Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My story published in New Asian Writing.



By Vishal Tayade

This is the first time in my life when I see my father, Appa crying . Making knees as a platform to settle down the head he is sobbing for long time with regular interval. My mother, Aai sits beside him and is tipping her ever flowing tears with an edge of sari. Both are looking helpless and collapsed. Entering the room, I see that pathetic scene and get shocked. This tiny ancestral home that covered with rusted tins fills with sorrow. All the misery of the world gathers in this ten by eight room, I feel.

We have no electricity at home. Perpetual darkness makes the scene gloomier. Today, I returned quite late from school and afraid of getting slapped for that. But no one noticed it. I am very hungry now and in mood of demanding food to Aai that is my usual habit after coming back from school. But to see the situation, I can’t dare to utter even a single word in that regard.Slowly,I reach to my mother and sit next to her and humbly I put my right palm on her shoulder. I am very confused and worried for not knowing the reason of this family grief. Noticing me in the home Appa wipes out his tears and stands up. Then, somehow, he casts a glance into the mirror hanging on the wall. Adjusting hairs with the comb of fingers he puts the slippers on and moves out without saying any word.

Then, I look around. Everything is as usual.Already; we have very few things at home. A wooden cot that plays music if you sit on it. It was brought when my father was a child, once he informed me. He has been sleeping on it since then. Actually, it was gifted to my grandfather by a landlord where he used to work as a watchman for long time. My grandfather took his last breath on the same cot, I witnessed.Afterwards, I avoid to sleep on it and prefers to sleep on the Aai’s lap on the floor. Apart from this cot, there is not any big or valuable thing in our home. Although, we have a tin trunk that usually sits under the cot but it is not less than a scrap.

Some Gods also share our room with us. They occupies the space on the wall where they are dwelling in a raw. Some of them are almost invisible due to the lampblack that coated the glass on their frame. Plus some spiders are worshipping by netting on them.

We have a very few utensils in our kitchen that is the place in one corner of the room. Two plates, two glasses, two bowels, three spoons, one ladle and few more things that is an asset of Aai’s territory. Pitiable thing is that more than two people can not eat at us at a time due to the lack of enough plates to serve. We take bath just outside the room where a thigh length triangular wall is stood that serves a role of bathroom. It is very close to main road that any pedestrian can peep into it. So it is mandatory to my mother to bath before the sunrise.

Though my parents are leading a painful life, they never talks about our penury before me, trying to fulfill all my needs. Our home is very close to main bazaar and my school is also on walkable distance. But the only question arises in my mind why my home is not as big as my other friends have?


Today, to observe the situation, I can guess that something serious is happened. Aai is still sobbing. Sometime later, she lifts her head and sees me. My appearance makes her restless for a while. She can not control her and cries her heart out. Somehow, she puts her right hand around my back and drags me against her chest. I put my both hands around her neck and holds her as tight as possible and burst out crying without understanding what to do.For few minutes, we are crying. I am confused. I am worried. I am feared. so, I am crying, that’s all.

After a while, I asks Aai,” Why are you crying, Aai. and Appa also?”

Without answering Aai let me sit on the thigh and put behind my hairs that are trying to enter my eyes. Then she rubs out my checks and swallows back the lump in her throat.

“Sonu, beta, we are in very difficult condition……” then she takes a pause and says, “But you will not understand it.”

“No Aai, I can understand, you, you tell me, tell me what happened? I never saw Appa crying ever.” I insist.

“See, Sonu, what happened? We have received a noticed from municipal co-operation.They ask us to leave this house within eight days. Otherwise they will tear it down.”

It shakes me somewhere inside.

“Why, Why Aai? Why should we leave our home?”I ask innocently and hold her more tightly.

“They say we are doing encroachment on government land.” And automatically her voice arises,” that bloody pig says they are planning to widen the road and our home is becoming an obstacle.”

“But Aai, what is an encroachment?”

“It means the land where our house is built up is not ours. But how it is possible. They must know we are living here for three generations.”Aai almost shouted while saying this and looks at the door. Then she throws some filthy abuses towards the road.

“But Aai, if they break our home down, where will we go?”

“Yes, yes, Sonu, that’s what I am saying them. Where will we go? My little son can understand it but they can’t.” Aai says while making some disgusted gestures in the air.

“Aai, where did Appa go? He is not seen anywhere.”

“Where can he go? Nobody can go anywhere. We are born here, survive here and will die here. Nobody can expel us from here. Let them remember. We are not going anywhere. Let them run a bulldozer on us. If that is our fate, then we are ready for that. We will die under bulldozer, but will not leave this place.”

Aai is shouting and crying frantically. She is looking helpless and exhausted. Then again she holds me against her chest and starts crying. But this time her hug was not that much tight.

About the Author

Vishal Tayade is a bilingual writer and translator who writes in English, Hindi and Marathi, his mother tongue. He has written two books for children and has translated seven books in Marathi. For details, visit his blog.