Short Stories >> Yugantar >> Yugantar

Short Stories

Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani

A symbol of a new era was in Indu's arms and the earth was submerged in darkness. In that moment her tired arms brought up a thought to her brain, 'Let Yugaantar die, whole day of duty and in the night his howling!'

The lightning of doubt and repentance struck a sword in the motherly heart.

On one holiday night-when Indra and Santosh were at home, Santosh had said, "Indu, I still don't understand the reason for you choosing this name".

"Do you want to hear?"

"Hmm. Yes".

"You won't mind?"

"Indu, have I ever taken offence to anything, more than what you have taken offence to from me?"

Indus hearty laughter filled the walls of the quiet room like a musical instrument.

"And me? After Yugaantar I have not minded a single thing". Santosh too laughed. "That is what I also think, that Yugaantar is so small, but he has so much power that he has finished off our bad times completely".

"After all, if not your son then who shall inherit the strength of Tarzan like you?" Indu put her lips on Santosh's strong arm. "Perhaps you have named your son as the one who ended an era of sorrow?"

The lips touching the arm were stuck by lightning and the nerves started like the swings of monsoon.

"Indu, I am telling you the truth. I was not deliberately making you unhappy". Santosh moved away the silky hair from her forehead.

"You were not the only one to give me sorrow. Even Ammi...She did not give me even a penny in dowry and she gave Sarla bags-full. Am I not a human being?"

"Crazy. Why do you compare your marriage and your sister's marriage? You neither married by your mother's choice nor did you choose from your great extended family".

Getting very emotional Indu said, "Look, be true to your conscience and answer me- is the groom chosen by Ammi for Sarla better, or is the one I have selected for myself better?"

"You crazy! How di you select me? I have been eyeing you since college days. How could I have let-go of such a beautiful Helen?"

Wiping her cheeks Indu said, "Is Sarla's husband a man? Every now and then he complains like a woman, of not getting enough gifts. Chhee. What a mean fellow! I hate such greedy people".

"We are considered poor and not invited over but little do they know that this Moon has made my heart so wealthy".

Taking a cool breath Indu said, "Poverty! Because of this poverty we used to fight so much before Yugaantar's birth".

"That was not the only reason".

"No, there was no other reason. Perhaps I was irritated at not having good clothes, perfumes and creams like Sarla".

"No, it was not even that. My name is Santosh (Contentment) but your mind is full of contentment".

There was a sweet smile on Indu's lips. She said, "Perhaps it was also because my duty was in the day and yours in the night. That is why our longing for each other had turned into anger...And some doubts also had crept into both our minds!"

Indu put her head on his chest, as if accepting her fault.

"Yugaantar is the bond of our trust". Santosh bent down and kissed Yugaantar and the nights left months ago merged in with today's night.

Even after the passing of the night, Indu could not find any light to that darkness. Picking up Yugaantar from the waves of the darkness, she touched him with the light of her eyes and the touch of his cheeks spread a feeling on that light within her. But the darkness kept on spreading its fingers like the protoplasm of the amoeba, over and over again. The tears flowed from her closed eyes on her cheeks. How lovable is this Yugaantar! But who will look after him for half an hour when I go to office? The words of the last notice kept shining within her closed eyes. 'If you do not report back to office by the first, consider your job terminated.' After such a struggle I had got this well-paying job. Otherwise even Yugaantar would not have been born. What a big price one has to pay for every feeling of happiness! Even this thought was piercing like a sharp knife.

Yugaantar got up with a jerk hearing the cat meowing outside the house. Indu held him to her bosom. Yesterday when the cat had walked into the house, carrying her kitten in her mouth, Indu's mother-in-law was present. She said, "Go and get the cat out or she will cross over on your son's clothes".

Indu made a face and her mother-in-law said, "She will move around seven houses with her kittens, so get her out of your house quickly or she will settle here".

Indu was felt pity for the cat. She put milk in a cracked plate and showing it to the cat, she led her out of the house. Coming back and sitting with her mother-in-law, she took a deep breath. This was not a woman but a statue of stone because one day Indu too had taken Yugaantar to her mother-in-law's house and told her, "My mother does not want to look after Yugaantar, I don't know why she has still not accepted my marriage of my own choice".

Her mother-in-law said arrogantly, "So you think that I will look after your Yugaantar? I brought up my son after so much trouble and ultimately, he got married by his own choice in strangers'' families. And now, I should look after your child? Oh no. Those who give birth should look after their children. I have many friends and activities of my own. I have kept myself busy...Why don't you leave your job?"

"How will the house expenses go on? The rent itself is so high..."

"Then tell your husband to search for a high-paying job".

"Ammi, he is ready for a high-paying job, but he should get one, isn't it?"

"Then why did you produce a kid?"

Indu was absolutely shocked. She turned pale. She took Yugaantar and stood at the window. Why produce children? So much insensitivity and materialism has set into our middle-class! She touched her cheek to Yugaantar's cheek and said, "My sweet Yugaantar".

Even the cat is carrying her kittens outside all the houses in this darkness, looking for a proper place for her kittens. Indus gently put Yugaantar on the bed and lay down beside him. How comforting it is to rest one's legs! But for how long? Today shall pass of, but tomorrow I shall have to get ready early morning to go to office. Santosh will return from his night duty and he will be tired. If he goes off to sleep who will give milk to Yugaantar? I will prepare the milk for the whole day and keep in a thermos flask. I shall also keep the apple juice ready, but it will turn red. Will Santosh remember it or not? Then what should I do?

Indu felt as if the fingers of darkness were strangulating the light within her mind. I wish there were government Creches here too, like in other countries. Indu's elder sister had suggested a solution to this problem, saying, "Why don't you yourself establish such a set-up where middle-class working women can leave their children for the day. 'It will solve your problem and that of others like you'.

At first Indu did think much of this advice of her sister who worked as a cleaner of Air-crafts, especially since Santosh had assured her that he would be at home the whole day and look after Yugaantar...Suddenly Santosh came and Indu opened the door. At the door itself, he handed her a piece of paper. Indu was flabbergasted and said, "Oh my God! Now your night duty is over? Now who will look after Yugaantar?"

"What kind of women are both our mothers? They themselves have given birth to seven-seven children and..."

Indu said in a broken voice, "Those were times in Sindh. Things were not so expensive. The maids had not left for Arab countries..."

"Okay, stop blabbering and get me something to eat".

Preparing snacks and tea for Santosh, Indu felt as if the Jamuna river was overflowing and she was carrying Yugaantar in a basket, like Vasudev.

Looking at her face even Santosh got serious. Yugaantar...Dear Yugaantar...Santosh went towards him, bending over him and kissing him he said, "Indu, why has this Angel who has brought about an end to our problems become a burden on us?"

Tears kept flowing from Indu's eyes. She softly replied, "Don't worry".

Santosh jumped and came and sat before his wife. Seeing the happiness and a firm decision on her face, he eagerly asked, "What have you thought?"

Indu answered, "I have firmly decided that I shall give up my job and set up a creche for small children".

Santosh became irritated, "Yes, when he grows a little more, you set up a nursery. Then a Sindhi school too. And when he still grows, you can establish even a college for him..."

"Santosh, what are you saying? Are you sulking again? I have said already that after Yugaantar our fights are over".

"But Indu, just see your degrees".

"Yugaantar is the dearest of all degrees and my biggest degree is Yugaantar".

- Translated by Arun Babani

The End


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