Ganeshrao came out of the room. He was still nurturing gratitude towards Madhurani.
The inner carpet was even softer than the outside one….
Walking on it was just like walking on clouds.
From the carpets and from the furniture arranged in the bungalow Ganesh became aware of Madhurani’s prosperity. Ganeshrao envied her and, at the same time, was also proud of her.
Truly Madhurani had made an amazing progress in a short span of time.
However she may have behaved with him, he had to appreciate her achievement.
Just then opening the front door a tall, well built person wearing white starched clothes like a leader came in.
Surely, he was the same Madhukarrao whom he had seen outside.
Madhukarrao began to walk past Ganeshrao. Ganeshrao looked at him. But maybe he had not noticed Ganeshrao or had knowingly ignored him.
What the person outside had said about him did not seem wrong….
He seemed a person especially close to Madhurani. He opened the door of Madhurani’s room and straight away walked in.
Yes, indeed, he was a very special person….
Otherwise how would he dare to straight away walk into the room…. Ganeshrao was walking towards the front door. Suddenly he stopped as if someone had braked him.
Oh my, he had totally forgotten to tell her about Vinya’s job..
Now what must he do?..,,,
He had not yet left the place.…
He must go back and tell her…
Otherwise, if he went out from here
He would again have to wait for the whole day in the hall.
And Vinya would create a scene when he reached home.
Ganeshrao quickly turned back. He went and stood outside Madhurani’s closed door.
Should he go in or wait for a while?...
He must hold the door slightly ajar and peep in…
Ganeshrao pushed the door slightly ajar. But seeing the scene inside he was left stunned. The man Madhukarrao, who had entered just then, was sitting close to Madhurani and was playing with the locks that fell on her face.
Ganeshrao quickly shut the door that he was holding ajar. But the door, instead of closing fully, continued to remain ajar. Something must have stuck in the door. Puzzled Ganeshrao stood rooted. He was still able to see the inside scene and also heard Madhurani’s and the man’s talk clearly.
“Honey … here..” Madhukarrao held a paper and an ink pad in front of her..
‘What is this….
“You have lost trust in me, is it… will I ever deceive you… these are the sale-deed papers of the factory…”
“It is not like that…Sonya…” she said, pinching his cheek.
Ganeshrao felt his hands and legs trembling.
No… no… it would not be proper for him to stay on….
What if they noticed him?..
But his legs refused to move on.
Madhurani pressed her left thumb on the ink pad held before her by Madhukarrao and pressed it on a paper that he held before her.
Ganeshrao was unable to believe. He had spent such a long time in her company but it was only today that he was learning that she was totally illiterate.
Goodness..Madhurani could hide certain things so cleverly…
“Patil’s demands have increased now days…” Madhurani said to Madhukarrao.
“Perhaps he has learnt about us…” Madhukarrao said laughing and winking.
“Let him learn… I am not afraid of him… And am I his paid keep… You must do something about him quickly otherwise he would be a headache for us..”
“Don’t worry about it… I have already made arrangements…”
“The issue has gone from bad to worse… something has to be done in a day or two…”
“Why a day or two… he will not see tomorrow’s sunrise..
“Good Boy…” Madhurani once again pinched him on his cheek.
“This is your bold manliness that has held me mesmerised… do you know?…” she said looking proudly at him.
“And do you know what is it about you that is holding me mesmerised…”
Madhurani smiled with her naughty looks and looked into his eyes.
“It is the way you look…”
By now Ganeshrao had recovered a little. He turned and began to back out from the place.
“Who is it?” Madhurani’s voice followed him.
Ganeshrao stopped as if suddenly braked. His heart began to beat fast.
What should he do?...
He turned back and came near Madhurani’s room. The door was still left ajar. He pushed it and entered. He was surprised at himself.
When necessary he could gather enough courage.
“It is me..” Ganeshrao said hesitantly going inside.
Madhurani and Madhukarrao had moved along and were sitting a little away from each other. Madhukarrao was trying to read the paper in his hand while Madhurani had once again worn the same impish look and sweet smile on her face.
“..Yes.. did you forget something?” she asked naively.
Perhaps Madhurani was trying to read the expressions off Ganeshrao’s face.
Trying to hide his expressions Ganeshrao said, “I forgot to tell you about my son’s job”
“Is that so? Well come and sit here..” she asked Ganeshrao to sit.
She looked at Madhukarrao who sat next to her. Don’t know what exchanges took place between them but Madhukarrao got up and went away from there.
Madhurani still sat reclining on the sofa.
“Ganesh… come here and sit…” Madhurani asked him to come and sit beside her on the sofa.
Like a key-toy Ganeshrao got up and sat next to her trying to keep as much distance between them as possible.
Nowdays it is not like before… my health is not permitting it” Madhurani said.
Ganeshrao did not say anything.
“Just see my pulse…” she held out her hand to him and said, “I am suffering from BP.”
With trembling hand Ganeshrao took her hand in his and began to read her pulse.
Madhurani’s palm was as soft as ever. He had not forgotten the touch of her palms.
“What has your son studied…”
“He has done his commerce…”
“Only one son?”
“Only one son… it is good.. I never knew it…”
Ganeshrao was trying to count her pulse. But Madhurani was interrupting him with her talk. As such he had to begin all over again.
“Has he applied anywhere?”
“Yes.. there is a post in the Municipality… Clerk’s.. he has applied for it…”
“His name and for what post he has applied.. write everything down” Madhurani said pulling her hand away from Ganeshrao’s.”
“I have already brought it…” Ganeshrao said taking out a paper from his pocket.
“Give it to my secretary” Madhurani said walking towards the phone.
Ganesh got up to take her leave.
Madhurani pressed a button and spoke into the phone “connect me to Narayanrao”
She replaced the receiver on the cradle.
“I’ll take leave, then…” Ganeshrao said.
Madhurani came near Ganeshrao and taking his hand into her’s said, “Keep coming….now and then… just to remind me of the bygone days…”
“Yes… I will..” Ganesh muttered.
“As a person moves ahead he realises the value of the past happenings… but nothing can be done…all those things would have left by now… During such times only past memories remain to give company” Madhurani said suddenly turning philosophical.
She let go of Ganeshrao’s hand. Ganeshrao turned and began to walk to the door. She walked with him till the door.
“Alright..” Ganeshrao, walking out of the door, smiled at her and said.
She merely shook her head and smiled and the door was closed.
(To be contd..)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote