Monday, March 12, 2007

The Soothsayer's words

Sita could just not believe her ears. Did she hear right? Was it really a letter from her husband asking for permission to visit them? Her brother brought the letter to her room and asked for her opinion in the matter. His wife was equally indignant.

“Don’t allow the scoundrel to step into our village” she said. “What brings him here after all these years? No way! Akka is fine with us. Why does he was to disturb our peaceful existence?”

When the soothsayer(Kudukudupandi as Tamilians would understand) had announced in the wee hours of the morning that her husband would come looking for her she chose to ignore his words. He would come later in the day and collect some left over food and old clothes as a reward for announcing the impossible. ‘Her husband Hari coming for her?? Impossible’ she had thought. He had left her long back and had maintained no contact since then. She had almost forgotten his face and could not recollect his voice. ‘Had he ever spoken to her’ she wondered, while she smiled to herself at the irony of things. Her marriage had been a farce, her husband having refused to take her along because the color of her skin was in sharp contrast to his. Hers was an arranged marriage and she was just twelve years of age when they married. As was the prevailing custom the elders in the family negotiated and fixed a date for the ceremony. The boy’s mother had come along with a few other ladies to see her and expressed her approval. She had only hazy memories of the event. She had been playing with sea shells in the back yard when her mother dressed her up in haste and presented her to her future mother in law. Someone had asked her to sing and she was sent away after she had prostrated at the feet of those present. Her aunt later informed her that she was to get married to someone in far off Hyderabad.

After her marriage she continued to stay at her parent’s place and was secretly happy to be allowed to remain there. It was her aunt who confided to her in hushed tones that her husband had refused to accept her presence in his house even as a ‘maid servant’. He had married a beautiful girl from a neighboring village. His parents were truly sorry at the turn of events and had even returned the items given as dowry at the time of her marriage. They could do nothing more. Her parents consulted astrologers and palm readers who were unanimous in their opinion. The planetary position as indicated by her horoscope was not favorable to her leading a happy married life. Her parents were in no mood to defy fate and had accepted her presence in their home. She was a great asset to them in her own way. Over the years she had picked up a lot of culinary skills and house keeping. She was mild mannered and adjusted well with her brother’s wives. She was a second mother to their children and an unpaid baby sitter to her neighbors who would leave their children with her when they had any important work to attend to. Twenty five years had gone by and her niece Ramya was now a beautiful young woman studying in college.

“What are you smiling at aunty?” …..

Sita looked up to see Ramya eyeing her with curiosity.

“Nothing” replied Sita “I was thinking of what the soothsayer said. Sometimes they seem to read into the future.”

“And what did he say?” Ramya asked.

“It seems your uncle is going to come for me soon.” Sita’s voice faltered for the first time and unknown to Ramya she wiped a tear drop that slid from her eye.

“Even if he comes you should refuse to go with him. He has no business asking you to accompany him. But wait a second aunty. He may want you to sign some property papers or may be he wants a divorce.” Ramya seemed worried. “You won’t leave us will you? What would we do without you?”

“Don’t be silly child” admonished Sita. “Why would he come for me? He has a family of his own, a beautiful wife, children and a flourishing business. Why would he want a divorce now? I have never interfered with his life nor do I want a share of his property. He should be aware of all this by now.”

“Why then is he asking to visit us?” Ramya persisted.

“You should take up law Ramya.” Laughed Sita. “You’d make an excellent lawyer.”

“This is no laughing matter aunty” Ramya continued to voice her concern. “Amma is right. He should not be granted permission to come.”

“I’ve asked your father to allow him to come if he wants to. But I won’t speak to him. In fact I’ve requested him not to call me to the living room as long as he is here. I don’t even want to see him.”

“Why then should he come at all?” Ramya sounded worried.

“We’ll know soon enough. Now go to sleep. You have college tomorrow.” Sita put an end to the conversation.
(To be continued)



Usha said...

Did he come because his beautiful wife had died and his home needed a woman?
I hope Sita told him nicely that the marriage was over the day he married another and ther was no relationship between them for him to come back to.

venky said...

Just dropped in something into your mailbox...check it when you get time...

starry nights said...

Is he coming because as he gets older he feels some remorse for what he had done and is asking for forgiveness.

itchingtowrite said...

can't guess. you r hinting an unusual turn though

Monika said...

tricky one to guess... may be he has come to ask ramyas hand for his son... the way sita was looking at ramya meeks me think so...

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
I've just posted the second part of the story.As you see all of you are partly right except perhaps Venkey whose respone came via email.Venkey you have given free rein to your imagination but this is no extension of my imagination it is a real story that recalls events that took place some 50 years back. I'll post the rest of the story shortly.There is no great suspense to it. I mainly want your responses to a qn that i may ask in the end.Just some thought provocation