The Invincible Moonsheen
Part – 11
(Telugu Original “Venutiragani Vennela” by Dr K.Geeta)
English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar
(The previous story briefed)
Samira comes to meet her mother’s friend Udayini, who runs a women-helping organization Sahaya in America. Udayini greatly impressed Samira. The four-month-pregnant Samira details her inclination toward divorce and the causes that lead to her decision. Udayini tells her to take any decision after listening to the story of Tanmay. Shekhar writes a letter to Tanmay, an intermediate-studying girl, who saw her at a wedding ceremony. Tanmay, a bit passionate, develops an interest in him and gradually comes closer to him. Elders welcome their proposal and get married to them. Tanmay and Shekhar start their new journey of life at Vizag.
The shore at that point is sloppy. When Tanmay was grabbed down by that terrible wave she yelled at Shekhar for help at the top of her voice. Shekhar rushed briskly at her and caught her saree before she drowned. She lifted her firmly in a wink of an eye with his robust hands and brought her ashore.
Tanmay was altogether aghast in fear and incapable of understanding anything that happened to her until a minute. Still, she was shivering even though she was ashore.
Tanmay shuddered to think of it if Shekhar was not there and she was not wearing a saree. Now the beautiful sea suddenly seemed to turn diabolic to Tanmay stretching a thousand tongues to gulp her! She wailed aloud leaning on Shekhar’s shoulder. Everyone flocked around.
If Shekhar could not save her? She was startled at the idea even to imagine.
Suddenly her heart filled with gratitude toward him. She said to herself, she never hurt him at any time.
Tanmay’s love for him doubled, and she came closer to him.
After a short time of relief, when everyone was busy as usual in their games, Shekhar scornfully commented, ” Hey, look! Modesty is more important than life to any woman. Your playful gestures and drowning episodes are already overseen by lakhs of people. If you sit in this damped saree, I will surely lose my respect. Come on! Let’s move from here! I will somehow manage Pinni and convince her.”
Tanmay was stunned at his remarks and deeply hurt, she said to herself, why didn’t that surge take away me?
She wiped away her tears silently and said to herself, “Yes, he’s my rescuer. I should not hurt him”
She wasn’t capable of changing her disposition so easily.
Throttling the bike Shekhar shouted at her harshly,” Why that bloody melancholic disposition? Why did you make an entry into my life?”
She welled up in tears, silently she got into the vehicle and sat a bit away from him, not touching his body.
It’s the time setting of the sun, also the foggy coast, and in addition to the tears in her eyes made everything in the town gloomy and wretched.
“My friend! You must have rescued me today, didn’t you? I know, You turned out to be Shekhar and saved me. Why don’t you make Shekhar speak with me a few compassionate words to wipe away my tears? So you are simply You! That’s all, not Shekhar! She sat quietly talking to herself.
Though she had had her head bath she didn’t ease up herself from the incapacitated feeling from her feet.
She laid down on a mat helplessly. Shekhar was seriously chatting outside with somebody.
She started feeling a burning sensation in her abdomen. She turned to the other side, but was not relieved! The ache continued even after half an hour. She went to the washroom. She felt dreadful inflammation from urinating. She fell back on the mat moaning with intolerant ache, and her body was fuming with fever. She knew that she was whimpering terribly, but she could not make out why.
When everyone returned from the beach, Hyma came to her room after ten minutes.
“Oh! something wrong with this girl, Yep, the body was burning like fire, Hey, Shekhar come on!” Hyma shouted aloud.
She didn’t know how they took her to the hospital, she fairly remembered that she spat up while coming to the hospital on her way.
When she opened her eyes she was in a small hospital except for the noise of the ceiling fan above her, nothing was heard around.
She was feeling thirsty. Nobody is there to ask for water.
She made some effort to turn to the other side, still, the inflammation in her abdomen continued, she looked at the doorway helplessly.
Someone coming with a stethoscope unknown to her… might be a doctor, in a simple routine saree… who looked like a housewife.
She came to her saying, “Oh! Woke up? It’s our home cum hospital. I have known Shekhar since childhood. Shekhar is my brother’s friend. How do you feel now?”
When she nodded her head in response, the doctor said smiling, “Don’t worry, You will be alright soon, perhaps you have developed a high fever because of your dip in the sea, …Ah!… Shekhar went for lunch”
She added the anticipated query.
