It must be about seven in the evening. Madhurani was sitting leisurely in an armchair in the balcony. Just then one of her workers came and stood near her.
“What is it?” she asked without turning to him.
“Madam, someone has come… he is insisting on seeing you.” The worker said.
“The visiting hours are over… and at this time I don’t meet anyone…” Madhurani said.
“But he is not leaving… he is arguing… and he is quarreling… he also came almost near to exchanging blows…I am sorry. But…he is continuously shouting and saying, “I want to meet Madhi… I want to meet Madhi..” the worker said.
“Madhi… the word caused her heart to skip a beat suddenly.
Only one person used to call her by that name. But that was long, very long ago. When she had just stepped into her youth.
Her past began to unreel in front of her mind’s eyes.
Noticing that Madhurani had got immersed in her own thoughts and assuming that Madhurani would not meet anyone now, the worker began to move away. He reached the stairs to go down when he heard Madhurani’s voice from behind.
The worker stopped.
Send him up…” Madhurani instructed..
“Yes,” the worker said and he began to hurriedly go down the staircase
After a while Madhurani again heard someone coming. She faced the direction from where they were expected and waited for the person to come in. Moments later she sensed that the person had come and stood close to her. Her whole body tingled with anticipation.
“Madhi…” she heard his voice.
The same voice… the same ardentness.
She turned and looked. Her first and also, her last love was standing in front of her. His name was Shankar. But the years had taking their toll. Now he too had changed a lot. He seemed to have gone down in health. Perhaps he had become tired of standing for such a long time so he sat down on a chair.
“Shankar…” Madhurani whispered his name. And scenes from the past began to unreel before her mind’s eyes.
She recollected her first, tender love. The scene in which she had told Shankar that she was made pregnant by him….
Subsequently he disappeared from the village for months together. Still she continued to wait for him with mad hope.
Then she recollected the scene when her father learnt of this. He had caught her by her hair and beat her mercilessly….
The father somehow managed to arrange money and took her to the city and got her aborted……
Even after abortion there was a scandal among the people… then she recollected scenes of relatives taunting her at every possible opportunity….
Her father tried hard and managed to fix her marriage to a shopkeeper and got her married…
On the first night…. Her nuptial night…it took place in total darkness…. In the morning light she discovered that the person with whom she had spent the night wasn’t her husband, He was the village Patil.
Subsequently, there were several incidents of Patil coming and spending nights with her. ….
Her husband never touched her. Because, he did not have the permission to do so.
….And then the incident when she made her husband her first male honey bee.
The incident when she tempted her husband with her youth and forced to have sex with her….
And at that very moment Patil had arrived. As the husband was at the peak of mating he did not care for Patil. Patil was shouting at him. But the husband was in no mood to pay any heed. Next, the incident of Patil picking up a metal crusher kept in the room and hitting him until he died.
Later, Patil threw her husband’s dead body on the road far from the village and gave evidence voluntarily that the husband was drunk and in that state had come under the wheels of a jeep. And finally, the incident wherein Patil went scot free.
The entire past so far guarded carefully in Madhurani’s heart now began to unreel before her eyes.
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote