Stretched wings

Yaddanapudi SulochanaRani –Vippukunna Rekkalu 

Translation-Swatee Sripada

“Rajju, Rajju” beating with fists on closed doors, her voice sounded like a thunderbolt. The closed doors didn’t open.

“Rajita! Open the door.” Prabhakar’s voice thundered as a military officer’s order.

No answer.

“Rajji open the door! Or shall I burn the room? Turn You into ashes” not even the threatening worked.

“How dare? If I rage up you know …. what I am …”

“……….”

“Open the door! Will you or not?”

” ……”

“Do you think I can’t break the door to come in?”

“………”

Prabhakar wiped the sweat on his forehead. His nostrils left the respired air as a train engine.

He was tired of beating the door, yelling threatening. He felt helpless and exasperated. Fury as lava always tried to jump out as soon as it becomes alive.  It will get infuriated if a chance is not given. Prabhakar’s mind too was the same. To pounce on Rajitha …his anger flared up…. But closed doors in front of him obstructed.

Rajitha is my wife! With the bond of marriage, she entered this house as a tethered cow. 

Dumping me, without even information about her leaving, not even writing a piece of note without my knowledge had left the home and came here.

Her silent departure turned him crazy, anguished and emotional. His male chauvinistic ego, like a thousand hooded terrible cobra, hissed.

He stood there desperate, depressed, leaning against the door but at once moved as an exciting wave, flourished as a storm his hands banged the doors and his legs kicked them.

The doors broke giving away.

He walked in. watching him Rajitha stood up. She had an embroidery frame in her hand. 

Her hand as she pricked the needle in and pulled out the thread remained in the same stretched out position. He came close to her.

“Can you escape from me?”

She did not answer.

“How can you come like this without even giving any information, as you wish?”

No reply.

“Why don’t you talk?” he yelled.

Silence is the answer.

“I’m asking you?” he saw the embroidery frame in her hand.

“I went on shouting and yelling and you are leisurely creating roses here?”

His hand like a lightening moved forth and the embroidery frame along with the cloth flew and had fallen at a distance.

Rajitha moved and squatted on her knees to take it. He followed her holding her plaited hair pulling forcefully.

“Oh!” she turned towards him and looked at him. No fear at all in that look. No quiver for her helplessness, no worry of loneliness and seeking protection. A kind of carelessness prevailed. He lifted his hand. Meanwhile a sound…

He turned back. Police entered in. He was shocked.

” Have You called us?” the police officer asked.

“Yes!” Rajitha replied without any faltering. 

“Mister breaking the doors and coming in, trying to manhandle her, beating …. follow us to the station” he caught the shirt collar of Prabhakar.

Prabhakar, aghast tried to say something.

“Shut up” the officer shouted. 

“I am her husband,” Prabhakar said in an authoritative voice. 

“Is this the way a husband comes into his wife’s room?”

pointing him the broken door and his catching her plait, the officer asked.

The satire in his voice as a charge of latté hit Prabhakar’s mind.

Rajitha went and brought the embroidery frame that fell at a distance as if nothing happened.

When the police moved with him she said

“Thank you, sir”

Listening to her voice Prabhakar looked at her like a beaten tiger.

The police officer turned his head towards the door.

***************

Night eight o’clock

Rajitha was watching the TV

The phone rang. She reduced the volume and lifted the receiver.

Father in law Parushu Ramayya went on talking in a heated voice

“Rajitha, I brought Prabhakar back home on bail. He had taken poison for your insult and he is in a hospital in death-throws. Are you satisfied now?”

Rajitha cradled the phone. She returned to her seat and started to watch the TV.

After fifteen minutes the calling bell rang. Again, she volume of the TV and opened the door. Rajitha’ uncle (father’s brother).

“Rajitha, do you know Prabhakar had taken sleeping pills”

Rajitha didn’t open her mouth. He came in and sat. Rajitha went back and increased the TV volume…

“Shut that stupid TV,” he said furiously. She reduced the volume.

Only the pictures are moving. The audio was too low to listen.

China lady on the screen was performing gymnastics excellently.

Rajitha immersed completely in it as if she forgot everything.

“Rajitha” uncle called her loudly. “Yes” with a shudder she turned towards him.

“Are you deaf? What have I said now?” he said angrily.

“What’s it, uncle?”

“Prabhakar tried to commit suicide”

“I know”

The family planning program started on TV.

Rajitha switched it off.

“You know that? how can you be so composed?”

“Many people commit suicide in this world have you ever worried about them uncle?” she asked.

“What? Many people and Prabhakar’s case are the same?”

“It may be important to you but not to me. It may worry you, not me”

Her answer was direct.

“Are you not bothered if something happens to him?”

She nodded her head in negation.

“I did the marriage of you both”

To make tea for him she was taking milk from the fridge and turned to look at him.

“Yes! You did the marriage. But we have to live together. We should have our  understanding”

“It’s common to have some conflicts between wife and husband…”

“Not only the right of living together, wife and husband have the right to separate also…”

“O, God! How much have you learned Rajitha? Born and brought up in my hands, are you the same one?” he expressed his surprise.

“Why did you stop? Continue with your chiding. you scold my studies, my friends and the books I read. I joined a job you know scold all my office people… “

“First of all tell me why did you come out leaving him?”

Rajitha was making tea.

“Spell it out Rajitha”

Rajitha did not reply. 

