Sixth instalment of my attempt at translation into English of poignant Hindi short story by Munshi Prem Chand, titled , ‘Maa’.
Trying to make him realise his folly, Karuna said to her son, ” You should be ashamed. Why do you look so surly still ?”
Prakash – “Why do I need to be ashamed ? Why does she have to come to us to beg at all? Do we have things aplenty to dole out free ?”
Karuna- “If you did not wish to give, you could have told that to her plainly so. ”
Prakash- “How else will she learn not to beg? ”
Karuna- “I am sure you need a proper thrashing.”
Prakash – ” Thrash me? But why ? There are other countries where If some one begs, he will be put behind the bars, rather than encouraged to go on begging.”
Karuna-” How can the weak and handicapped work?”
Prakash-” Let her go and drown herself. Why live wretchedly like this at all?”
Karuna was flabbergasted. She gave the old lady some flour and lentils and sent her away, but the insolence of Prakash pinched her heart. Where did he learn this arrogance, this rudeness? All through the night she was plagued by this thought again and again ?
Around midnight, Prakash suddenly awoke from his slumber. The lantern was glowing. His found his mother sitting still, shedding tears. He sat up on his bed and asked, ” Mom, awake still ?”
Karuna turned her face aside and replied,” I am not sleepy. Why did you get up? Are you thirsty?”
Prakash said,” No mom, I woke up suddenly, I know not why?”, and added, ” I am sorry , mom, I was very wrong to have behaved that way today.”
Karuna looked at him with affection.
Prakash, ” Mom, I was naughty with the old woman. Please excuse me. I will not behave like this again.”. And he began to weep.
Karuna hugged him and kissed his cheeks ,” Are you saying this to please me, or are you truly penitent?”
Tears rolled down his cheeks,” Mom, I am truly sorry for what I did today. If the old lady comes again I will give her a lot of money.”
Karuna was overjoyed. It looked to her as though Aditya stood before them and was blessing his child and exhorting her not be apprehensive about the boy . She felt he was reassuring her that the boy would bring kudos to his diseased father and further that all her wishes would be fulfilled.