard her telling her husband, "Is Sursati my mother-in-law that she is scolding me so much?"
I got furious and went to check the bathroom because I know that this girl is disorganised and she doesn't keep things in their proper place. Taking the bucket and the mug I went and fired her in front of her husband. I told her, "Why have you left this bucket and mug?" The foolish one replied, "Yes, I left it. I left it".
I said, "I have always told you not to leave the washing club (Sautee) on the floor, but keep on the shelf".
My brother angrily said, "Sursati, you could have picked it up yourself instead of getting so angry".
I said, "So you also have become like her, stupid? I was like servant to you and mother, and now I am expected to be at your wife's service too".
He answered, "From where do you get such fine expressions in your talks?"
"Oh my God, now you are so tied to your wife that you naturally pick out my faults. Why will you tell this useless one to move her limbs?"
My brother burst out laughing, "Sursati, your language is superb but stop taunting in your talks".
"Am I taunting? Have you ever seen your doe-eyed wife's taunts? He stares at us so silently, as if saying that she doesn't like us at all. That is why I call her Double-eyed".
"Double-eyed! Brother laughed loud and clapped so hard that it resounded in the entire house. He again said, "Sit. Sit Sursati, tell us something more. You have become so talented in jokes. I didn't even know this".
"What talent do I have! I am not shallow like your wife. I am straightforward like the beat of the drum. Yesterday the neighbour had brought her child who was wearing a new T-shirt and I told her straight on the face – "You have worn him new clothes but not bothered to even clean his nose. And you have not even worn him an underwear. You have brought a naked dumb child early in the morning. Such a big child does not look nice being carried in your arms!"
My brother was so impressed with my talks that he kept on laughing all the time. But that double-eyed doe! She kept staring at me with such wide eyes that I decided to run away before she starts scolding me like my mother that one should not insult somebody who come home. Yes, in this world truth is very bitter and lies are sweet. Had I called that dark child a soldier then the mother would have been so pleased to the hilt"
"What is hilt?"
"Oh God! I am trapped. My dear, I have a lot of work pending. Why don't you make this stupid sit, and talk to her?"
He asked, "Okay, atleast tell me the meaning of stupid (Venghis) before leaving..."
"My dear, No time for all this. I am not free at the moment".
My brother said, "Sursati, your talk is so pure. Just get rid of the sting from it".
I told him, "My dear brother, if my talks sting you then why do you ask me to talk? The Scriptures and Vedas were really meaningless because they always preached to speak the truth. Mother also says that t
hat if the hair gets scanty by combing, let it be. If the friends sulk on hearing the truth, let them sulk".
The brother was overjoyed, "Wow! Wow. What proverbs you know".
I burst out laughing. But my sister-in-law could not stand that. She said, "Didi, can you give the baby a bath? I think I have fever".
I did not say anything and swallowed my anger. I took Soni for a bath. I cleaned her and made her fresh like a flower by putting powder on her. The kid is so talkative; she spoke in her childish blabber, "Didi, put shopp on me, put powdher. Now I am a flower".
Her mother joined in her childish talk, saying, "Didi is so good. She made you a flower isn't it?"
I told her, "Bhabhi, don't try to flatter me. It won't work on me. Do you think I'm going to bathe her every day? Absolutely not! I don't beat about the bush. I am telling you straight on the face that I gave her a bath out of fear that otherwise you have complained to my brother".
Listening to my straight-shot answer she became numb as a well. Turning her face away, she went off to sleep but I here I got stuck. I had the duty of feeding the kid and even in the night Soni said, "I will sleep with Didi". Since my sister-in-law's fever was rising, I offered to let the child sleep with me.
There was a cool breeze blowing early in the morning and suddenly I felt a finger in my nostril. As I opened my eyes, I was surprised the naughty little kid was awake before me. I told her, "Why have you got up so early? Go back to sleep".
She was like a piece of wood and said, "I want a biscuit".
When I brought out a biscuit from the box, she asked for water. I told her, "Little one, you are taking full advantage of me". She started wailing and I immediately gave her a glass of water. Just as I turned on one side, there was another demand! "I want a chocolate".