The doctor looked at Tanmay who was still feeling something painful, with her hand on her abdomen examining keenly, “Why?
She inquired,” Since how long have you been like this? Shekhar should also be sampled for”
Tanmay couldn’t control herself and suddenly she burst into tears as soon as the doctor stepped out.
“Does she have a venereal disease? Shekhar! Why do you punish me in such a way? Her blood was boiled with hatred and anger.
She could not make out any sense of how to deal with the situation. When she was alone in the hospital helplessly, how could that gentleman have gone simply to eat, leaving me in the lurch?
She tilted on a pillow and didn’t know how long she had been weeping, the pillow was altogether soggy with tears.
Shekhar accompanied the doctor into the room.
“Why Doctor? Why should I undergo any tests? I don’t have anything!”
Tanmay stared at him curtly. What does he mean then? How could this disease have impacted her?
She felt disgusted with herself. She closed her eyes in loathing at not talking with him.
“Both of you should take the course. For those who are more vulnerable than others, the symptoms evince first in them. Doctor said,
Meanwhile, all the relatives of Shekhar flocked around the bed.
Tanmay altogether felt something deadly in shame.
Shekhar’s pinni advised him saying,” Why all this fuss and admission into hospital just for a simple fever? Hey man! First, you must stop listening to whatever the words your wife says”
“This girl is sane and fine yet has joined the hospital, but why are your eyes shrank and lifeless? Haven’t you eaten anything or not?” The other one inquired.
The words of those people were agonizing to her.
When they were about to quit the room, Shekhar said, “I will come”
and followed them to farewell.
Shekhar’s grandfather stayed there and she heard his words, “I’ll come later”
Grandfather came to her and sat on the stool moving closer to her bed.
Grandfather started to say with Tanmay who was staring vacantly at her nails,” Hey Ammay! This buddy did what I had foreseen! The doctor said to me a while ago, I don’t know how you could deal with this shameful one! He is not honest Amma! It’s your own risk to keep him on the right path!”
Tanmay’s eyes filled with tears with those words. She could not expect any such comfort from there.
Grandfather consoled her, “Ammay! don’t cry! You should adjust to the situation yourself. The better part of the worst is it’s curable and can be healed after the course of medication. The doctor said a few other diseases were also there which could not be treated and followed lifelong. We must feel happy about that at least in this case.
Grandfather sighed and said, watching the girl who was muted in silence sobbing, ” Come on, don’t weep more! Control yourself!” and he walked away towards the door.
“Shekhar had illicit relations with other women! She felt disgusted upon herself! How deeply I loved him! And for that, he gave me this gift!
“Doesn’t she ever touch him at any time? She was tormented by the uncontrollable anguish and incessant rain of thoughts.
Shekhar came after a while. “I drop grandfather and come” saying he took out a ring from his pocket and put it on her finger, who was lying on the bed and turned her face towards the hospital wall.
I received a chit-fund amount from my friend. “Like it?” Shekhar asked.
As she didn’t react to her words, he turned rudely saying, “Damn it!
I’m cursed, my life is wretched! For no reason, a lot of fuss! What happened now?” and fled.
“Are you saying what happened? Ah?… You scooped me down into the abyss” Tanmay wanted to scream out, to bang on his heart and question him with any word that fits into the occasion.
She was alone in the room, the ceiling fan above is making a whispering noise like her.
She fell asleep and didn’t know how long she had slept when Shekhar woke her up.
He said, ” Your father made a call home, Your grandma was serious”
Tanmay was embarrassed and sat upright on the bed.
“Ah? What? What happened?” She couldn’t control herself.
She was reluctant to talk about anything with him, but she could not think of it at that time.
Tanmay felt more feverish when she heard about her grandmother’s hospitalization who always thinks about her well-being. She regained her spirits to sit up on the bed.
When Tanmay was about to say something, Shekhar said, “I will talk with the doctor to discharge you. Take those medicines with you. Go by the first bus, uncle will drop you off, I have a lot of work here.”
She couldn’t know how she traveled such a long five to six hours journey.
All along her journey, she was crying. Shekhar’s uncle who sat away in a back seat consoled her while they were getting off the bus, “Don’t cry Amma! What can anyone do?”
They got off the bus at the corner of the street not going to the bus stand.
