Haunting Voices: Heard and Unheard
K.Varalakshmi’s Sandhya Samasyalu
Ravi: Hi Grandma, our previous story on the relationship between two individuals a husband and wife, and the difference in the perspectives how they look at their relationship, the bond, the insecurities, and the expression of these in everyday life still haunt me. Some of the aspects we discuss here in these stories are particular to the culture they emerge from. After all, it is also true the stories come from the writer’s experiences. I find these conversations we have are truly a great learning experience for me. So, what next?
Grandma: Yes. I am glad you can relate to them. Only living here, you may not be able to use these perspectives in your life or learning. It helps Today my story is by a writer of today’s Andhra who has seen and experienced life at close quarters. But this story too also defines relationships with a different perspective on a different time scale.
Ravi: Do you mean this story was written during this century whereas the previous one in the previous century.
Grandma: Exactly! This is about a woman named Yasodhara, a single mother who brings up her two daughters and the questions that arise in her later life. I know you want to ask why was this woman a single mother. Well, that is where the story starts actually. At a very young age, her husband decides to shift his loyalties to another woman and he abandons Yasodhara and her two daughters. He disappears from their lives. She learns to support herself, settles into a job, and brings up her daughters. With determination, she makes her first daughter into an engineer, and the next one when the story opens was doing post-graduation in science.
Ravi: Where is the problem?
Grandma: I am coming to that. They turn out to be good well-behaved daughters and so far, she managed to maintain friendly relationships with them. Both the daughters, Shyamali and Rajeevi, knew the struggles their mother had gone through since their childhood. They have always been a part of her life’s journey. Now the time comes for them to choose their partners. Their mother in her time married out of her own choice in a temple without the consent of her parents.
Now Shyamali after her engineering tried for a job and is waiting for a break. In the meanwhile, she fell in love with a guy and wanted to marry him. Her mother advises her to work for some time before she decides on marriage. But the guy she had chosen is unwilling to wait. In addition to that, his family objects to her working after marriage. So, she wants her mother to perform her marriage. She comes to her mother with the request. Her mother reminds her that the boy’s family also demanded one lakh as dowry. Shyamali tells her it is better to give them the money than to suffer like her. This shocks her and she tries to talk her out of it as there is no point in calling a love marriage so if one has to pay dowry as the price. But as per her daughter’s wish, she performs her marriage by giving dowry. She sells her house and shifts into rented accommodation. She started living with Rajeevi in a congested house as there was no alternative. Her first daughter argues throughout her mother made a mistake in the manner in which she married and that makes Yasodhara very unhappy.
Ravi: But the daughter is happily, married.
Grandma: But her happiness was built on her own mother’s insecurity. In addition to shifting to a small house as she has to sell her house. She was left doubting her choice and decision twenty years back.
Now comes the turn of the second daughter who is a harder nut to crack. One colleague of hers tells her that she was seen moving around closely with someone and she should watch her. Yasodhara started getting worried. She is practically not in a position to perform another marriage so soon after the one. She tactfully opens the subject to her and tells her she wants to get her married also.
Rajeevi tells her she has no plans of getting married after her mother’s experience, It is in no way security for a woman She will not make the mistake her mother made. So, Yasodhara ends up feeling for different reasons both her daughters found fault with her. The story ends with the questions posed to the reader.
Syamala Kallury taught for over a decade and a half in the AP Govt colleges in Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam as Lecturer in English She moved to Delhi after marriage where she taught in Delhi University, and in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Delhi till 2011 She has two daughters Ahana and Kruttika, who live in UK and Dubai respectively. Currently she lives in Visakhapatman with her dog Subbu, a cocker spaniel. A bilingual writer and translator, Syamala authored many books. 1. Telugu Short Stories women’s Voices: An Inner Voyage(1930-2000) Asian Publication House (2001)2. Twentieth Century Telugu Poetry (2006) 3. Godavari Tales Viveka Foundation (2006) 4.స్వగతాలు (2009) 5. If you Want To be a Poet, Patridge India (2018) 6. కంచికి వెళ్లకూడని కథలు navachetana పబ్లిషర్స్ (2019) 7.భావవిహంగాలు Telugu translation of Tagore’ s Stray Birds (1988, 2019)8. Rajanigandha, translation of Papineni Sivasankar’s award winning poetry collection with the same title published by Sahitya Academy New Delare ఆ few of her పబ్లికేషన్స్ in addition to a number of academic articles