By Urmila Pawar


Ever since she woke up early in the morning, Indira’s mouth clanked like a wristful of bangles. She kept spurting anger at Gaurya. She beat him. Shouted at him. Angrily she asked him, “But why? Why don’t you want me to go to the market to sell mangoes, unh? Tell me, what happened?” But Gaurya had no other words. Puffing up with anger and swallowing his tears, he kept repeating the same sentence, “You don’t go to the market … ”

Indira was infuriated by that statement. Every now and then she pounced on him, slapped him, and shouted at him. And Gaurya’s father, lying in a drunken stupor through this clamour, woke up and snarled at them. “Arre your mother’s …. ! You sons of whores, shut up! Bastards, won’t even let me sleep … ”

“What happened? What is Gaurya saying?” Some woman stuck her head in and asked. In reply, Indira abused Gaurya, “May the brat’s tongue burn, he’s become quite heedless, the wretch … ”

Like this, some time went by … there was peace and quiet. Suddenly Indira sprang up again and said, “Arre, don’t go to the market, you say. Then what will you eat? Ashes? See your damned father, lying there on his back like a haer snake. Does he have any shame …? Now you too are after my life? Fire burn your tongues, all of you …”She began to shout once more. “Hunh, this loud voice is heard only in the house. In front of the customers, her mouth stays shut,” Gaurya angrily muttered to himself.

As she fiddled with the pieces of bran and flour bhakri, Indira glared at Gaurya. He too stared back at her from the corner where he sat, swollen like a ghonas snake. His eyes were red from crying, his body still convulsed with sobs, his nostrils flared as he sniffled continuously.

Indira had no time to comfort or caress Gaurya, and explain things to him. She had to gather the mangoes and be on her way to the market before dawn. The previous night itself she had pulled down the straw where the mangoes had been stored, and sorted them out – good mangoes in a large basket and the overripe ones, those eaten by squirrels and the spoilt ones, in a small basket. She was going to make Gaurya carry the small basket of discarded mangoes on his head, and get some small fish for it in the fish market. But Gaurya had been harping on this “No, no” since the night and did not stop even after being beaten, so Indira’s temper had risen.