The Invincible Moonsheen

Part – 22

(Telugu Original “Venutiragani Vennela” by Dr K.Geeta)

English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar

(The previous story briefed)

Sameera comes to meet her mother’s friend, Udayini, who runs a women’s aid organization “Sahaya” in America. Sameera gets a good impression of Udayini. Four months pregnant, Sameera tells her that she wants to get a divorce and the circumstances are conducive to it. Udayini asks her to listen to the story of “Tanmayi” and pursue her to make her own decision after listening to the story. Tanmayi and Shekhar, who met at a wedding ceremony, go to marry with the permission of their elders. After the marriage they started their new life in Visakhapatnam. A boy was born to the couple in a year of their marriage. Tanmay engages in her studies deeply and enjoys the friendship with her colleagues forgetting all about her household disturbances. Her parents came to stay with her for a month while Shekhar is away on his long-term camp.


          When Devi objected to her proposal to go to Visakhapatnam, Tanmay felt embarrassed and suddenly distressed. She couldn’t understand the meaning of her life at that moment.

          Though she was totally subservient and tried her best to tune herself to Shekhar and his parents, still, they are creating problems for her.

          What mistake did she commit by not letting her go to Visakhapatnam? What’s wrong with me?

          Tanmay had two basic problems: She couldn’t satisfy his parents, and the other was Shekhar’s intolerable behavior. The only consolation she was getting is from the “kid.”

          She lifted the sleeping baby and hugged him.

          If she cannot go to Visakhapatnam, she cannot complete her MA. She bore a lot of trouble to earn this degree.

          She whispered, “Hey dear! give me courage to help your mother to complete this degree successfully.” She fell asleep talking to herself.

          When a familiar smell caught her nostrils early in the morning, she woke up from her somber. Shekhar was kissing his son, bending over her.

          Shekhar advanced without a single word and occupied her. She succumbed unwillingly though it’s painful to her.

          When Shekhar turned his back to sleep, she asked, ”When do we go to Vizag?”

          “What? thinking of those useless studies? No Vizag, I have a business trip to Nellore, Get ready for the evening train!” He said curtly and turned away.

          The classes will start in a week. At this moment, going somewhere loses my classes. She controlled herself and said, “What about your job there?”

          “That petty job? Not even worthy of a penny! If everything is alright, I will be providing such jobs to a few myself!”

          In the morning, when the couple was getting ready for the trip, Devi asked, “Aren’t Tanmay and my grandson staying here?

          Shekhar interrupted his mother, “No Ma…It’s been a long time since I have left my son, moreover, the food from hotels spoiled my health, let them come with me!”

          Tanmay couldn’t raise her doubt about how long they are going to stay there. But she asked about the house at Vizag.

          “No, if I vacate it, my boss will be suspicious about it, You dumb head! First let me have the agreement signed at Nellore.”

          The couple caught the evening train and got down in Nellore early in the morning. They reached a coastal village. More or less there may be 50 inhabitants there. At around 11 o’clock, after traveling on a bus and on a jeep they reached that hamlet. 

          When they got down from the jeep a middle-aged woman came there introducing herself in an unfamiliar slang. Tanmay couldn’t catch her slang.

          She laid a cot to Shekhar and asked Tanmay to come inside. The house looked like a government-sanctioned single bedroom with mud flooring. The noise of the sea is audible there. The surroundings of the house are filled with sand.

          The woman stretched a quilt on a cot and asked Tanmay to lay the child.

          Chennamma showed Tanmay a small bathroom built with palm leaves on the backside and asked her to freshen up. It’s filled with sand around a square marble stone and there’s a piece of soap in the corner. A worn-out bucket and a vessel with holes are also there.

          She finished washing. Chennamma was busy cooking something in a firewood oven. She was blowing fire.

          Shekhar asked, “When will your husband come, Chennamma?”

          “Tonight,” looking at the sea.

          “May I help you Ma?” Tanmay asked Chennamma sitting beside her on a small stool.

          She hesitantly said with a smile, “No Amma!” .

          She wore a pale saree. Her teeth were discolored and filled with plaque. Her hair was matted without oil.

          Tanmay couldn’t ask Shekhar anything about Chennamma, or what her husband is. She lost every interest in her life. She knew that there was no use asking him and cannot do anything on her own. Everything is left to destiny.

          What is she doing here at the time of reopening of the college? When can she go to Vizag? There is no answer. She doesn’t know how her life is going to be steered. She is looking vacantly at Chennamma brewing inside her mind.

          A few kids came there, peeped, and fled. They are in extreme poverty, wearing rags looking dirty.

          Shekhar is talking with her freely as if he were very familiar with her. He might have come here before this.

