As if he had stolen something and running away his swift walking made them vibrate.
Gowri felt immense pleasure and satisfaction as she fed the calf with the grass cut and carried by her.
Evening when she emptied the grass basket in front of the buffalo as it ate greedily she felt unutterable shudder.
Next day morning when her Atta came with the milk pitcher saying
“ As it had stomach full of green grass it gave more milk” and moved to the milk booth she felt happy.
The green grass brought by her turning into milk was a strange feeling.
In the month of Kartika, at least on one Monday, Shiva thought that he should visit the cave of Belum in Nallamala hills.
He thought of adoring Belum god along with Gowri. But his mother obstructed him saying that they should not climb the hills in the first year of the marriage, so he dropped the idea.
Gowri started going every day with Bhagyam group to bring the grass. In cutting the grass and in carrying it she had immense help of Shiva.
Shiva faced many problems to conceal others’ look and to get the grass basket.
To cut and hand over the grass to Gowri he felt anxious.
Women never allowed him to reach them, even if he could they didn’t allow him to cut the grass, though he managed to cut it they never allowed him to handover it to Gowri. But still he had his own plans. Beforehand he finds out where they go, he pulls up a bundle of grass and covers it with a sign and moves out. One day he keeps a few grass blades on it, and on the other day he keeps something else. All these signs they decide at home. Nobody goes there feeling that a lady gathered it. As soon as Gowri looks at the sign she lifts the grass into her basket. Shiva’s grass basket episode is known to everybody in the village. Mornings when people saw him there at the fields everybody mocked at him.
Before his inquiry they say-“see your wife……. she went that side fields …… go …go that side…” Some provide wrong information to mock at him.
Deceiving him at least one day Gowri should be made to carry the grass to home was Bhagyam’s whim. So searching new ways she was targeting Shiva to new tortures.
That day in the beginning itself Shakuntala Veeraiah misled Shiva. When they went to east fields he showed hand towards the west. After ten fields when he saw Duggayya he too showed that side only. Crossing the tank Shiva roamed all the waste lands and returned. Nobody was seen. Time was elapsing. He could understand that people duped him.
He couldn’t guess how Gowri could manage that day as she is used to his help in filling her basket every day. Where was she is not known. How far was she? He didn’t know. How much she might be struggling? Might be feeling affronted by her friends. Once if she gets hurt it’s very difficult: everywhere fields and fields only. Where to search for her? He walked and walked, ran on the edges between the fields. Once again he rounded all the fields. Everybody in the fields laughed at him. They had a nice game to play with him. Can make him in to a toy to play…..
The time approached for the women to start returning home.
Anxiety grew in Shiva. He went to Subbamma who was seen in the Mirchi field.
He lifted both the hands, folded them,
“Sister in law where is your sister?”
She was noticing his trouble for a long time.
“Why do you feel so trouble, Abby she’ll not abandon you” laughed perfidiously.
“The head is burning, neck looks as if broken. Back couldn’t stand. Tell me where she will be, I’ll salute your mother”
He implored piteously.
She hooted loudly.
“You say bundles of grass and baskets of grass
My sister is there at fine grass my dear
Brother in law my sister is there”
She described all types of grass in her song and finally said “my dear brother in law my sister is there”
He could not bear the delay.
“Is she going to faint for the unbearable weight of the basket? Tell me exactly sister in law! I’ll touch your feet behind the fields ……..”
Her body quivered as she heard it. As her lips shivered she stretched her hand towards east.
“They are in the lands by the side of the ditch, go” saying this she cast her head down.
Shiva moved at a stretch running. By that time all the women started lifting the grass baskets on their heads. From the edge he looked watchfully at them.
He shouted three times as a sign which inspired Gowri.
Within two minutes the basket was on Shiva’s head.
** ** ** ** ** **
Afternoon holding a pitcher when Shiva was moving towards the bore well Shiva Reddy called him.
“Uncle” he expressed his obedience in his voice. Went close to him and inquired
ChennaReddy was sitting on a cot on the verandah. On both his sides two more people were there.
“What happened? Nowadays not at all seen?” he asked.
“Nothing uncle” Shiva scratched his head.
“Always we roam in the streets and fields, we can’t see him. You never look at the street, how you can see him?” the man opposite him said.
“His wife arrived”
Smiles moved on ChennaReddy’s lips.
“Has she studied anything?” he asked.
“Yes!” slowly he lifted his head “she did Inter” he felt shy.
“You are lucky! Your fortune changes”
Shiva couldn’t understand. “Our village’s Anganvadi centre is almost finalized. As we have no educated daughter in law we are getting the sanction and again it’s cancelled. You did a good thing. Though the daughters of this village have no education you brought an educated girl to this village…”
“How many more days did the girl stay here brother? By the time of new year (Ugadi) she may snatch him too to the town” Duggaiah said.
“I heard a shop is there … That is good …..” said ChennaReddy.
“If the centre survives we could do something later..”
Even after Shiva left the place they discussed something. Sanctioning the post on Gowri’s name, after that they can manage to transfer it on some other’s name, if they couldn’t get an educated girl continuing that on Gowri’s name with someone else……
Original Novel by Sannapureddy venkataramireddy
English Version by Swathee sripada