Ch. 30 – Corfmerf sorfonrf
When Ganesh came to Madhurani’s shop he saw that there already was a considerable crowd. Since the previous day’s meeting lots of things were churning in Ganesh’s mind. He wanted to reveal them to her and feel lightened. But seeing the crowd it did not seem possible to do it then. Ganesh peeped through the crowd and glanced at Madhurani. She looked back at him and with a typical gesture gave him an enchanting smile.
“Please try to understand me … How can I attend to you when all these people are waiting”… this could be the meaning of her gesture.
Unable to control himself, Ganesh began to pace up and down before her shop. After going up and down a couple of times he thought..
It won’t look nice to pace up and down here…
Someone might read unnecessary meaning into it…
He looked at Madhurani through the crowd and gestured her saying that he would come a little later. She permitted him with her eyes to do so.
He turned to go to his room when he heard Madhurani’s voice, “ cofra ..mefra… sofru..onfra….. Ifra… wifrillfra befri wafreitifringfra…”
He stopped as if someone had suddenly applied a brake.
This was Madhurani’s code language.
What did she say?
Umm.. yes.. we have to remove all fris from it.
He began in his mind the process of removing all fris from her sentence. What does then remain?
Co..me..so..on…I.. wi..ll.. be.. wai…ting..
Hmm, come soon I will be waiting.
So, she was telling this to me.
But cleverly she said this as if she was talking to someone else in the shop.
Ganesh turned and looked at her. She was looking at him and smiling. Giving the same ardent look. The same mesmerising expression. Her looks seemed like that of a lover calling her beloved. Ganesh also looked at her. He returned her smile and started for his room.
On the way he saw the dumb girl carrying a mug of water and going towards private area meant for women. He looked around. He could not find the dumb young man. But saw people giving the girl vile looks. Someone had told him that the dumb young man was held captive in a room and was carefully guarded. That’s why even the dumb girl was looking sad. He returned to his room with heavy steps.
A knock on the door startled Ganesh.
Who could it be?
Some time back he was lying on his bed thinking about Madhurani. He never knew when he drifted into sleep. He got up and looked out of the window. It had become dark outside. His glance fell on Madhurani’s shop. There were no customers there. And there also was no one at the cash counter. Even Madhurani wasn’t there.
Is it Madhurani who knocked his door?
He sprang up at this thought. He hurriedly opened the door giving a broad smile. But at the door it wasn’t Madhurani. It was Sarajabai..
But where could Madhurani have gone leaving the cash counter unattended?
Sarjabai was carrying his evening meal served in a plate covered by her pullo. When he had nowhere else to go for meals it was Sarjabai’s responsibility to take care of his meals. She did not expect anything from him in return. Initially he had now and then tried to offer her some money. But she never accepted it.. He did not feel comfortable receiving meals from her without making payment. Her weak economic condition made him feel guilty. He found a midway out. Now and then he purchased and sent provisions to her house. Occasionally from the city he also brought for her gifts like a nine yard sari.
As was her practice, without a word Sarajabai placed the plate of meals inside and covered it. She also carried away the morning’s plate in which he had had his food.
Ganesh came out and began to look for Madhurani. At the end of the lane, in a dark corner he saw Madhurani talking softly to a woman wearing a nine yard sari. They were discussing something in low voices. The woman was holding an empty mug in her hand indicating that she had returned from the private area and was now freely having a chat.
As soon as Ganesh saw them and the woman met his eyes, she wound up her talk and, in a voice loud enough for Ganesh to listen, said “My man has said that we would now take him to a Doctor in the taluka-city.”
And she moved away. “I’ll tell you the rest after returning from there,” she said while going away.
After she went away, Madhurani saw Ganesh and going towards her shop she asked, “Had you come earlier?”
Ganesh turned back and closed the door of his room and started for her shop.
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote