Friday, October 4, 2013

Jar of sunshine Part 2

Read the First Part Here

  They had reached Anuya Nivas at noon. They had eaten on their way home. A meal of puri and potato. Sumitra had never eaten something like that. All the oil made her queasy. She stomached it with difficulty. She had grown on a diet of boiled rice and curry. On the other side of the table, Rukmini and Ishwar Narayan ate hungrily. Anuya was eating bread and butter and the 8-month old baby sat in Sumitra's lap sucking on his milk bottle. Ishwar Narayan twisted his face with each bite that churned in his mouth. Rukmini never lifted her head up and was engrossed in her plate. Sumitra wondered what kind of food they cooked at home. Soon she discovered.


            She was occupied all the time in Anuya Nivas. She woke up early at 5 am to brew the tea and keep the water heated for everyone to bath. She was the first to bath and get dressed. She would then prepare the breakfast of chapatis and a vegetable. Ishwar Narayan woke up at 7 and would want his breakfast and tea ready by then. She would then set to prepare tiffins for Ishwar Narayan and Anuya. Ishwar Narayan would leave the house at 8.30 and wake up his wife while leaving. She would then saunter lazily by her daily task. Sumitra would wake up Anuya at 8.30 and get her ready for school. The 4 yr old girl would chatter uncontrollably with her and Anuya listened to all her blabber with a smile. The 8 month old baby would come  to her sometimes in the middle of work and she would host him up her waist while working. After the the baby was bathed and fed and Anuya sent to school, Sumitra would have to wash all the clothes. By noon she would keep the lunch ready. Rukmini would get dressed and go to the market and come back at noon for lunch. After lunch she went to her siesta.

            Sumitra would start preparing some snack for evening at 3. Anuya would return at 4 and Ishwar Narayan at 5. It was the time between noon and 3 that she had all for herself. She would sometimes play with the baby in the verandah. The neighborhood kids would too flock to play. She would talk with the girls her age. It was this time that she truly was free. Her beauty soon became a topic of the area. Some young lads often made rounds of the house to catch a glimpse of her. She herself wasn't unaware of it but like any girl that age, she had enjoyed the attention.

           After the evening snacks there wasn't much work for her. Sometimes Ishwar Narayan's relatives would come over for a brief chat or his friend's would join for tea. After dinner, she would do the dishes and by 9 she would recline to her mat and slip into a deep sleep. She was tired but she was happy. Atleast she wasn't starving and she got a small sum of money which she sent to her grandparents.

         One evening she sat listening to the radio that Rukmini had bugged her husband for. Rukmini would listen to the programs sometimes and Sumitra would silently join in too. There was a knock on the door and Sumitra went to answer it.

        On the door stood a man she had never seen before. The man stared at her and she thought he looked angry. She ran to Rukmini to tell her about the man. Rukmini went to the door and smiled at the man.
"Come in, Anuya's father is in bath. He will join us soon."

The man entered but his gaze did not leave Sumitra. Sumitra felt uneasy. She felt that something was going to go very wrong that evening.

Ishwar Narayan came out from the bath bare chested with a lungi around his waist. He was surprised to see his brother.

"How dare you keep her in your house?" the man was shouting at Ishwar Narayan.

"Brother, you are misunderstanding me." Ishwar Narayan replied meekly.

This man was his brother but there was no resemblance. This man was lean unlike Ishwar Narayan's broad figure. His hands were rugged but his finger delicate unlike the twisted ones of Ishwar Narayan. The man hovered at full 6.2 feet against Ishwar Narayan's 5 feet 8 inches. The man's features were handsome.

"You brought this girl here to shame me! You have the cheek to deny that?" he roared in fury. Sumitra wondered what problem he had with her.

" Please calm down brother. We wanted a girl to look after little Chintu and I have so much of work at home. With two kids and husband to look after and another baby on its way, I was overwhelmed. She was anyway at her grandparent's house and they are too old to look after her. We brought her just to look after Chintu. We will send her away after the baby."

The man had huffed and gone away in anger. Rukmini had snapped at Sumitra to go to her room. Sumitra was still clueless about why the man had been so cross with her. She was seeing him for the first time.

When Sunaina, the friendly girl from the neighboring house told her the truth, Sumitra was aghast. Sunaina was Ishwar Narayan's elder brother's daughter and had a keen ear for such gossip and scandals.

The man was Sumitra's mother's husband. He had shifted to another town after his second marriage.

Sumitra was only a babe when her mother had committed suicide by jumping into a well. She had left behind Sumitra and her elder sister Namita. Namita was the man's true daughter. Sumitra was created out of adultery. Her mother had had a relation with her distant relative who begot her Sumitra.
                           

          

Sumitra was just a suckling babe when her mother was confronted by her husband and the adultery was in plain sight. After her mother's death, her sister was sent to her maternal uncle's house and Sumitra was left in the care of her grandparents. Sumitra had never known her mother or father. Her sister too was disowned by her father who went on to start a new life with a new marriage.

As it happened, Sumitra had an uncanny resemblance to her mother. So much so that it took not more than a first look for the man to know it was his wife's daughter.

That night Sumitra grieved for her mother. The mother who committed a sin that ruined her life. She grieved for her sister who was disowned despite being a legitimate child. She grieved for her father. The father who never once thought about her. She grieved for her grandparents who were too poor to keep her with them. She lay on her mat thinking about how her  life might have been. She heard a woman giggling. She peeked out of her window.

Rukmini sat with Ishwar Narayan in the verandah on their jute cot. It was pitch dark outside.
"So proud the woman was, of her beauty!" she remarked.
"My brother was no less. The most handsome man he thought of himself and yet his beautiful wife found him insufficient to fulfill her needs."
"I wonder what would happen to the girl. She is too beautiful for her own good. We can't keep her here forever. She's going to be a wild thing, like her mother. I thought I would like to see her work for me as my servant. It makes me feel I finally have her mother as my servant. But the sight of her beauty disturbs me. I don't want you looking at her."
"You are more than enough for me. Maybe we should fulfill the lie you blurted to my brother. A kid underway huh" he fondled her and took her right there.

Sumitra huddled back to her bed and wept for what seemed like ages. They did it all purposely. She cried to sleep.. It was just the beginning of her miseries and she had thought she had left it all behind..

(To be continued)

4 comments:

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

An audacious woman, her mother was, she might not have know what she wanted, but she sure did know what she didn't.

Interesting.

Cheers,
Blasphemous Aesthete

Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

Waiting.

maithili said...

She was at fault, yes. Maybe she was too weak to give in to such temptations and a coward to face up to it.. :)

maithili said...

Next parts already out :)