A Separation - eeleanor
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A Separation

A Separation

 

“Didi, where are you going?”

“Ahh Kiran. Come help me with packing. There is a lot to do and I am running out of time.”

“Didi but where are you going?

“Kiran actually I forgot to tell you and what Purnima told Kiran further bombshelled her.

Kiran, a thirty three old woman,  worked as a maid. From dusting to Pot scavenge, she did every household work. Kiran has a bit dark complexion but looked half of her age. Kiran grew up in a family which was financially very weak. Her father worked as a labour on daily wages and mother took care of the family. Kiran had two Siblings, a younger brother and a sister. At the age of 23, she got married to Suresh who was 10 years older to her but no one had an objection with the marriage as Suresh agreed to bear the expense of the marriage and asked nothing in return. Kiran was Suresh’s second wife. Rani, his first wife had cancer and her life was not spared.

Kiran was not really happy about her getting married. She wanted to stay with her family but she was well aware of the fact that her father was, now, not capable enough to give supper to the family.

Kiran entered a one room house of Suresh and started looking around.

“This is not a village, this is Gwalior a big city. Here having a roof is quite a tough job. I pay thirteen hundred for this every month.   

Kiran come here. He is Ache Lal, my brother. I don’t have a family. I just have him.”

Ache Lal, probably the most innocent and decent man Kiran ever met. He was just opposite of his brother. Suresh had a heavy voice, a good physique and was harsh at times but Ache Lal, for him to look into someone’s eyes was tough. He was lean and spoke so softly as if he was just whispering. Few years back, while cutting the stones, a small piece of rock hit Ache Lal’s left eye. His eye turned white and he lost vision.

“Where will Ache Lal bhaiya sleep?”

“Outside. He will manage.”

It was around 9.30 p.m. The night was getting darker.  Cold winds were knocking the doors as if they were telling about the coming winters. It was November after all.

Suresh called Ache lal while Kiran was doing the utensils.

‘’Listen, you clean the plinth and sleep there. Take this extra sheet.”

Ache lal never had the audacity to say no to his brother or anyone for that reason. He simply nodded his head, took his clothes with a mug of water and went outside the house.

“Ache Lal bhaiya- tea”

Ache Lal was surprised. After the death of his mother it was the first time someone was offering him tea in the morning. His shivering hands took the glass and he enjoyed every sip.

Suresh worked in a factory and got a salary of three thousand per month. Ache lal was partially blind so he was not capable enough of doing what Suresh was doing. Ache Lal worked in a General store and got forty rupees as daily wage. Kiran was somewhat happy now in her new life.

It was a Sunday evening. After two years of Marriage, Kiran was 4 months into pregnancy. She was just preparing dinner when she heard Ache Lal calling her loudly.

“Bhabhi, Bhabhi…. Bhaiya met with an accident. Bhaiya met with an accident. “

Kiran was shocked. She rushed outside and went to the hospital with Ache Lal where Suresh’s body was kept.

“Accident was serious. Brain suffered major injuries and that was the reason for his death.”

The compounder at the hospital was giving the information about Suresh to the journalist who was hunting for a story.

The trauma of Suresh’s death affected Kiran so much that it took her to moony state.

“Why don’t you marry Kiran? Look Ache lal, I don’t have money for Kiran’s second marriage. You should marry her because you need to marry someone, someday. She needs someone now. Soon she will have a baby. You will be called ‘Papa’. 

Ache Lal kept quiet as Kiran’s parents along with other neighbours convinced him. Ache lal agreed as he wanted to take care of Kiran. On forty third day of Suresh’s death, Kiran married Ache Lal.

Destiny had more swarrows for Kiran. In the 8th month of pregnancy, the baby died in Kiran’s womb. Kiran was completely shattered after that. For many days she didn’t utter a word nor her throat swallowed anything. This bothered Ache Lal very much. He attempted to do something that would make Kiran feel better but failed every time.

With time, wounds healed and Kiran was normal.

“Ache Lal I want to work. I will be a maid. By that I will divert my mind and money would also come”.

“But you don’t have to work. I will work hard. I will become a labour. You don’t worry.”

“It is fine. I will do it. Sitting at home makes me feel depressed and we need money. So I will go and search for work tomorrow.”

Ache lal looked down and nodded. He felt he lost the battle. That entire night he could not sleep as he continued to blame himself. He thought if he would have earned well, Kiran would not have to bother about money.

After the marriage, Ache lal started sleeping inside the house but never shared bed with Kiran. The respect he had for kiran was way more than his any desire.

The next day Kiran went out in search of work. A kilometer away from her place was a big house.

“Didi, I am Kiran. I am looking for some work. You need a maid? I can do any household work.”  

“My Faith in god is restored. Haha. Come in. I have just shifted to Gwalior and was in need of a maid and see you are here. “

“You are new here?”

