“Shyam…”, shouted Meena, detangling the old Diwali rice lights, which she had saved from last year to decorate her little verandah.
“Aaja thoda idhar, madad kar de mujhe light lagane vaaste, Diwali pe bhi koi itna padhai karta hai ka!!!”
Shyam, her 8 year old son, closed his book and looked up. Meena was having a hard time arranging the string of lights. He knew, many of the small LEDs won’t work. But buying a new set is not possible for people like them.
“Maai..”, he came up to her.
“Wo subah kaun log aaye the? sab kitne gore chitte log the!! nahi? ka poochtaach kar rahe the tujhse?”, asked Shyam, connecting the broken strings by twisting the naked wires together.
“Sab firangi the, dusre kisi desh se aaye hain, kuch En Jiii…..haan En Jiiii O bata rahe the. Koi sangstha, bol rahe the tujhe kisi ache angreji iskool mein dakhil karwaenge, hostel mein rakhenge tujhe. Maine kaha, soch ke bataenge”.
“Ka bharosa unlogo ka?”, Shyam asked in unsure voice.
“Bharosa!”, Meena took a deep breath and sat down on the floor, her back against the mud wall of the thatched house she shared with her son.
Bharosa… “Trust” a fragile word, has proved to be a dangerous liaison in her life. Her father, the last person she did trust ever. Her eyes moistened remembering forlornly.
“Ae Maai.., ka soch rahi hai?”
Meena came back to herself, “Ka bole registered hai..Mujhe toh bura kuch laga nahi. Wo Ganga bata rahi thi, uske bete ka bhi aise hi hua tha..aaj wo padh likh raha hai ache se koi kaalej mein. Kal Patil Saab aayenge toh puchenge thoda jaanch partal kar lene ke liye.”. She wiped her eyes while loking away from Shyam.
“Tu bhejna chahti hai mujhe apne se duur Maai, itna pareshan karta hoon main tujhe ka? Thoda sa bhi pyaar nahi karti mujhe?”, said Shyam, plugging in the wire to the power point.
Meena pulled him close, “Are bawle, tu hi toh mere jeevan ka ek lautaa marad hai jisse maine pyar kiya, apne dil se lagaya, tujhe ek dafa naa dekhu toh dil ro uthta hai mera, aur shayad tu hi rahega…wo kya bolte hai angreji mein..mai Maan”. She caressed his hair lovingly.
And then a distant voice punched her ear drums, all soaked in disgust and filth. “Meena….ohhh Meenaa…Shanti Baai bula rahi hai re tujhe bohot der se….Jaldi aa saali, Seth ji aa gaye hai!!”.
Shyam stood up and switched on the lights. Out of all the colours, the red lights illuminated her eyes and reflected on her face in an unusual way, making her more beautiful, bold and buoyant.
They say, Red is a colour of Love, Passion, Desire…but for Meena it only means bloody nights, full of lust and misery.
Who knows, when this Red will leave her!
Will it ever leave her at all?
Author ~ Soumik Sarkar
Raw Cover Image: Boston.com
Cover Image Design: Anari Minds