A Woman Has No Home
Howsoever hard I try to cope up with time, my morning hours always pass by at a stormy pace. I even don’t know how time slips away in the wink of an eye or I fail to keep pace with.
The situation today is however different as Nirimita, our paying guest is leaving for Majuli to join her new job. Since the journey is a daylong affair, I insisted on having a handful of rice for breakfast.
Ladling two spoonsful of rice and dal on their plate with an omelet and mashed potato I came out to the balcony at the sound of a car. The majestic Innova car that Nirmita hired came in with the rear in front.
The sight of the arrogant car coming in reminded me of an incident that took place long ago. A storm blew over my heart. I felt as if I am mocked at the triviality of my existence. The old ache of being alienated from the root that numbed my senses throughout, sprang up making me melancholic once again.
Twenty years ago, a Maruti van dropped me off at this house with loads of stuff that I might need to start a wedded life at an unfamiliar environment. My reverie came to be ended at the time I had been made to live in this house as per an unwritten accord of permanent settlement. I felt as if my feathers are clipped to restrict my aspiring’s to soar high. It tore my heart apart.
Since then, I have been dragging my half dead self, the other part of which I had left in the parental house.
The sound drifted me from the abyss of thought. I descended propping up my bag that I always had to carry school.
……Parting with someone we love is always a painful experience. Nothing could repair the void it creates. Still the cycle of meeting and parting continues. Meet to part….part to meet….
Perhaps we could visualise the parting scene in our minds eye and pledged quietly to unopen the emotional floodgates inside us. Instinctively she hugged me tightly before we bade farewell to each other. I felt tears streaming down my cheeks.
After a few seconds she got into the car and waved her hand until the car was invisible to us. I felt as if a storm was about to blow me away. I held my husband’s hand tight lest I should fall. My throat parched; I felt as if my heart missed several beats.
Then I headed to school with a current of tumult running deep inside. As I walked numbly into the common room Gitanjoli baideo said- ‘’you seem to be at a low ebb today, Bhaswoti. What’s the matter with you?’’
‘’Nothing of that sort baideo. Nirmita left for joining her new job today. I feel a little bit upset.’’
‘’This is something to rejoice about; not to be downhearted’’ Nirmita came to us like a pristine summer breeze and left us with its soothing impingement on us. She lightened our insipid evenings with joyous chirpings and chased the silence of the house with mellifluous buzzing’s.
A shadow of dejection permeated my total existence. In lighting up time I leaned against the balcony grill and looked down the ever-busy pathway in front. Like a colony of red ants, the passers-by move on as robots without bothering others. I thought to myself -Is there no end to this coming and going? …While cuddling these bizarre thoughts, the calling bell chimed with a hoarse sound.
Shubhro must have come.
I went into the kitchen right away to help the maid prepare the evening snacks.
Sipping the brimming tea, Shubhro said- ‘’Did they get there on time?’’
‘’Yes…. probably around 4.3 p.m’’
‘’It mustn’t have taken so much time to reach Majuli from here.’’
‘’They visited some of their relatives on the way.’’ keeping the sandwich on his plate I said
“The house seems so deadly dull today, isn’t it? Biting the snacks, the man said.
‘’This loneliness eats me up.’’ I soliloquized and retired to the guest room and lay down on the bed to get some sleep, but my sleep has been drained away by a strange kind of restlessness.
I rose from the bed and taking the key to the car from the key holder I came out. I pushed apart the door of my bedroom and from the threshold, I told Shubhro that I was going to visit my mother and would return soon. He insisted on calling the driver as he was damn exhausted to accompany me that night.
I set out with a mixed feeling inside.
It was smoky outside. I slowed down the speed.
The door of the house was slightly ajar. I pushed it gently with my hand and the door opened immediately. Ma lying on her bed was watching her favourite television serial Beharbari Post. When she saw me in front she almost jumped up from the bed in astonishment.
‘’What’s up, Bhasu?’’
‘’Nothing. I remembered you and left immediately.’’
‘’Very well’’-she said feebly.
I could sense the strings of a playing guitar somewhere tearing.
‘’Where is Shubhro? Why has he not turned up?’’ She asked inquisitively.
‘’He didn’t feel like’’
The smile couldn’t enshroud the dark cloud of doubt on her. She couldn’t help but say- ‘’ usually you don’t come here alone. Have you quarrelled with him anyway?’’
‘’How strange! This is my home and I can visit it any time I wish. What is there to be so astonished about? There is no room to interrogate me like police here.’’
‘’Why do you get impulsive easily?
Ma, I came to you to share the thoughts stirring in me.
I know you are sad at Nirmita’s departure. But why should you be so obsessive in relationship? Too much attachment in a relationship brings misery. Nothing in this world is yours. When a man is born, he comes with a naked body only. The things we are blinded by the extreme possessiveness as our own are the one that we have acquired here.’’
‘’Preach the sermons to your followers, not me.’’
‘’Don’t fret. It is the liability of parents to get their daughters married to start a household of her own.’’
‘’Well agreed. Ma, don’t you think that woman should have a house exclusively of her own.’’
‘’I was so engrossed in the worldly engagements that I could hardly manage time for those makes no sense. I am happy with my lot the way I am and don’t want to meddle with possessions. The love I realised for this house in prologue would continue till epilogue.’’
‘’It is not a matter of being possessive anyway.’’
‘’ Extreme possessiveness is closely associated with bondage and bitterness. Bondage leads to misery. Abide by the social customs, follow social traditions and be happy.’’
‘’Inclination to tradition often makes people retrospective.’’
‘’See, most of the mantras or prayers we chant whether in temple or mosque are not understood by a majority of the group. Still, we chant it with utmost devotion and sincerity. The same principle follows in running a household too.’’
‘’Some practices should be discarded with the passage of time.’’
‘’When a river flows downward it never bothers its origin. I believe we too have to be like a river and flow with the tide with all the enticing experiences that we can’t deny or part with it.’’
Our old domestic help served us coffee.
‘’Have it. Your favourite.’’
‘’Call Shubhro and tell him that you are not leaving today. I know you are mentally devastated at this moment.’’
‘’ I am perfectly balanced ma.’’
‘’Let me talk to you Bhasu. To be happy in life woman has to give up many things we like and kill the mind that thinks so much. Dear me, accept the truth that women have no state or home of their own.’’
I came out dejected. I was homeless once again; detached from the root.
I wiped the glass of the car that was almost bathed in mists.
I heard my mother warn me repeatedly- ‘’don’t drive fast…don’t …’’
The voice echoed…
Sitting in the driving seat I messaged Nirmita-woman has no home. keep well.
Then I switched on the music system. Maggie Lindemann’s iconic song ‘I am not just a pretty girl’ played in the background with a mellifluous tone.
Nirmita inserted it in my pen drive a few days before. I turned up the volume and started musing the lines in high pitch with the windows down.
Nilakshi Dutta hails from the pristine tea gardens of Assam, Tinsukia. She has been working as a Principal in a government Senior secondary school for the past five years. She is extremely passionate about poetry and considers herself to be more of a reader than a writer. Her short stories have been published in famous Assamese literary magazine GORIYOXEE and a few of her poems are scattered in some indigenous newspapers