A new family arrived to revive the dead house at the heart of Koothattukulam. The sight of TATA 407 model truck loaded with a few boxes and furniture caught the attention of residents. Some of them gathered around the dead house to see the new residents. A tall, fair and slim woman with a large bindi on her forehead got out of the truck. She then helped two cute little boys to get out the truck. After paying the driver, she looked at the residents. They were curious and began to ask about her details and she replied, “My name is Sindhu and these are my sons, Adarsh and Abhilash. We are from Nehru Nagar, Mumbai. My husband, Latheesh, is a mason and he will arrive here next month as he is busy with his works.” After knowing all the basic details, the residents welcomed her to their area and left.
Days passed by and Sindhu and her children acclimated with the new surrounding. Adarsh and Abhilash were the new faces of 6th and 8th class respectively. Sindhu got a job as a maid at the same school and she worked hard to make both ends meet. Every day she visits the nearby Devi temple and prays for her family’s well-being. On certain days, she used to fast for her loving husband. Her home was the only home in that area without “basic facilities” like TV, washing machine etc and yet she never complained about anything. Everyone respected Sindhu for her ideal qualities and eagerly wished to meet her husband, the luckiest man they had ever seen. Sindhu loves to cook and despite her struggle to earn money, she never hesitated to share food with others. She won the hearts of her neighbours by sharing delicious dishes with them. Rice payasam and Paneer Jalebi were her masterpiece dishes. The residential area had never seen such a generous, vivacious and elegant woman before.
Few months passed by and feminists in the area disliked the virtues shown by Sindhu in modern times. A few jealous married men started to mentally juxtapose their wives with Sindhu and got disappointed as they were no match for Sindhu in looks or character. There were rumours that Sindhu’s husband must have left her as there was no sign of him. Sindhu neglected such rumours and moved on happily.
The rumours didn’t last for long as her loving husband arrived at night. Neighbours peeked through the window to see him but couldn’t see him properly. That night they pondered about him and waited. In the morning, Mathai, the president of the residents association, was the first one to meet Sindhu’s husband. Then came more and more residents to meet Latheesh. Latheesh didn’t look like what they had imagined. The residents imagined a tall and fair man but what they saw was a short and dark man with a long beard and red eyes. Everyone couldn’t see any appreciable quality in him. Some of them murmured, “Mason? More like an angry bison.”
One fine evening, I saw Adarsh and Abhilash rushing towards their home after school. As they were my local cricket team members, I enquired with them about their recent absence from playing. They said nothing and Adarsh was hiding something in his shirt’s pocket. I thought it was new ben10 stickers and snatched it quickly. I was shocked to see that it wasn’t any cute sticker pack but a packet of gutka (chewing tobacco).
I was enraged and said, “I am going to inform your mom and dad about this. Do you have any idea how dangerous is this? Are you guys desperate to have oral cancer?”
The boys cried, “Please don’t inform anyone. This is for our father. He lost his job in Mumbai and he came here for a job. He is sad and he will hurt us if we don’t buy him this gutka,” and showed their wounded hands.
I was upset by this and I promised them that I won’t inform anyone. I felt their sorrow and walked with them for a few distances. I watched them nearing their home and saw their mom, Sindhu, painstakingly washing clothes by beating the clothes on a stone. On seeing me from a distance, she smiled at me and I smiled back.
Her husband was reading the evening newspaper and yelling, “Coffeeeeeeee.”
She replied, “I am washing clothes. Please wait for a 5min.”
He went to the kitchen and then went near her. He was hiding something while approaching near Sindhu. A loud sound of hitting was heard. Sindhu groaned in pain and tried her best to control the pain. Latheesh stood behind her revealing the wooden rolling pin(used to make chapati) in his right hand. Latheesh yelled, “When I say I want coffee, you better make me a coffee Bitch.” She tried to hide her tears and replied, “Please forgive me” and rushed towards the kitchen.
That day I realized that her life was a hidden river of tears that never flowed to the vast ocean of freedom.
For more stories: