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I AM, I Said
|by Julia Dutta|
I danced barefoot through the yellow mustard fields, swinging my arms in the air, a song on my lips. My heart fluttering like a butterfly under the clear blue sky of Bengal. Nothing of what I went through last night was on my mind. I was going to the next village where there was a woman vaid whose medicines, I was told would cure my mother. At home I left behind three sisters to look after my mother. I was fourteen and eldest of them all.
It was midday, before I reached the vaid. By the time I returned home, it was dusk. The bamboo door to our thatched house was open when I came to the door. My sisters were standing outside, crying. Inside, my mother had breathed her last. I dashed inside and fell on her body, crying Ma. I shook her body, “ Ma, look at me….Ma….” She had closed her eyes forever.
Placing my sisters in the care of my Pishima ( my father’s sister), I ran from door to door, begging for a few paise/ one rupee, whatever, to buy the wood to burn my mother’s mortal remains. Ours’ was a poor village. Even as they saw me approaching their door, they closed theirs, knowing I was going to ask them for charity. Late in the night, I returned to my small mud hut, and sat besides my mothers’ body weeping, anxious about what I would to cremate her body next day. When the first ray of light illumined the night, still dark, yet with the first signs of dawn, I tied my mothers’ body with a rope and dragged her through a water canal to the nearby river. I left her body on the river bank, and began to walk back to my house, looking back as many times as my eyes could see. My mother lay on the back of the river, without a trace of pain she had suffered for days before she finally passed away.
I called this lady Ma, because my Pishima told me to do so. She was a very kind lady. Her niece had come from some distant place to stay and study in Bombay. Besides looking after her niece, she taught me to cook and read and write. I was an eager learner. I loved the new world of letters. Soon, I was able to sign my name. She opened the first Post Office Account in my name and taught to earn and save. When I went back to my village after a year for a vacation, I had bought clothing for my sisters and my Pishima. It was a very unique experience. MyPishima was so proud of me.
For full two years, Joy and I, were lost in a paradise of love and passion I had never known nor felt, I would ever know. What happened in these years, is hard for me to relate nor even understand but at the end of it, I stood alone shocked and stunned at what destiny was doling out to me once again. Did I deserve it? My mind said no. The facts that stood before me were horrendous, much worse a betrayal than the first. In his desire to go to London to complete his fashion designing, he had made me mortgage my house, for a paltry sum of Rs 1,50,000. He took the entire sum from me. When I took the papers to my Ma and her niece, they were aghast. I had actually been duped to sell my house at the above amount! But this is not what I wanted to do, I panicked. Day and night I began to receive threatening calls to vacate my house. Or pay back the money. I had lost all my savings to this new love. I had even sold my jewelry for his studies. I was bankrupt. And once again, no body came forth to help me. I was alone. The battle again was mine alone to fight.
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