THE ‘CHICKENS’ COME HOME TO ROOST….

Pushpadevi  woke up with a start. It was a silent night and the only sounds that reverberated through the room were the loud snores of her husband Kashinath. Relieved ,that what she saw was only a nightmare,she sat up,wiping  the beads of perspiration,from her forehead and upperlip. She then started walking towards the earthenpot ,resting on a rickety old stool,in one corner of the room.Her hands groped in the darkness ,for the ‘lota‘(a copper vessel ). Having found it,she dipped it into the pot and started drinking ,till her throat no longer felt parched.. Keeping the ‘lota’ back in its place,she turned to walk back. Her husband,completely oblivious of his wife’s predicament ,was snoring even more loudly now,as if mocking at her . Pushpa let out a sigh and walked back to her charpai (a bedstead used in India) and lied down. But sleep eluded her. She kept staring at the blank ceiling of the house,as if expecting it to come alive and remove  all her apprehensions.

The next day ,early morning ,she quietly opened the main door of the house ,and hurried down to Banwarilal’s grocery shop. His shop was the closest, she could get to a telephone,from her house. Once there,she exchanged a few words with Banwarilal ,after which she started talking to someone on  his phone. As the conversation progressed,her face grew from sad to morose , and her eyes ,that were now moist with tears,showed signs of some hidden grief .Though Banwari quizzed her about it ,she refrained from answering. Then paying him the money for the call she had made,and holding her pallu (the loose end of the saree ) over her head,with great cautiousness,Pushpadevi  scuttled back ,in the direction of her home.

By the time she reached home,Kashinath was ready to leave for the fields . Pushpadevi  quickly made him two rotis (indian bread ) which he greedily devoured ,along with a green chilly and half a piece of onion.After this  ,he left . Pushpa ,standing at the door,opened her mouth,  as if to say something . Then,as an afterthought ,muttered something under her breath and let him walk away. Her eyes ,welled with tears, stood gazing at him ,till he became a speck in the distance ,and she  felt choked. She knew ,she needed to speak with someone about her fears,but with whom….?

Pushpa then thought of Suman, her daughter-in-law . But then ,she no longer stayed with them….With these thoughts, her mind wandered back in time. ” She still remembered the day Suman came to their house,dressed in a simple red saree and minimal jewellery… Pushpadevi had a lot of plans for her son’s marriage and ‘dowry‘ was the’ highlight ‘ of  the plans. She had always dreamt of a wealthy daughter-in-law, a daughter of a zamindar (land owner) perhaps,who would come into their house laden with a lot of jewellery and cash ; thus proving herself to be Goddess Lakshmi ,(the Hindu goddess of wealth ), in the real sense.”

”But here she was, Suman, the girl her son had fallen for and married against her consent – a comlpete contrast to the ‘bride‘of her dreams. A frail looking girl,the daughter of a landless labourer,who struggled to make both ends meet,let alone provide them with any financial benefits !!!. Pushpa remembered Suman’s calm ,innocent eyes plead with her for forgiveness. But they failed to break Pushpa’s  resolve ,to never completely accept her as her daughter-in-law.”

Today,as Pushpadevi,stared blankly ,at the empty cradle lying next to her charpai , her thoughts re – winded to that fateful day…..”Her daughter-in-law ,Suman,was pregnant .Pushpa was elated to hear the news.She now looked forward to  a grandson ,who would bring some joy into her otherwise mundane and hopeless existence. Days turned into months and soon the D-day had arrived .”

”Pushpa, waited patiently ,outside the ward of the village hospital . Her lips were muttering a prayer and her fingers were counting the beads of her rosary. Then, suddenly,she heard the cry and the doctor came out and announced to her..” congratulations !!! It is a beautiful girl...” Pushpadevi felt the earth shift from beneath her feet.All her hopes and aspirations were nipped in the bud.As  the tears flowed down from her eyes , Pushpa had made yet another resolve.”

”The following morning,as Suman,lying on her bed,attempted to pick up her newborn ,from the cradle,to feed her milk , she froze. Her baby was as still as a stone.”

Death due to asphyxiation” , declared the doctor”.But, how  a pillow lying on Suman’s bed  , ended up suffocating and killing the infant lying inside the cradle, nobody was to ever discover !!! ,except perhaps Suman herself, because the very next day she packed her bags and left, never to return again. Pushpa’s son soon followed suit. ”

The loud knocks on the door,snapped Pushpa out of her reverie. She stood up and walked towards the door.The knocks were growing louder by every pasing second. A knowing fear ,gripped her heart. As she opened the door,she closed her eyes for a second (as if asking for forgiveness ) …When she opened them,she saw, lying on the ground,just  opposite the door , a body. Pushpa looked closely  at the body, lest she was mistaken… the body of her beloved daughter Kusum . It was only a few hours back ,that she has heard her voice on the phone. Kusum was pleading with her to take her back home or send more ‘dowry’ to her in-laws. Pushpadevi was helpless,she couldn’t do either. Now, remorseful,she kneeled down in front of the body of her dear daughter and wailed…like a mad woman.

