|Wild Flower 3|
It was so
apparent. With an effort of the will, Angoori had stopped the tears in
her eyes and had put a tremulous laugh on her lips. I dont
know how to sing.
Oh, its just a counting of the seasons. It is cold for four months, hot for four months and for four months it rains... Not like this. Why dont you sing it? Angoori was counting the seasons as though she must account for the twelve months of the year.
mahine raaja thandi hovat hai
stared at me with vacant eyes. I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder
and ask, Dear girl, have you gone and tasted the wild flower?
I did put my hand on her shoulder, but I said, Have you had any
Food? Angoori asked strangely. I felt her body tremble under my hand. It was as though the song she had just sung with its trembling of the clouds in the rains, the trembling of the summer wind and the trembling of the heart in winter, the very song was trembling through her body.
that Angoori used to cook her own food while Parbhati ate in the masters
house. I asked her again, Have you cooked anything today?
Ram Tara was the chowkidar of our colony. We all contributed to his salary. He walked the streets all night and would be very tired in the morning. I recalled that until Angoori came to live here, he would drop in at one house or the other for a cup of tea. Then he would put his cot by the well and sleep through the day. After Angoori came, he started buying a little milk every day from the milkman. Angoori would put a pot of tea on her chulah and she, Parbhati and Ram Tara would sit around it, sipping their tea.
I also remembered that Ram Tara had not been around for three days. He was on leave he had gone to his village.
laugh came to my lips and I asked her, Angoori! You havent
had tea for three days!
Have you not eaten anything? She couldnt speak again. But it was apparent that even if she had, it amounted to nothing.
Ram Tara. A quick grace, soft features and eyes that smiled shyly. He
also spoke very well.
Tears started flowing down her face, soaking her cheeks and then her lips. Even the words which escaped her mouth were wet, I swear I never took a sweet from his hands. Nor a paan. Only tea... was it mixed in the tea...? Angoori could speak no further. Her voice was drowned in her tears.
Translated from the Punjabi by Nirupama Dutt for TLM
|Amrita Pritam is one of the pioneering woman writers of contemporary India. Her poetry in Punjabi won her the Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi awards, among others. She lives in Delhi and edits Nagmani, a literary magazine in Punjabi|