The Invincible Moonsheen
Part – 18
(Telugu Original “Venutiragani Vennela” by Dr K.Geeta)
English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar
(The previous story briefed)
Samira comes to meet Udayini, an old friend of her mother who runs Sahaya, an organization working for women in the United States. In her first meeting, Sameera had a good opinion of Udayini. Samira is four months pregnant as she narrates the conditions that led to her divorce application. After listening to the story about Tanmay, Udayini encourages her to make her own decision. Tanmay married Shekhar, who impressed her in a wedding ceremony, and they started their new life in Vizag. A baby was born within a year after their marriage.
Tanmay got on the bus in a hurry. She realized she had no money only when the conductor asked for a ticket. The conductor whistled and stopped the bus at the next halt. “You look smart and educated! But you board without money, get down! Get down! We can’t have people getting on buses without money!” the conductor exclaimed.
Tanmay felt ashamed of the driver’s remark and jumped off from the footboard. Her mind was reeling, and she cursed herself.
As she started walking, she heard an infant crying from somewhere nearby. She looked around and suddenly jolted with the idea that she had left her son behind.
“How stupid I am! I left my son and wandered on the road!” she began running towards her house.
When she saw the baby sleeping beside Shekhar, she snatched him and started crying loudly.
She became extremely emotional, saying, “Nanna, I will never leave you alone, even if I lose my life! I won’t leave you!” She sobbed while hugging the baby.
Shekhar, disturbed by her sobs, turned his back to her and frowned. She dropped herself down to the floor and fell asleep, hugging the baby tightly to her heart.
When the sun reached midday, and it was terribly sultry in the room, she woke up and looked around for the baby who was missing. She found him a bit away in the corner, sucking his fingers seriously. She ran to him, lifted him to her bosom.
Now the baby learned not just to be prone but to crawl—wow! She felt excited and, at the same time, sank into distress, coming to her senses about the conditions she was in.
“Just forgive me, Nanna. I thought many things for you, but I was broken,” she began sobbing again. She took his palm and moved close to him. The boy caught her mother’s finger.
Meanwhile, she heard the noise of Shekhar’s exit from the door, banging it hard.
“He needs a body, anyone’s body. Everything is alike to him; he never knew what a heart means!” She loathes his memory.
All these days she had some feelings for him in a corner of her heart, but it vanished now. Moreover, she felt averted at him. She strongly decided to thwart him from any physical touch, and then she was relieved with a lighted feeling.
She got up, took a cold water bath, and felt relaxed. She applied mascara to her lashes and put on a red bindi on her forehead. She considered wearing a sindoor but terminated the idea when a feeling of distress engulfed her. Whenever she wants to wear sindoor, she remembers her marriage.
In the evening, after coming home, Shekhar said, getting his luggage ready, “I received a message from the Orissa branch to come there urgently. Crooked life! Yep, it’s altogether like a military wedlock!”
He looked at her, who was tight-lipped, “I have no happiness at work or at home! I am cursed. What can I do?” He banged his head and walked out saying harshly, “Stop that bloody whimpering, look after my son at least.”
The light faded away, and the night crawled in. She walked out with her baby and sat outside. It was pleasant and cool. Tanmay started talking to her baby to come out of her sorrow.
“Why was I deceived so badly, Nanna? What wrong did I do to him to bring other women? I just went to give birth to you! I really feel disgusted at him.”
She wanted to escape from his compelling thoughts, so she went in and brought the book Karun gave her. When she felt the light was dim outside, she said to herself, “We must get a bulb tomorrow so that you can play here, and I can read.”
She laid her baby on a soft blanket, squatted beside him, and opened the book. It’s a compilation of verse. Many words are unfamiliar, but the rhythmic sense and the beauty of words are pleasing to the heart. She wants to know how to learn those unfamiliar words from Karun.
She felt relaxed soon, while reading the poetry, and the frozen distress in her heart melted away gradually. “Oh my anonymous friend! Now you’ve transformed into this book!” Tanmay’s face brightened suddenly. “Oh, my friend! When I was defeated every time, you rescued me somehow, otherwise I was reduced to nothingness.”
Early in the morning, she came out to pick up the milk packet hung on the gate from the small bag. They take half a liter of milk from the same person every day, who brings it to the owners. The owners never talk to Tanmay, but the owner talks to Shekhar in the main house verandah. Sometimes the lady of the house smiles at Tanmay but never starts any chitchat. She converses with everyone, accompanying them to the gate.
Tanmay had the opinion that perhaps the lady was maintaining some distance because of her wealth and status. Nobody comes around the outhouse. Tanmay wanted the same. In Shekhar’s absence, the house was always peaceful, and Tanmay felt at ease in her mind.
At midday, she felt somebody knock at the door. She opened the door, and the owner said with a giggle, “For meter reading.” The owner was about 50 years old, with a saggy belly, bald head, white vest, striped lungi, Hawaii chappals. Tanmay felt a bit uncomfortable about his presence.
She snatched her baby and walked out, giving him a way into the house. After five minutes, he walked out and, looking at her, said, “Shekhar is hardworking, had a good reputation in the office, a best friend of mine. That’s why we offered you this without bothering about rent. If you have any need, don’t hesitate to ask us. My lady needs a helper, and if you don’t mind, can you spare some time?”
She fumbled for a while and then said, “I joined M.A in the university, sir. If I find leisure time, I will surely help.”
“Shekhar never told us that you’re educated. Sorry!” He walked towards his wife, coming from the entrance gate, with a little unpleasantness in her disposition. That woman looked at him deeply and also towards me differently instead of that familiar smile, something with unwelcoming countenance.
Meanwhile, Karun, who comes there, enquired about her address to the owner. Before he finishes his enquiry, who found Tanmay a bit away from there exclaimed, “Oh, you are here! I just want to return your book; these poems are really appealing to the heart.” The woman, who walked across them, twisted her face unpleasantly.
