Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Tale of Single Mother

The sun was scorching like hell’s fire. The heat was unbearable as if Satan himself would swoon in such severe heat. Even the restless birds had stopped flying to and fro, were probably perching lazily under leafy twigs. The village itself seemed deserted and not a voice is heard except in one small field. In this small field, Yuden wearily weeded her maize field alone. Weeding time was over and maize had grown more than height of average human height. Every household in the village had finished their weeding except her. Their maize fields are full of maize plants with luscious dark green hues whereas her maize plants are pale yellowish green. Yuden, a woman with frail hands, old kira hitched up at knee busily plucked out weeds. If one looked closer at her face, one would notice tears welling up in her eyes and flooding down her cheeks like Summer River. Smile, once she loved to smile, was almost non-existant. Happiness was distant past. Her face spoke volumes about suffering, stress, anguish and betrayal. In her life time she had gone through trial of hell like fallen angel.
Somewhere from the corner of field, soft whining of three weeks old baby wafted softly on air. Wiping sweats from her brows, Yuden called out, “Singye, what is happening to baby?’’ there was no answer. She called again and again, there was no answer. She wiped her hand behind on kira, stood up from squat and walked towards whining baby.
The baby was covered with few rags kept under the shade of cut leafy branch which was erected for purpose of giving shade. Baby was kept on young artemesia plants which acted as mat. Nearby, a three years old naked boy had dozed off in the shade. “I told you to look after baby and you are sleeping, you bastard,’’ scolded tired Yuden picking up her baby. The boy woke up with start and looked fearfully at her mother just as fist of her shrew mother landed on his head. Singye, six years old boy didn’t cry but ran away where his mother couldn’t reach her again. “Come here, bastard, carry baby while mother works,’’ she ordered and Singye walked reluctantly towards her mother. The thought of carrying heavy baby was what he detested. He just wanted to play like other children but he always had to carry baby. However, whenever he could, he went to play with friends. They always asked him about his father. Some elder even told him, he was bastard whose father ran away when cock crowed in the morning.
Yuden went back to her work after making Singye carry the baby. She didn’t hate her child Singye but the sufferings in her life started the moment she knew about conception of Singye. Everyday, many thoughts crept into her mind and she wanted to die sometimes but she didn’t want her two children to starve though their fathers were two men she hated most now in the world.Singye’s father had accompanied one Dasho on Tour. He was handsome, soft-spoken and seemingly kind- hearted man. She was selected as dancer when Dasho visited the village. As she was most beautiful woman on the occasion, Dasho’s roving eyes fell on her and through out the dinner, Dasho’s wrinkled hands landed on her odd zones sometimes accidentally and sometimes intentionally. That was where her first child father came to rescue. He told her that Dasho was number one womaniser when dasho was out for relief. He promised to help her escape Dasho who was older than her father but she couldn’t escape that Knight of night. Now, she hardly remebers his face and name.
Then came father of his present child who was man from another village as a carpenter at new school construction. He sympathised with her and helped her.He wasn’t like other man attempting for what was under her waist but understanding and kind hearted. He told her he was bechelor who didn’t want to marry as his first love betrayed him. After four months of friendship, he started proposing her. He seemed so genuine that she accepted her just get beaten by his first wife when she was five month pregnant.
When she thought of all these, anger lurched out from her heart and tears of suffering flooded down her cheeks. Suddenly, she wiped her tears thinking, “I don’t have time to think about it. I will think it later.’’ As uncontrllable tears mixed with the sweats, she picked up her blunt hoe and started weeding again. “Come what may, I have to eat,’’ she muttered under heat of sun.
That dusk,when she dragged herself towards her ramshackle hut followed by Singye wobbling under weight of undernourished baby, she found one old stranger waiting at her doorstep accompanied by foxy Chupon( Gup’s messenger) who smiled wolfishly at her. At once, her mind told her that new guy was officials from dzong who wanted her nocturnal service and this Chupon who preyed forcibly on her many times had brought another wolf.
Anyway she smiled unwillingly and official smiled back. Chupon came forward saying, “ I feel horny. My wife has gone to her village.” He was her Ajang(uncle) but nobody spared defenceless woman. As she came near, the man from Zhung( government) said, “I am Dorji, new headmaster of this gewog’s primary school.’’
She didn’t opened her door. She didn’t want them to come in. It was not that she was ashamed of her poverty, it was because she was afraid that they would force her.
“What makes you come here, lopoen Gongma( headmaster)?’’ she enquired as gently as possible. “I live at Tshogpa’s house today. I came here because I heard about you,’’ he grinned. Red light flashed in her brain. “Though villagers may tell you, I am whore but I am not. For examplethis man who is supposed to be my Ajang forced on me and brought you-,’’ she said raising her voice. She didn’t care about her neighbours and she didn’t care about her dignity. Infact, she had no dignity left.
The headmaster smiled kindly. “I am not here for that,’’ he clarified with one fierce look at Chupon. “Then, why you take so much pain to visit my humble home,’’ she enquired softening her tone. “It is about your son,’’ he said, “I want you to send your son to school.’’ The word school brought nostalgia. She was hidden from view of group of school teachers who had came to select students from newly established school by her parents. Now, her friend were in jobs in differents parts of the country.
“I appreciate your concern but I can’t send him to school,’’ she said. “Why not?’’
“Because I can’t afford to buy his dress and meet expense,’’ she blurted out. “Don’t worry about it. I will take care of it until graduation,’’ he promised.
Next day, dressed in his best, Yuden sent her son with headmaster. She cried as her child walked away with the stranger called headmaster. Yuden looked on till her son disappeared into twist of footpath.She felt empty without him but she wanted him to be better person.As she walked back, she remembered that headmaster’s face seemed familiar but she couldn’t remember she had seen him. She went to Gup’s office to asked if that man had been in the village before, Gup answered, “he was father of your Singye’s father. Singye father died in car crash but he told his father about you.” Gup took out bundles of Nu. 500 from his table and handed over to her, “it is fromSingye’s grandfather.’’ Yuden felt like throwing money into gup’s face for not telling her before. But on second thought, she needed money. She silently picked up the money and walked out into morning gentle breeze.

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