Political Stories by Volga

Political Stories-12

What is to be done? (Part – 4)

          After the groom’s family left, Annapoornamma scolded Soba and reproved her behavior. “They are the ones who ask questions and you are supposed to answer. That is our tradition. Why were you in such a hurry? Why do you care what that girl studied? Why is that any of your business Sobha tried to explain that she was concerned everyone had been silent, that she had talked to the girl just to be  courteous.

          Shut up now. Courteous… you know what courteous means? Are you the one here in charge of courtesies? You gave us up for dead?” She went on a rampage.

          Sobha lay on her bed crying. That was the first time Santha had seen her cry. Santha felt sad that a girl who had never hurt anybody, had never been accused of anything by any-body, was forced to cry for no fault of her own. A few days later, the groom’s family wrote to Soba’s parents that the girl was not to their liking. That was the first time Sobha had failed in anything, and the episode turned Santha against the test itself.

          Annapoornamma and Raghavarao intensified their efforts and found another match for Sobha in less than a month.

          The prospective groom had done his M.Sc. and had been employed as a scientist in a Research Lab at Hyderabad.

          This time Soba did not lift her head during the pelli choopalu.

          Her parents repeatedly informed the groom’s side that Sobha, in spite of her education, was very obedient, and that she was well versed in household chores. The groom’s side liked the girl and his mother even said the girl looked like gold.

          “She looks like Jaya Bhaduri,” the groom’s sister complimented Sobha.

          Everybody was pleased and they talked about fixing a date for the wedding.

          Sobha bought wedding saris, had jewelry made, and distributed wedding invitations to all her friends. She turned into a bride.

          Asking among friends and relatives, she borrowed ornaments to be worn on the forehead and around the waist.

          One wouldn’t be a bride without them, she said.

          She began to cut out pictures of brides from advertisements and cinema posters and observe them carefully. She worried about the selection of bottu, jewelry and sari color.

          Should she color her hands with gorintaku? How about nail polish? Should she decorate her feet? And how much? What about bangles?

And, of course, the eyebrows…..

          Soba consulted as many books for and worked as hard at bridal preparation as she had at preparing for an essay or a presentation. Only now she was on tenterhooks.

          Finally, on the day of the wedding, Sobha dressed up looking prettier than movie stars.

          One had to wonder whether she thought marriage was defined by this decoration. The whole thing appeared phony to Santha.

          Nobody here really knows Sobha, least of all the groom.

          The girl who looks like a doll is not Sobha. Maybe the real Soba will gradually die. Santha was startled by her own train of thought.

          From tomorrow Sobha won’t come to the college. She won’t search for books in the library, won’t play games, won’t sing, won’t make presentations…. but she will grind lentils, sea-son foods, and test their tastes. And she will grow huge and make babies. But nobody will respect her for doing all that Soba in the kitchen will not have the respect and recogni-fion she had at the college. Santha felt like running away from the pelli pandiri to sit alone in some place and cry.

          Within ten days after the wedding, Sobha went away to Hyderabad with her husband.

          Before leaving, she called on Santha at her house. They chatted for a long time and Santha asked, “So you and he have become good friends?” trying to figure out how Sobhas life had changed during the last ten days.

          “Friends? I am still afraid of him,” Sobha said apprehen-sively.

          “Afraid?” Santha was surprised.

          “Haan….. I am afraid. He does get angry easily, and I still can’t figure out what triggers it. Slowly I will have to find out what his likes and dislikes are.” She said this in reverence and awe as if she were contemplating the greatest human endeavor.

          “Are you afraid even when you kiss him?” Santha asked in a sudden, confused state.

          “Chi… you are something” Sobha simpered.

          “I am serious. I really want to know. Are you afraid even when you kiss him?” Santha was still anxious.

          “Haan… I am a bit afraid.”

          “How about sex? Is it good?”

          “I don’t know. I don’t know anything. It is a bit irritating, and I wish it to be over quickly.”

          Sobha said shyly and uncomfortably.

          Then how come they write so differently in stories and novels?” Santha’s thoughts took her somewhere else.

          think men like it. They are the ones who write all that stuff, isn’t it? Anyway, let’s not talk about it. Tell me about you. Are you going to study further?”

          “I will, if I get admission here at the P.G. center.”

          Santha’s mother walked in.

          “Hello, Sobha…

          ..Are you going to your in-laws’ place? I don’t know when our Santha will have that good fortune,” she said as she sat down with them, quite oblivious to their discomfort.

