(Continued from Part I)…
households with an hour’s shift each on all days, except Sundays. And here also she advertised
herself for the marriage and other ceremonies and the death rituals as a full time worker. On such
occasions she would receive a large sum for the whole day’s work which worked as a bonus for her.
Thus in a year’s time, she was able to earn a good income which made her life fuller. Soon in a
couple of years, she was able to convert her kutcha house (a house of bamboo or weed plastered with mud and roofed with thatch) to a masonry one and also bought a
scooty to enable for her easier transportation.
Although in this way Laahorie had been living happily, she had been harbouring a feeling
which she had experienced after her brush with Bonko. It was her experience of that incident, not
arising from disgust or frustration but, from the forced enjoyment she had experienced. From time
to time, that incident would come to her mind like a reverie and give her some amount of pleasure.
And it began to recur somewhat frequently after she began working as a maid in her nearby town. And although she felt
shy, she admitted, she found a type of pleasure recalling that incident. After making for herself a
career in this way, she began receiving marriage proposals from boys of her and the nearby villages.
But she had refused them to save her occupation and, to give her mother company. But
mentally she longed for that type of pleasure again, if possible, even on the sly. And after
her venture to the town, she found it-from the demand of the men folk and, her intention to supply
that demand for her sensual gratification. She recalled, she had not noticed it at first, nor had any
intentions to. But as stated earlier, her pleasurable reminiscence of the forced incident of her
girlhood paved the way. Soon she understood the gestures and symbols of the male members of the
households where she worked, and also on the big occasions (like marriage parties etc). And so within a
year, she was making extra bucks every Sunday as a pleasure woman in the town. This went on
every month and showed an increase in her clientele. In course of time she used this dual income to
buy a pension plan for her mother from an insurance company to provide for a monthly income for
her. During this phase she was also initiated to hard drinks which she really liked, to drown her pain
and tiredness and, to get a feeling of ‘mental levitation’. In this way she experienced a full and
comfortable life. Her survival, her duty towards her mother and her carnal-gratifications–all met
Time does not wait for anyone and in Laahorie’s case also time slipped past her for building the
embankment of her life. Working and earning in this way, she soon found herself crossing two scores
of years. Earlier, in spite of her mother’s rebukes and entreaties, she did not marry. Now, she
searched tooth and nail to find a husband- nay, a life companion-to pass the rest of her life. But alas! For a
woman with greying hair or wrinkled skin, a life companion is hard to find. Dejected, she began to
visit the Naamghar, the ubiquitous place of worship in every village and town in this part of India.
But here also she could not find any company for, the womenfolk remained aloof from her due to
her habit of drinks. Frustrated at being rejected everywhere, she again began working as a part time
maid. But now she found that the people avoided her during the marriages, parties and death rituals
where the work was long, the payment good and youthful vigour was very much preferred. And her
sagging skin was also noticed by the amorous men folk who did not seek her now. Slowly, with the
changing work scenario although working as a part time maid she saw her income dwindling,
With no other options however, she carried on in this way. Then another shock came; her
mother and the only living member in her family died. It was in a way the greatest shock of her life.
She had no one to talk to now. She became lonely, dejected and moody. So she began to drink more
heavily in order to pass her time joyfully. But her increasing age could not cope with these bouts of
strong drinks. Her constitution began to fall. She saw herself becoming ill often. This made her stop
working as a maid in the town. She began to struggle to pass the rest of her life anyhow till death
brings an end to her sufferings.
But she did not die although she had seen villagers like Bonko pass away in front of her. She was in desperate need of money-to treat herself and also, to supply her want of hard drinks. But she has
no income apart from the pension fund which she inherited as a nominee from her mother. And no
one now-a-days comes to her home to ask about her condition for, most of her peers are dead and
gone and she has no family of her own.
And so when she reclines on her armchair in this way and reminiscences her life, she becomes
dejected and sorrowful. What a waste it seemed!
# previously published as a short story in the book, ‘the grandee of gorokhiah gaon and other stories’.