The 3rd chapter of Origins will be releasing soon. But for that, you should know what had happened in the first two chapters.
Vidya stared into her flower vessel, with an empty remark. The clock was pointing at quarter to nine, and she was growing impatient. Arnav is usually home by this time. Though, the flower vase had occupied her temporary attention. She had just bought it today, from the Monday market. Now, on outskirts of Kolkata, which was adjacent to the Nadia district, every Monday faced a ritual, where vendors across villages from Bengal, came to display their skillsmanship. Skillsmanship is a stupid word to use here, as the Monday Market was, and would be the only source of income for these vendors. The items ranged from bangles, steel utensils, plastic toy, home décor stuff..etc. But Vidya had found the vase today, and somehow it reminded her, of her past. At only, 55 rupees, it simply connected her to her past life.
Not long ago, Vidya used to be a princess. No, not a real princess, but rather an heiress of a fast declining estate, which has been down ever since Independence. Some say, the Maharaja of Sitripuram could be as rich as the Nizam of Hyderabad unless, their ancestral line had kept their soul and body together. Soon, the riches were emptied upon, and when Vidya was 20, her father only had a box of gold, the land, and their humbled palace to call their own. She remembers how, when she turned 24, she fell in love with the assistant worksman, who was employed for some reconstruction of their palace. Her father would have none of their relationship, and thus, in the vitality of youth, Vidya escaped with Arnav to Kolkata, got married, and swore that they would make a life out of themselves. She had never heard from her father ever since.
The clock ticking till ten, brought Vidya to her reality. And their reality was better than expected. They had been able to live on rent in a small one bedroom house. Arnav was a construction worker, in a building being built at the center of Kolkata. The money wasn’t huge, but it was sustainable. They had managed to get Jay admitted into a nice school.
Yes, Jay, the best thing that happened to them six years ago, and somehow the binding force of her small little world. Vidya decided that she would lie down on the sofa, till Arnav arrived. Her fair complexion was reflected on the mirror on the opposite wall, but she couldn’t care any less. She was past the times of appreciating her own beauty. Slowly her head lulled into a light sleep.
There was a gentle knock on the door. Vidya very tiredly stood up from the sofa. Three at night? Who visited her at three at night? With a flicker of fear she opened the door, just an inch. There were two policemen standing.
“Sorry, Ma’am, we bring you bad news, Arnav Chatterjee has been killed in an accident at the construction site.”
The policeman delivered this with such precise and short speech, that it felt like he did it every night. But this wasn’t an every night story for Vidya. Pain had numbed her down, and she fell into the ground with a thud. At first, she wouldn’t believe it. Maybe, they had the wrong guy. But as time passed, sense prevailed. This was it. The end of her hopes, the little hopes she had with Arnav. By this time, the whole colony had woken up.
“They couldn’t afford a mobile”, She thought. Maybe if he had a mobile, he could have called for help.
It took a fortnight, for Arnav’s cremation to be completed. It seemed tears were running out of her, free. But, at this point of time, she cared to cover it up. Cover it up for his son. Breaking up infront of him would mean breaking him up. She didn’t leave him any moment. Their responsibility was now her responsibility.
Four months later, The landlord came up to them. It was time, they hadn’t paid rent for 6 months. ‘Its time to move on ma’am, I understand that your husband died, but I have a family too.’
Vidya went on to sell the little of gold she had to her when she had left Sitripuram. It could keep the landlord quite for at least the next month. The landlord’s words still stung her though. How was she supposed to move on? Her education from where she dropped out of 11th grade, was not enough to get her a sustainable job. She, being born from a royal family, could never work as a maid, or work a lowly post. Her integrity was the only thing which was common in her past and present. And her integrity was the only thing she could ever hold upon. It was the same integrity that stopped her from asking for any help to Geeta, Arnav’s cousin who lived in Palk Street and was very well to do. She and her husband had passed childless, and had never wanted to adopt. They even brought some gifts for Jay whenever they visited them. Her integrity stopped at a point. With resignation, she remarked how lucky Jay would have been, had he been with Geeta. But this was something she always kept to herself.
Just yesterday, she had gone to a parent teacher meeting, her first. Usually it’s Arnav who usually attended this, but, sigh. The teacher said, “ He is really smart for his age, and very intelligent. Remembers rhymes in a flash, does Maths very well”. Vidya kept nodding her head, unable to reply with the eloquent manner with which the teacher spoke. “But he is a bit unusual. He doesn’t have any friends. He just sits by there, to himself.’ She pointed to the corner of the room at the second last bench.
Well, Jay, was unusual. He didn’t think like a six year old. Once while getting him to sleep, he had asked her, not to ever get her out of this school. Somehow he had sensed with all that happened, that this would be forthcoming. Vidya promised him back.
Two months later, when the income was corked out, and all savings vanished, Vidya was as desolate as ever. It is one of those moments , that makes or breaks a person. Accepting defeat was no sudden thing. She spent hour after hour, on the same chair thinking it out. And at this one point something hit her, a way out, but a tear dropped, into the saggy pallu of her saree.
That night, she looked out of the window, breathing as calmly as she could. She stared into the street, which was only lighted by the street lights. The light seemed to keep the darkness at a bay. It criss- crossed like a protective sheath, that, there is always hope. The usually busy and up and going town was sleeping now, under its guardians. She looked into the darkness, the hope, and the sorrows, that the place presented. Sometimes we miss the deeper meaning our day to day objects represent us. We only see them when we are about to cross the oblivion. She brought out a stool, which Arnav used to fix up the roof when it was leaking. She, of course had locked the room in which Jay was sleeping, after kissing him as much as she could. He didn’t need to see this. It was all for him. Her chunni would complete the rest of the act. She made a loop out of it, and knotted it with the fan, and the other end in her own neck. She brandished her new bought phone, out of her last 1000 rupees. Ironically, its first call would be its last. She dialed a 100, on it. The operator’s voice rang out. Crying, she said, ‘Take care of my son! Let him not see this’. Then she recited the address. The moment had finally arrived. The moment where one step off the stool, meant passing into the oblivion and into the final destination. Her mind did not want to do it. Her will forced her to do it. She took the step, and the phone thudded into the ground and broke in half, but the guardian of Vidya’s life had already left. Darkness engulfed upon her.
In the room, adjacent to it, little Jay’s sleep couldn’t have been broken by the mobile’s thud. He cuddled into his sleep unaware how the world around him had changed now.
*Some sacrifices defy logic. Some sacrifices defy human nature. But the thing about sacrifices is that they always are wholly generated by love*