© Amar Sneh
Today is third day Bitiya(the literal meaning is a daughter, here it is used for bitch) had been missing and today too she has not returned home, so Budhiya assumed that might probably she might have fallen prey of some wild beast in the jungle nearby. She busted out at God, while she was cleaning the place of worship, “You merciless! What kind of god is you that you have snatched the mother from these innocent poor kids — Now just tell me what should I do? — you have laden this poor with the burden of these six innocent pups and puppies — ok! — Whatever you think proper, let it happen like that — Well, I might get contented and manage with black tea, but how am I to feed these six mouths with a scanty quarter liter of milk? — Agree, We are sinners of our past incarnation and so you punished us by being born as low caste untouchables, so we have no choice, but to keep suffering. —- You widowed me and on top of it you sent my son, the only hope of my future, far away. More than a year has passed, he left saying, “Mother, do not worry! I shall work and learn and I shall make my mother sit like a queen to rule.” — After he had gone I just had received one letter of his welfare and there after there is no news from him for so long. Somehow I was managing my livelihood by cultivating vegetables on the small piece of land and that too was swallowed by swollen river.
—- Hey, Lord of the Universe, “Triloki Nath”, I have but one small request at your feet, I pray with folded hands –for heaven’s sake let in no way my misfortune fall on these poor innocent kids; please do not punish them like me. — You have given them mouths so feed them as well. See, I am left all alone, just one son; I am living in the hopes of his welfare and safe return. Now in my loneliness these little lovely canines are my family. Hey God, look here, I have poured entire oil meant for panfry to lit oil-lamp for you in your prayers. —– Oh– ho — just shut up, you all kids – do not make ku – koo noise – Hey you Kalua — you stupid, how big noise you make with that small mouth and add the fat in the fire. —- Oh, these naughty kids don’t even let me perform prayers peacefully —-See, everyone gathered around here —- Hey! Leave me alone! As she kneeled down in prayers and was about to bow down her head, all the puppies clustered under her chest. Seeing this, her eyes were moist with feeling of compassion. She took them all in her lap and murmured, “Let me be the illusion of their mother, but see how do they smell the fragrance of selfless affection and warmth — Well, all this is god’s gifted charm.” — fondling them she said, “Come on you babies!”
As Budhiya made her way towards kitchen, the puppies in the gay spirit began dancing in high feathers. As she squatted near stove to boil milk, all the puppies began competing to ascend on her lap with their tiny toddling feet. She shouted — Oh! God , hey go away milk is very hot —– Hey, Kalua — just hold on for a while! Be patient!
Like their own mother, she fondled them and carefully fed them by making a nipple of cotton stocked in a soft cloth. While she dipped the cotton nipple in glass of milk to feed one, several other mouths opened in anguish reaction making ku – koo noise with some barks registering their protest. Budhiya reacts, “Hey, I can feed one at a time — Do not make a hubbub — Stop this union racketing!”
Weary of feeding milk to puppies she lied down to rest, Kalua rode on her chest and began resting on her chest, the other puppies began pulling him down, some pulled his legs, while some held his tail in the mouth. Undeterred Kalua ascended further securing his first place as if it is his prerogative. Budhiyas’ throat chocked with emotion to find puppies clinging closely to her. She couldn’t gather courage to push them aside to get up for preparing a cup of tea for her. She vented sigh in motherly passion and murmured to herself, “Hey God, do not ever isolate kids from the mother —- Oh, know not how my son Madan might be faring?”
In her hand to mouth condition she was taking the bull by horns. She was going out on a limb; she already had sold her gold and silver one by one and now it’s a turn of the copper, brass and aluminum kitchen vessels. In these four months many dog lovers offered her two to four thousand rupees to buy these well-bread puppies, but Budhiya used to refuse selling them saying, “These are the ones because of them I am merrily leading my life; they make me forget my miseries and sorrows, so why should I part them for money —- No – No – I shall not sell them.” Whole day she plays ball with them. Kalua being smart catches the ball first, but instead of returning the ball, it sneaks under the cot and till biscuit is offered, he would never come out. All puppies used to pounce to grab biscuits from nanny, empting the biscuit packet in no time. Now puppies used to recon their individual names and on her call they used to respond by running to her. In the morning when she used to walk puppies tying them small chains, the onlookers in the park used to crowd around them with fascination. Even in the park she used to play the ball game with puppies and the kids in the park enjoyed playing with puppies.