          “So how much dowry did your folks give your husband,” she initiated a conversation.

          And she simply brushed her daughter aside when Santha. interjected “Why do you need to know all that?”

          “My father deposited one lakh Rupees in a bank in my name,” Sobha replied politely.

          “Your husband wasn’t given anything, a scooter or some thing?”

          “He was bought a scooter. Also my mother had purchased all the utensils and furniture to start a new home. I am taking them all with me.”

          Santha had known about these utensils and furniture for at least three years.

          Sobha’s mother Annapoornamma had been saving money regularly and purchasing one by one an almirah, a sofa-cum-bed, a double cot, a refrigerator, and other items. Essentally everything they already had. At first, being unaware of the reason, Santha asked her, “You already have one, why did you buy another one?” Annapoornamma replied, «Its for Sobha. If we have everything purchased by the time she is married, it will be a bit easier then.?”

          She would stash away some items carefully packed in old linen. In fact it was just the big items that she had purchased over the last three years. She had been accumulating the smaller things ever since Sobha was seven-years old.

          Sobha told Santha one day, “I can’t tell you how much my mother worries about us girls. We are always on her mind.

          When I was a seven-years old, she sold several small silver cups and kumkuma bharinalu we had, put in some additional money and had a silver flower basket made. The money she used was what had been given to her by my grandmother to purchase a silk sari. We already had a silver flower bas-ket. So I asked her why she was buying another one and she replied, It is for you. Shouldn’t we buy one by one so that we have them all for your wedding? Whenever some new utensil comes to the market, she thinks of me first.

          Oh. How I love my mother! I would never do anything to hurt her.”

          Santha was disturbed by Sobha’s sentimental tribute to her mother. Was it love that made the mother buy all those things for the daughter?

          “I somehow don’t like it,” Santha said in an agitated tone.

          “What is it you don’t like? My mother thinking about me, or my loving her? You’re really a crazy girl,” Sobha said, dismissively.

          “Look, What does her buying those things for you mean?

          That you should go to someone else’s house, right? You don’t belong here, we are keeping your things separate,’ is what she is saying. Doesn’t that hurt you? If my mother does that to me, I will trash all the things she bought.”

          You are something, Santha. Whether our mothers buy things or not, can we stay with them forever? Don’t we have to go to our in-law’s place in the end?”

          “o the choice for us is between mother’s house and mother-in-laws house. Is that it? Wouldn’t it be nicer to have our own home? If we can buy the furniture we need for our house?” Santha said, pensively.

          “Will you live alone in your house?” Sobha asked incredu-lously.

          “Yes. I will. And I will live my way. I will read as long as I want, eat when I wish, sleep when I feel like, and wake up at my will. I will invite to my house whomever I like. People I don’t like will not be allowed to enter my house,” Santha spoke as if from a dream.

          “Really, not even your Ramkumar?” Sobha laughed loudly.

          Santha didn’t respond to that retort, but said, “So you will be going to your mother-in-law’s place with a cartful of luggage.”

          Sobha rose to leave, and invited Santha to visit her in the morning the next day.

          “Why? Will you introduce me to your husband?” Santha teased.

          Presently Sundaramma entered the room with a plate in her hand, applied a dash of kumkuma on Sobha’s forehead, and gave her some bananas and beetle leaves in a tradition Santha couldn’t sleep a wink that whole night. Sobha prob. ably went to her husband by now in fear and trepidation.

          He would kiss her. She would let him kiss, out of fear. How did it feel to be kissed? Was fear all one felt? Santha’s mind and body went through an unusual turbulence.

          She remembered Ramkumar. If Ramkumar kissed her….

          That thought perturbed her. Am I going crazy, she won-dered? She closed her eyes tightly and tried to sleep.

          The next morning, in spite of her protests, her feet dragged her to Sambasivapeta, and quite reluctantly she went to the room in which Ramkumar lived. His door was wide open, and he was lying across on a cot reading a book.

          Ramkumar was startled finding Santha at his door. Though he had been acquainted with her for three years and their friendship had grown over the last year, he had never invited her to his room, nor had she asked him over to her house. They had never even talked about it. Now that she had suddenly appeared at his door, Ramkumar was con-fused.

          Recovering quickly, he got up from the bed and invited her into the room.

          “What are you reading?” she asked, sitting in a chair.

          “Please excuse me for a second. I haven’t washed yet,” he said and ran to the bathroom, finished his ablutions and returned.

          “It is already past nine. Why didn’t you get up until now?”

          ” was reading this novel.” He picked up a book from the bed, “Quite good. I lost track of time reading it.” Which one is it?” Santha asked casually, still preoccupied with controlling the turmoil in her mind.

          “What Is to Be Done – a Russian novel.”

          “Is it that good? What is it about?”

          About love and marriage. Vera, a girl in the novel, feels imprisoned in her own home. She has no freedom. The house feels like hell to her, and her parents, the tormentors.

          She wants to get out of it somehow.

          She gets acquainted with a teacher who comes to tutor her brother. Since he, too, is interested in woman’s freedom, the two become good friends.

          He promises to marry her and get her out of her hell. Vera has ideas of an ideal married life and tells him what she hopes their life together would be like. They would live in separate rooms – one wouldn’t enter the other’s room without permission; they would live their individual lives without interfering with each other’s, and such. And they do live like that. She starts a cooperative society and distributes profits from it to all the employees. The couple lives quite happily. However, Vera gradually realizes that her relationship with the teacher grew out of gratitude, not love. Also, she begins to love one of his friends and is at a loss on how to tell him about all of this. Finally she chooses to write him a letter explaining her predicament. The teacher is quite understanding, and decides to step out of her way and let the lovers unite? Ramkumar paused there.

          moved forward.

          “And then…” Santha was eager to find out how the story

          “And then you came.”

          “The idea of living in separate rooms, not running into each other constantly, is quite interesting,” Santha said.

          “Make that a condition with the guy you marry.”

          “If I insist on that condition, I will never get married. Not that that wouldn’t be good, I am not really interested in marriage,” Santha laughed. “I bet you there isn’t a man on this earth who would agree with such a condition.”

          Let us say there is one and he is sitting right in front of you. What would you do then?” Ramkumar casually took Santa’s hand in his. Santha quivered at the unexpected advance and looked at him nervously.

          Santha, I like you, and I like the way you think. Why can’t we talk about us, at least think about it?”

          Santha was dumbfounded. As she struggled to regain her composure, Ramkumar said, “We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t like.”

          Santha slowly pulled herself together. “I m caught unawares.

          I don’t know what to say. You don’t know the story behind how and why I came here…

          “Tell me.”

          “My friend Soba got married.”

          “I know, you told me.”

          “She said she is scared when her husband kisses her…


          “I couldn’t sleep the whole night wondering if fear is all one feels in a kiss. That was when I thought of you, and

          couldn’t help thinking about you ever since. Couldn’t help coming here..” Santha continued with her gaze falling on a calendar on the wall.

          Ramkumar turned toward her, slowly bent forward and kissed her on the lips. Santha felt giddy, and reflexively grabbed his head and pushed it away. She ran out of the foom in a daze, hailed a rickshaw and went to Sobha’s place.

          She listened uninterestedly as Sobha talked about this and that. When Soba rose and said she would like to introduce her to her husband, Santha pulled on her sleeve and dragged her out of the house into the back yard. As they sat under the guava tree, she said, “Hey, Sobha, kissing feels good, in fact, wonderful!”

          Sobha was startled. “What are you saying?”

          “I went to Ramkumar. He kissed me.

          You stupid girl, you went to his room! Are you out of your mind?”

          “Ramkumar loves me.”

          My foot. Don’t give me this crap. I suspected you were crazy, but going to his room. That’s the limit! What if something happened?”

          “Sobha! Stop this foolishness. I went to him of my own free will. We should be worried about you, not me. It is not a good thing to be afraid and irritated when your husband kisses you. If there is love between you, it should feel dif-ferently. What he has on you is authority, not love. You accepted his authority, but you don’t love him, that is why you feel like that.” Sobha kept looking at her, shocked.

          Sobha, you made a big mistake by marrying, an unamend. able mistake. From now on, you will have no say on your life, your happiness, your room or even yourself Poor git.

          All your intelligence will be wasted, your goodness will be of no value, and your beauty will go unappreciated. Ayo, Sobha, why did you agree to this marriage!” Santha started to cry.

          Sobha held Santha in her arms and pulled her up. “Have you gone crazy? Maybe you are drunk! Maybe worried that you are not yet married. But going around and getting kissed by strangers, lecturing me about my marriage, you must be rotten, get out of here before my folks hear this. Get our»

          Soba dragged Santha to the gate, pushed her out, closed the gate and ran into the house.


(To be Continued-)


Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.