The Goose with Golden Egg
The Goose with Golden Egg
The chilling night of November got even colder, with the slight yet persistent drizzle that didn’t come alone but with her sister, the breeze. The time was also untimely for earthly people, as it was fifteen minutes from a stroke of midnight. Four shadows braved all that to walk almost stitched together on the lonely roads of a small town somewhere in remote parts of Bihar. They reached the door of one of the huts, in a cluster of closely knitted ten to twelve huts. With cows and buffaloes tied to their pegs. It was a herd of milkmen, who lived with their families.
A pair of iron rings were fixed, one on each door close to each other which is generally used for locking the doors by putting a lock through both those rings. One of the rings was gripped and shaken hard to make knocking sound on the door. But there was no response from inside. It was knocked again and this time little harder. Through the gap between the doors and uneven surface of the floor, a small and faint light was noticed. The door latch from inside was unlocked and pushed open. An old man, probably in his late fifties appeared out. As he rubbed his sleepy eyes to lay them open, it received the shock of its life.
He cried out, “Malti! You?.............. Now?”
Malti, who held the pallu of her sari bitten between her incisors and broke down into tears. She stood there completely drenched in rain, but her body trembled due to her sob and not due to the shivers. She stood shivering with her baby bump which stated her three-and-a-half-month pregnancy. With her stood, three daughters of her, Shanno; six years, Kanta;four-and-a-half years and Chutki; two-and-a-half years.
Mahesar, Malti’s father was clueless and shocked beyond imagination to find his pregnant daughter and three granddaughters almost at midnight at his door. Came from behind Mahesar’s wife, Binti Devi, hearing the suppressed cry and exclamations of her husband. She was concerned more than being shocked to see her daughter and three granddaughters standing outside and shivering in the rain and cold. She immediately pushed aside her husband and dragged them inside the hut and exclaimed at him.
“First get them in. What are doing, just staring at them?”
After they were inside, and made comfortable with fresh clothes, Binti Devi turned to her daughter to understand the whole thing. Malti laid out everything, filled with sobs and hiccups in between.
Pointing at her three daughters, she said, “Your son-in-law and his family don’t want another girl after these three. I am pregnant again. Am I alone to be blamed for that?”
She looked at her mother. Those eyes had tears and even more than that, there were some questions. Why always a woman is held responsible for conceiving a girl? Is it that bad to develop a life form to shape into a girl? Being a girl, is it so wretched? But there was no answer to any of those questions. Binti Devi, stretched out her arms to let her daughter fall within the grasps of love and care which was though marred by concern and fear of the unseen future. She too, buried herself in the laps of that mother which had grown old and feeble. Seeing her mother cry like that, Chutkialso broke into that innocent wailing. Mahesar immediately picked her up and the other two, to take them in his strong yet comforting grasp of arms.
That night brought gradual tiredness after a drenched walk and long weeping, in their eyes and pulled them slowly into the warmth of sleep. Sleep is the best sequestered nook to escape away from our sorrows and problems, although temporary.
The following morning was dull for the family as they were still mulled by their present and worries of future. But sometimes unnecessary pondering over a problem engulfs one rather than showing any way out. So, Mahesar had to decide something – strongly – firmly, and he did one.
He said in a calm, yet confirmed tone, “I am strong enough to look after and feed all of you for another twenty years. So, we should rejoice that, we – who love each other, are with each other.”
He looked at his wife and daughter with a confident smile. Malti also wanted to shrug off the sorrows with the contented smile in return. Binti Devi, looked at both and didn’t want to be left out from supporting each other’s’ shoulders.
It took them a few days and some smiles from each other to help them put their sorrows from the past, in past itself. Although few people around had some eyebrows raised. As it is not considered appropriate according to the customs and culture of ours to have a married daughter staying with her parents. Most of really consider the opinion of others more valuable than well being of our loved ones. But, Mahesar wasn’t certainly not one of them.
Being by the side of each other, seeing the three little girls play, laugh and frolic throughout the day, made them even forget about something that caused concern and pain to them until few days back. Slowly, people around them also grew less concerned about the rights and wrongs of the culture, which was associated by them on the family. It is always when you bother, people would surround you and force you to bother even more. When you stop caring about others’ opinions, it’s then, that you see most of your life’s problems don’t exist.
They let the life put them on track of peace, contentment and happiness which went on without any breaks or halts for next one-and-a-half months.
Towards the end of January, the family was preparing to go to sleep when they heard a knock on their door. Mahesar went and opened the door. Sanjay; Malti’s husband stood outside.
As soon as the door opened, he joined his hands and apologetically begged, “I am really very sorry for what I did. But I was brainwashed by my family. Please forgive me.”
Mahesar was feeling something soft inside his chest though he said firmly, “I am no one to forgive you. Someone else holds that right.”
Meanwhile, from inside both the ladies come out hearing familiar voices. Malti was equally surprised as her mother to see Sanjay at their door, at that time. Sanjay immediately turned at her apologetically asking for forgiveness. She kept looking at him but said nothing and without any emotions on her face, but her heart was already roaring with hope and thoughts of reuniting. But she hid her thoughts.