One day in the park, Budhiya happened to come across her son Madan’s bosom-friend and classmate, Bipin. Her eyes could not control rolling of tears, “Hey Bipin, you too deserted me after Madan had gone. You forgot those days when you both studied together and played cricket whole day long and even after Madan left the school you used to come home every day. I used to forcibly send you home in the evening, saying, “Go home! Else your mother will scold you.” And now —- “Ever since Madan left for Mumbai, he posted one card and there after there is no news of his welfare —– I do not know how he might be managing in that unknown big city? —-“
Both of them sat on the bench in the park talking, while the puppies were playing around. Tears rolled down from Bipin’s eyes after hearing the pathetic melancholy condition of his friend’s mother, “Aunty, I too remember you a lot and miss you too, but I am at Lucknow these days for my further studies. I came here for two days on holiday, but I shall come again in summer vacation. — You don’t worry. —-I hope Madan must have sent his Mumbai address on the post-card; I shall try and trace him. My uncle stays in Mumbai and with his help, I shall find out Madan’s where about. — Don’t you worry — He shall return. —— Oh aunty, these puppies must be of Bitiya’s, I believe —- They are so lovely and gorgeous. — Ok aunty – I should be going now — You don’t have to worry.”
Budhiya got lost in trance and kept gazing at Bipin all along is passage till he was seen. After a very long time some one met her who cares for Madan and his where about. She began calling the puppies by their names. The puppies waggling their small little tails encircled her; she then chained them, but Kalua did not come even after calling it again and again. Unnoticing some one sneaked it away. Frantically she searched Kalua in the nooks and corners of the park, but in vain. Deep in the pain for the abducted child, madly she kept on searching Kalua, but there was no trace. She returned home with a very heavy heart. She felt as if the moments of pleasure are engulfed by dreaded appall.
Whole night nanny kept awake; sat on the door step in the vague hope and in the sprouted anticipation of Kalua’s return. Today she was very much missing a child, who always slept clinching to her breast. Numerous thoughts kept dangling across her mind and she mumbled, “My poor child —Oh, what a misery; you even have lost your surrogate mother. Who shall give that soothing pat to lull him sleep on the chest? Who understands that the mum animals do need mother and her affection? Hey God —- Please listen to the prayers of this poor mother that my Kalua should not be treated like a plastic toy and should not be thrown aside when play is done. Let my Kalua be not the prey of hunger and suffer battens, kicks and scolds for want of bread. This is mothers’ earnest prayer to you my lord. —– Hey God keep my son, Madan, in peace and good health wherever he might be. —- Perennially mothers’ eyes keep awaiting the child every moment.”
Now Budhiyas’ is fully shattered, making two ends meet has become further difficult for her. Even affording bare dry breads seem hard. Day by day puppies are growing and they needed tummy full food. Budhiya is now seen constantly worried and in the fit of her conjecture, she emptied her plate full of food to these little litters and kept reflecting for hours together, “What these poor kids know of my dire state. —- They would think that the nanny does not feed them properly. —- should I hand them to some gentleman, who would well feed them with love, but how to make out gentleman from a rogue; it can’t be read from any body’s forehead. —– See, how rogue is the grocer —I owe Rupees one hundred and five to him —- when I cleared this balance, he said, “Your previous balance amount is Rupees three hundred.” — A liar — further he went on to say, “Clear all the dues first, I shall not give any more grocery on credit.”