When Tanmay observed the crowd in front of the house far away from
there, she felt something untoward. She ran out there.
She fell upon the dead body of her grandmother and began to cry aloud. She sobbed and sobbed shivering with fever. Jyoti who was quiet till then joined her daughter and began to cry aloud.
Bhanu Murthy went to the bus stand to receive Tanmay. Shekhar’s uncle again went to the bus stand to bring him back.
When it was confirmed every one of the kith and kin attended there, the funeral procession started.
Tanmay couldn’t control herself, she felt somebody pluck her heart and took it away from her.
When she was reminded of the bad omens and the series of inauspicious incidents that followed after her marriage, Tanmay’s despair was tenfold.
Tanmay became lifeless, looked as if everything was lost, and her eyes went down into her sockets as if she was fasting for ten days.
Every kith and kin reached for the third-day ceremony.
Devi who came there said, “How do you do? Shekhar is busy now, he comes later.”
Tanmay who heard it simply kept quiet.
This is the first death in the house Tanmay could remember.
Her grandmother’s body was cool, losing its warmth.
Tanmay felt something chill ran into her spine all of a sudden. She thought perhaps this is what death is. Does death mean turning into ashes?
Do bodies at one time have to burn in a fire? Tanmay’s thoughts made her head heated.
“Narasamma frequently reminded Tanmay of her last moments”
“He sent her in the afternoon, though we called him before night, she couldn’t get a chance to see her grandmother at her end.”
Jyoti said painfully.
Devi suddenly retorted, “Then you people would have kept your girl at home not sending her with him!”
Somebody consoled Jyoti who was blowing her nose in sobbing, “What happened is a matter of the past now, what is the benefit in lamenting on the past?
Tanmay couldn’t hear any of those words, her mind was already blocked. She was alone in the hall sitting before her grandmother’s photo, lost in moods.
When the eleventh-day ceremony was over, people around her looked very casual and forgot Narasamma as if death is very common.
As the final rites ceremony was a grand one, Jyoti was busy supervising the kitchen and giving instructions.
Tanmay felt surprised at her mother’s gesture towards her grandmother. Tanmay couldn’t understand how her mother so easily got back to her spirits, forgetting the loss of her mother.
Almost for ten days, Tanmay wasn’t able to eat anything. She became lean and looked pale. She bent back to the wall in the hall after her head bath.
The house was cloudy with the smoke of incense.
Her face filled with distress and pain. She sat looking at the photo.
“The garland, the big vermillion spot on forehead, she had never seen before. Now she looked pleasant. The wrinkles on her weary cheeks, the deep eyes which could read the hearts of the people, everyone said her eyes resembled her grandmother’s.”
She drifted away in her memories.
Her younger pinni who searched grandmother’s trunk in the nearby storeroom brought out some clothes saying,”All these sarees seem new!”
Everyone there hurried in and snatched whatever they liked in a wink of an eye.
A bag of coins was found in the base of the trunk in which all the coins were new.
Jyoti claimed it for herself and carried it away smiling.
At the lower part of the trunk, there was a wedding photo of Tanmay and Shekhar. Tanmay suddenly became emotional and began to cry silently looking at the photo.
Bhanu Murthy who came there consoled his daughter, “Don’t take it to heart Amma… things happen in such a way…in adulthood…”
In the evening the property-sharing episode began. The bigwigs of the caste came to share the gold and properties.
“The bangles are weighing more than the necklace!”
“That small shop is more valuable than the house”
“I don’t want that land”
Many such demands were overheard by Tanmay.
Everyone in the house was busy clamoring to share the money, while Tanmay sat sobbing for her grandmother as if she was only a relative of hers, who turned out simply into a light and smoke of incense.
Tanmay felt something like Life is nothing but losing, for the first time in her life.
“Plenty of experiences when we are alive! once it ends, there is nothing to claim, for this, why do these battles for a short time play, in this world?
Shekhar’s mother attended the eleventh-day ceremony but Shekhar didn’t. Everyone asked about him.
Devi said, “Send her to our home on an auspicious day. Doesn’t our daughter-in-law spend some days in our home too? Our son would come, when he had time to bring her, Ah!…they were greatly troubled by the lack of any cot there!”
When she moved away, Jyoti blew her nose and began to cry, ” That MahaThalli remembers every demand of marriage even in the death house! I told that man long ago, to throw those stuff on their faces. That gentleman planned from some friend’s shop… wanted it to be a grand one, for his daughter! Is it necessary now? Something should have been furnished at once!”
