Jamila - 19
Jamila - 194 mins 9.3K 4 mins 9.3K
Time stood still as I stared at the woman in front of me . She was not the Jamila I remembered . But then that was 17 years ago. She had been a blooming vivacious girl of 16. Now she was a woman – who had experienced life’s vicissitudes. She had been through a forced ,loveless marriage, and widow hood ; and despite lack of financial support she had fended for herself and single handed brought up a child . Though only few years older to me , the pain and struggle were reflected in her visage. Streaks of silver shone from her hair, her face was pale and thin, and in her eyes a dull ache .Yet she was still lovely .
She stared at me- her eyes narrowing , quizzical. It was perhaps more difficult for her, to place me. I was no longer the 11 year old she had last seen. But then hadn’t she seen me at uncle’s funeral – when she had hastily walked away? But how would she know , I was the young boy Sami?
“Jamila Baji, I am Sami,” I whispered.
For a moment, a fraction of a second perhaps , her eyes lit up in recognition, then immediately veiled. .”Who Sami?” she asked in a dead pan voice.
I looked at Murad . Seeing him at such close quarters, I realized , that the the shape of his lips were like Jamila’s. He understandably didn’t have uncle’s suavity . His hair was closely cropped and skin weather beaten. As he stood there staring at me , with a curious expression in his eyes , the diffidence in his bearing was very noticeable, most probably an outcome of growing up in an under privileged home . Remembering uncle’s luxurious life style, a lump rose in my throat
I wondered if I should in his presence, remind her of the time she had been in grandfather’s house ,which she had in all probability concealed from him .
But then in what other way could I introduce myself?
‘”I know it is a long time , and I was very young then …Your father , who …” The recognition returned in her eyes ,”Oh Sami Baba – how you have grown! How did you come to know I am here ?”
I hesitated, I couldn’t possibly tell her I had seen her at the grave yard and followed her !
“I happened to be passing through , and …” I was at a loss what to say next .
Conscious of my difficulty, she said,a little abruptly,” Any way since you are here do sit down. Murad give him a chair .”
I sat down on the chair and looked around the smallish room , its plaster peeling . There were a few more chairs , two sewing machines and a string cot . In the front was an enclosed small veranda which seem to have another string cot .On the left side was a tiny enclosure which probably functioned as a kitchen.
“What will you have ? Cold drink or tea.”
“You have to have something.”
I wondered where the cold drink would come from. It didn't seem likely that there could be a fridge in this rundown place.
“Then tea ,if it is not too much of a bother .”
“Murad , go and get two cups of tea from Hari’s stall. I hope your’ OK with it .Making it on the kerosene stove will take time.”
I nodded. Murad picked up a small thermos and walked out .
As soon as the door closed behind him, Jamila looked at me and in a terse voice asked,
“So Sami sahib, now tell me the real reason why you are here? ”
I swallowed hard “ Murad . .. is your son ,I presume.”
“ He is … very good looking . He …” I broke off, seeing her frown angrily .
I was at a loss; how could I say that I was certain that Murad was uncle’s son.I also feared her reaction . She could deny it; tell me to leave .Was this the reason she had sent Murad to get the tea?
To be continued....