The breakfast table was ready. Ganga, Mala, and Prabhu the husband of Kavi were there but Kavi herself was missing. Ganga looked around and said,” Prabhu, where is Kavi? She is generally the first at the breakfast table”
Prabhu answered, “She said she has some urgent call to attend. She will join soon” Though he started his breakfast both Mala and Ganga just waited for Kavi. They saw Kavi coming down the stairs, still busy on her cell phone. She smiled at them and covering the cell with her hands said, “Amma, Nani, please start your breakfast. I will join in a minute”
Still talking on her cell phone, she moved to one of the sofas and sat there. The doorbell rang. Immediately, she got up and opened the door. Half a dozen men, clad in a trim suit, looking every inch as senior officers, walked in. There were two policemen with them. As Ganga and Mala looked up at the visitors a little startled, Kavi invited them with a warm welcome and said, “Please come in Sir. That gentleman there is Mr. Prabhu, my husband. Please arrest him”
Now it was Prabhu’s turn to get shocked. He jumped up and blabbered, “What arrest? Kavi what is this? Joke or what? Why should I be arrested? For what crime?”
The officers stepped near him and one of them showed the arrest warrant, and said, “Mr. Prabhu we are from National Internal security. We arresting you for passing on some confidential information to our Enemy country”
Prabhu’s face turned all red and he fumbled for words and called out to his wife, “Kavi, what is this? Please stop them. You know I am an innocent man and they were wrongly informed?”
Kavi stepped nearer him and said, “Prabhu for your kind information, it was I who had called them. Here is the video proof of your copying data from my PC in the night” and turning to the officer she handed the camera and his laptop and said “Sir, you will get all the evidence here” The officers collected everything.
“Prabhu for every one of us, our country comes first. Anyone against the country is our enemy. Officers, please take him away”
Prabhu was taken away and she calmly locked the door and came back to the table. She looked at her mother and grandma and said, “I am sorry. I am sure you two will not agree with my action of getting my own husband arrested. He is a criminal and deserved punishment”
Mala asked calmly, “How did you find out about his activities Kavi?”
Kavi was silent for some time. The betrayal of her own trusted husband, hurt her more than his arrest. She swallowed and said, “Amma for the past few days I was curious that he always used to say he had work to complete and use to work after I went to bed. You know that my job is connected with the Government's confidential files, which are classified.
One day I woke up from sleep and found Prabhu trying to crack the password of my PC. Then next day I purposely left my PC open with some fake documents and watched him copying it, thinking that I was asleep. So the next day, I set up the Video camera and recorded his night activity and got him arrested.”
Ganga sighed and said, “It is so hard to believe that such a calm looking man could turn out to be a traitor”
Mala got up and said, “The breakfast had all gone cold. I don’t think any of us could eat it now. I will make some fresh coffee and bring” She left the room.
Kavi moved to a chair very near Ganga and holding her hand tenderly said, “Nani, I know that this arrest had shocked you. Your generation believed that the husband is the one called, “Pathi-Paremeshwar” and we should always toe his line. But I belong to a generation where we girls have, the education and courage, to stand by the truth, and not be weak to cling on to the bonds of relations and associated emotions! I am so sorry, but the generation gap between us is a deep chasm”
Before Nani could answer, Mala came with a tray of coffee mugs and said, “Kavi, generations have nothing to do with women’s courage. You just hear the story of your mother from your Nani to know that even 40 years ago how I stood up bravely and firmly against an entire village and its Panchayat. Amma, will you tell Kavi about that story?”
Ganga said, “Let us all finish our coffee before it gets cold, and then I will tell you the story of Mala, your mother”
Kavi bubbling with excitement said, “I will gulp my coffee. A story about my mother which I did not know for so many days? So exciting”
Ganga started, “Your Grandfather was a Jamindar owning a large area of fields and crops. Just as you would have read in stories, he was the very limit for cruelty and the whole village was frightened of him. When my son, your father, returned after his good education I thought he will at least be a good man, but sadly he proved me wrong. Though I indirectly heard some gossip about him, no one dared to come and report to me. Then when he did this to your mother, just a 14-year-old girl, she stood up against the village boldly and called for the Panchayat for justice. But the Panchayat was such a fake one and they dismissed the case saying that there was no eye witness of Mala being dragged by the junior Jamindar and said that she was falsely accusing him.”
Kavi, with anger bursting in her voice, exclaimed “Oh, God! That dirty fellow was my father?” Ganga now started wiping her tears unable to talk.
Ruku, a maid who lived with them, and was hearing the story so far continued, “You know beta, that day night your Nani pleaded, begged your father and grandfather, to stop these activities and asked your father to marry Mala. The father and son duo unfaced by the shame laughed and said, “Ma in that case half of the village will be your daughter-in-law’s” Your grandmother could not stop crying.
But the next day morning both father and son, going to the next village for some work, met with an accident. Their bullock card upturned, fell into a valley, and both were brought home in a seriously wounded condition. Your Nani told the Panchayat that her son was regretting his deed, had agreed to marry Mala. A letter written with his thumbprint was shown as proof. The next day your mother was married to the wounded man. This marriage was needed as the entire property was willed against Junior. Now Mala became the rightful owner of the entire property. After three days both father and son died. Your Nani sold all the property and moved here to Mumbai.”
Mala continued, “I wrote my SSC externally and passed it by the time you were born. Then I joined college, and later got a job in college itself, all due to the courage of your grandma”.
Kavi went and hugged Ganga and said, “You are great! So actually you are my Dadi. Hats off to both of you and Mama” Ganga turned and looked at Ruku, who was watching them. An eye signal and a silent message were understood by both of them. At night, as Ruku went to bed she thought of the last part of a story that was left untold.
That night Ganga was crying painfully. Ruku knew that both father and son were going to travel the next morning. She waited till midnight. She got up softly and went near the parked bullock cart. Using all her strength, she pulled and unscrewed the axis nail of the cart 80percent out. She was now sure that halfway through the journey, the wheel will come out and there will be an accident.
When she turned to come in, she saw Ganga standing at the steps near the door and watching her action. As she nervously looked up Ganga said softly. “Lock the door softly and go to bed” She turned and went back to her bed. The next day, they got the news of the accident.
Ganga smiled to herself as she thought about Kavi and mused “This secret of the axis of the cart, remained between Ruku and her, till today. Women are not weak at any time and there is no generation gap when they stand up and fight for justice. It was not just for Mala, but so many girls of the village were saved by Ruku’s action.”