Budhiya reeled her past, “When Madan was here, he never agreed and allowed to sale the land despite he was unemployed after leaving his school. That time he had a confidence that his mother shall be granted monthly pension and she would get compensation as her husband’s fatal accident of electrocution took place in his place of work, where he was a sweeper and that too he was on duty when he succumbed to death. The entire office staff consoled saying, “when someone dies on duty, the payment of monthly family pension and compensation is a rule.” It was since three years passed pursuing the office authorities for sanctioning family pension and settling compensation claim, but nothing seems to be happening. One day Bindesari Babu, a clerk, frankly told, “If you are prepared to pay me fifty thousand Rupees, I shall get you your claim and pension passed.” —- Budhiya kept thinking, “What should I do? —- Should I sell the land? —- I don’t have any alternative in the prospect besides Bindesari Babu also elucidated the same thing —- He has demanded copy of land registry paper, which I might give it to Bindesari Babu, but I am afraid to face Madan, what answer could I give him? I am totally confused. — I don’t understand what all more misfortunes I have yet to face. Bindesari Babu was telling that it was a matter of selling land, which was not so easy, and it might take time, it couldn’t be done in a day or two. Here I am, finding difficult to manage even for a day. In your dark days, nobody comes to help you, not even your close relations. When I went to get Madan’s letter read, they taunted and mocked saying, “Oh, you sent your son to Mumbai for education? Ha –Ha Your son shall return as an IAS Officer —.”
She totally got lost and engrossed in all these horrific thoughts; wearily fell asleep and dozed unknowingly. In the night when she got up all puppies were making ku koo noise demanding food to smother their fire of hunger trying to drag her to kitchen pulling her by her sari. She looked at them, gazed in the dark and busted in tears, “Oh ho, there is no flour in the house to make bread; how may I to feed you?” when puppies made more noise, she drew them out of the house and slammed the door on them. The puppies kept banging on the door. Weary of their unsuccessful attempt they slept near the door outside. Budhiya was weeping and she felt remorse throwing the kids out in hunger. After awhile when she opened the door all of them slithered inside one by one probably with guilt of harassing nanny. They kept looking at the crying nanny and clinched on her closely, not knowing why their mother was crying. The puppies closed their eyes in the agony of hunger and slept quietly besides their surrogate mother
When the day dawned Budhiya looked haggard and totally worn-out. With the hunger in the old age, she felt weak even to walk. As she picked up padlock all puppies hovered and lingered near their chains in anticipation that the nanny might be taking them out to garden. She fondled and cuddled all the puppies showering motherly love on them and uttered to them, “I don’t have anything else other than love to share with you —- I have no food to feed you babies —- what to do, I don’t understand —- anyway — I go out hoping that some arrangement could happen.” All puppies gathered outside. She locked the door leaving them there and as she started to go puppies fallowed her; she kept on shouting at them not to follow her and she went.
Puppies obeyed her command and stayed back for while, but with the feeling of insecurity, their patience vanished and with their toddling pace they started towards her. At first Bhudiya thought that she might borrow some wheat flour from neighbors, but then she did not dare thinking people might sneer at her saying, “Oh, what an arrogance, with nothing to feed, she is rearing these puppies.” She murmured, “What these people know? My Bitiya was not mere a dog —- She was not a Bitiya just for her name sake — She truly was my beloved daughter — we had a bond from generations.” The unbroken chain of thoughts slowly brought her to a house of her acquaintance in the town.
She gave them an excuse, “Though Madan sends me money, but this month due to his pressing need there could be delay. Please lend me money; I shall return it as soon as I receive it.” She borrowed two hundred Rupees and with that she purchased her needful grocery. The bus she rode left her a mile away from her house. She began taking long strides in hurry in apprehension that the puppies might go hither thither.
On her return when the puppies were not seen around she began calling them by shouting their names. She unlocked the house and sat on the doorstep for a while thinking the puppies might be playing nearby and they might return. When for long there was no sign of puppies around, she was anxious; vehemently with a fear of loosing them began running here and there looking out for them. With empty stomach, not having a gruel or a morsel she madly kept them searching but seemed that they began following her and must have gone too far from where they might have lost the way back home or they might have scattered. No doubt the puppies were gorgeous and attractive so some people might have held them. She kept on repenting remorsefully as why she left them loose behind. Once her house full of hustle bustle is empty and the melancholy of loneliness made her feel miserable at home. She was thinking, “How vulnerable is poverty, helplessness and hunger that it filches your own near and dear ones away from you —– God knows where my innocent kids have disappeared? —- Oh god, they were following their nanny and they themselves erred searching her. The dark lane where from she went, in madness of hope she ran towards it to find them, but alas, probably she would never trace them and see them again.
