Fiction by Sudripta Tagore (Ditu)
A story in a nondescript tea stall at Santiniketan
By Sudripta Tagore (Ditu)
Went to the bank for some work and met this close friend. As true Bengalis the work got postponed and we both landed up in a nearby tea stall. As we sipped on our miniature pots of tea and lighted up, it was time to catch up……gossip. Though a small town, there was enough masala to ‘catch up’. After the standard, who is doing what exchanges, my friend started, ‘Shon tobe boli…….’
“In my neighbourhood, there was this couple. They had got married a few years back. The maid’s version was that they had met in college, fell in love and decided to marry. The guy worked as a lecturer in a nearby college. Done well in life, own house (with a loan of course), motorbike and all. I had seen the wife off and on in the market, stunning beauty. Yet there was one thing that caught my attention – summer, winter, she always wore shoes covering her feet. Quite unusual for our weather. Other than her daily chores, she wouldn’t socialise. The couple kept to themselves, their movement was restricted to the next house, the elder brother of the man living with his family and elderly parents. The couple had seen seven years of married life.
The story trickled out though the maids’ network. The man would leave the house early morning for college and come back in the evening, so the lady would usually be alone during the day. It seems one day she felt dizzy and collapsed in her house. Her in-laws living next door rushed her to the nearest gynaecologist, after all seven years were enough time to get the ‘good news’.
The doctor came out from the check up with a quizzical look and declared that she (I’ll stick to the pronoun) was incapable of bearing a child. She was a Hijra (eunuch).
A month or so later the man filed for a divorce in the local court. The judge also had a quizzical look on his face while pronouncing the judgement. He ordained that after marriage as the man had lived with her (I don’t know what pronoun he used) for seven years before taking the decision of separating, he is liable to pay a hefty compensation as in this case she is the victim.
The maid’s version is that the man did pay the compensation.
Nobody heard about the wife thereafter. The house where they lived is always locked and the garden has overgrown due to long disuse, nobody lives there now.”
The tea in the pot had grown cold. I lit up once again as the cigarette had ashed out on its own between my fingers.