It was Friday today. It was already five days since Ganesh had come to this village. In the morning, after bath, he began to hurriedly pack his bag. There was an excitement in his movement. Today he was to go to the taluqa to his home. The very thought of returning home and meeting wife and son thrilled him. Another reason for his happiness was that during the past three days he was wholly successful in reining his mind that was getting distracted because of Madhurani. During the last three days there were several occasions when he had come across Madhurani. But not even once, even by mistake, had he met Madhurani’s gaze. He was deservedly proud of this achievement. He was also realising that the disturbed condition of his mind that he had experienced for the past three days had now subsided.
Ganesh was almost ready when there was a knock on the door. He opened the door. A villager who had tied a cloth round his head was standing there. He had worn a dhoti and a cloth vest. Ganesh gave him a questioning look.
“Malak, has sent me to carry the luggage,” the villager said.
“yes sir,” he confirmed.
Ganesh made way for him and the villager stepped in. Ganesh pointed to the bag kept in a corner and said, “That’s the only one … You carry it and go ahead .. I’ll follow you.”
He untied the cloth from his head, rolled it into a flat round and placed it on his head. Next, he lifted the bag and kept it on the rounded cloth. Carrying the bag he began to step out of the door. “Take care .. your head,” Ganesh cautioned.
He bent a little and stepped out. Looking at him carrying the bag on his head, Ganesh shut the door.
Ganesh came out and locked the door. A whole lot of excitement was radiating from his face and from each of his movement. Let me have a fine smoke before going to the bus-stand, he thought. He locked the room and went to Madhurani’s shop. By now he had almost got used to avoiding Madhurani’s gaze.
“One Bristol,” he said placing a one-rupee coin on the wooden box that was kept before Madhurani.
Today, Madhurani did not speak to him. Earlier, every time she had freely talked to Ganesh.
Ganesh felt uneasy.
Did I go wrong somewhere?
Then, why didn’t she talk?
Is she angry with me?
Or is she sad that I am going home?”
No, nothing of this sort.
I am just trying to jump to conclusions.
Is it necessary that she should always talk?
Perhaps, today she is in no mood to talk.
I am forcing things on her.
He tried to brush off his thoughts. Madhurani silently took a packet of Bristol kept on the rack behind her and taking a cigarette out of it placed in Ganesh’s hand. Suddenly Ganesh gave her a startled look. Ganesh’s hand felt something more than the cigarette. While handing the cigarette Madhurani had gently pressed Ganehs’s hand. Or was it unintentional? To find out, he had given her a startled look. A luscious, mesmerising, mysterious, and certainly meaningful smile had spread on her face. Ganesh had once again got entangled in her intensely ardent look. His determination of not looking into her eyes had already crumbled. He began to sweat. Confused, he took the cigarette and began to walk to the bus stand. He was finding it difficult to take even a few steps. His mind was suggesting him to cancel visiting home. But no, Sarpanch’s servant had already carried his luggage to the bus stand. If he were to cancel his trip now, it would have unnecessarily given rise to doubts. With heavy steps he walked till the corner. At the corner, though he tried a lot to control himself, he could not avoid turning and giving a look to Madhurani. She, too, was looking at him invitingly. In her gaze was the sorrow of separation and also an invisible power of attraction. Even when she was out of sight he felt as if she was coming along with him. Yes, giving him company – stealthily stealing a corner in his heart.
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote