Kamla got up early in the morning, swept the floors of three rooms, front yard and back yard, finished her daily routines and sat on the bench in the front verandah waiting for Ramesh and his family to arrive.
Ramesh, her son, was working as a manager in a spinning mill in Kolkata, and was staying there with his wife Seema and two children. He had left the village about ten years back for earning more, and better career prospect.
Kamla, a widow, was staying alone in her house in the village. As she was growing old, she wanted her son to come back to the village. They were not financially weak, and hence she appealed her son to come with his family and stay back. The whole family could live comfortably in the village. But Ramesh was not willing to come back. After much persuasion, he put a thought in his mind.
Ten days back, Ramesh telephoned her and told her that he was coming to the village with his children and they all would discuss the future action. She was hopeful that they would decide to come back to the village.
At about 9 O’clock in the morning, an auto-rickshaw reached her gate. Ramesh came out and proceeded towards the verandah.
“Where are Seema and the children?” asked Kamla as he touched her feet.
“They couldn’t come because of some necessities there,” said he.
“Ok, come in. Finish your daily routines and in the meantime, I will prepare breakfast for you,” she said.
They came inside the house. Ramesh finished his routines and had the breakfast. The mother and the son enquired each other’s well-being.
After lunch, Kamla asked Ramesh about his plan to come back to village forever.
“Mama, we have decided to take you to Kolkata, so that you will stay with us. Children are studying in a good school. Tuition fee is high. Seema has taken up a job there. It may be difficult to come to village often in future, and you are growing old too,” said Ramesh.
Sky shattered and fell down on her head. “For how many days have you come?” Kamla asked.
“I will go day after tomorrow. You pack up your baggage. I will take you with me,” answered Ramesh.
“What about this house?” Kamla asked in surprise.
“We will sell it or, at least, let it out to some person so that we will get some rent,” Ramesh answered quickly.
Kamla lost her control. She lost ground under her feet. Silently, she walked away from the room. Ramesh followed her, but she went up to her bed and sobbed. Tears rolled down her eyes.
She remained silent for next two days. After failing to persuade her, on the third day, Ramesh touched her feet and started moving towards the gate. Kamla looked at him with teary eyes.
She heard “Ekla chalo re…” song coming from the radio of a neighbor.
Kishor Kumar Mishra