Bhanu Murthy who heard her pungent words moved away from there
saying, “What is wrong with me?”
Tanmay hadn’t any interest or eagerness in those chatters.
She went upstairs and sat there under the sannajaji creeper.
She lamented to herself, “My life became a bitter pill which I dreamt of many sweet things. Shekhar became a traitor whom she loved more than her life. The most loving grandma passed away. Parents and uncles are busy with property shares and marriage formalities, swapping distasteful words with each other. What is left in the world then?”
She closed her eyes.
“Shekhar is maintaining relations with other women while keeping me in love all these days! How badly she was deceived! The marriage itself is against the parent’s wishes.”
She felt a kind of ache that some thorns were stinging her heart.
She couldn’t at least share it with anyone.
If she says it to her mother she will surely make a fuss out of it, “I told you in the very beginning, that you shouldn’t have allowed that kid home”…
“If I die?”
She started a twitching pain in her spine. She was reminded of her ghostly surging incident in the sea.
She feared even visualizing her dead body in place of her grandmother’s, yet, she thought that the decision should not be changed, death is better than this spoiled life.” She vigorously decided.
She took up the book, and started writing, “Oh my unknown friend!”
But she could not continue even a single letter from there.
Finally, she wrote “Goodbye” in big letters on the whole page.
She felt relieved once she had made the final decision on her death.
Those predicaments are now becoming smaller. Good heavens! I am going to get liberation. She felt happy.
She recovered after the medical treatment.
After all, why should I bother about my body once I want to leave it? It will just turn into ashes!
She thought if anyone is there to feel pain from her death.
Shekhar didn’t have any love for me, she will marry another girl without any feelings. Parents may grieve for a few days and then they forget. Vanaja will surely feel despair. Of course, she had her own life, so she will also forget sooner or later. Whatever it may be, I will be gotten away from this world!
Her goal of acquiring a doctorate was never fulfilled with Shekhar.
Suddenly she felt something uncomfortable in her stomach. The fragrance of flowers made her nauseating. She rushed down and burst into vomiting.
Jyoti who drew near there suddenly took hold of her and led her aside saying, “You haven’t eaten anything in ten days…come on…!”
They hurled plenty of queries before they took her to the doctor for a urine examination.
Except for Tanmay, everyone in the house cheered up with the good news. The whole house was filled with joy.
“Tanmay who was altogether collapsed with weakness said to herself,” A live creature started germinating in a body that has decided to die!”
She ran her hands on her abdomen. Her body and heart were filled with undefined love.
“If I die…Shh!…no…no…she was not such a merciless scoundrel…
Now onwards she must think of the growing baby inside her…nothing else…”
She rose and washed her face, kept bindi, applied katuka to her eyes, and combed and braided her hair loose.
Jyoti, who was happy looking at her daughter’s face, pinched her cheeks and said laughing,” Grandma is arriving through you!”
Jyoti informed Devi by calling her.
Shekhar perhaps knew about it, so he made a call late at night.
“You are always reckless about health, at least eat well from now onwards, my son is going to born, you must be careful enough, don’t get upstairs frequently, and stop writing that senseless trash…”
Tanmay couldn’t feel any incentive from his words though he was talking jovially.
“When do you come?” She labored to ask.
“I decided not to come there until you people fulfilled all the dowry dues promised at the wedding. Somebody will come there from here and pick you up tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. My mom was so eager to keep you here for a few days when she heard about the news.”
Tanmay, who was too feeble to stand up, fell on bed helplessly.
When she woke up early the next morning, her head started reeling.
Every smell of the surroundings made her nauseating, she vomited whatever she took in.
Jyoti prepared some malt with the fried rice which she usually likes. But she could not retain it for at least a few minutes. Devi made a call saying that she is coming to pick up their daughter-in-law.
Jyoti straight away said, “We can’t send her now at this moment…we send her in the fourth month, once she is relieved from her morning sickness and regains her health.”
(Continued next month)
A post graduate in English literature and language and in Economics. A few of my translations were published. I translated the poems of Dr. Andesri , Denchanala, Ayila Saida Chary and Urmila from Telugu to English. I write articles and reviews to magazines and news papers. To the field of poetry I am rather a new face.