“Thanks, I completed the book which you gave me, I will fetch,” she went in while he was waiting outside. “Your son is looking cute; I remember verses about little Krishna from Bhagavatam.”
Tanmay brought the book and a glass of water. He drank the water and said, “Thank you so much, I am really thriving.”
“I could understand now the inspiration you are imbibing with the small kid in your hands for studies, looking at the creepers, bushes, and the flowering plants. By the way, you asked me how to get the meanings of difficult words in poetry; just get by heart the Amara kosha. Don’t panic, I am here to help,” said Karun.
Tanmay was impressed by his knowledge and talkativeness. “Wow, he has a smart and knowledgeable countenance.”
While taking leave, he reminded her about the classes. “Don’t forget our classes; they start on Monday.”
The much-awaited day of the classes’ commencement arrived. She stepped into the university campus with her kid. She didn’t know whether kids were allowed in classrooms. Hesitantly, she stepped into her first class. The professor, looking at the kid, remarked, “I hope your child doesn’t need this class!” The whole class burst into laughter.
“Sorry, I just brought him today…tomorrow onwards…” Of course, she had no idea what the next day would solve.
The kid started crying in five minutes. She walked out, sat under a tree outside the department. Now the boy started laughing at her. She took out the milk bottle and fed him, saying, “Don’t you want to be cooperative with your Mom’s studies?” The boy cooed hilariously. “Well, but your Mom should fulfill her childhood dream of getting a Ph.D. and stand on her feet,” she whispered into his ears.
The ground was filled with Eucalyptus leaves, the benches reflected the shadow of the trees. She took out a kerchief from her bag and began to fan him.
Karun, who joined her, remarked, “Why are you sitting here?”
She weakly smiled in response.
“Don’t worry; it’s just an introductory session, nothing in particular about the subject.” Then he called a girl and two boys passing by and introduced them to her.
“This is Anantha, and he is Raju and Divakar.” Anantha took up the child into her hands and caressed him, “Cute Nanna! When the boy jumped onto her, Anantha felt excited and remarked, ‘I love kids like anything,’ looking at Raju crossly. Raju smiled at her in response.
Karun remarked sarcastically, “These two are lovebirds forever; they do M.A’s and Ph.D’s but never think of marriage.”
“Hey! Come on,” Ananta snapped on his shoulder. Tanmay felt happy about their friendship. “If I get a chance to mix with people like this and continue my studies, it would be a solace for me.”
Tanmay suggested to the pair, “Don’t go for marriage until your studies are completed.” Divakar, who had dyslexia, ‘I jusss… dropped and decided to become a lifelong bachelor after this pair’s experience…’ He was stammering and fumbled for words. Everyone laughed.
After a while, Karun suggested a trip, “Let’s see all the classrooms.” Tanmay hesitated with the boy going. But Ananta said, “But who will stop this cutest one!” and she kissed the child admiringly. Tanmay enjoyed walking around the department with her new friends. Everyone in the department greeted the child. Tanmay felt happy.
Then they walked down to the canteen through the trees. Taking tea, Karun said, “Look, that’s our library!”
Tanmay exclaimed, “How grand it is! It’s rather unbelievable!”
Looking at her jaw-dropping expression, Karun said, “Oh, don’t be excited just for outward appearance; you should visit the inside.”
Tanmay encouragingly hinted, “Will we go?”
Anantha remarked, laughing at her, “Oh, another bookworm!”
Tanmay felt excited after watching the amazing collection of books on plenty of racks in a two-floor building.
“Oh, my life is blessed to see this!”
Karun added appreciatively, “I had the same feeling when I saw this first!”
Tanmay felt boundless joy walking through the racks. She felt proud applying for a library card.
“Yes, now I am confident I will complete my studies!” She got on a bus, and she whispered to her child, “Your Mom will surely complete her studies at the university. Don’t you like it? When do you go to university?”
Shekhar returned from the camp. He asked Tanmay, who looked dull and tight-lipped, “Are you still angry at me?” She served him food quietly.
“Let’s go to a movie in the evening,” Shekhar suggested. Shekhar never missed any movies. Tanmay didn’t prefer movies with fights, songs without music, and lyrical fervor. Tanmay felt bored staying home, so she accepted his proposal reluctantly, following him silently.
She was totally disappointed after coming back. It was the worst kind of movie. Shekhar enjoyed the double meaning dialogues well. The boy greatly laughed at him in response to his burst of laughter.
Tanmay developed a headache after this. She prepared her bedding on the floor. Shekhar questioned, “Why? Won’t you sleep on the cot?”
She turned her back towards him and was about to sleep.
Shekhar felt irritated, “Do you think you are stunning Rambha on Earth to crave for you stupidly?” “After all, it’s a matter of no importance!”
“Don’t you know that I am not Rambha before marriage?” She retorted sharply.
“Although you have not even a kilogram of flesh on your body, and you don’t have any beauty, I married you, hoping you would not question your husband. By the way, tell me, did you show your body to certify yourself as Rambha or not?” Shekhar remarked, shaming her body.
Tanmay felt disgusted about it. She breaks suddenly, “Yuck! Are you a man? What kind of man you are!”
He wanted to make her responsible for all his mistakes, no penitence to this fellow, Yuck!”
The child was sleeping well. Tanmay started sobbing.
Suddenly, he made an attempt to pursue her, rudely lifted up and threw her on the bed. He squeezed her down harshly.
“You stupid, don’t be mischievous,” he engulfed her, biting her lips cruelly.
He didn’t care about her feelings, and he satiated with that weeping body.
She felt defeated and disgusted, and she cursed, “May the earth cleave and bury me into him!”
(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.