“Yaa. I got transferred here. So when can you start?

“From today Didi.”

“Good. Btw I am Purnima.”

“I am kiran, Didi”.

It’s over a month now. Kiran is quite happy working at Purnima’s house. The house is big and has a garden. Purnima treats Kiran well and showers gifts every now and then.

“Purnima Didi gave me her old sarees and I got my salary, ₹2000.”

Ache lal kept quiet. Not because he felt ashamed that his wife is earning more than him but of the trouble she has to take everyday because he was obligated.

One evening it was raining heavily. There was no power supply. It was 8.30 p.m. and the velvety sky was getting darker.

“Didi how will I go?”

“Kiran you stay over tonight. Go in the morning.”

“But didi Ache lal will be worried. I will go.”

“Don’t worry. He will understand. Don’t react as if he really cares for you. You sleep in the quarters.”

“Okay Didi.”

It was midnight. The two ladies in the light of lamp sat together and had a conversation.

“Didi where is your husband?”

“He passed away. I don’t like to talk about him. You tell your story.”

Kiran narrated her entire story from Suresh to Ache lal.

“So you are happy with Ache lal?”

“Yaa. He is genuine, respects me and cares for me.”

“I doubt. As you said you both don’t talk much. He never touched you in so many years. He is with you because you take care of him, cook food for him and stuff. It’s better you live alone. There is no hope in this marriage. And if he really cared for you, he would have come searching for you.”

Kiran kept quite.

“It is better you come and live with me Kiran. I travel to places. There will be big houses.”

Kiran said nothing, just nodded her head and after a while they both went to sleep.

Next morning Kiran went to her house. Ache lal was sleeping on the plinth.

“Ache lal, Ache lal.. get up, come in.”

Ache lal got up rubbing his eyes and went inside.

“Where were you? Everything is fine?”

“Yaa. It was raining so I slept at Purnima didi’s house.”

“I was coming to look for you but it was too dark and I was not able to see anything.”

“It’s okay. I will change and leave.”

Ache lal had not eaten anything from yesterday and was starving but could not say it. Kiran didn’t bother to ask. She got ready and left.

It’s over third months. Kiran, now, is enjoying every moment she spends at Purnima’s house. The house was well furnished and comfortable. Servant quarter was much better than her house and continuous primining by Purnima was taking her away from her home and Ache lal.

One day Kiran asks Purnima if she can shift to Servant quarters.

“Didi can I shift to servant quarters?”

“Sure but I will deduct 500 from your salary as rent.”

“Okay didi. I don’t have a problem.”

Kiran was excited about it. She went home and told this to Ache lal.

“I am shifting to Didi’s place. Daily travelling is hectic. I will come on Sundays if I get time.”

Ache lal kept quiet. He wanted to stop her but could not do that.  

In few days, Kiran got busy in her life. She didn’t keep her promise of coming on Sundays but Ache lal visited her once in a while. Ache lal now had no one in his life. One day Ache lal visited kiran.   

“Kiran I have brought a saree for you. My owner has increased my salary by ₹200. You…..”

“Ache lal” Kiran interrupted.

“Ache lal I am shifting to Delhi with Didi. She got promotion.”

Ache lal came here to take her home. He was badly hurt but ,again, could not say anything. He gave saree to her, gazed her face for a while and then returned home.

“You lied to him?”

“Yes Didi. It is better he doesn’t come here again and again.”

Purnima smiled.

A month later kiran’s lie came true but in a different way.

“Didi, where are you going?”

“Ahh Kiran. Come help me with packing. There is a lot to do and I am running out of time.”

“Didi but where are you going?

“Kiran actually I forgot to tell you, two days back I received a letter from my office. I got transferred to Bhopal so I will be leaving tonight.”

“Okay didi. I will pack my bags.”

“No Kiran. Actually I will be living with my friend so there is no need for a maid in Bhopal.”

“But didi you promised you will take me.”

“Look kiran, there is no need for a maid there. You can go back to your husband. Okay. Now help me in packing.”

Kiran was blank. Tears rolled her eyes but there was nothing she could do.

She packed her bags and left. On the gate she saw a man standing.

“Excuse me. Purnima Singh lives here.”

“Yes. Who are you?”

“I am her husband. Please can you call her?”

Kiran could not believe what she heard. Purnima lied to her about her husband.

Kiran ran towards her house. All the way she was just cursing herself of trusting Purnima and leaving Ache lal, one who loved her the most. Kiran reached but Ache lal was not there. A lock on the door welcomed her.

“Ache lal has gone to his village.” said a neighbor to Kiran.

“When?”

“A month ago. You came from Delhi?.”

Kiran had no answer. She stood there and cried.  

 

              

 

  

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