          Tanmay couldn’t understand the intention of Shekhar why she was brought to such a place; however, he never preferred her to take any place.

          He said it was Nellore, but he brought her to a village hut in a coastal hamlet to which at least hadn’t a door or a threshold.

          Suddenly she felt depressed and wanted to cry out loud on the seashore looking into the sky where the horizon met. She got into the hut and laid down beside her son.

          In an hour he woke up. She washed him and dressed up neatly. But the kid sneaked out somehow and filled his head with the sand in front of the hut.

          Tanmay felt an urge to get to the seashore when the roaring of it called.

          She felt hungry. But it seemed it would take at least an hour to complete that task. 

          Shekhar is supposed to get up to go somewhere. She also got up with the boy to follow him.

          Shekhar dissuaded her, “Don’t come with me now, I will go alone, we will go to town in the evening.” 

          Chennamma was struggling with the extinguished oven.

          It took her pretty much time to complete the task. She bought 3 eggs and started boiling.

          Tanmay took the knife for cutting the onions.

          She kept firewood in the oven and blew the fire.

          Chennamma looked at her with gratitude. “Why Ma, I will do it,” She said apologetically. 

          Tanmay smiled at her saying, “It’s not a matter at all”

          Chennamma started saying a lot of things about Shekhar.

          She said excitedly, “Shekhar Babu comes occasionally to meet my husband. Amma! Did you know once they both even went over the sea?”

          “We usually eat fish, but my husband said to cook eggs for you because you’re from town,” 

          “Sometimes the business is good, and sometimes it may be very low”

          “Do you have trains there? I traveled only once,”

          “We have no children, we married for ten years,”

          Chennamma told plenty of things continuously. Tanmay patiently listened to her.She was attentive not letting her son from her lap away. The kid was very active, released from her clutches and joined the boys there and started playing in the dust. In a short while, he looked like the other boys.

          By the time Shekhar was coming in, she was busy engaged before the oven blowing the fire.

          He said irritatingly looking at Tanmay, “You stupid, get up! why do you mess up with such nasty things, don’t you feel insulted to mingle with such mean people?”

          He ran to the boy and snatched him. Looking at his dirty dress he yelled, “Hey dirty fellow! Are you giving training to this kid all of your filthy habits?”

          Tanmay was shocked at his awkward gesture. How badly he thinks of her! After all, this poor woman might not have more money than his landlady! But she has a great heart in all respects! Lack of money does not mean “low birth”. After all, it’s a piece of paper to people for their livelihood, but not a wall between people.

          She wanted to say something to Shekhar but she hesitated, she may be overheard by Channamma who was inside the hut. She snatched the child from him and wiped the dust with her saree and sat on the cot quietly.

          Chennamma, served the plates inside the hut, walked out for their privacy.

          Perhaps she might have heard his cheap comments. She stood outside the hut silently.

          They ate quickly and came out to wash their hands.

          Tanmay felt shameful about it and said guilty, “Chennamma, You also eat” In another hour, the jeep came.

          Shekhar went out and talked with them. He came back and said, “Waste of time, we came on a wrong day, the boat is not coming today, get ready to go”

          Tanmay didn’t feel anything in particular. She was indifferent to the things that were happening.

          But she was thinking of Chennamma and her story she heard from her.

          Chennamma married for ten years but had no children. Her husband was a drunkard and a womanizer. A fisherman whose earnings are totally spared for his own pleasures. She was brought up in the same atmosphere since her childhood and she knew nothing of the outer world except the sea and fish. Years of drudgery, years of solitude. She gets relieved only when he goes out fishing.

          Yet she keeps smiling, she has moments to live! But what about me?

          Tanmay couldn’t come to a satisfying answer.

          Finally, she came to the conclusion, Yes, Chennamma doesn’t think of them as troubling makers and at the same time she accepted life as it is not thinking of any betterment of it!

          In such a case, life is just a journey to roll off. No churning of inner conscience. Wasn’t there any way to lead a happy life with people like me?

          Until the bus stopped in the town Bus station, Tanmay was absorbed in flooded thoughts. They got down the bus and took an auto-rickshaw.

          She knew that there was no use talking with Shekhar about her studies. Even though he takes her to Vizag once he finishes his work here, he will drop me in Dhavaleswaram at their house. But what’s the way to go to Visakhapatnam?

          The auto-rickshaw took 2 to 3 turns and stopped in front of an old iron gate of an old building. He led her to a single room upstairs. When they were climbing the steps, a stout but cute girl around the age of 18 to 19, looking at Shekhar shyly ran inside. She observed his enthusiastic response towards the girl.

