The room was dimly lit and it was plugged with stream of smoke emancipating from a small fireplace that was stuffed with some wet wooden laths. A woman had positioned herself near the fireplace and was struggling hard to make the fire but the wet planks would hardly give in. She was constantly coughing and gagging lost in between the jet of smoke. Sometimes, she would try to coerce away the smoke flapping her hands and sometimes she would use the towel hung on her shoulder to do so; in-between the reiterating action she would give a short glance at her daughter each time with her swollen eyes filled with tears. Even her daughter would give a meek look at her in anticipation that her empty stomach would soon have its fill.
She struggled hard and finally when the damp wooden planks started to give in for heat and fire, she placed an old utensil on fire with some rice in it and moved towards her small daughter whom she loved more than anyone in the world. “Mother, today at school the principal summoned me to his office and ordered me not to appear in school tomorrow if I failed to pay all the dues.” She consoled her daughter, “Don’t worry sweetheart, we shall both go to the school tomorrow and settle the dues, Harka Dai will arrive soon with money”. “Mother, even my school dress is worn to shreds, so please get me a new one”. “Off course darling, we shall both make to the market tomorrow for your new dress”, she told her daughter. “By the way, did you finish your home-work? I want you to study hard and be someone worth respect”. “Yes, mother I have already finished it, I am very hungry right now.” She beamed with satisfaction that she is at least able to fund her daughter’s education and comforted her daughter, “Pretty soon, the food is getting ready.”
Just then the downpour started again. The pitter patter on the rooftop made it clear and loud that the monsoon was on its full swing. The heavy shower was trying hard to enter her small rented room. As the rain started to gather momentum, her face started growing dark as she well knew the untoward consequences that lied ahead. In fact most of the corrugated iron roof had been feed upon by rust, thus allowing the rain drops to slither inside without any major hurdle. Slowly the rain drops danced on her fireplace, hence blowing off the fire before the food was ready to be eaten. Both the mother and her little daughter looked at each other in sheer silence and embarrassment cursing their ill fate.
Harka Dai (brother) made just in time. He placed his umbrella by the door side, wiped off the water from his face and turned towards the daughter, “Hey little angel, how are you”. The little figure tucked her face inside her mother’s shawl and spoke nothing. Harka Dai felt his pocket, took out a chunk of sum and handed it to the woman. “Count it, our work at the old building is over and this is all your wages. It’s six thousand and from tomorrow we are going to start at the new building, so be on time. I have to go now.” She was busy totting up her hard earned sum and with a grin of hope on her face, she told Harka dai to have a cup of tea. But Harka dai denied stating that he had some important work to finish. Harka dai grabbed hold of the umbrella and off he went in the rain.
Since the food was only half cooked and the fireplace was taken over by the rain, she thought of getting some kerosene for the stove. She even considered for some tasty curry and told her daughter to wait for her, while she make to the market and get the essentials.
Just as she was going to step out of her room, a man in around 35, fully drunk and slashed by rain appeared before her. Though he was just 29, the alcohol had taken huge toll on his health, thus making him appear older than his actual age. He looked frail and fragile with over consumption of alcohol. Even his breathe oozed off the smell of fresh local brewed whiskey. “I know Harke just made it here, so he must have paid you. Give me that sum; I need it to quench my thirst.” But she refused and answered that her daughter had eaten nothing since two days and there is hardly anything left in the room. “I am your husband and you need to obey me and satiate my thirst or you shall get my kick.” But she resisted with the amount. Furious at the resistance of his wife, he got hold of the dripping wooden log from the fireplace and started thrashing her till she bled.
From the corner of a room, her daughter was keeping an eye on every move of her parents. The small one was shaking with fear and dislike, she had cached within her against her father. She was struggling to hide herself in between the small wooden table and a cot to escape ogling the brutality against her mother.
The woman tried to retaliate back, but in vain. At last he snatched the sum, and moved out of the room again somewhere in the dark.
The room was filled with utter silence for a while, and then it was shaken by a frantic wailing and sobbing. The small daughter ran to her mother. She tried to soothe her mother with her small fingers and a mellow voice. She looked at her daughter, caressed her for a while and stared frenziedly at the wall with nothing in her mind. Many a times, she had thought of committing suicide, but the angelic face of her daughter would always hold her back.
This was more than enough. She had been following this routine from seven long years. There was hardly any optimism left in her. She packed some of her clothes, clutched her daughter, mopped away her glistening tears and left the room parting away with every appalling memory that had bounded her. The rain was still on top while a small figure briskly moved ahead and vanished away in the dark with fresh hope, little fate and blissful dreams.