Sanjay had tears in his eyes as he said, “You will certainly find it hard to believe me after so many years of torture and foul mouthing that I did with you. But believe me once I had thrown you out of the house, and I couldn’t see the innocent faces of my daughters, I realized what mistake I did. It also true that it didn’t happen overnight but took me few days to realize the blank that was left after you and my children were gone. The daughters whom I used to curse, were the ones whose little faces I started missing the most when they were not around me and for all that I am alone to be blamed. I want to rectify that I did wrong.”
She still was unfazed apparently. Then he went close to her and put his hand over her head and said, “Your promise! I am telling the truth.”
To that she removed his hands and said, “What if this is again a false promise?”
Then he immediately put his hand over his own head and exclaimed, “Ok! I won’t make a false promise on myself, right? Now you believe me?”
To that Binti Devi said, “No one would make a false promise on himself.”
She tried to convey that she was convinced with his words and was a touch of request for her daughter and husband to consider.
Just then Chutkiwalked out and seeing her father she yelled out in joy, “Papaaaa….”
Sanjay jumped and picked her up and kissed her all over her face as tears of joy rolled down his eyes.
Malti’s eyes were seeing that and she said, “Shall we go back tomorrow? Today, it’s already tad late.”
Sanjay looked at her first, in disbelief and then gradually a smile surfaced on his face. Mahesar looked at both and realized that maybe the time was going to take another happy turn the next day. Binti Devi’s face was also lit up. She suggested Sanjay to get inside and all should go to sleep as it was already quite late.
All of them went of to sleep. As they closed their eyes, they still saw the next day with their minds awake, where all the dark clouds were gone, and a family that got complete once again.
The next day, was still to open its eyes on the edge of the horizon when cries broke out from their hut. Hearing loud wailing in the most silent hours before daybreak, all from the surrounding huts huddled near that one hut.
Malti’s lifeless body was lying in the pool of blood that had become little thick, owing to some elapse of time and the cold weather. A knife stood not so proudly, stabbed into her stomach and a pillow over her face.
Shanno clung onto her dead mother’s right arm and cried inconsolably. Kanta, stood little away staring at the blood lying around and sobbed with continuous hiccups. But the little chutki, couldn’t even understand what had happened. She was still rubbing her eyes to chase away the drowsiness even without realizing what had happened to her mother. Mahesar tried to pull away Shanno from the dead body, and Binti Devi wailed and thumped her chest crying out the name of her daughter, who was sleeping forever.
People from the surrounding tried to help and console them but nothing worked. In all that and all of them, one person was missing. Sanjay.
Police were called and they arrived to take the body away for postmortem as a regular formality. Mahesar had to accompany police and with him one of his friends also went.
At the hospital the body was taken for postmortem. Mahesar sat down on a bench at one end of the lobby. His friend sat by his side and tried to console him. Though he tried to be strong, but a father who just lost his daughter in the most brutal circumstances found solace in nothing. He kept on rolling down tears from his eyes which he kept wiping with his hands that was completely wet with his tears, already.
The wait was longer than his sunken heart actually felt. While he was lost in his thoughts, he noticed two ward boys carried someone on a stretcher and went into a ward to his left. Though he didn’t have a clear view but at a glance he felt that, that person was known to him.
He got up from his seat and followed towards the same ward. Stood there at the door and looked at the dress that was almost burnt and was amalgamated with the charred skin. The person who laid on the stretcher had eighty percent burns. The dress was recognizable to him.
Is that - Sanjay? He asked to himself. To confirm his doubt, he went inside little further and could see the deformed face, but still was identifiable. He was, Sanjay, indeed. But how this happened with him.
He walked up to one of the ward boys and enquired. The ward boy told that might have been drunk when he was loitering on the railway over bridge before dawn break and most probably lost his balance and fell on the high-tension wires.
Mahesar almost ejected himself out of the ward as he couldn’t stand the sight of the deformed body and the stench from burnt skin and flesh. He almost vomited. He ran towards a wash basin, opened the tap and splashed some water on his face to get rid of the smell. He slowly raised his head and wiped the water on his face when his friend came running to him from behind. He said that the doctor was looking for him.
Mahesar almost remembered why he was there and walked back to the doctor. He saw the doctor was waiting for him, so as he reached him, he asked “what is it doctor sahib?”
The doctor brooded and with an apologetic expression said, “I think I don’t need to tell you the reason as how your daughter died, but I am here to tell you something that might be more shocking than saddening.”
Mahesar stared back at him with a bland expression. The doctor said, “Your daughter was having a baby boy in her uterus.”
Mahesar clutched his head and dropped on the floor there itself and broke down into tears.
This news was meant for the Mahesar, but it didn’t stop by his ears only and floated to every corner of the hospital. This was discussed by the ward boys who were with Sanjay. One of them said to the other, “Heard a very bad news. One pregnant lady’s dead body was brought this morning. People say she was stabbed by her husband. The husband killed his pregnant wife! Do you believe it? But the saddest part is, she had a baby boy in her uterus and the baby was also killed. So, the man killed his unborn son also.”
Sanjay heard it all, but he couldn’t move his body. Tears rolled down the corners of his eyes and had the last hiccup.