          There was an attached bathroom in that single room. As there was no furniture, the room looked spacious. The surroundings are occupied by different kinds of trees.

          There is no particular difference between their previous location and the present one. Same drainage system, same soiled front yards.

          Shekhar went out and brought a gunny bag filled with cooking utensils and a stove which seemed to be already in use.

          He clarified, “When I first came here my mother sent these things with me. I kept them in this aunty’s house. Now we can make use of them. 

          By the way, a new film was released in the town hall. We will go and have lunch in the hotel. That meal the fisherwoman served is the worst kind I ever ate. Next time I go there, you must prepare at home!”

          Tanmay seemed not to take it seriously. He looked at her suspiciously whether she heard his words or not.

          He broke, “Hey stupid, are you hearing me?

          “The aunty in the ground portion had a TV. You can go and enjoy your free time. She lost her husband 5 years back. She has only the daughter and the property belongs to her only…”

          Shekhar was unstoppable, He continued the way all along.

          Though she hadn’t any interest in the movie, as she was totally exhausted, and also had no courage to fight with him unnecessarily, she followed him carrying the boy on her shoulder.

          When she fell asleep in the middle of the movie, Shekhar shook her harshly, waking her, “How can you sleep when the screen is live, You dumbhead?”

          The rickshaw stopped in front of a small kaka hotel. Shekhar warned, “We are giving money, You slumber-faced stupid, eat awake!”

          She loved the rice with gongura pickle, dal, curry, curd…a good Nellore typical delicious meal!

          She exclaimed, “The meal is delicious!”

          “What is there? It’s a matter of money! Gents appreciate it, and ladies learn if they enjoy any food!” Then he laughed as if he cracked a joke.

          That night, Shekhar slept for a few minutes and began to snore. but Tanmay couldn’t. she walked out in the middle of the night outside.

          The moon in the sky was very bright and the moonlight spread everywhere. The cool breeze encapsulated her. 

          She was invaded by the thoughts of her studies. Her mood was off thinking of her education.

          “Oh my anonymous friend! Please help me out from the distress and show me a way to get over these hazards. Suddenly her eyes filled with tears and everything around her became foggy and mistful.

          Tanmay made a phone call and talked about everything with her mother.

          “Don’t worry, if you don’t like it there I will send your father, come home nanna!”

          She was consoled by her mother’s words, yet she doesn’t want to fight with him.

          She spent two weeks aimlessly thinking about her destiny.

          The house owner is a gentlewoman. She came up the very next day of their arrival and talked pleasantly. She gave a word to Tanmay that any kind of help may be sought without reservations. She loved the kid and took him close. Very soon the kid was totally attached to her.

          That day when Shekhar was out Tanmay went to her.

          Bhagyamma, the owner of the house initiated the conversation. “Tanmay, is there anything wrong? Why are you always looking depressed?”

          “No Aunty, nothing in particular!” Tanmay nodded and evaded.

          “I keep the TV playing continuously, you can come and join in watching with us” At that moment she was busy watching a Tamil serial.

          “Do you know Tamil, Aunty?”

          “A bit, but I can’t speak, but follow serials. The same serial was broadcast in Telugu also. I watch this for the advanced episodes for the suspense it maintains.” She laughed.

          Suddenly she said remembering her husband, “He would have lived…” she welled up with tears.

          She continued, “Tanmay, We had our first daughter in the first year of our marriage. She was taken away by God. Later we were blessed with this girl after five years. The tragic thing is… God took him away in an accident while he was returning from Madras…”

          She wiped her tears… and added, “At least he would have survived till this girl’s marriage…”

          Tanmay consoled her, “Oh no Aunty, control yourself”

          “Of course…I am” 

          To bring back the normalcy in the atmosphere, she said in a cooler tone, “But take care of yourself Tanmay! If you want to talk to your parents you can make use of our phone.” 

          Tanmay felt happy, she thought to herself, “I am always blessed with certain broad-minded people in the journey of my life.”

          She called her mother. When she heard her voice on the phone she became emotional. She felt happy and sorrowful at that moment.

          Bhagyamma went out with the kid.

          Jyoti said, “Amma, you have received a letter, in the name of Karun”

          Suddenly she felt elated, but when she was reminded of university she felt disappointed.

          “What did he write Amma?” She asked curiously.

          “You got 2nd rank! Moreover, he asked about your delay in coming there even though the classes started”

          “Did he write any address there?”

          “No maa, He wrote just his name. 

          Ah, Amma! we are planning to go to Tirupati next week, it would be a nice thing if both of you join us.”

          “I will ask Shekhar about it! in case we can’t come with you, please get down here in Nellore while you return from there, so that I can come with you.” She said excitedly.


(Continued next month)

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