Waiting | Waiting S Story by Menonimus
Half-past eleven at night. After the whole busy day, all have taken rest in bed, only a woman about thirty is stirring in her bed. A kerosene lantern is burning with flickering light. She inclines just at her right side and pushes her right hand under her head and after a few seconds only she turns to her left side and puts her left hand under her head. She tries to go to sleep. But in no way she can go to sleep. The lantern is consuming kerosene. Beside her, there are lying three children. They are in deep sleep. The season is winter. The month is December. The cool is cutting like a knife. But hot sweat is coming out of her forehead. Time is passing on. The nearby church clock strikes twelve. She gets up from her bed of quilt. She comes out of the door silently and goes up to the gate. She stands up still and looks up to the end of the long road as far as her eyes can reach. It is midnight. All the city buses have taken rest to their respective garages. Only some taxis and Maruti cars are running straight to their destination. The electric bulbs are shedding their silver light. Suddenly she happens to see that a man is coming towards her crossing the over-bridge. She looks at her eagerly and spontaneously a ray of hope rises in her heart and then she says to herself, “That man maybe he.” She looks at his hands and shoulders and tries to observe him. “Oh! no, the man is not he,” she sighs. Already the man crosses her and goes away taking the left turning off the road. She looks at the sky. No star is seen. She keeps her palms of hand on her breast and goes back to her room. Already the kerosene lantern has been put out. She, in the dark, goes to her weary bed and closes her eyes. “O God! grant me sleep,” – saying so she upholds her two hands and prays to God for sleep. But sleep is far away from her. She wants to forget the world- its belongings, its sorrows, and joys. But he cannot. The same memory has been striking her heart. ”No, I want not to remind of him tonight. I wish to forget him”, she says to herself. But as much as she tries to forget him so much the memory comes to her mind and eyes. She spreads her right hand and manipulates the heads of her children. “It is Rajen”, she says, ‘when the event happened he was five years old.” The second child who is sleeping on her left is Suresh. He was then three years old and the third child Arisha was in her womb- she remembers. She shakes her head and tries her best to go to sleep. She shuts her eyes, but the scene of that particular day appears vividly in her mind. Like all the bygone days she remembers that day from one point to another. She remembers……… and then she tries to come to the probable cause of that event. She thinks about whether he has become the victim of any terrorist or whether he has been abducted or whether he has gone away to get rid of the burden of the family or whether he is killed by an enemy. She goes on to think but hardly can she arrive at any definite solution.
Suddenly a long ‘oki’ strikes her ears. Without any difficulty, she thinks that the oki might be of the Rajdhani Express. “Oh, had he come on that train!”- She thinks. Already the night is about to come to an end. The dawn is near. The eastern sky is about to turn red with the far-off sun which would rise up soon. She again tries to shake off her thoughts from her head and wishes to go to sleep. She falls into drowsiness but all at once a loud but feeble voice calls her, “O sister, Nilima, Nilima.” She without delay gets up from her bed and opens the door.
“O! Arju, you….! Where have you come from?”- She asks.
“From Lucknow, U. P.”, Arju replies.
She seemed to be very tired of her child of about nine years. She has carried on a trunk and a long holdall with her.
Arju is Nilima’s far-off sister. Her husband and Nilima’s husband were close friends. Where Nilima with her children has been staying was once Arju’s home. Her husband Devashis was a rickshaw driver. After their marriage, Devashis with his family left his home in Guwahati for Lucknow in search of better luck. Since then Nilima with her family has been living in that cottage.
Nilima has already prepared tea for the newcomers. Arju having her face and hand washed sits on the floor on a tool. Suddenly Nilima asks Arju, “Where is your husband?
Arju making a spontaneous sigh says, “ I have left him in Lucknow forever in eternal sleep.”
“Has he died?”- Nilima asks with wonder.
“Yes”, Arju replies and goes on to say, “Therein Lucknow we had been living well. He got a job in a mill and had been earning well. Thereafter spending four years, he got attacked by black fever and died. I cried a lot. There we made some friends and after my husband’s death, I along with this child took shelter in a Bihari family. The head of the family Mr. Devrao became my patron. But he had an evil intention and one night he seduced me. With shame and hatred, I left that home instantly and became a beggar. I begged from door to door and thus I earned my livelihood. I found none to assist me in coming back to Assam. After much struggle, I happened to procure some money for my train fare and now after eight years, I have come back to Assam.
Already the tea has been prepared and Nilima serves Arju and her child with two pieces of bread. Arju lifting up the cup asks Nilima, “O, where are your husband?”
Nilima looking at her face begins to say:
That was an autumn morning. Usually, as I used to do, I got up at six o’clock in the morning. He also got up as soon as the sun rose. Washing off my hand and face I prepared tea and had drunk together with him. After that, I performed my morning household duties and he had his long pants patched. I hurried to prepare food for him by it is 8 o’clock. But that day it was ten minutes late in preparing our food and bread which he usually carried with him to the shop for dinner. Suddenly, I heard him call me and said, “Nilima I am going to the shop. The hour is running. Haven’t you yet got my food prepared?”
“Please wait ten minutes”, I replied. And after some time, I gave him his food. He ate and said, “You have used much onion in lentils.” I said nothing. I wrapped up two pieces of bread in paper and gave them to his hand. He took up and walked on to the shop. But while he got to the outer gate, I called him back and said, “Bring a slate for Papi.” He nodded and walked fast to the shop.
Every day he came back home after 9 o’clock in the evening. But that day nine crossed and then it became ten, then eleven. He did not come back. I remain to await him. But as the hours were passing away, I became weary of waiting. Every night I took my food with him. One by one it became midnight. But I found no return of him. I went to the gate and threw my eyes as far as I could see. But I saw no shadow of him, only two or three Maruti were running on swiftly. I went to my bed but no sleep came to my eyes.
Once the hours of the night passed on to an end and the sun rose up in the east. But he had not returned. I thought he might go to his fellow shopkeeper’s house and would return by 8 o’clock in the morning. But the hours of my wish have gone over and he did not return. Then I sent a fellow boy to the shop. He went and returned with no hope.
The day passed. The next day came and passed. I became mad at uncertainty. What might happen to him! Where might he go?
Such a week, two weeks, three weeks, and weeks ended in months. And the months to a year and such seven years have passed and till this day he has not returned.
And since then I have been waiting for him.
Arju notices that the eyes of Nilima have turned red as a pair of cheery as if her eyes have had no sleep for a century. 0 0 0
N.B. The short story ‘Waiting | Waiting S. Story by Menonimus’ originally belongs to the book ‘The Fugitive Father and Other Stories‘ by Menonim Menonimus.
Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:
- Advertisement Writing
- Amplification Writing
- Note Making
- Paragraph Writing
- Notice Writing
- Passage Comprehension
- The Art of Poster Writing
- The Art of Letter Writing
- Report Writing
- Story Writing
- Substance Writing
- School Essays Part-I
- School Essays Part-II
- School English Grammar Part-I
- School English Grammar Part-II..
Books of S. Story by M. Menonimus:
- Indian English Short Story in English
- Short Stories with the Theme of Love
- The 12 Best Short Stories Ever Written
- Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant
- The Best Short Stories of the 21st Century
- The Greatest Short Stories of Anton Chekhov
- Short Stories by O’Henry
- The Greatest Short Stories of Leo Tolstoy ..