Pushpadevi knew…this was her nemesis . The chickens,always come home to roost…..

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21 thoughts on “THE ‘CHICKENS’ COME HOME TO ROOST….

  1. What a great story! I am sorry I had not read it before.
    I belong to N India and what you talk about is a way of life here. I am lucky myself, born in an educated family, with only sisters. As a child, people would ask about my siblings and then ask, ‘no brother’? And give me a pitying look. I always wondered why.
    I am blessed with a daughter, thank God and she is doted on by both sets of grandparents. But when my son was born, I could see the approval and thankfulness in people’s eyes, even strangers!
    There are many such stories that I tell my friends. Life is good to me and I am not discriminated against but I wonder about the experience of a matriarchal society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You don’t have to be sorry dear..I think you weren’t even following my blog then..But I am glad you found time to read it now and also that your enjoyed it . You are indeed lucky …. Unfortunately not the case with all women … In Kerala , things aren’t that bad because of the matriarchal system and also because of high rate of women’s education …I hope things improve with time….

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  3. Hi Sweety chechi!! I am Sapna’s friend..Read ur story. Must say tat it is beautifully written!! There are of course some good movies as well with similar story line..but what it always makes me wonder, what if these mother-in-laws did not have a daughter…or if they never had any bitter experiences later in their lives…will they ever realize what they did?? Will they ever feel guilty? Does it haunt them? I don’t know..

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    • Hii vidhya…thank you for ur appreciation..:) Yes..dowry and female infanticide have been rampant esp in the north of india, since time immemorial,hence movies surrounding this theme will be many too…this is my angle..As far as the question abt whether a mother in law will ever realize her folly, if she were not be blessed with a daughter herself or suffer in any other way later….,my answer would be ,perhaps no…if the realization of this terrible evil was so frequent and easy, then this social evil wouldn’t still persist.

      Many women,even in the most affluent of families indulge in such practices ,and die without ever regretting their mistakes! So I guess ,it is upto god,most times…
      Thanx for taking time out to read the story..:)

      So

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  4. Very enlightening for a woman raised in the US. I had no idea this was happening in India. Thank you for informing us about female infanticide in your country. You conveyed the sadness of the problem very eloquently. I was deeply touched by this story. Thank you.

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    • Thank youu Sarah for your appreciation.Though the evil of female infanticide was very prominent in INdia..till a few yrs back…things have changed for better now..
      But this evil is still rampant in some north Indian villages even now…People prefer boys to girls because they consider girls to be a burden .Since they have to pay dowry (money and other goods) to the groom’s family in marriage.I am lucky to belong to the south of India…kerala,because ot is a matriarchal society giving importance to women,and the concept of dowry isn’t prevalent among the Hindus here.THanx for taking time out to read my blog…keep visiting:)

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  5. Wonderful short story with a great thought……………….and every word written in the story is true i have witnessed it myself……………keep writing we are waiting for more of your works……………

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    • thank you so much…for taking out time to read my post and for your valuable feedback.Please continue visiting …:) yes..it is indeed a sad state of affairs in India..wish i get to spread my messg to atleast a small section of peaople in the society and acause some change….

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  6. Awesome … I jus loved every bit of it .. And wonderful message too …keep up the good job and keep writing and we shall wait for the next one 😊👍👍..
    ( I’m sapna’s frnd .. May be u have heard of me 😉)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Offcourse I know you..have heard from sapna…thank you so much for taking the effort to comment on my blog ..abd for your generous comments…plz continue to provide your feedback..it is indeed a great motivation to help me write more…as a writer your greatest reward is when people appreciate your effort….thanx once again keep visiting:)

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  7. Very well written…..its sad but a fact we are living with everyday. Even our ‘educated’ and ‘literate’ society has such reactions. I feel blessed to be brought up in a house of girls (we were 10 girls (cousins) with one brother). When I mention this to anyone, their first reaction is, he must be the pampered one…but the fact is he is the bullied one!! – Thanks to our parents and grand parents who brought us up as strong individuals…:)

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    • Thank you so much khushboo…yeah it isva sad reality..esp in north India..in the south we are blessed that way…my parents were happy having two daughters…i am elated at having one myself and in my case my mom in law,after two sons herself,wanted to have a grandaughter … ..but that’s only a section of society…unfortunately…

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