Dry Water to Quench a Wet Fire-6
Alimelu keeps running towards her house. And stops, exhausted, for a moment and then trudges slowly towards home. No one in sight. Her two companions in the effort until a while ago, have left, gone down the other side of the hill, perhaps. She would have loved to fall off over the pebbles, and breath her last, staring at the stars high above. But , then, leaving this body, that she adores so, In the lurch, no way ! Ss is her won’t in dealing with things that she loves, she slaps her shoulder hard with her left hand, begins to trudge again forward. She is home, in about ten minutes.
The sky is getting more and more overcast. The few stars that were twinkling a while ago, too have disappeared. Scared like a fish caught in a dark snare, looking around with fear, she approaches her house. No, I shouldn’t tell mamma about the money, she gets angry. But then why? She has committed no sin. Toiled hard. Got her wages in return. Just what her mother too does for a living. She would pound the paddy for others. Sews clothes for others. Whoever in the village wishes to make a pickle, calls her for help invariably.
Where have all the people disappeared, nobody to be seen around.? The bonfire that the wretches had lighted earlier under the tree is dying out. She hollers out, just to see whether any one would respond. She cries ,”mamma, mamma.” Goes a furlong out in the darkness and calls out for her mother. The river roars back as though to taunt her, as though to give her a sharp slap on the back.
She returns home, breathless, famished, Have to cook rice, quick. Searches for the matchbox. Oh, the tin of powdered prawns. Matches should be besides this. She gets hold of the matchbox, strikes a match and lights the kerosine lamp.It flickers a while and goes off. She strikes another match and lights the lamp again and waves it this way and that. With the little oil that is there in it, it quivers dimly. Hungry, she eats a pinch of prawn powder . Sits on the edge of the rickety string cot. A mouse runs out frightening her. Above the nail on to which the lamp is hung the wall is coated with soot. A lizard struts around, there.
Alimelu closes her eyes. It looks weird to her to be thus there, utterly alone.Just her and the Lord of The Seven Hills for company, none else. To be thus,- compassionate towards herself , with full faith and confidence in herself , is in itself a strange sensation. She takes the shard of broken mirror lying over the trunk, brings the lamp near to her face, and looks at her reflection in the mirror. So adorable. Were she a guy, she would hold fast to the person in the mirror, and smooch her hard. During the last year’s funfair, mom was a dismayed witness to the flock of lechers who followed her around. When we neared the temple after wading through the crowd, lo !, that mischievous guy comes rushing forward at her and hits her hard with his body. She knows him. Sarayya, a hopeless guy. Mom warns her always, not to go near his precincts. Another time, when she was near the cow-shed, acting as if pricked by a thorn and falling forward , he grabbed her by her waist and pinched her hard here, the ruffian ! She looks at her full bosom. Does she look fat, to that fellow, Sivayya. Sivayya, that skinny, shrivelled shrimp. She smirks smugly.
The waters floods into her house with a roar…..