Five O Clock-continued
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
From the previous page
“Thank God, you have kept your word!”- Smiling Charles pushed a leather case towards her-“Only a few clothes have been bought, but never trust man’s efficiency in this field”- laughed; They moved towards the train. My, how tactfully Charles dealt with the porters! Sure, he was the executive type, and gifted with a knowledge of the way to success; With him lay a life full of love and happiness. . . . . .a life full of excitement………Sound of the first bell woke her from her daydreams.
“Get in”-Charles opened the door. A foot was placed on the board –a look was shed around in silent reminiscences.; The clock opposite showed fifteen minutes to five.
Padmini could hear the tinkling of the school-bell at five, patter of running feet of little figures homewards. . . . . . .home, where their mothers awaited to receive them with outstretched arms. . . . . .but, what about her Prithvi? Never had he found her absent.
Padmini could imagine the inexpressible disappointed bewildered look in his innocent eyes. . . . . Will he get over that? Would he forget her? Of course!
Pain clutched her heart. . . . . .She could not take it . . . . . . . .
Undoubtedly he would ask for her often, but wasn’t it too much to expect his young mind to keep a permanent remembrance of her? Raghu. . . . still in his youth, could not be expected to abhor remarriage. . . . . .would that wife love her Prithvi?
“Surely not!”- not!”—Padmini bit her lips-“What reason was there for another woman to protect and shower affection on another’s child ? Usual step-motherly treatment, and……and also preventing the father from loving his child!
With panic Padmini pictured her darling son’ silent-lonely suffering. . . .
. . . but. . . “- She thought again-“My Prithvi is such a lovely and good-natured boy, that there is a possibility of the step-mother taking a fancy to him;
But even then… . . .even then. . . . . .how could it help her--the real mother? His young mind might be thought to think ill of her; Maybe would be thought to think of her with contempt !This act of hers may make him bitter towards life by leaving a deep impression on his young mind .
Pain reached the core of her heart; She must instantly put a stop to all that before it was too late!
Turning round, whispered –“I am going home” .
Charles staggered with uncontrollable astonishment. “Going home?”-He repeated with bewilderment-“But why! Why?”
“It is time for my son to return from school; I can’t bear to be absent then."
Charles tried to stop her by a firm clasp-“Don’t act like a lunatic Padmini;
Compose yourself; It is too late for retreat”’
A surging flood of emotion outran Padmini’s power to express her feelings.
“I just can’t do it,Charles. Please proceed alone”
She had walked out of the platform before he could make another move!
“Quick! quick!”- The cab-driver was assailed with insistent instructions.; “Oh God!”- She prayed as the shrill cry of the departing train pierced her ears- “ Don’t let it happen again. . . Let me be there before five-o-clock” .
It seemed like ages when at last the sweet home was reached.
“Good thing you returned soon mama”-The maidservant exclaimed-“I was finding it hard to console Prithvibaba”
“Mummy! Where had you been? How could you forget me?”The boy demanded.
“To the station to bid goodbye to a dear friend. . . but five-o-clock reminded me of you, my sweet. . . ." She whispered,clutching him to her bosom. The End