Distant Silhouette Chapter-7
by Tanuja Chatterjee
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Chapter 7 A Fresh Departure For Kanta
"What shall I say sir, except that my family needs me no more," recalled Kanta. "I've been turned out of the house because they have brought some one else in my place. They can't feed my extra mouth. Moreover, they say I'm useless for them." She added and breaking the dam of her pent up emotions she began to tell her tale and her pain rolled down her cheeks as tears.
"Scars are scars sir! They malign and project a tainted life. They are no badges of honour!" showing the scar on her fore head she said. Col. listened to her attentively, along with his doctor friend, and learnt that after the family got her discharged from the civil hospital, she needed care and prolonged rest; instead a vacant solitude filled with nothingness received her at home. Having drained family's wealth for her treatment and then being gifted with a daughter, was too heavy to bear for them. Everything now became her fault and she was penalized severely for that. When she wished to see her child, she was locked up and beaten by all who could lay their hands on her, irrespective of age or gender. With a badly bruised body and a battered soul, she yearned and cried for her baby but neither found space nor time to heal. She had to go up and down the steep hill with the break of dawn to fetch drinking water from the river below and then as usual had to get hey and green grass, a staple feed for their sheep. With barely any morsel in her stomach she often found the world reeling before her but somehow an illusionary scent of her baby helped her to pull through. Slowly the most basic needs of survival- her food too, became less frequent. The family had turned into a silent killer and she could bear no more. Living off water for days together, with the usual daily hard chores, drained her strength and she fainted one day on her way to fetch water. Village folks were called and she was brought home on a piggy back of a robust village youth. This. so called indecent incidence established that neither she could keep up with usual daily pace of the house hold work nor could raise a proud family of sons,due to unsound health and so they said that they had to think of an alternative and unanimously decided to get their son married again. And so they did. The new bride was indifferent towards her. Beggars can't be choosers and reconciled, and managed to maintain a very low profile.But soon the things were to change.
It was a haat day(village fair). On her husband's return from the haat, things began to look a bit brighter. Soon, she found that the family bolted themselves in one of the rooms, for some serious discussion and Kanta was deliberately left outside, alone, in the care of sheep. Next day, she saw her husband and his uncle leave the house in their best attire. It quizzed her and timidly she enquired about them from one of the older children, whom she knew to be soft hearted and was thrilled to know that they had gone to fetch her baby. Hiding her excitement she asked the reason behind their move and gathered that the child had turned the previous predictions false. She was a good omen. The village folks thought so and believed that her baby possessed some special charm which brought good fortune to which ever house she visited. So they desperately wanted the child back and that too after five years. She even over heard her father-in-law say that they would watch over the child's effect on their fortune for a little while if the girl turned out to be as useless as her mother then they would bury her alive- a common practice to sniff out life of little girls, to get rid off them for good for ever.
But they returned the next day battered and low. The heaviness of their empty hands detonated Kanta's life. She faced absolute imprisonment in her own house, imposed on her by her very own people, she loved. The circumstances lasted for two long years till that day when they pulled and dragged and threw her out of their house complaining that she had too big a mouth to be fed and all that too, without any returns. After throwing the bundle at her they slammed the door of the house at her face. She, on the other hand didn't have the strength to resist. Instead Kanta looked at the long road vacantly for a long time and then slowly began her aimless walk. It was this road which brought her at their door steps.To be continued...
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