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DR. KESHUBHAI DESAI
|Dr. Keshubhai Desai (born 3 May 1949
) is a well-known Gujarati fiction writer. He is a Medical Doctor by
profession but devotes much time to writing fiction. He has to his credit
more than 20 books including Novel, Short-stories and Essays. a few of
his novels have been translated in to Rajasthani and Hindi languages.
Keeping in view his outstanding contribution to Gujarati language &
Literature, the Gujarat Government by appointing him Chairman, Gujarati Book
He is Vice-Chairman of
Writers Club International and
that of India Inter-Continental Cultural Assocaition, Chandigarh.
Notable books : Joban-Van, Suraj Bujhavyanu Paap, Shakya,, Holashtak, Mazboori (all Novel)
Address : 13-Aishwarya-1, Plot-132 Sector 19, Gandhinagar (Gujara)
Phone : 079-23231188, Mobile : +9879543132
a short story by Dr. Keshubhai Desai
(translated from Gujarati)
Sushila was worried noticing that Ambalal was in some tension. She could not find any reason nor she dared to ask him why should he feel embarrassed.
She had not forgotten the words of her Bhabhi while going to her husband's house, "Man and serpent should never be teased, they should be allowed to go where they wish."
She remembered Bhabhi's words literally even after the lapse of many years. Though there was no reason to compare Ambalal with a serpent instead his family members used to say, "He had become quite humble rather henpecked - after marriage." He often told Sushila with a smile, "See how people envy when we two live happily."
His father had died six months ago. Being a reputed person, Ambalal had performed all death rites of his father. He had spent almost twenty thousand rupees on this account. But Ambalal was not worried. He did it to please the deceased. The deceased should not feel sorry about the fact that even a few boys were not fed after him.
His father was greatly praised in the village. Ambalal was very happy. More than Ambalal his old and feeble mother was much more satisfied. She was proud of her son. Her dim eyes were filled with tears. She prayed to God: 'Oh God ! My elder son has gone astray. The younger one is serving me but he is devoid…..'
The old woman began to sob. Ambalal was not worried about the issue. But his old mother was greatly worried about it. SushiIa had conceived, not less than five times but she had failed to deliver a child. The husband and the wife had stopped thinking about it any more. After all a mother is a mother. She had left no stone upturned, even trying by foul means; of course without letting Ambalal know of it. He had already taken his fate for granted.
"Only one son to perform death rites of his father," the old woman sobbed and went to the fence to find something supernatural in the colours of the twilight. She had no love for life. She was worried of one thing only: settlement of her daughter's son before her death, and… the elder son was of no use. He had been settled in Bombay for twenty years. Had he ever inquired of his parents after getting a job? Of course, he had come to take his share of land otherwise he had no time to inquire after the health of his parents! After his fathers death he came home but left immediately, "How can I live here when my children are alone? You know well their mother is quarrelsome. The children have to suffer a lot when their parents are both employed."
Before he could say anything further, Ambalal was melted, "You better go brother! Let mother say what she likes. After all she belongs to the old generation. She does not know the troubles of those who live in Bombay because she has not lived there. She has no experience."
The elder brother liked this much. He left for Bombay, the following morning. He went to Bombay without uttering a single word about his fathers death-rites expenditure.
The old woman was unhappy because of this. She was not worried about money. She thought that Ambalal was capable of earning a lot. But she could not grasp his elder brothers attitude.
She was not worried about the Mamera by Ambalal at the time of the marriage of her daughters son. She was sure that he was quite fortunate and able to do this easily.
She was waiting for the marriage which was not very far; perhaps it was to take place in the following Magsar or Moha.
Ambalal understood the old woman's sentiments. The elder brother did not bother about this. Only Ambalal had to do all this. Ambalal was worried about the disclosure of his real economic position. He had been worrying about this for a long time. He was suffering a set-back for quite long.
Sushila could read into his face. Once she said to him, "Why don't you approach him in Bombay?
He sometimes wished to lessen the burden of his heart by telling his trouble to others. But that was no solution. It would hurt the feelings of others. He did not want to do this. He had already hurt Sushila's feelings much. He was not so cruel of nature. He did not want to hurt her any more. So he discussed the topic no more.
Sushila also looked after her household without worrying unnecessarily. Man has to carry out responsibilities; woman should just exchange sweet words in the evening. It was her duty to do so, she would press her husband's legs. What else can she do? She cannot compare herself to a woman living in a city. Ambalal also never expected such a thing. He took care that neither his mother nor his wife should know about his problems. He did not want to hurt their feelings instead of making them happy.
Up to the age of forty-five years, Ambalal had struck to one thing: He was a man of prestige in the society, but now his honour was at stake in his own house. The old woman used to say happily, "I don't mind about my elder son's behaviour. I am proud of Ambalal. He is my Shravan.
Then she heard about the marriage which was to be held in Maha. She was very happy. Perhaps God had granted the last request of hers - her daughter-in-law's carrying a child. Ambalal could understand the meaning of his mother's happiness. But it was far from truth. He did not want to snatch away the momentary joy. Even Sushila knew that because of overage she had missed her periods for the last two months.! She also did not want to make her unhappy.
