The penitent husband prepares to leave his young wife and infant son, for ever. Prem Chand’s Maa –3.

Here is the third instalment of my attempt at translation into English of poignant Hindi short story by Munshi Prem Chand, titled , ‘Maa’.The story is set in the pre-independence India.
Aditya looked at the child, eyes brimming with tears. Revulsion at himself,crept up from every pore of his skin.Never was he so disgusted with himself thus.If only,by God’s grace, his condition were to improve, he would never more go any where near the nationalist agitation. Having sired this child, tender like a blossom, what right had he to throw him the into the flames of deprivation and suffering ? He would, hereafter , turn into a devotee of Mammon and spend his wretched life solely for the upbringing of the child. The child appeared to be looking at him with scorn as though accusing him, ” Can you cite an iota of duty that you have discharged towards me.” His craving, his affection, his love, his entire being, impelled him to get up and hug his child but he could not even proffer his hands forward, they stayed limp , devoid of any strength.
Holding the baby, Karuna went and brought some food to him on a platter. With a famished look in his eyes, he stared at the plate. Evidently it was several days since he ate anything at all.He knew that, after having gone without food for quite a while,especially in his current state of debilitation, he needed to keep his tongue on hold and not stuff himself. But he could not contain himself and greedily emptied the plate. Karuna was astounded and worried. She did not bother to ask him whether he needed anything more, but collected the empty plate and went inside. She kept mumbling to herself,that he never cared much for food.
Just as she sat down, feeding her infant, she heard a sound, ” Karuna.”
She went to him and asked, ” Did you call me ?”
Aditya’s face seemed to grow yellow. And his breathing got shallower. He raised himself a little resting his palms on the mat. Seeing him thus, Karuna got frightened.” Let me go and get a Doctor.”, she said.
Aditya gestured to her not to leave. . He said, ” Karuna, no point keeping you in the dark any more. I have TB. I have escaped several times from the jaws of death already. I am destined to see you people , so I am alive still . Look dear, don’t weep.”
Karuna burst into tears. Suppressing her grief she repeated, ” I’ll go immediately and bring a doctor here.” Aditya nodded his head across, gesturing to her not to go, and said,” Karuna, Please sit beside me, don’t leave. There is no use for any one any more. Doctors have pronounced their sentence already. I wonder still,how I could reach here at all. I do not know which divine power has dragged me all the way here. The last glow of the lamp before it would peter out. Alas, I have wronged you immensely. This guilt will stay with me for all time. I did not do any thing at all for you. I could not provide you any happiness, any enjoyment. Having made you my wife, I gave you this child to care for and I am leaving you in the lurch forever. Oh !”
Karuna gathered herself and asked him,” Show me where you have pain. I will bring some hot water for fomenting. Why don’t you reply ?.”


About versa kay

Agile, keen, versatile,considerate,patient
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