I too got furious and told her, "Go away from my room. Go straight to your mother and make these demands".
Her mother was taken up by the fever. My poor brother woke up and tried to take care of her but the stubborn girl just wanted her chocolate. At last her father took her to the bazaar.
I told my sister-in-law, "Is this the way to get children habituated?"
She answered, "Didi, my parents met my demands even more than this".
This is the reason I don't like to talk to my sister-in-law because she doesn't agree easily to anything. Hence, I also shot back at her, "Because of such an upbringing you will make her a sulking-type like yourself".
And then all hell broke loose. There were tears from her eyes, nose... When my brother returned from the bazaar, carrying the kid, she complained, "Send me to my parents house right away. Here I feel many thorns pricking me".
"Oh my God. She is corrupting my brother's mind! I ran to my mother and as I told her, she left the tea kettle mid-way and came and caught hold of my brother. She told him, "Why don't you send her to her parents' house where she will sleep on velvet carpets. Here she is feeling thorns pricking her, isn't it? If your own body is sick then don't put the blame on others".
My brother took a deep breathe and said, "Ammi, you only were in a hurry. I had said that I will get married after Sursati's marriage. Now with what face should I go and leave her?"
I also came at the door and was watching the show, I said, "But are we bound to server her? What service has she provided us?"
Glaring at me, my brother said,"' "You just shut up! You are on Ammi's side and Ammi is on yours".
Then I pulled my mother's arm and said, "Ammi, let's go. Let Bhau be at her service".
Then Ammi said, "When a stranger comes home, one's own people become strangers".
Both husband and wife were with swollen faces. Brother took a bottle and went to get some medicine. His wife took the bucket of washed clothes and went to dry them. In a moment my brother came back, perhaps he had forgotten to take money. He came and pounced on his wife, "Why are you drying the clothes? Don't you need rest?"
His wife is so weak that she got frightened of his shouting and went straight onto the bed and lay down. Bhau then came and attacked me, "Why didn't you put the clothes to dry?"
I was already so burnt up inside that I said, "Has Bhabhi fallen from the sky? I don't even pay attention to such a small fever. She doesn't work otherwise and now she got up with the fever and went to dry the clothes to show her husband".
As soon as I said this, Bhau was furious and he said, "Get up and dry the clothes right now".
I also answered, "I will not. What will you do?"
Raising his hand, he said, "You will not?"
I told him, "You may beat me if you wish but even then, I shall not dry the clothes".
My brother was in a rage. He hit me so hard on my shoulder that my neck was twisted. I was also in a stubborn mood. I said, "Beat me. Beat me as much as you want". His wife started shouting. She was trembling. Ammi came and scolded him, "You have broken your sister's neck. Go and take care of your wife. She may die out of fear".
We suddenly saw that my sister-in-law was trembling and she said, "I'm feeling very cold". Now I too lost control and removed the anger of brother's beating on his wife. I told her, "Look brother! Your wife got me beaten and see, now she is suffering".
The girl kept weeping a lot and saying, "Didi, I did not get you beaten up. I did not get you beaten".
My dumb brother held his head and sat down. Ammi put a blanket on my sister-in-law, took me by the arm into her room. My bones were aching.
There was pin-drop silence in the house. At that moment the little devil appeared. Putting her hands behind her, she said, "Did, I did not dirty my hands in the mud".
I asked her, "The why have you put both your hands behind you?"
I pulled her hands forward and saw that both her hands were full of mud.
I told her, "Now I should beat you? Should I cut your stomach open?"
Then she started howling and saying in a babbling way, "Papa, Didi mele ko malti hai. Paet cut tee hai in Hindi. beating me".
Papa, Didi is beating me. She is cutting my stomach".
I was angry and I asked her, "Is your dad a Bhaiya that he doesn't understand Sindhi? What are these Hindi words you are using?"
Then she just ran off to her mother. My mother took a deep sigh and said, "God bless the married girl who returns home. What a curse to have unmarried daughters at home. Children's language too has changed so much".
Circumstances have overwhelmed me. My beloved brother, pure as gold, has changed. My mother too has been scolding me frequently. What if something ever happens to her...??
- Translated by Arun Babani