Ganesh woke up late in the morning. It was two days since Ganesh had arrived here. He looked through narrow slit of his eyes. A ray of sun had sneaked in through the window. Sounds of people going about outside also were coming in. At night Ganesh was unable to sleep for a long time. Yesterday night, too, he faced the same problem. The whole night he kept remembering Madhurani’s intense looks. He got up and hurriedly went to the window. From the window he had a glimpse of Madhurani sitting at the cash counter and felt calmed. She was not looking his way. She was busy in her work.
“What is this that is happening to me?”
Ganesh fell to thinking.
Never before had such a thing happened to him.
Such great attraction for a woman!
This was no good.
Maybe, separation from wife was making him thus.
But what separation?
I have come here hardly two days back.
But it is possible. .. It is likely that we begin to miss our beloved person only after being away from her.
He took slow steps towards his bag. But his mind refused to move away from the open window. With heavy steps he went to his bag and opened it. He removed articles kept on the top and plunged his hand right up to the bottom. He took out the family photo of his wife and son from the bottom. For a long time he kept staring into it.
With such an attractive wife, why should my mind get disturbed?
No. I must control my mind…
He took a firm decision.
Ganesh was taking his bath. He was feeling a little better after taking that firm decision. But he must stick to his decision. While taking bath a thought flashed in his mind.
The entire magic is in Madhurani’s ardent eyes.
What if I avoided looking into her eyes? …
Then, it would be possible to stick to the firm decision.
Not just possible, he must somehow firmly stick to the decision.
Ganesh who, till then was taking bath leisurely, now was in a hurry to finish it. After bath I must go to her shop. Any way he had to buy a few things for his house. He decided that he must go to her shop. Buy the things needed. Perhaps, if she talked to him, he should also talk to her. But come what may he should avoid meeting her eyes. Yes, it is now decided.
Finishing bath, Ganesh quickly put on clothes. He took down a cloth bag hanging from the hook on the wall and began to trace quick steps towards Madhurani’s shop. However, one thought could not but enter his mind.
Why this hurry?
Why this inexplicable pull? An explicable desire to look at her and an inexplicable desire to avoid her eyes, too. Everything seemed so strange.
Holding the empty cloth bag and determinedly trying to avoid her eyes, Ganesh stood before Madhurani’s cash counter. He gave the empty cloth-bag to the servant. “Yes, Sir … what is it that you want?,” Madhurani looking deep into Ganesh’s eyes and asked.
Avoiding looking back into her eyes he began to look over her head and said, “Here is the list.” He handed the list to Madhurani.
“Sir … you must be the first customer who is coming to my shop with a list,” she took the list and looked into it on both the sides.
Then returning the list to him she said, “Why don’t you read it aloud? It’s the same if I read it or you.”
He took back the list and began reading aloud.
“Lux-one’ Rin-one, tea leaves-a pack of a hundred and quarter grams, sugar-one kilo, incense-one pack .. give one having a nice aroma.”
The servant began to quickly take out things he needed.
“A little slow, Sir... Let him take out things, one by one. Otherwise there will be confusion like the other day,” Madhurani said smiling sweetly. Looking at the row of her teeth gleaming like pearls Ganesh also smiled. However, at the same time he tried hard to avoid her eyes.
The servant stuffed all things in the cloth-bag and gave the bag to Ganesh. Just then Sada came there. Ganesh ignored him. He had not forgotten his abuses of the other day. On his own, Sada went to Ganesh.
“Namaskar Ganeshrao,” Sada greeted him politely.
Ganesh ignored Sada. There was a difference of earth and Heaven between his behaviour today and his behaviour of the other night. That is why Ganesh could not decide how to treat this person. Ganesh picked up his bag and got ready to leave.
“Give it here, Sir. I will carry it,” Sada said taking the bag from Ganesh’s hand.
“No.. Let it be… “ Ganesh said almost snatching the bag from Sada’s hand.
Madhurani began to laugh heartily.
When Ganesh started to leave for his room, Madhurani said –
“ Whefrenfra woufruldfra youfru coframefra afragaifrenfra?”
“What? What did you say?” Ganesh turned and asked but without looking into her eyes.
“Nothing. .. Seems I’ll have to teach you this language,” Madhurani said oozing sweetness.
Listening to the sweetness of her talk Ganesh was tempted to look at her. But no, better to avoid it.
Seeing that cupid’s arrows sent through her eyes were having no affect, the enemy seemed to have used another weapon…
With great difficulty Ganesh controlled himself and ignoring Sada walked back to his room.
After reaching home with the purchases, Ganesh first shut the door. He looked through the window and saw that Sada had gone away. His attention went to Madhurani. She was busy in her work at the cash counter. Moving away from window Ganesh placed the cloth bag in a corner. Took out a cigarette pack from the upper pocket of his shirt. Taking out a cigarette he lit it with a match from the match box. He now began to draw long puffs. He was happy that in the shop not once did he meet Madhurani’s eyes. The disturbance of his mind also seemed to have lessened. He was victoriously glad that he had made all the cupid arrows shot from her eyes ineffective.
(to be contd,)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote