MADRAS: CHAPTER TWO
“Have you packed” his mother whispered standing limply near the door of the dimly lit room.
Chandru was ready. He would take the cart or a riksha to the railway station and go to Madras to meet the Colonel!
There had been nothing but wails and moans from the house for the past week. To the people around, it was but yet another happening, very commonplace death. All the rites and rituals had been carried out and now, there was nothing left, but to prepare and bid farewell to the next head of the family.
Janani’s state was the most woeful! The poor child who had never before known sadness or death had felt it’s bitter sting and the smart had transformed her childish nature to one of fear and anxiety! She did not cry out loud, not rave in her grief like her mother or even the other neighbours as is the Tamizh tradition to rave at funerals. Though she had always seen very little of her father, she had been fond of him, pampered by him and been the apple of his eye. Whenever he’d come home, he would buy her all she asked, spent so much time with her, sat her on his lap and told stories and she’d been utterly fond of him for he’d never had reason to even once chide her and she could not believe that he was never coming back again.
Worse still was the way the people spoke to her, “You must behave like a big girl now, be responsible and economic. You must take on the household duties and learn it from your mother, if your mother dies too, who will take care of your brother”.
Such words to an eleven year old child severed from her mother’s sympathy for she had enough on her mind does things. In seven days, her life was no longer carefree and sweet as it used to be, but stricken with terror and pain.
The pension had come through, whereas, the salary had been Rs. 500 before, now, they had to make do with Rs. 200. That meant a complete change in their lifestyle.
It was four ‘0’ clock, early dawn and Chandru slung the cloth bag over his shoulders and his mother came outside the house, leaning against the gate. He was a man now and emotional display was a sign of weakness, so he gave a stern nod though his heart broke inside, he’d not even seen Janani before he left and started on his way.