Bhaal is a buffoon and a low life. No one knew him better than his mother and she told me everything about him before liver cirrhosis had succeeded in forcing the fight out of her spirit. No she isn’t ever out of her senses while talking about her son, never. Actually, it is only while talking talking about her sons that she has full command over her senses. It was due to them that her husband had died an early death. How could she forget? They are both family and sworn enemies – the lady and her sons. How many were they? Eight. She had given birth to eight sons and daughters. Two had not seen even their second birthday – poor souls. Her first born achieved martyrdom, so did her husband.
She had started cursing her sons from the day of her husband’s death. She could afford it as she had strong lungs then: fresh and healthy. She became an alcoholic as she grew older, and needed hukkah all the time. She used to babble, cursing her sons in two languages and one dialect. The pattern continued even when her lungs had started oozing blood and she needed to cough, raspingly and painfully, with every two minutes stretch of voicing her vituperative malevolence.
She wanted to go to heaven after her husband was lynched. She’s still hopeful. Why do I say hopeful? Because she points it out to us that in Kalyug all the widows go to hell as they can’t become satis in the Congress Raj, as was the case in the British Raj. She’d be equally dissatisfied with the Raj of BJP or CPI too. It’s not that she had not tried to follow the example of her fore-mothers. She had found no abettors. With the 1987 success of Roop Kanwar in Deorala, she became more irritable. After all, someone else had beaten her in the game. So, the lady who couldn’t become a sati and ensure her seat in heaven, was satisfied dishing it out to her two surviving male children in daily large installments.
She is my confidante and best friend. She has shown me my husband’s real face: the ugly face behind his mask of finesse and polish. My children are all blind fools. They learn nothing from us. Rishabh has always been his father’s son, Madhyam is never fully himself, and Nishaad does whatever his father wants him to. Purnima is my only hope, and her son. She’ll give birth to him next month sometime. She’s the daughter-in-law I had always prayed for. Her son will be the first grandson of the family, and I will not let him be like his grandfather, or his father. His great-grandmother has warned me against all kind of weakness: no love, no pity, no softness.
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