Why so late ?
- Part 2 -
Lamabam Virmani *
The mother-in-law was hardly found under the roof, apparently being on the search for her son. Leirik's mother was nursing the patient. One or two women of the locality affectionate to her also came to enquire about her illness and they consoled her also. Yet, it was of little use. As their abuse and derision were not taken seriously, their consolatory words were also equally ignored.
Her mother proposed to send for a doctor; her elder brother and the males of the locality also joined. Even her mother-in-law endorsed the proposal on request. Leirik did not agree at all. She was thinking within herself : "What all of you wish is sure to happen. I am going to be no more."
A boy came rushing to the room of Leirik, "Sister-in-law a letter from elder brother Naran," the boy said.
Leirik opened her eyes suddenly, raised her neck which could not be moved. The mother-in-law also entered the room and the boy was made to read the letter.
"Mother, at the time of departure, nobody was informed for some urgent work. I am at Thoubal now. Leirik is very sentimental and please inform her also. She is innocent and please do not abuse her excessively. She is unlucky in life. Please tell her quietly to be patient in waiting and not to lose her temper. I shall return tomorrow positively."
Leirik shed profuse tears. She felt strong on hearing the few words of praise from her husband. She repented that she had misunderstood her husband. The mother-in-law left the room abruptly without uttering a single word. She shed tears embracing the letter delivered by the boy and a meaningful smile flashed on her face.
Naran was shocked to see the deteriorating condition of his wife. He was offended with his mother and the others who did not send for a doctor or a maiba even in such a condition.
A doctor was sent for. The room was full but there was an eerie silence. All were motionless like stone statues. Tear was dripping from their eyes. Leirik's mother-in-law was not in the midst of all. Examining the body several times the doctor said, "It is going to be difficult to administer medicine."
"That means, doctor?" Naran asked nervously.
"Please don't be nervous," the doctor answered smilingly.
"After some months there will be one more member in your family, Naran babu.".
"Are you sure, doctor?"
Everyone was taken aback to see Leirik's mother-in-law rushing into the room shouting.
"The correctness or otherwise will be known after six months," the doctor answered. A timely breeze laden with sweet smell of flowers blown through the hanging curtain had filled the room.
Leirik's condition was better. She seemed to be not happy with the mess inside and outside the house and getting up slowly she was about to clean the utensils. From nowhere her mother-inlaw rushed in and beating her chest with her hands shouted, "Woe to me ! I am undone. Ruinous it is, who asked you to clean the utensils? Go back, the charcoal heater is ready, warm yourself there. Don't make your feet cold."
The utensils were snatched from her hand. She smiled to think that it was the same mother-in-law who earlier felt happy at her misery. She sat down near the charcoal heater smoothing her hair spread here and there on her chest from behind the back. An unexpressed pride surged up, "After sometime will anyone be able to say about me that I am not a mother?"
Now she was confident that even if hundreds of storms raged, her husband belonged to her for life. She asked vacantly. "What prevented you to come a little earlier?"
Translated from Manipuri by Baasi
* Lamabam Virmani wrote this story for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on July 24, 2012 .
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