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The Metra

The Metra

7 mins

Radhiya leaned over the wall and closed her eyes. 

"When will he take you back home Radhiya? " Radhiya's mother Kamla asked without turning back , she stood correcting her saree. 

"Radhiya.....I 'm asking about your husband. When will Krushna take you home ? " 

Radhiya did not bother to answer. She unboxed her brief case , pulled out a few dress which she had packed. 

She grabbed a soap ,picked a maxi dress and untied her hair. 

Radhiya's long hair fell like a cascade. Her pitch black hair , smells Tulsi. 

"Radhiya... " Kamala walked to Radhiya.

" Ma , I'm going to take a shower " 

" Krushna... When will krushna.... ? " 

"Ma I've just arrived , there's still time for your questions" 

She quickly walked to the bathroom. There were three rooms in the house , a room where the cot and other household goods were kept , the other room was treated as the kitchen , on corner the which lies another small cemented room where one could barely stand. That was the bathroom. The house had no facilities for toilet. There was only one common toilet for all the people on this three storeyed building. The bathroom has no door. Instead bathroom was covered with a Tarpaulin sheet , so that if one sits on the front room or the kitchen ,would not get to see the bathroom. 

There were a few aluminium vessels under the cot. Most of them were partly damaged.A trunk box lied next to the cot where Kamla keeps her togs. The ceiling of the front room had a rusted fan , covered with dust. On the wall there was a photograph nailed. Young Radhiya was on the photo wearing a Red saree , a tall young man with a thick mustache and beard was with her , probably Krushna. 

Radhiya came out rubbing her hair off water with a towel. Drops of water was dripping from her hair. Some droplets stayed at the tip of her hair , those looked like pearls hung on a black thread. She recklessly threww the towel to the cot. 

Radhiya was a lean girl, with her collar bones showing up. Her face was chubby with brown lips and alluring eyes.

"Where is your chain? " Kamla asked curiously. 

" Did you lose it ? Let me check the bathroom " Kamla was about to head to the bathroom. 

"No Ma.. It's with Krushna " Radhiya looked down , tucking her hair behind the right ear. 

" Why ? Why is it with him ? You know it's auspicious , you are not supposed to remove it.. and again when is Krushna coming ? Kamla looked pale and perplexed. Drops of sweat glistened on her forehead. 

" Never.." Radhiya sat on the cot and pretended to fold her clothes 

" What do you mean never ? " 

Her mother sat next to her. The ceiling fan was moving slowly,with a creeky noise There was spider cob built on the corners of the wall and on the light bulb. The light bulb was an old fashioned yellow tungsten filament. The clock ticked 7 PM. Flies were lured to the light bulb. 

 "Krushna and I are not together anymore " 

She said raising her head. Her brown eyes did not have any emotion. Radhiya moistened her lips with her tongue. 

Kamla covered her mouth. 

She felt deceived , for a moment. 

" Not together ?? Don't you blabber anything that comes to your mouth " she started breathing quicker. 

" Ma , Krushna's mom never loved me she had only blamed me for not being able to conceive " her voice choked.

" Medicine... Don't you take that red medicine , Dr Sari gave you , last time " 

"I've done everything... It has been only a year. She won't wait any longer. And Krushna.. what do I say about a man who doesn't care about the existence of his wife " 

Kamla did not ask her anything more. She sat staring at the roof. 

There was a moment of sheer silence. Only the ticking of clock could be heard. 

Kamla felt blue. She had neither an answer to her daughter's question nor a question that she needs an answer for. 

"Kamla..... Open the door it's me...." 

Radhiya pulled the iron hinge and opened the door. A woman draped in pink saree entered. She pulled Radhiya's cheeks and kissed her. 

" Here take it. It's the Lordess' holy offering." 

Sarla gave her the 'prasad' 

Sarla lives next door. She was a tall woman with wide hips. Her sharp jawline indicated a strong woman's physique. She looked much young although she was running at her mid fourties

"Sonu saw Radhiya boarding off the bus , and she came running to me " 

Radhiya smiled at her , she took a duppata and wore it over her maxi. 

"And you Radhiya... Look at yourself... You look like an actress. I think you have put on some weight. Krushna must be taking good care of you." 

" Yes....Even Krushna's mother treats my child like her own. You know they have no daughters. She loves Radhiya. " 

Kamla said without blinking. 

Radhiya was not moved by this wrong claim , she knows that her mother would never want to keep her pride at the fence.

She asked Sarla to sit next seat to her on the cot. Sarla wiped the bedsheet with the 'pallu' of her saree and sat down. 

" So any good news ?? Is that why you have come here ? " Sarla giggled. And touched Radhiya's tummy. 

" No Aunt Sarla.. it's nothing like that.. I just came to stay with mom " Radhiya looked embarrassed. She aimlessly turned her eyes to the wall. The wall was bedecked with a few sea shells and some paper made flowers. 

" Why did Krushna not come? " Sarla was throwing questions over questions. 

"Krushna and I don't....." Radhiya had nothing to hide. 

" Krushna and his mother is not well... They've showed some symptoms of chicken pox , they don't want Radhiya to catch ill " Kamla came up with a white lie , before Radhiya could even speak.

As soon as Sarla left the house , Kamla got up and walked to the balcony. She stood there with her arms on the dusty small wall and looked down. Kamala's house was at the top floor of the three storeyed building. It was an old yellow painted building , the roof and building were almost covered with overgrown Moses. One could barely recognize the yellow color 

Children were running around and making noices at the courtyard. Some were sitting under the street lamp with their books open. Women were washing their clothes under the tap , thumping the clothes with a stick. A man was sitting under the other tap bathing , while a women poured water to him.A group of women gathered and were laughing and talking. The drawing room of Darla's house could be seen from where Kamla stood. Sarla's television was playing a soap. Her house was pretty much bigger than Kamala's It had four rooms , still no toilet. She pays a rent of Rs 2000 while Kamla pays only 1000 for her house. Kamla watched every one for a moment. Her gaze shifted to the corners of the courtyard. Radhiya came to spread her washed clothes on the rope line tied next to their door. She did not interupt Kamla. 

Kamla did not either notice Radhiya. She kept staring to the courtyard. A young woman carrying her child on her hip, caught Kamala's attention. The woman looked young. Probably she's at her teenage. The toddler on her hip was biting on the young girls chain . The baby reminded Kamla of Radhiya. 

A flash of smile appeared on her dry lips, which did not last long. Soon her eyes turned tense , as if something was haunting her. A train of thoughts impregnated her mind. 

Young Kamla was standing on the bus stop carrying Radhiya on her hip. The sky was getting darker each moment. Her eyes were flooded with helplessness.she boarded a bus. That's when she left her village and moved in here. She had always cursed herself for taking Radhiya with her. It was like stealing her from her parents. Kamla denied all the parental rights of someone. She stole someones happiness and burried their dreams. Afterall what rights does a surrogate metra had on its baby. She always had nightmares of losing Radhiya to this day. The thought that. Radhiya was only implanted on Kamala's uterus and she belonged to someone else kills her each moment. 

She felt remorse. Is the Lord punishing Radhiya for what I've done ? Kamla was looking all over like a liar, like a thief who fears of getting caught. She wanted to pull out her uterus from her body and immerse herself in incurable pain to set her mind free from the agony 'I deserve pain.... But not my child'. Her mind whispered constantly.

" Ma.... It's too cold here come inside or you'll catch a bad flu " Radhiya stood at the door. 

Kamla swallowed her pain at once and turned to Radhiya 

" Cold ?? Your mother is colder, dear... Much colder than the glaciers !!!! "

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