Wrecked in the storm and tsunami of her solitary state her very existence was diminishing slowly bit by bit, which was very evidently readable in her haggard gaze. Farfetched gleamed ray of hope makes her leave house everyday. Somehow she cooks her dry chapattis, but in agony she fails to gulp it down, so she ties them to pallu of her sari, and whole day runs from door to door knocking them in great hopes. While walking miles everyday, blisters of her feet are seen oozing as if they are weeping on her dire state. The clerk of the municipal corporation office makes her sit for hours in the scorching sun and after the office when she runs to him, he makes some lame excuses saying, “The officer was in the meeting all through the day.” —– “The officer was expected in the office, but did not turn up.” —- “Your application is kept on the officer’s table — they are searching your file.” A month passed by like this, but their tomorrow seems not appearing to dawn. Weary of waiting she retires home and swallow the dry chapattis with water awaiting the dawn.
Somewhat is the state of cold-sweat of Budhiya and some are making it still worse. Looking at Bhudhiya, it appears as if she is a real reflection and a painting of the country’s ill social structure of downtrodden, oppressed, and helpless people. Her hopes and the breath she breathes is forcing her to live and endure the traditional dire state of exploitation on this soil.
Broken heart and sole with weary body and weathered, extinguishing sparks of hopes, her unkempt entangled hair like her life, foul smell from her body due to unwashed tattered attire and the nasty stinky spoilt social structure. Seeing this state of Budhiya, Bindesari Babu reflected that the time has ripen to exploit her and today he showed extra care and courteousness by offering her a cup of tea and spoke in gentle concerned voice saying, “Budhiya aunty, with a very great difficulty file of Dholuram was traced; your husband got service confirmation order from this office just a year before his death and he expired on duty due to electrocution while he was sweeping the area with electric current leakage in the wet walls & floors. I have read a note written on the file by the ex-officer-in-charge for the compensation from The Chief Minster relief fund was announced then and believe me this note is there in the file. There were some development going on then, but that officer got transferred and then the file got lost in the piles of files in almirah. Realizing your dire condition, I searched thousands of files in all the almirahs and finally after lot of undertaken troubles, I got success in locating Dholu’s file, but what to tell you; you know, I shall have to grease the palms right from the peon to the top officers and even the bosses in secretariat and now the case has to open from the scratch once again. This office-in-charge is retiring within three to four months; god knows if accepts my pleading for this case or not? Yes! How shall you manage the funds, so listen —- I took all the documents of your land to registrar of lands office and found that it is still in the name of old owner. You are lucky, else it would have been sold again to some party and you would have been evicted. Do not tell this to anybody and yes! You would be able to sale this land only when the ownership documents shall be transferred on your name. Dholuram should have nominated you as his successor when he was alive. The case is very complicated and you shall have to go through all hurdles of legal procedures. This matter does not end here; there is yet another twist; according to master plan, a road is planned, which passes through your land. Once the government acquires the land, it shall take more than twenty five years before you might get the compensation from the government and that too after chasing the court of law for years; you might consider your piece of good fortune if at all the compensation is received by your next generation. The wise decision is in acting very fast in this matter, else forget the land. If you have a faith in me, then hand me over the original documents of the land and I shall personally take up the responsibility of doing all the needful myself.” Listening to all this Bhudiya’s mind whirled like a tornado and her heart became num in that confused state she was speechless, not understanding what to say and finally she in submissive tone said, “Babu- sahib, now you only take care of all these matters, but tell me how long will it take? You know, I am left with —— how and what tell you.”
–“Look here aunty; Dholuram was an employee of our office, so helping you is our moral responsibility and duty. I know you are fully broken. Whenever you need money, without any hitch you tell me. Yes! Right now if fifty to hundred should suffice your need take it.” Looking at the pathetic, helpless condition of Budhiya, it was very evident that Bindesari Babu had completely taken her in his clutches and now she couldn’t twitch a bit here and there. With electrifying speed he took out hundred Rupees bill from his pocket and gave her; Budhiya at this gesture broke in tears and began sobbing, while expressing her gratitude, she accepted it.
In phony sympathetic tone Bindesari Babu said, “I am not an outsider; consider me as your close. Don’t worry aunty, needful shall be done.”
It seems whole night Bhudhiya couldn’t sleep, as she was struggling to find a way out of the web weaved around her and finally when she got a thread, she came forth of her house. Like mad for days she was searching nook and corner of her house for the only letter she had received from her son, Madan, she even combed each and every clothes kept in the boxes by wrenching cloth by cloth and finally the letter was found on a rack of small temple in the house. She took the letter, tied two chapattis by her sari and headed straight to Bipin’s house. She only knew the name of the colony, where Bipin lives. As she didn’t have exact address of Bipin, she kept on searching the house in the scorch of the sun with agonizing hunger for hours together and finally somehow she located the house. Bipin’s mother met her and received her very warmly, which prompted her to narrate misfortune befallen on her. She broke in tears when Bipin’s mother soothed and consoled her with great care. Bipin’s mother on reading the letter called up Bipin on his cell phone and talked to him about it and then handed over the phone to Bhudhiya. Bipin comforted her saying, “I have noticed that there are two addresses written in the letter; one is of a contractor and the other of a private school. He further added consoling her, “I am expected to return home after twenty days and then I shall go to Mumbai personally to trace Madan, besides I shall tell my uncle, who stays in Mumbai about it. Bhudhiya returned home after leaving Madan’s letter with Bipin’s mother. She felt totally relieved seeing the concern of Bipin and his mother.
Tired and exhausted on her way back home, she sat in the shade to rest for a while on a raised platform around a huge Peepal tree, which was near a bungalow. She was so tired that unnoticing with gentle cool breeze she fell in catnap, resting against the trunk of the tree. Suddenly she felt a tap on her back. In a surprised shock when she turned around to see, it was Kalua, who sneaked out from the bungalow sniffing his nanny’s body odor. Kalua was so overjoyed wagging his tail vehemently barking to express his pleasure, leaping and bounding around his surrogate mother and finally he pounced forelegs on her shoulder and began licking her profusely. Budhiya began sobbing; she just could not control her emotions of finding a lost love of her kid. She began fondling Kalua with mummers, “Oh, my son —- at last you could find your nanny. —–where were you been lost? —— Oh, my dear darling —- Oh, the apple of my eye —- my piece of heart.” Budhiya embraced him to her chest and kept clinching him with all the love on this earth. That poor dumb animal Kalua, with moist eyes kept looking at nanny’s eyes and god knows, what all he was narrating her. She responded “Oh, Yes! —- I know I understand everything; you would have told me everything, if you could speak. Yes, Yes —Oh, poor dear someone slithery sneaked you and you missed and remembered your nanny a lot. —-Oh, you feel comfort in my lap.” Kalua after hearing this all, barked and ran towards a bungalow, as if showing her, where he lives and returned to her, keeping his forelegs on her, began looking at her. He repeated this twice or thrice, so nanny understood what all it meant. Nanny lovely asserted, “Ok, Ok —Oh, you stay in that bungalow? Here where you were brought —is it? Wagging his tail, he squatted very close to her. Nanny untied her sari paloo and took out dry chapattis and began feeding him bit by bit. Who know what was his joy must be like, eating nanny’s chapattis after a lapse of long time. “Oh, no one feeds me here with so much of love; probably, that’s what Kalua must be saying.”
Just then a big car rolled by besides and turned towards the bungalow and stopped at the gate. A tall fat full of arrogance of opulence, Pandit Bishweshwar Nath got off and began staring at Budhiya and Kalua. Kalua sprang up and went to him and in a joy wagging his tail he barked at him as if to express his joy of telling him that this is his loving surrogate mother, but Panditji kicked him so hard that Kalua yelped in pined pain and Panditji roared, “You bloody dog —– you behaved like a dog only —-You bastard.” In rage he approached Budhiya and shouted at her, “Why did you fed him with your chapattis? Do you think that we don’t feed him properly or what? —- Hey, are you not the one who stays in that dingy parish near the canal of Ram Nagar — Now should the low-caste sweepers, Harijan, down trodden feed our dog?” —- He kicked Kalua again and said, “You are of no worth to us. You have become depraved now.”
Hearing thundering raged voice of Panditji, two kids and watchman of the bungalow rushed there, but Panditji ordered, “Beware! Blacky should not be allowed to enter the bungalow henceforth. He is depraved now — bastard was blissfully eating chapattis of Harijan. —- Dog remains a dog after all.”
