The Untouchable At Narbada Ghats – II

Written By

Mamata Kolte

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Years later, Rani’s father died of cancer.

It was the coldest winter she had ever seen. But, being the eldest sibling, she had to be responsible. People kept visiting her house; relatives, friends, neighbors, people from the village, local neighbors and many more whom she did not even recognize. Like a robot, she would place glasses filled with water and tea on the trays and keep walking to the living room and back to the kitchen. All of them spoke less about the well being of the family and more about the family property. Everyone had their eyes on the huge property. This irritated Rani, who was in no hope of finding any sympathetic ear, of finding anyone who could just sit and listen to their tears instead of inquiring about the property. To her horror, almost everyone had eligible bachelors for her. They asked her about her degrees and then talked about the qualities of their boys. “You must now get your girls married off quickly,” everyone said to her grieving mother. Some even inquired about the dowry the family gave off at their eldest daughter’s marriage. Everyone was trying hard to convince her mother to consider their proposal.

Her father was a known man. He was a homeopathy doctor and cured many for free. He also owned huge properties at the village. Their Haveli was the biggest in the village; huge fields surrounded one side of it where mangoes were grown. This was just one small piece of land which they owned.

One day the village Sarpanch came to visit the grieving family. The Sarpanch was an elderly man in his sixties and belonged to a lower caste, an untouchable. Rani did not know about this.

As her routine, she filled the steel glass with water and poured tea in the china mugs. But, before she could take it out her aunt came in and said,” Girl, why are you not using the paper glasses which are remaining after the teravi? Then we will not have to wash so many glasses. Isn’t it?” She then pulled a plastic bag from behind the fridge and replaced the china and steel glasses with the paper ones.

The aunt went back to her mother and Rani took the tray to the Sarpanch and got ready for another irritating inquiry about property and her degrees. “He is the Sarpanch. He must have a longer list of bachelors than anyone else,” she thought.

The Sarpanch waved his hand conveying her to keep the tray on the table at the front. He then asked, “Child, how are you?” Rani looked at this strange man and tilted her neck conveying ‘fine’.

He then asked, “How is your mother dear? Is she fine? Do not hesitate to ask anything ever if you need anything from me,” he said. “And, don’t worry about anything back in the village. I’ll take care of everything. I won’t let anything happen. Your dad was a good man. We have had a great loss. I pray that he rest in peace and his family finds some strength after him.” Rani watched stunned.

He then held her hand and made her sit. “Speak, child. Do you need anything?” Suddenly, Rani started crying loudly leaning forward on her thighs. Her aunts came running from inside. The man then pulled her and held her hands tightly till she calmed down. “It’s okay, dear. The times are hard. But, don’t worry. I am with you. Your mother is not in a state of mind to talk to anyone. The responsibility is on you. Pay attention to your studies. Be strong. Cry all you want to today.” Rani kept sobbing. Her aunts were uneasy.

The tea in the paper glass was untouched and got cold. Rani stood up and started moving to the kitchen to make some more tea but her aunt came rushing after her and shouted. “You stupid girl, go to the bathroom and have a bath first and then only go to the kitchen. Don’t you understand why we gave paper glass to this man?”

Rani understood. She went to the bathroom, locked the door, splashed some water on the floor but nothing on her and came out in changed clothes. She did not want the warmth to leave her so early. The cold tea in the paper glass was lying as is. The untouchable man was gone. One of the aunts shouted from the bedroom, “Someone please boil the tea and bring it to me. He has not touched it.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mamata is an energetic, optimistic person who believes that anyone can do anything if one wants to. She loves to travel, write poems, watch movies, cook, garden and sing. Mamata follows her heart in anything that she does and thus can not do any thing just for the sake of doing it.

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