An article about this novel in an international journal - The Criterion
‘What for has he gone, to fetch the notes of P-1, or for something else?’, Priya was thinking about Vijay, sitting in the open space outside his home, since a lot of time had passed away after he went.
Suddenly, Priya sensed somebody standing behind her. She turned back and was startled instantly, so much so that, feeling afraid she was about to scream for seeing a 21-22 years old insane girl with hairs freely flowing from her head, was holding Priya’s chair looking straight at her and was mysteriously smiling at Priya. Right at the same moment, Vijay came out of his home holding the notes in his hand, and finding Priya completely afraid, he laughed at her and said, ‘This is my elder sister Shalini’.
Feeling relieved, Priya offered her greetings to Shalini by saying, ‘Namaskar’ to Shalini but she did not respond and went away inside the home.
Priya slowly sat down on the chair and Vijay too occupied a chair in front of her and explained, ‘ She is suffering from, you know, some psychiatric ailment’.
‘I can understand it!. I am sorry!’, Priya replied.
‘You need not feel sorry about it! We are very much habituated of it by now’, Vijay replied while giving the notes to her.
Priya flipped through the pages of those notes and spontaneously said, ‘Your handwriting is really very beautiful’.
‘Even you have been endowed with one beautiful gift’, Vijay responded.
‘What is that?’, Priya curiously asked.
‘Your teeth are marvelous’, Vijay explained.
‘Is it?’, Priya blushed with all pink colour being spread on her face with eyes looking down.
‘Thanks that you came to my home, at least under the pretext of notes. I am delighted’, Vijay said.
Priya felt confused what to say on this.
‘No! Usually no one comes to us!’, Vijay said further probably because of his insane sister.
Priya sat there in silence for few moments and then got up to leave. She then assured, ‘I will definitely return your notes within two days. Precisely within two days!’.
‘I know you will!. Not an issue at all!’, Vijay too got up and came as a courtesy to drop her up to the gate.
Right at the same moment one man, in his late fifties, entered the wooden gate holding his old bicycle. His face was full of sweat, unshaven as he was, and his clothes too were crumpled. Besides all of these discourteous looks, when he came and stood near Priya, she was bitterly irritated since his mouth smelled disgustingly foul with liquor.
‘Who is this drunkard man? And where is he going here in decent family’s house?’, she thought, ‘probably he must have entered by mistake’.
Priya thought like this and glanced at Vijay but he was standing calmly.
That man gave an unrecognizing glance to Priya and pulled out a pack of cigarettes of some utterly cheap brand. After opening it when he realized that it was empty, he annoyingly threw it in some corner of that open space outside Vijay’s house and pulled out a Rs. 50/- currency note from his pocket and order to Vijay, ‘Go and get one pack of cigarettes!’.
Priya thought that Vijay might react against that discourteous behaviour but on the contrary he calmly inserted that money in his pocket. That drunken man, in turn, moved ahead and disappeared toward the backyard of Vijay’s house to keep the bicycle he was holding. Vijay glanced at Priya’s confused face and explained, ‘He is my father!’.
Failing to comprehend what to say on this, Priya brought her bicycle out of the gate and said to Vijay, ‘Bye for now!’. While she was ready to move ahead Vijay stood there to bid a farewell to her and responded equally.
For a long time Vijay continued standing there in the gate looking at Priya till the time she moved away from his sight.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Girish Katre (GirishKatre@gmail.com)