At this obnoxious inhuman behavior of Panditji, Budhiya was trembling with fury. As she got up to go, Kaula came running towards her. A boy named Raju, gathering courage came close to Kalua and as he began fondling Kalua, he too was dragged away and pushed towards the bungalow gate; Panditji drove the car inside the bungalow, instructing, “Watchman! Don’t ever allow this dog to enter the bungalow and chase away this old woman from here — Don’t you see all this?” As the watchman told Budhiya to leave, she mumbled, “Wicked, Heinous fellow — kicked a dumb poor animal —- What was Kalua’s fault? Can’t I feed my child?” —– The watchman shouted at her, “Ok — Now leave immediately —- Panditji is very furious. —- Go! Go now.
The watchman kept driving away Budhiya by beating his cane on the floor like people drive cattle. Budhiya kept babbling in rage and sat helplessly at a distance on the corner of the street. After a while she heard loud yelping of a dog; she thought Kalua must be trying to enter the bungalow and he must have been beaten to drive him away. Long shadows were becoming blurry and slowly darkness was creeping forth. Budhiya is in two minds, she didn’t understand what to do. She kept sitting there. After the darkness deepens she gathered her courage and began slowly approaching towards the bungalow, thinking if Kalua sniffs her odor, he would rush to her. She reflected what would happen of him, if he was not accepted by his estranged master. Churning these thoughts over and over again, she slowly with careful strides came near the Peepal tree. Poor Kalua was sitting near the gate of the bungalow; the moment he sniffed Budhiya, he came near her. With a deep sigh in low tone she said to Kalua, “Come on my boy, let us go —– you have now become depraved and profane for them; come! Let us go!” Slowly Kalua started walking besides her. Whenever Kalua used to turn behind to see his departed abode, Budhiya used to tell him, “Come on my son; don’t think about such people, who give kicks, but not love. Their hearts are profane. They don’t know the language of love and affection. Come —-, but we have to go a long way, street dogs shall trouble you thinking you as stranger —-Wait!” She tore paloo of her sari and made a harness like thing and tied around Kalua’s collar strap and started walking. She muttered, “Come on, — Oh, dear Kalua, it’s good that you got your nanny and I got back my lost love.”
People here establish their status on the bullet biting helpless folks. Bindesari Babu and the land registrar collaborated and fraudulently seized the land of Budhiya for Rupees One lakh twenty-five thousand only and sold the same to another buyer for Rupees Twenty lakh. Ruthlessly Bindesari Babu deducted Rupees fifty thousand towards underhand dealing of getting the sanction for the compensation and only paid balance Rupees seventy-five thousand to Budhiya. Illiterate, suppressed & helpless poor budhiya was totally drenched in the gratification and remained under his obligations; what poor soul knew that Bindesari Babu hatched the plot to lay hands on her land.
Budhiya got a very big lease for a peaceful living ahead. In fact she had never ever seen such a lot of money. As she got that big sum in her hand, she began weaving dreams of her only son, Madan’s marriage. In euphoria she thought to herself, “Son just return once, I shall tie you here so fast that you shall not be able to go out anywhere.” She began shopping for his marriage storing the material every day. She was very happy; Kalua was getting sumptuous feed three times a day. Whole day long Kalua lingered around his nanny. He played with her whole day and nanny kept babbling with him and at the fall of night, he would ride on nanny’s breast and clinching her both used to sleep. One day, Raju, son of Pandit Bishweshwar Nath went pass by on bicycle. Kalua rush at him wagging his tail in joy; seeing Kalua he stopped. Overjoyed Kalua barked at him expressing his pleasure lifting his forelegs kept on Raju’s shoulder and made noise bow wow– as if asking Raju — How are you? How you play seek and hide game without me —- where are your friends with whom we played? Kalua while making welfare queries he was bouncing all around him wagging his tail feisty way; went into the house and brought a ball and dropped it before Raju. Seeing so Raju kept his bicycle on stand and began fondling and patting Kalua, “How sweet you are my dear Blacky. I am so sorry for the incident, my Papa thrashed and threw you out of the house; believe me I didn’t like it at all. ——- Oh, come on, forget it. I have to go to school now. There are yet twenty minutes to school.” Raju tossed the ball up and commanded, “Come on Blacky catch it.”
Budhiya came out and stood for a while amazingly watching the boy playing with Kalua. She thought something for a second and came near the boy, “Are you the son of Panditji who stays in that bungalow?”
—Yes! Aunty — Balcky recognized me.
—Does any one forget loving people — but what happens if your father comes to know?
— No! He would not come to know. — My school is near by. You know, a bridge construction is in progress on the other road, so I shall be following this path henceforth. Saying so he opened his school lunch box – Aunty, can I give this to Blacky—–?
—- Then what shall you eat at the school —- wouldn’t you be hungry?
—- “No, — No aunty I shall not be hungry.” —- He emptied his lunch-box before Kalua, who ate it all. Riding his bicycle he left for school and on his way he stopped for a while; turning back he shouted, “Bye – Bye Blacky, I have seven days vacation — after that I shall come here everyday.”
After a tiring anxious long wait, the vacation of Raju ended. During the period, god knows what all biscuits and other eatables stealthily he stored in his satchel for Kalua. As he came near Budhiya’s house, Kaula beagan barking, but today his bark was like yowl, probably he was distressed. Raju loved and caressed him and took all the eatable from his bag; spread it before him on a paper. “Sorry! Are you angry with me? —- I emphatically told you that I shall come only after my vacation got over — Don’t believe — ask aunty —- Ok, now spit out the anger and enjoy the food. Kalua with lifeless gait kept going in the house and coming out whimpering; seeing him walk like this Raju asked, “What happened? — Why are you walking like this? —Did someone hit you? —Oh, you could not find the ball; don’t worries I will get it for you — Ok, please eat this, I have brought it with my love and care for you – oh, my darling Blacky — ok you eat, I shall come back and play with you for long.”
Kalua kept walking besides Raju for a distance and then stopped, whiningly barking and then fell on the ground. Raju returned and patted him and loving said, “Are you injured? Don’t you worry, aunty and I shall take you to doctor and then you will be all right. — Oh, I am getting late for the school — go back Blacky and eat the biscuits.” — Kalua helplessly kept watching him till he disappeared.
On way back home from the school Raju brought a ball, but to his surprise he found all the eatables uneaten. Not seeing Kalua around, he began calling out — Aunty —- Blacky — he kept on calling, but there was no response, he thought probably Blacky might be hiding to tease him. He went inside the house to find Blacky was sleeping on the chest of aunty. He began calling out —-Aunty –Aunty —Blacky — Hey Blacky – He repeatedly kept calling them and finally accosted close to them and shook them, he shrieked loudly in shock to find both dead, “Oh, my god — They are dead.”
Raju began weeping in a great sorrow rushed out and began telling the whole episode to the passersby. Crowd gathered around him near the house. This house was an isolated one from the parish, where there were scattered houses. Someone from the crowd said, “For last few days we have been hearing whimpers of the dog everyday, it seem Budhiya must have been dead a few days back —-poor soul, she was all alone. Now there is a foul smell from the corpse.”
Yes! It’s true, she was left alone as a few days back Bipin gave her very sad news of his friend, Madan, who is no more. A year back he was employed as a labour at the construction site. Since there was no housing arrangement, all labours used to sleep under a roof of the constructing site. During monsoon there was a very stormy heavy rain, where the roof gave away killing twenty labours under debris of the ceiling. Sparing a few identities was not found, so all the bodies were cremated together.
“How unfortunate was my son; how he must have felt agitated and pined buried under the rubbles of the fallen roof; how painful must have been his struggle; He must have shouted Ma remembering me before succumbing to suffocated end of his life —Oh, my son—-.” Budhiya reeling all these painful imaginations could not have screamed and she breathed her last leaving all her dreams unfulfilled. Kalua had seen dying nanny in pains and distress. He kept running in and out; kept barking and whining. He used to rush out to tell passersby that there is something wrong with his mother, the one who understood his language, his beloved mother, his nanny was gone. Poor soul Kalua renounced even drinking of water; simply he used to rush out whining and backing; at last loosing all the hopes he slept on his nanny’s chest close to her heart as usual, breathing his last, slept for ever in eternal everlasting love for his nanny. This is not his end; it is an interpretation of eternal love.
(The Story is published in Outlook, Kadambini, Nai Dunia, Dainik Tribune and Kathabimb. The English translation published here is Translated by D. Dhananjay)