Chapter – Five
I started working hard. With Shanti and Mohon I used to roam in the interior localities and collected information about women’s social validity in rural backgrounds, and their economic drawbacks. I tried my best to keep the survey and its analysis pedestalled on truth, no imagination or bookish propaganda. I was excited and nervous about this course of my work. Despite being a village girl I never got the chance to poke my head in this intriguing fashion in the innermost lives of the village as my parents were strict about my education and discipline, not allowing me too much time outside my home, except the school hours. My father, a down-to-earth man was also a man of great education and he wished that my rural background must nourish within me the simplicity, freshness and purity of mother India not the grim shadow of superstition and illiteracy. My father dreamed that one day he would do something for his beloved village. He loved his village and never thought to settle in any Metropolitan for the sake of any favour or facility. I loved my father and his ideals, and dreams.
Everyone welcomed me as they knew my father for his benevolent heart and humble nature. So it was easy for me to get deep into the matter whatever it was.
“Aatri will you leave us if you get a job somewhere far from us?” Shanti asked me on our way returning home. I grasped the tension in her voice.
“Job is not a child’s game Shanti. It is only a seminar and above all, there are so many dazzling personalities. I’m nothing in front of them.”
“You are no less bright”, Mohon clicked.
“No Mohon. You love me that’s why you are saying so.”
“I’m just talking about the future. Your future. Will you be there with us like your father?”
“My future is in this village with you, with everyone.”
“No. Perhaps not. If life chooses you far from us what else do you do?”
“I have not thought of it and do not want to now. Why are we cajoling with such uncertainty? Have we not anything better to do?”
“You are our best friend and every time we fear losing you”. Mohon drawled.
“I am also afraid of losing you, my friends, and everything that belongs to me. This is my root, my sustenance to thrive. And above all, I’m not boiling in burning ambition now. There are so many problems in my life that I cannot even think beyond them.”
“You know Atari you can join Sister Bijita Welfare Branch anyway after the result if you just want to keep in touch with such professions associated with women’s welfare and so on. Though it is not so eminent and dazzling as Chitora branches there is a chance they will accept you if Chitora recommends your work. And your Mamoni is there, you have not to leave her alone.” Mohon suggested with his ever-shining prudency.
“Yeah, it’s a good idea if there is a chance for me to select my placement. Then I can inform my preference. I can come home at weekend and even within it if Shanti promises me some good dishes. yammee.”
“Stop counting your chickens before they are hatched.” poked Shanti.
We all laughed aloud.
“You will hire Mithun uncle’s old scooty and have a fantastic journey over the fields every day.”
“No no, it’s impossible to cover the whole distance.”
“I’ll try for your sake”.
Time used to pass in meaningless speeches and laughter.
It was not so that I had not thought about it. Sometimes I fell into the pit of a dilemma – one part of me wanted to go far away from here and face the dazzling world while the other reproached me as selfish, self-absorbed in my own pleasure, neglecting the precondition of real life, real situation.
Every year Chitora arranged this type of Seminar and then called for an interview based on the presentation. But I was not bothered anymore about what to do next. Already I had disturbed myself a lot thinking and bothering over every possibility. No more till the actual situation came. I just wanted to present myself, and my thoughts in my way, the way that no one ever did, from so close under the microscope of real life. I had got a chance, and I did not want to lose it. Our University had selected twenty heads of which our college where M. A course had been sanctioned from the previous year, nominated only four. I wanted to prove that I was in touch with what I said.
Mohon left us as he had an urgent call. I sat with Shanti under the old margosa tree near my house. We often used to sit here from our childhood hand in hand. The evening was crawling over the translucent sky mopping the last trace of colour. The birds after a day of food search wheeled away over our heads. Their tired, calm wings cast a fake premonition of the black storm over the sky and then vanished.
Shanti’s mother was no more and her father was half paralyzed due to a severe heart attack. Her brother’s wife never felt good to her. And it was a really big question for Shanti how to earn and take care of the kid.
“It is a bit cold today. Can you feel Shanti?”
“Nothing. Nowadays my sensory organs are not working properly I think.”
I looked astonishingly at Shanti. Her words knocked me deep. There was something in her voice that I never felt before.
“Just one thing I can feel is my dire poverty and utter helplessness.”
“Shanti cannot you get work and afford your own living? Then they will not treat you as a burden.”
“It is not so easy Aatri as you say. I cannot do agricultural work in the field as I’m not so physically strong. Five years with Sanjay exhausted all my life potion making me just weak. I’ll die from hardship. I want to do something else. I’m so tensed Aatri. How can I take care of Shivam if I cannot give him a bowlful meal twice a day?”
Her eyes were filled, and so was mine. We just sat silently hand in hand. A soothing breeze blowing through the ripe wheat field murmured in our ears. We two friends looked at the vast darkness for a glimpse of hope.
Chapter – Five, The Survey, Life Beyond Love, a Novella
Hey, I am Munmun, the phoenix fabulist who wants to tell you stories. I love to read stories and I love to weave stories. I feel life is an amalgamation of multiple stories, colourful threads, and threads of pain, pleasure, hope, and hopelessness. We just need to pick those hues and arrange them, knitting them with our own emotions and perception. So let’s celebrate the stories of life.