The Grandee of Gorokhiah Gaon (short story) part II

(Continued from part I)…

Nivaa. I’ve brought her to our house”. “For what?” asked Mrs. Damodar in a plain tone, suppressing
her anger? “You see, I have married her” told Damodar Junior. “In that case, you have to put her in
another house. I have no place for married people in our house” replied Mrs. Damodar.

Damodar got that right! When she saw the vermilion markings on the girl’s forehead, she realized
that everything is finished. Come evening, when this girl’s whereabouts will be unavailable to her
family, then the police will be informed and search parties sent over here and there and,
everywhere. If the girl’s forehead and scalp would have been bare then the incident could have been
turned into an accident. But now, things are different. And she also knew what Damodar senior will
do. The pair had been silent all this while. Then the boy asked, “But where will we go? I thought we
have a home”, he said naively. Mrs. Damodar replied, “You really had a home. It was your home; it
isn’t your girl-wife’s home. For her you have to find one. And without waiting for me physically to
push both of you out, you two get out as soon as you can”. Saying thus she came inside and shut the
door after her.
The young lovers were embarrassed. They, specially the boy, had not anticipated this. They
could never say clearly what they had anticipated against their stupidity; but truly not such hardness
or harshness and to speak truly, banishment and to be shelter-less. They did not know what to do.
The boy hurriedly threw his bag in a chair on the verandah and came out of the gate by which time
the girl was already out. They did not know where to go. Hurriedly they only came out and began
walking on the village street. Walking along the village street in a gloomy mental-ity with his new
wife by his side, he remembered something like everybody else who remembers things important
but hidden in the mind, when hard pressed in circumstances.

In the communal prayer hall of this Gorokhiah Gaon (village), the Dangoriah at this moment
was loitering in his verandah with his hands clasped to his back when a stray thought came to his
mind. Queer that such thoughts should come to one’s mind in so unusual moments and at
inopportune times, he thought. He was puzzled as to why thoughts of the four guest rooms inside
the compound of the prayer-hall was coming to his mind with its image, as he sees it from the
sanctum-sanctorum. Also, the last time guests had stayed in those rooms (that was nearly six
months ago) were coming to his mind. He did not know beforehand that someone may come to live
in one of the guest rooms under ‘straitened’ circumstances. Back in the village street, in his moment
of misfortune arising from uncontrolled emotions, Damodar Junior remembered the guest rooms of
the village Naamghar and the kind face of the caretaker. He recalled having heard from others in his
village how the caretaker had helped people in distress with his advice and also through his friends
who were plenty. He saw some hope in that personage.

As the caretaker, with back-clasped hands was strolling in his verandah with such random
thoughts, out of the corner of his eye he perceived two young people in what he guessed as school
uniforms coming towards the Naamghar gate. He looked up and found saw his guess correct; they
were Damodar Junior and his young wife in their school uniforms and with a schoolbag hanging on
the shoulders of the girl. They entered the gate of the prayer-hall silently and sheepishly. Crossing
the open big hall which is used for religions dramas and performances, they shyly walked up the
small courtyard of the room of the caretaker. Then they bowed to the caretaker with folded hands
and stood downcast, anticipating a question from the caretaker. Caught unawares as the caretaker
was, he decided to end their visit as soon as he can. So he asked them:
“Sir”, replied the boy with a tone that was not very audible. “I have come to you to give us
shelter for a night in the prayer hall.”

“What do you mean ‘in the prayer hall?’?” “No one can live in the hall”, said the caretaker a

little perplexed.
“Well, I mean… if you will grant it… we can live in one of the guest rooms for the night”, said
the boy a little shamefully.
“Oh! I See”, said the caretaker. “And may I know where you will go after staying for a night
in the guest room?” He had noticed the vermilion on the forehead and scalp of the girl and had at
once presumed the cause of their visit.
The pairs were silent for a moment. Then the boy said, “I… do not know… you see we were
denied entry into our house and so thought that we could live for a night in one of your guest rooms.
We have nowhere to go and now…” he trailed off.
The caretaker had seen in his lifetime some two or three such couples who had married at a
small, innocent age and how they had toiled and exerted in their lifetimes to earn a living. Living
such a laborious life and moving from place to place like vagabonds in search of work for livelihood,
these love-pairs led a very unsettled life with little or no standard of living and, the traits imprinted
on their personalities formed from birth in good families through good upbringing, scratched
through hard toil and rugged living. But he had also seen their lives retaining that Luster and Joviality
which is found in happy couples and which hides the struggle and hardships of their lives due to the
intense love between themselves and for which, they were bound together even after banishment
from their homes. He had felt pity for them at that time and now also for this very young couple. He
marveled at their courage of how they had left their homes instead of leaving aside each other and
remarked at this power called ‘love’ which makes people do wonderful things. True, no one in the
society will do or can do anything for them but he knows that, seen from experiences, this pair will
also find their way out to maintain themselves. Like others, he also cannot do anything for them. In
fact he has no resources too to help him in this philantrophical act. Keeping them even for a night in
the Naamghar guest-room may bring objections from the villagers. Even then he hesitated to throw
them out. If only he could do something for them! Then he remembered the padre of the church of
the town and so went inside his room to have a talk with him over the phone.

“Unlike the caretaker of a Hindu temple or prayer hall, a church -father has no daily chores
of lighting lamps and reciting prayers. So the father of this town’s church, to make himself busy, has
associated himself with two Christian NGOs namely ‘The Eastern Women’s Christian Association’ and
‘The Sisters of the Virgin Mary’ which works all around the world for the good and upliftment of
women irrespective of nationality, caste, religion etc. These two associations run a hostel for
females in the town which is ‘free’ and which is unrestricted in number of days’ stay as well as in
regard to caste and creed, religion etc. These two NGO’s also run various apprentice trade courses
like sewing, embroidery, cutting and knitting, beauty parlor and massaging, handloom weaving,
candle making, soap making, desk top printing and photo making in computers etc. for girls which
are free of cost. Lately, they have included in their curriculum motor car-driving and for the
educated, nursing and medical-laboratory technician courses. They also give money for admission to
interested females who are eager to study through the distance- learning system. So, in a way,
although he had no proper, official work in the church, he busies himself by sort of supervising these
works of the NGOs which are majorly held in the hostel compound while some are organized in the
town through tie-ups with various organizations. Due to his acquaintances and interactions with
various men of high offices, of eminence, men of letters, etc. quite a number of girls have found
shelter (in this hostel) and got a chance to earn their livelihoods through him. Like all days, on this
eventful day also, he was preparing to go to the hostel to oversee the apprenticeship of the girls and
have a word or two with the warden and supervisors on his bicycle, when he got the call from the…(to be continued)

Published by indrajyoti dutt

Hi folks, I'm an ordinary guy who sells both life and general insurance to earn a living. I also have interest in writing and reading and so have opened this blog at WordPress. I hope my writings and other posts will be noticed by you and will also be commented upon to make them better and entertaining in the near future. Wishing the best to you all out there. Have a great time.

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