The old woman would automatically know the truth. Within four or six months. At that time the fact would be neglected because of the zeal of grandson's marriage. Ambalal knew this well. He wanted to satisfy his mother and the society giving the best possible Mamera.
He began to count….. Shravan, Bhadarvo, Asho, Kartik….There was a gap of six months. He had hardly got rid of the burden of his father's death rites when Mamera began to loom before their eyes.
"Should I write to Bombay?" He thought. The next moment he realised his elder brother had no heart to be affected by his letter. He had his own world at Bombay. He had completely ignored his duties towards his parents, brother and sister. His confusion increased.
He read an advertisement in a newspaper happily and all of a sudden declared his decision to go to Bombay. Sushila wanted to ask him about it but she dared not do so. Why should he waste two hundred rupees? He should better look after the maize crop.
But man never obeys woman. The next day, after taking his mother's blessings, he left for Bombay. He said: I have not talked with my brother since long. This time I want to stay with him for a weak or two.
His mother did not believe this. But she did not want to prevent him from meeting his elder brother. 'He is after all his own brother. Let him go'
Sushila also sent him off smilingly. Ambalal had tears in his eyes. She told him not to worry if his elder brother hesitated for money. She offered to sell her ornaments for Mamera to save his prestige.
Ambalal's heart was full of feelings. He tried to prevent his tears. He said, "No, Sushila, it is not necessary. I will surely return with money."
Sushila was moved by the firm tone of her husband. At the bottom of her heart she thought that this was nothing but sentiments. She wouldn't have allowed him to go to Bombay if it was under her control. Once decided, it was difficult to change his mind. She knew his nature well.
When Ambalal started for Bombay there had been no good omen. The old woman Rukhi, their neighbour sneezed. Not only Sushila but Ambalal also noted this seriously. Thank God that the old woman was deaf and had not heard the sneezing. Otherwise it would have been very difficult to convince her.
At last Ambalal did what he had wished.
Sushila very eagerly waited for Ambalal's return. The fields had begun to dry up. The later part of monsoon had failed, so maize crop had ruined.
Ambalal had promised to return within eight to ten days but did not return even after fifteen or sixteen days. Naturally Sushila was worried. The old woman gave her consolation. Why should she worry 7 He had gone to his brother's house and not to the battle-field. They were to meet: after a long break, therefore, it was possible that he might stay more. They should have discussed about the marriage of her daughter's son. The old woman dreamt about the marriage. She found two maternal uncles holding the reign of the horse. She was greatly satisfied. She blessed his sons.
'Joy Ambe, Bechari Ma, Kalika Ma’! She requested the goddesses to immortalize the duo like Ram and Laxman. She wished their prosperity. She hugged Sushila.
Sushila knew her mother-in-laws feelings but she failed to understand the change in the elder brother. How Ambalal could put trust in the elder brother was a puzzle.
Sushila who was waiting for Ambalal's return felt that there was something wrong. She kept mum because it was useless to hurt the old woman's feelings.
Ambalal returned exactly on the twenty second day. Upon his arrival at the gate Sushila asked him why he looked weak and pale.
"Why do you look so down 7" Quipped Sushila.
Ambalal could not explain. He told her with eyes downcast, " After reaching Bombay I had suddenly developed pain in the belly. Then…." He dared not tell a lie further. He gathered his courage and said, "I had to undergo the operation." Sushila suspected something wrong but she did not let him know of it. She asked him, "Did you stay at the elder brothers house?"
Ambalal tried to smile. He said, "You are very strange. In Bombay where could I have stayed except at my elder brother's house."
There was weakness in his body. He was also tired of journey for he could hardly sleep in the crowded train. His body was aching. He lay on the cot in the corridor. "Give me water, my dear, I am very thirsty.” Sushila ran and brought water for him.
Very quickly Ambalal drank the water and said, "Here are fifty thousand rupees. Give it to mother, she will be happy." He panted, he began to weep. He added, "Tell mother that elder brother has given money for Mumera."
Ambalal did not want to disclose the truth. He didn't want to hurt Sushila and his mother by the bitter truth. He did this for the prestige of his deceased father. His mother would now die with satisfaction. For this reason he told them all a lie.
But one day the postman gave Sushila a letter from Bombay. Impatient, Sushila read the following words:
Dear Ambalal Bhai,
We are thankful to you forever for saving the life of Seth Amulakhray by donating kidney. You will be happy to know that Seth Amulakhray is quite all right. Expert surgeons believe that your kidney has set quite well. Once again, I thank you on behalf of the whole family.
Sushila read the letter and seell1g that there was none around, threw it in the fire. She looked at it till it had burnt completely.
Then closing her eyes she tried to forget everything. Before she could weep, she heard her mother-in-law chit-chatting with Rukhi, a neighbour. She was asking eagerly, "Is the letter from the elder brother, Sushila?"
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