“Take a deep breath child, you will feel better”, someone from the crowd heard shouting.
“No don’t take a deep breath, it could go inside”, another person was heard shouting even louder.
“Don’t frighten my grandson, he is just a child”, an old lady was heard yelling.
It was an early evening. In the courtyard of every house a dim candle light was glowing near a holy basil (tulsi) plant. The reverberating sounds of conch shells had just started fading in the evening sky. Children had returned into their homes, washed their hands and feet and while in few houses they were still busy reciting prayers in the shrine rooms under strict supervision of their mothers, in most of the houses children had opened their books and started reading, croaking like frogs while oscillating in simple harmonic motion.
In the family of Mr. Bhuban Sur, an accountant in his mid-forties, where the crowd had assembled, everything was looking normal since evening. Mrs. Sur, a woman in her mid-thirties, mother of five children had lit a candle near the basil plant, blown a conch shell, her mother-in-law, an old widow who could be either in her late sixties or early seventies, who due to severe arthritis was always keen on saving a step, asked for blessings by folding her both hands and turning her head toward the basil plant while remaining seated on the veranda where she was sitting since late afternoon.
At the end of the evening rituals Mrs. Sur went inside the house. She looked inside the study room where she found her four boys were engaged in fisticuffs. “Let your father come home, I will tell everything to him”, as soon as she had uttered those words, the boys jumped back into their respective positions where there books were remaining open and resumed squawking. Without wasting another second she returned to her kitchen and started setting the coal oven on fire by rolling an old newspaper, igniting it and inserting it through the air inlet at the lower end of the oven, which she had made ready in the late afternoon by arranging small pieces of coal placed over dried cow dung cakes, used as starters because of their high flammability. It would take not less than fifteen minutes before the coal oven would be ready and could be used for cooking and she used that interval for kneading dough of whole wheat flower for making tortilla shaped Indian breads for dinner. It was the time for her husband to return from work and immediately upon his return she would make tea for her husband, her mother-in-law, her eldest son, who was fourteen and herself.
Her youngest son Ravi, who was not yet five and had not started going to school was sitting with her mother-in-law.
While she was busy softening the dough with her both hands keeping the metal plate having the dough on the cement floor, she heard the sound of the ringing bell of her husband’s bicycle which he always rang to announce his arrival. Loud sound of reading from the room almost quadrupled.
By the time she had cleaned her hands to get rid of the last trace of flour and was about to start boiling water for making tea she saw her husband hanged the jute bag having fresh green vegetables which he had purchased on his way back home on an iron hook in the veranda. She also saw her husband entered into the bed room of her mother-in-law with a paper wrapped packet and came out after few seconds and started changing his office clothes.
Mr. Sur would take less than ten minutes to get ready before having tea with the family. He would remove his shirt, banyan, and trouser and finally the ‘langot’, indigenous underwear seldom used by common people but very popular among male ascetics and yogis. As soon as he would untie the knot of his ‘langot’ he would pass gas with a sound like a small four-stroke engine which would be of such a long duration that it could be a perfect example of ‘present perfect continuous tense’. But in spite of the sound and long duration it would not draw attention of anyone in the house.
Mrs. Sur was petrified when she heard the screaming sound of her youngest son and her mother-in-law crying “Somebody please help my grandson.”
[to be continued….]