I was embarrassed for her, even as I was shocked into silence. I wish I had asked her for more details about her family. I should have persisted, even though she refused.
Her mother and sister had been and were midwives for the Zamindars 3rd wife, who was expecting her 2nd child any moment now. That lady had asked them all to move in when they had nowhere to live. Soni and her sister worked in the kitchen while her other sister and mother worked in the house. As servants.
I was enraged and sad. I asked her to marry me again. She did not laugh it off this time, but she looked at me for a long time, with an inscrutable look on her face, and walked away without giving me an answer.
We continued meeting after that like we used to, but it wasn’t the same anymore. Soni wasn’t the same anymore. When we met she was with me, we talked, we laughed but some part of her was missing. Our lovemaking was as intense as it used to be but left me feeling that the closeness and warmth in it were missing.
One day as we sat together, watching the Sanjhi flow by she suddenly said, ‘Main thak gayi aan Jagga. Garibi toh.’ (I am tired of poverty, Jagga) letting out a deep sigh.
I was at a loss for words, as she had never shared her innermost feelings with me.
‘I am tired of being the one always in need. From when I was a child, last of the 8th one, I have waited for my turn for everything. The turn rarely came. The food got over, I wore darned hand-me-downs. Even my parent’s love and patience were exhausted till the time it reached me.’ A tear slipped out of her eyes.
‘I am tired of waiting. Of waiting that it would be my turn soon…’ her voice choked.
I had no idea she was harboring so much pain. What could I say? What could I do to make her feel better I wondered?
‘Even the fate of the Sanjhi has changed, she will flow in another direction as she wills. I wonder when mine will…’
The words that came to mind dried up in my mouth. I sat there like I was dumb. I wanted to ask her to marry me again but felt this was not the appropriate moment.
We both left for our respective homes, forlorn. I lay awake the whole night thinking of what I should do and what I could do. Should I send my mother over with a formal wedding proposal? Mother would need to go to the Zamindar’s house with it. What would she think? What would the Zamindar think? Should Soni and I just elope and go away to another village where no one knew us? What would happen to my mother and lands then? I thought and thought but no solution came to mind.
The next time we met I placed a parcel in her lap. She opened it to find a salwar kameez and gold earrings in it. There was a smile on her face and a brightness in her eyes as she saw both. For a moment I thought I saw my Soni surface once again, but in an instant, she was gone.’
‘Ai ki hai?’ (what is this?) she asked
‘Tere waaste’ (For you)
She looked at me for a long time, before she hugged me fiercely, tears streaming down her face. I thought she was about to say something, but then she changed her mind.
I couldn’t understand Soni at all. She was unreadable. I longed for the uncomplicated times when all we did was laugh, tease each other, and made love. It was all so simple then.
The Monsoons made an appearance and Sanjhi changed course. She swelled and moved with a fury she had never displayed before. We villagers kept to our homes as much as we could.
Soni told me that she now lived on the other side of Nihala, which was considered the other village. I thought about her all the time and wondered if she thought of me too. Just imagining her, as a servant in the old Zamindar’s house brought tears to my eyes and a wave of anger within me.
This post is a part of the Blogchatter Half Marathon.
I am writing A Fictional Short story – A River Runs Through It – for this challenge.
Read Part 1 of the story here
Read Part 2 of the story here
Read Part 3 of the story here
Read Part 4 of the story here
Read Part 5 of the story here
Read Part 6 of the story here
Read Part 7 of the story here
Read Part 8 of the story here