Today there was an excitement in the entire village. Today was the dumb young man’s marriage. The dumb youth’s father and uncle had taken pains and found another prospective bride for him. The girl was from a poor family from the neighbouring village. So what if the bridegroom was dumb? The girl would live comfortably because of the dumb youth’s vegetable farm. The girl’s father’s condition was so poor that he didn’t even have the capacity to perform the marriage. That is why the dumb youth’s father had agreed to bear the entire expenditure of getting the marriage performed. And the marriage was to be held in the groom’s place. The dumb youth was under strict vigilance. He was not at all permitted to meet the dumb girl. The father of the dumb girl also had her almost shut in a room.
The marriage was to be held at eleven in the morning. But right from morning several people from the bride’s side began to arrive in bullock carts. As they were from the bride’s side they were not looked after with great enthusiasm. The arrangement for their stay was made in the school on top of the hill.
The villagers strutted about wearing new clothes as if the marriage was from their own homes. Whenever a marriage was held in the village Bhika took care of the tent and the loud-speaker. Kisen was responsible for serving meals. They had teams of their own people. Patil and Sarpanch were always ready to guide people from time to time. Beside hair cutting, shaving and arranging for massage the barber was also responsible for distributing invitations and applying tika on the forehead of the people. For all these works no payments were needed to be made. Barber received one or two payali grains every year for attending to these works and in return for the work done during the marriage function new clothes were given to him and to the members of his family. During the marriage function, hisr entire family worked hard as if it was a marriage in his own homes. Their meals etcetera was taken care of at the venue of the marriage.
It was ten O’Clock. The crowd at the marriage hall reached a further peak. To add to it was the sound of the band and the music blared by the loud speakers. All these made the atmosphere evocative. Ganesh had received the invitation in the morning itself. Ganesh put on freshly ironed clothes and he stepped out locking his room. Due to sheer habit he glanced at Madhurani’s shop. The shop was closed. He then glanced at her house. The house was open. Just then he saw the servant from the shop and Madhurani’s father-in-law walking out of the home. Perhaps they both were going towards the marriage hall. Until they went away Ganesh lingered near his room. The door of Madhurani’s house was still open. It indicated that Madhurani was still at home. A gust of thoughts arose in Ganesh’s mind….
Almost all people of the village were going towards the marriage hall and Madhurani was alone in her house.
It means this provided a good opportunity.
As it is, from several days, a secret thought was going around in his mind and perhaps also in her mind.
He would never again get privacy and opportunity to open his heart. Ganesh’s feet began to automatically trace steps towards Madhurani’s home. While going he recollected her enchanting touch. He recollected her ardent look that held an invitation. And the naughty smile that always lingered on her face.
He was going, as such…
But after going there he wouldn’t be put to shame, would he?
It was better to plan out the whole thing.
As he walked towards her home he slowly began to decide the details in his mind.
In between he glanced here and there.
Was anyone noticing him?
Otherwise, he would gain nothing except a bad name.
Good, no one was in sight.
But it would not be nice to just walk in.
He must also find out some excuse.
As it is, because of being busy in marriage arrangement the Sarpanch’s servant had not filled water in his room.
During this hot summer, under the scorching sun, the excuse of needing water to drink would be easily convincing.
As it is, the hot weather had made him feel thirsty. Now his throat turned more dry. Partly because of the heat and partly because of his thoughts. He reached and stood in front of Madhurani’s door. He once again looked all around.
Was anyone observing him?
There was no one around.
Sound from the loudspeaker and the band from the marriage pendal was reaching him. The sound filled Ganesh with a new enthusiasm and vigor. His breathing became quick. His heart also began to beat loudly.
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote