Friday, March 02, 2007

Krishnachi Bai

She woke up in the morning to find the bed empty. Her husband might have gone to buy milk and pao she wondered. In her 10 X 10 tiny room in the dingy lanes of Sudam Nagari she had come as new bride some 12 years ago with her husband. This was her sansar that she had nutured lovingly and with dedication like most Indian semi literate women. No aspiration for the self. To be a good wife to her provider was what she was inculcated with all through her chilhood. That is exactly what she was doing.

Parvati began her chores today by cleaning the kitchen table that held her gas stove. She made tea with the previous day's leftover milk. Filled her cup and sat on her bed hugging her knees waiting for him to return while pondering over the conversations with him last night.

She sat there for a hour. It was 8 am and was shaken out of her deep thought by the clanging of the bell from a nearby municipal nursery. He did not return.

She tried to look for him around the gateway of India, at Backbay nowhere to be found. She returned quitely to her home. Neighbors enquired about him. She had no answers.

After a week the money in her possession was exhausted. He earned a paltry salary yet gave most of it to her. It was the end of the month and with no more money left in hand she decided to go to Thal. Her village where she was born and knew she could do small things to support herself there.

She packed her 2 sarees in a cloth bag and went to the Sasoon dock. One of the villagers called out to her, “Come Parvati get on to the boat we are starting for Thal, How come you are alone?” She did not respond for she had no answer.

On the way she pondered. May be he will come looking for her in the village. Nothing unusual had happened the previous night when he had left home. Where could he have gone? She brushed away the sad thought and looked at the horizon as the boat pulled away from the shore.

She saw a dolphin fly into the air and do a somersault. After many days she smiled to herself. Then took out the chivda she had kept deep down in her bag and started feeding the fish happily.

In Thal she opened the door of their hut, they had no relatives so it was left locked when they were in Mumbai. She cleaned the house and kept the dhaan for cooking on the chool, the wood fired stove and went to the neighbors to ask for some curry with a bowl in hand. The neighbors just as poor as her family happily shared it with her and enquired about her husband. There was silence again.

She returned to her hut and found it difficult to swallow the dhaan and curry that she kept mixing endlessly. She picked up the plate and threw it to the dogs who eagerly lapped it up.

She cuddled on the blanket spread on a tattered mat and wept. Never again she decide to climb anyone’s doorstep till her husband came to take her back to their sansar in Mumbai. Days, months, years passed by yet he never came.

Parvati had been married for 12 years but her dream was still unfulfilled of bearing a child. As she lay there she started a fantasy. She remembered being told by a guru, “Bai, (pronounced as Ba-I) you do not have a child in your life. Why don’t you consider Lord Krishna as your child?”

So she did, then on Lord Krishna became her child.

She would begin the day by singing a song to wake her child up from the slumber. She bathed him and patted him dry. Told him to behave and went off to work at the fish drying fields at the other end of the village.

She returned at lunch to play with him and fed him with whatever she cooked for the day. Sometimes it was fish curry and dhaan. Sometimes roti and talela bau (fried fish). Only on thursdays Krishna got a big bowlful of curd that she bought from the curd seller for 2 rupees a cup.

The idol was always near her pillow. It was her Krishna. She talked only to him. She did not respond to neighbors queries about her husband but narrated to people stories of Krishna’s naughtiness.

Parvati then on became Krishna’s Bai in Thal. Yes she was Krishna’s mother.

4 comments:

  1. Way to go girl!! Fiction!

    Nice story, BTW. And with your previous descriptions of Thal life,I was visualising all the while!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a lovely heartbreaking story

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anita, Usha, HKJ thanks for your kind comments. Make me happy.

    ReplyDelete

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