Three short format stories on three women and their brush with Love, Luck and Lust.
Disclaimer: No names have been changed during the writing of this blog. It would be impossible to trace these ladies by their names alone.
“By the ‘big nala’ near the party office, is the squatter colony. No one there knows my name, so ask for so-and-so’s wife.“
“Opposite the rail track, there is a market. Opposite that, is a settlement. Near the hand pump is my house. I am so-and-so’s mother, if you ask them, they will tell you.”
Madhu, sings songs of love, god and devotion. She sings beautifully, and it resonates through the house, filtering into each room. I wonder how she finds it in herself to sing so much and laugh so much, when her life is in tatters. When I didn’t have a job, I would fret all day and make everyone else around me fret. Her hut has a hole on the roof and one on a wall. This monsoon, it might just fall apart. She has no savings. Her husband pulls the rickshaw, and drinks his earnings away.
Come to Kolkata with us, my mum tells her, earn enough for a month, save all of it and come back and repair your home. Yes she promises, and goes about singing again. But she doesn’t come, cites love as the reason. ‘How can I live for a month without seeing my husband? Whom do I share my meals with and with whom do I talk when I want to talk heart-to-heart?
I don’t understand her logic. He drinks, and the house needs repair. ‘Love, didi, Love. That is because you don’t understand domestic love. You just see that I have no money.’ And she begins singing again. I still do not understand her logic.
Ela, oh Ela. How ballsy and gutsy and what a straight talker Ela is. Became a widow at 30. Her husband died, leaving her nothing. She took up a job, and became a house-nurse to earn a living. The wages are low but she travels seven hours a day to get to work and back. ‘What else was there to do? I couldn’t complete my education- my parents got me married at 17. They were scared that I would run away with a boy from my school’. She sometimes worked double shifts to grow up her two children . She is a proud mother, says they are good honest people, educated and working now. ‘They even use olive oil.’ she tells me to drive home the point that they have arrived in life.
‘Do you miss your husband?’
‘What? Why would I? I am the luckiest kind there is. Not shunned by society because I was a dutiful married woman once, but now that he has died, I have all the independence in the world. I do as I please. You think that would have been possible if I were still living with a husband?’
Crinkled hair and a crinkled smile, Parboti is 26 years old. Younger than me, and married for two years now.
‘Are you happy?’
‘Yes didi, he doesn’t drink and he doesn’t beat me’. After a day’s deliberation she confesses that she feels very restless sometimes. ‘I have never made love to my husband. I will never know its joys, and yet I am married.’ On the night of her marriage she found out that her husband was in her words ‘too small’. Its an illness she tells me. ‘Sometimes I think I should run away while I am still young, but he is a good man. Didi, am I wrong to feel this way?’
The image used for this blog is a painting by Aparna Caur.