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The Truth Of The PorchPart III

The Truth Of The PorchPart III

8 mins 318 8 mins 318

Urmila could not stop Raghubir Singh's second marriage. Toiling the whole day and waking the whole night Urmila spent two years finding a solution for her problem. It was a dark night when Raghubir Singh got married the second time. He would have chanted the very same Veda mantras and repeated those sacred vows. She got up in anger But she contained herself and waited for her sleep. She thought why was she lying there? Had she any hope of Raghubir Singh's return in her life after repentance on his misdeeds. Would she pardon Raghubir Singh for accepting his mistakes? Urmila stopped thinking of Raghubir.


Father came to take her home but she refused. Something here prevented her from going. Probably her dreams, her wishes, her hopes, and something more important of all – self-respect.

Past years had swallowed all desires of hers. For days she had not combed her hair, not seen the mirror. She had almost forgotten to apply sindoor or kajal (kohl) In the midst of rustic women bound by orthodox traditions, a sensible Urmila was honored with the title of ‘Mad Woman” (Pagli). When and how the name got stuck is not known correctly. For elders, she was “Pagli” and for youngsters, she was “Pagli Kaki”.


There was sweet water well in front of the house. Half the village quenched their thirst in that well. Urmila was going to the well every morning and evening to fetch water. Whenever there was a crowd she used to sit under a pipal tree. Whenever Bihari was there he used to help her in filling the buckets. Urmila got some relief from pulling the bucket from the well. This routine continued for years along with the saddened and expressionless face of Urmila. One day when Urmila was pulling the bucket Bihari came there and started pulling the bucket, holding her hands.


Urmila looked at Bihari. His eyes showed deep belonging which brought a strange excitement in her and their bare eyes started talking to themselves. She wondered as to why her stony heart got melted like a candle today. Why did her normal breathing of years become faster now to thrill her? The bucket got filled. Urmila looked at Bihari once more, lifted her bucket and proceeded homewards silently.


Now she felt as if she was drowned in a strange sense of joy. The box of her ornaments, disposed in a corner for years, was opened bringing out oil, comb, bindi, kajal. Aunt gave a side glance at her and smiled. Urmila felt a little ashamed. She once again dumped the ornament box to the corner and thought of remaining in a simple manner without much of makeup. But even if she wanted not to put on any show her throbbing heart prompted her otherwise.


Urmila feels happy to see Bihari when he fills her bucket. She wondered how could the change come to her in such a short time. How her monotonous life of daily routine got changed so much. Several such questions came to her mind but she had no answer. She did not want to be a loser in the game. If she does not want to lose in the game she has to tell Bihari not to fill her buckets. What does he think of himself? A wife left by her husband will not be so weak for others to show sympathy and then cash on her.


Urmila was in turmoil. When she tried to get out of this mess she was getting more entangled.

By seeing the change in Urmila people started whispering. Raghubir Singh who had no concern for her desires, feelings or needs, who turned his eyes seeing her shattered life became aware now of her turbulent life.


One day Urmila was sitting under the pipal tree with an empty bucket when Raghubir Singh reached there suddenly. Urmila got a shock seeing him there. She stood up where she was. Raghubir Singh roared,” Why did you get up in fear?  Is it because you are caught thieving.

The words pierced Urmila like an arrow. Still swallowing his words she asked fearlessly,  “ What do you mean by thieving?”           


“Beware, Mind your words “What is wrong if I wait for someone?”

Raghubir Singh didn’t expect this behavior from her.  He was stunned. His tone became soft.

He said,“ Hear me carefully. You should not face someone eye to eye.    I would not like to see my family’s reputation coming down as long as I am alive”.      

     

Urmila roared, "Stop, I say stop"You show so much concern for your reputation. When you abandoned me among vultures where was your reputation? For years when I am working for others, you do not mind about your reputation. Who are you to stop me? You have left me. You got married for the second time. On what basis you show your authority now? What I do is none of your concern. Do you think that I do not have the ability to understand rationally?


Urmila’s facial features changed and she talked angrily. Raghubir Singh looked at Urmila confused.

