As days passed, Ganesh’s looking at Madhurani through the window kept increasing. When he went to the window even Madhurani looked at him from the other side and responded with a smile. His visits to her shop also became more frequent. Earlier he used to go to the shop on the pretext of buying something. But now days he went to the shop on the pretexts of even such minor things as using a nut-cracker for breaking nuts, needle and thread, a string. With a smile Madhurani gave him whatever he needed and while giving it, without fail, she touched him, maybe gently, with her soft hand. Slowly Ganesh began to gather courage. He also kept looking for an opportunity to touch her. Now days Ganesh’s day never ended without Madhurani’s touch and without getting drenched in her ardent looks. He took it as an interesting pastime in that otherwise dull and monotonous village. And what could she also do, with her young age and with her husband dead?
One day she let him into the secret of her special language.
“Ifre lofravefra youfru… see if you can make out anything? She said.
“Nothing… it sounds like the South Indian language Telugu,” he said trying to concentrate on making out its meaning.
“Its very simple .. just remove all the ’fre’ ‘fru’ ‘fri’ ‘fra’ from it, finished.”
“Is it that simple?” he exclaimed.
“Now tell me again … what you had told me,” Ganesh asked.
“Ifre lofravefra youfru …” she repeated the sentence.
“I..love.. what there after, tell me once again and tell me a bit slowly,” Ganesh said trying to make out the sentence.
“I love you.. meaning.. I love you .. is it right?”
“Yes, perfectly correct..”
Ganesh had known that she had said that sentence.. but he got its meaning a little late. When he understood its meaning his face turned red”
“My, my, look, how you are blushing… why do you blush..I just gave you an example” Madhurani said.
“Its so simple.. but even when it is so simple why don’t others understand it,” Ganesh said trying to get rid of his blush.
“Because, it has another secret.. this language is to be spoken very fast.. otherwise it can be understood by anyone who listens it..”
“Yes, what you say is correct,” he said.
One evening wholly tired Ganesh was lying down to take rest. That day he had visited a nearby village. There was no bus going to that village. Sarpanch had made arrangement for a bullock cart. But Ganesh was not used to travelling in a cart. Bumping all through, every part of his body was now aching. Luckily during the journey there were two persons along with him. One was Baban, who went around villages repairing motors, pumps and fans and the other was a ‘madcap’. What his name was no one knew but as he behaved strangely everyone called him madcap. During the journey Ganesh had a nice time chatting with Baban. There was, of course, no question of chatting with the madcap. But every now and then they tried to make fun of him. As he lay down in his room, relaxing, Ganesh remembered an interesting conversation and a smile broke out on his face. The three of them were sitting at the back of the cart and the driver, sitting in the front, was driving the cart. Hay was spread out at the back to reduce the impact of the bumps. It also made for the feed for the bullocks on the way.
“Because of these bumps the entire nuts and bolts of a person would become loose,” Baban said recovering from a bump as the cart went over a stone. Being a mechanic he had used a vocabulary common to his field of work.
Ganesh pointed at the madcap and said, “The bolts and nuts of this mad cap are already loose. How much more can they become more loose?”
Appreciating this comment Baban had laughed aloud. Ganesh, lying on the bed, came out of his reverie. He heard some commotion outside. Continuing to lie down, he turned on one side and looked out of the window. Outside it had become quite dark. Must have been seven-thirty or eight. He tried to make out what the commotion was about.
“Bo bo …Ben..ben..” a man’s harsh voice came in.
“Oh …eh… na.. na..” a woman’s sharp voice followed it.
Ganesh tried to turn on the other side and go back to sleep. Those unrelated sounds kept coming in. As if some one was quarrelling. In between suddenly Madhurani’s loud laughter floated in. Now, Ganesh sat up. He was curious to find out what was going on. He got up, put on his clothes and came out of the room.
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote