After a while he said in a low voice,
“Not for the feast Gowri,”
“It seems we have to stay there itself. However hard we try, these lands never give proper crops, except the famines. We can look after the shop in Kadapa and live happily. That’s what she feels”.
Gowri stared at his face. The heaviness of the words explained her something-she felt.
Remaining silent for a while she asked,
“What do you think, Bava? Tell me what do you feel?”
Without a reply he cast his head down and remained silent pondering over something.
She repeated the question.
After a while he lifted his head slowly. By then there was a change in his eyes.
“Gowri…Gowri…I cannot come leaving this village…” he reached her at once and hid his face in her lap.
The change in his voice caught his mental status. Gowri could understand the depth of his heart.
Born and brought up in that dust, drank that water and breathed that air –now it’s impossible to adjust to the city life – she felt as if he said it.
As if somebody dragged him forcefully and he was pleading with her to save him he is in his wife’s lap…..
“ Is he not probably thinking that I too became one of the forces that drag him? …”
“If my uncle turns good…then.. If he turns into a gentle person then she would take us. By that time another famine would come …” she said laughing.
He didn’t get up for a long time from her lap. She sat stroking on his back with two hands as if calming a child.
He was in her lap like an infant quietly. He submitted his problem and remained peaceful.
She felt as if she touched an infant.
It looked smart and pampering. Consoling him like a mother was strange to her.
As if he is a son seeking her shelter….
Herself as a reassuring mother….
This feeling appeared queer.
Some enchantment… ‘
The same feeling she thought she had once in the past…..a few days back, probably she never had it totally into her experience.
Like a silhouette it moved in her mind and disappeared. ….her pleading him to eat the food , though he said he was not hungry… requesting him without heeding him, then suddenly she remembered her mother and felt shy … She has now understood that the real feeling behind that shyness is mother’s love and she has experienced it.
Gowri engrossed totally in a kind of mesmerism.
** ** ** ** ** **
Shiva noticed four or five bore wells with fixed motors—it seems they were recharged.
Water started coming in a flow, not like squeezing its neck and getting a tumbler of water now and then. He too should fix a motor and see. It was disconnected two years back and kept at home. Whether it is in working condition or not should be checked. *Mirchi has not yet grown. Cultivated lands are looking like a spread red carpet.
From afar he heard the chirruping of the birds at a high pitch. Near the streamlet the Kalive trees attracted him. Not yet ripened new fruits on all the branches-black fruits as if resembling the eye balls. He cut the leaves of banyan tree, made it in to a vessel, filled it with fruits and started towards home. Suddenly he heard the noise of an aero plane above his head.
As he lifted his head he saw a black cloud crossing across him. Before he could understand that it was a cloud of honey bees, and moved aside some bees dashed him, snuggled him and moved on. Somewhere a place with flowers or maize with flowers or cotton fields might have attracted them.
If she had seen this scene how much she would have been elated with joy!
She likes to swim in the water pools. Feels happy to roam on the banks of fields……she runs with enthusiasm for the thundering clouds………. drizzling rain drops and glistening lightening………. Thoughtfully he walked towards home.
As he clambered down and started to go up on to the bank he heard some conversation. He stopped a while and listened carefully. He moved four more steps ahead.
As he could understand that the talk was about him, he stopped.
That voice is of elder MallaReddy, a close paternal relative of him.
“Unnecessarily this boy is agonized about the fields, cultivation, bore and crops. That girl never allows him to stay here. …it seems as if a bird flies away. It will take away him too. She was obsessed with him. She will keep him as a jasmine in hair and go….”
“It’s about me …my future…they forecast the future based on Sarojamma’s words.”
Shiva doesn’t feel like listening.
Some anxiousness…a kind of fear ….some disturbance…
Inside the layers of mind, his belief on her…….. Trying to suppress all his fears..
He felt as if he brought her up here.
What is this? How can she tame me away now ……
Her taking me to town, in their language if it is treated as eloping ……they all are supporting it. They feel that it’s better if she takes me away and my life shouldn’t be wasted in this mud,.”
She wouldn’t do that – though he tried to convince himself within, some hassle somewhere.
Gowri says it’s impossible that her uncle would turn into a soft person and they will not be taken to town at all.
Suddenly VeeraReddy may not turn into a sage, but on one or the other crime if he gets imprisoned –if his obstruction is not there, doesn’t she mean that we must go to Kadapa?
“Meanwhile another famine may arrive” she said even that –means she intends to say that if a famine comes we all should go on migration permanently?
Within her she might be planning of leaving this famine stricken land and go to town to enjoy the comforts.
Thoughtfully he went home.
He kept the Kalive fruit’s dish in front of her.
Washed and squatted on the wooden seat.
She brought rice and curry vessels.
Both started their dinner.
“It looks water has accumulated in the bore. I have to fit the motor.” He said.
“Let us have sunflower crop?”
“How many months will it take to ripe?”
“Sankranti should cross…”
“So there is no chance of going to my town even on Sankranti?”
“Let us call your mother here”
“It’s the festival of sons-in-law Bava! Do you know the newly wed sons-in-law stay at mother-in-law’s home during that festival? You too should come to my home” she laughed.
For a minute he looked at her without a wink and lifted the plate to drink the butter milk.
The married girl with her husband, going to her mother’s home for the festival, visiting all her relatives and tasting their affection, teasing of friends taking husband’s name, getting the sizing up of her friends about the suitability of the couple, the closeness that entwined from the childhood, sitting around her with questions as forefingers untying the wires of love secrets, to listen to the music of hidden tunes, not only herself their friend but they could understand her husband too……. The great festival is nothing but the rare chance of experiencing all these….
Gowri tried to imagine going to mother’s home with Shiva beforehand… he might not have brothers-in-law but I should be everything to give the experience……….she thought.
If she could get rid of her uncle’s trouble, it’s enough.
Wiping his hand with the towel Shiva started to move out.
“Where ?” she stopped him.
“Who would eat this?” she brought the leaf vessel with Kalive fruits.
Evening, when he returned from the seed beds he saw a sage at the Ashram outside the village. He was talking to some strangers.
Shiva went close to them.
He was explaining something about Puranas. He was quoting the words of Kashinayana.
“Jejinayana and Kashinayana are similar ones. Both are legendary figures. Jejinayana’s devotees sing the verses of philosophy where as Kashinayana’s devotees say that food is the figure of God. Who is that God? It’s Jejinayana…..” he went on speaking.
Subsequently his words turned towards the relationship of wife and husband. He started talking about the couples like Vashista and Arundhati quoting their affection.
“I have a small doubt?” Shiva questioned the sage.
“Ask my dear”
“Some ladies till they turn old, say my home and my village when they mention about their mothers’ home. Why do they do so?
Though they had husbands, sons, daughters, grandchildren ….even before the death they say the mothers’ home is their home.” keeping his face innocently he asked.
Original Novel by Sannapureddy venkataramiraddy
English Version by Swathee sripada