“Tell me what he did?” she did not say a thing immediately.

While taking his tea he pleaded her, requested.

Rajitha started.

“You are my well-wisher. I didn’t like to keep you in darkness. We can’t adjust” she said

“Why?”

Uncle, he never even had the basic culture to respect others as humans. You did my marriage with him. I too liked his education, his family his job and his attitude as you did. Being my guardian performing the marriage is like getting us into a ship and leaving at the shore.

We have to do the remaining voyage. For that journey one should know the soul of the other, otherwise, it will be horrible. Even if I say you can’t understand it. I too liked him extremely. Though educated and eligible I stayed at home without going for a job as he didn’t like it and wanted his wife as a house maker waiting for him at home. I did it voluntarily without his asking and not even knowing his desire. I left my friends as he didn’t like them. I kept Susheela, daughter of Panduranga Rao uncle at a distance as he felt they are not up to his status. Not to keep me separated from him, to unify with him I molded myself as per his fancies.

But what did I gain in this eight-years married life, endless loneliness? He treated me as a machine that works according to his whims and fancies.

When I expressed my opinion, not accepting his acts, a great nuisance started at home, scolding ……….

His education, individuality that gentleman’s pose everything is a masquerade. How can he use such an abusive language to scold his wife? Why should I tolerate it?

How much had I given him without a demand, to give so much how much I struggled, what I lost he didn’t even feel the responsibility to know.

You say these are minor things, bricks to are small. on them alone raises a gigantic palace. I like petite faiths and delights. I love them. They are my measures. I never expected colossal things from him.

I lost the address of my individuality in changing myself But I couldn’t get anything. He has to go on a foreign tour so he made me join in a job so that I should not get bored. That is the only thing which he did for me and a bad thing for him. Till now I lived a life that’s not mine. Only for Prabhakar, I did everything.

His likes and delights were imposed on me. I realized, to dedicate life for someone else is a mistake.

I corrected my mistake. I started to live as myself and for me. He did not like it. He asked me to leave the job. I denied. With this started my struggle why should I stay with a man who never cares about my likes? So, I came off.

We say bye before leaving for someone who wishes our return and waits to meet us. Though sitting by the side of his wife, he ponders over some other happiness –with him, even if you order me to live with him, I can’t. I am not scared at all. I have no obligation to stay there if I couldn’t get what I want.

So I never left my job. I made my own home. Prabhakar tried to smash my nest kicking it, I never allowed him to do it. That is his ache. He never thought of my pain. When he experienced a bit of it, he is making it a public nuisance. Let him. What will he do? How long can he? You all show your sympathy. He wanted that sympathy only. Let him feel happy. What else you want?”

“He did a mistake Rajitha but he is not so bad…”

“Don’t you recommend anything to me… recommendations never mend their lives. Love never survives with thoughtless deeds”

Rajitha took the teacups inside.

“Ok then bye” he got up.

“Bye uncle,” she said reservedly.

When he crossed the threshold Prabhakar was at the doorstep leaning to the door. He appeared very weak.

There is a lot of difference in his appearance, in a day.

“You …what is this … you were in hospital….”

“Sh!” heaving he said keeping a finger on his lips

“I escaped from the hospital; I have to talk to Rajitha…”

“Come let us talk”

Prabhakar lifted his forefinger and signed him to go.

“I have to talk to her alone, please go”

“Have you heard everything?” he asked.

He nodded his head and asked him to go.

He left. Closing the doors of the kitchen when Rajitha entered the hall, she remained dumb stuck.

Prabhakar was on the sofa squatted huddled together. He appeared as if struggling in death throws.

Face turned black. Cheeks and eyes have sunken. Legs dangled as if no strength.

“Rajitha” there is no domination in that voice except pleading

“Rajji, I am sorry, I have to apologize to you. I came off with a fear of dying before seeking your forgiveness. I am sorry. I would have given double the happiness that you imparted me but I looted it with my ego as a thief. After your leaving my intoxication dropped down. Now. Now I’ll not ask you to come back I realized that my mistakes made me aloof, I am sorry” he got up to go, But could not balance himself.

Rajitha came forward to help him.

“thank you, thank you” he started crying.

Rajitha helped him to get seated on the sofa, brought a pillow and kept his head on it.

“Rajitha I love you,” he said holding her hand. “Please don’t leave me; the neglect in your eyes stabs me like a knife. How much love you showered on me …, now the carelessness… I know the mistake but I couldn’t come” Rajitha kept her hand on his head.

He hugged her.

Rajitha made him lie down on his back and called her father in law. “Don’t worry Prabhakar is here.” She called the doctor and asked him to come at once.

“Rajitha,” he called her with so much softness in his voice stretched his hand. She reached him and said,

“Don’t worry! A doctor will be here in ten minutes?”

keeping his face in her palms he asked: “Have you forgiven me?”.

 she was silent.

“Tell me”

“….”

“Tell me please”

“Apologies may bring lives together but can’t make them one,” said she.

The words are straight. They sounded as if she showed him the fact that she believed.

He thought of leaving her, but paused, Kept his cheek on her palm. 

“Yes, but if we are together, we may have a chance to try to be one”

Rajitha had no reply. Her heart at that time was quiet. she felt as if she had relief from a heavy unbearable weight. A strange experience entirely new started stretching its wings in her mind.

*****

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