Urmila shrieked,” What are you looking at.  Go and enjoy with your wife. Forget me. I am not a rascal like you I have a perfect understanding of right and wrong". Urmila was shaking in anger. Raghubir Singh was feeling ashamed. He looked around to see that nobody was watching him. Giving an angry look to Urmila he left that place.                   


Urmila sat at her place. The storm inside her made more noise than the crows on the tree. She sat drowning and resurfacing herself from the storm. She came back to her senses only when Bihari brought the filled buckets before her. Urmila got up hurriedly. It was not easy for her to extricate herself from the past. She brought the bucket home with her lifeless hands.


It was almost midnight when Raghubir Singh was tossing and turning in his bed. The insult he faced today did not allow him to sleep. An ordinary woman gave such a reply. What is her status? But see her tongue which works like sharp scissors. I cannot see her playing a love game with a stranger in my presence. Yes, it will never happen.


It was not hot still Raghubir Singh was sweating. The poison injected by Urmila was disturbing him badly. On the other hand, Urmila slept well after many years.               

One day when Urmila was combing her hair, an aunt came and informed her that Raghubir Singh had beaten Bihari badly. Bihari was unable to get up. It looked as though his leg got fractured. The comb fell from Urmila’s hand. She had the inkling that Raghubir Singh will not keep quiet but he will take revenge this way was not expected by her."Was this a punishment for filling two buckets of water"?


Urmila stopped going to the well. She got the news of Bihari’s hospitalization.      His relatives wanted to lodge a police case.  But Bihari asked them not to do so. One of the legs of Bihari was to be amputated. There was a news that Bihari had gone to Raghibir Singh's house for burglary when he was caught and beaten.           

Urmila again went into a long depression.   She did not like the place and wanted to go elsewhere. She took the decision to leave the village.   

            

Once on a hot summer day, Seth Ji was taking a nap. Urmila had come out of the house on some pretext. Coming near the well she stopped. She looked at the pipal tree and the well to her heart’s content. She remembered Bihari and wanted to see him. But she moved forward bearing silently.


By evening the news spread about the disappearance of Urmila. Searches were made at every place. Searches were made even inside wells and ponds but Urmila was not found. Raghubir Singh was happy. Nobody desired to search further. After two to four months the news came that Urmila had gone to her elder sister’s place. Then the news came that she had jumped into the well.

She was a Sati, UrmilaSati.

‘It was told that the attitude of her brother-in-law was not good towards her. Urmila gave her life but did not allow to lose herself respect”


“She was a daughter-in-law of a reputed family and followed its true tradition”

‘Her husband had left her, but she remained a Pativrata.                

“ She became immortal.”

“She became a Devi”

There were as many tributes as there were people.     

           

Hearing the word Pativrata, Raghubir got a brilliant idea to make the name of the family immortal. Publicity was made that Urmila came into the dreams of family members. The difficulties of the family were getting reduced.

Raghubir Singh's mother got the dream that Urmila wants to permanently reside below the pipal tree. Raghubir started taking action for her fulfillment of desire (Ichchapoorthy).    

                           

Raghubir has seen the world. He knew how easily people forget. He knew that his misdeeds would also be forgotten one day. Gradually a Chabootara was made around the pipal tree. People started praying there. Raghubir knew that it would enhance the prestige of the family and make it eternal He had played a clever game. Poor and hungry people will come to the Chabootara and lessen their burden. .


Gradually the news spread that  Urmila Aka "Mad Girl" or "Pagli Kaki" ‘s blessings fulfill the wishes of the people.  A lot of lamps were lit in the evening at the Chabootara. Those who had more wishes lighted more lamps. The cleanliness of the Chabootara is entrusted to a pujari under the supervision of Raghubir Singh. Now a Mela is held every week there.


Bihari used to go round the village but did not venture to go near the pipal tree. What difference does it make, if Bihari doesn’t go to Chabootara? Raghubir Singh has become immortal. By making a Chabootara, and arranging a Mela every week, the impression which Raghubir Singh has created about his sense of surrender to his loving wife was admired and appreciated by all wholeheartedly. Raghubir Singh has left this world sixty to seventy years before but still, the Chabootara is dazzling with lamps and the family wields enormous power in the village till date.


THE END     


चबूतरे का सच by Asha Pandey   


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