Bamboo Flower, a novel – Part 48
By Akendra Sana
“Bamboo Flower”, serialized here, is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental
contd... from previous Sunday
Even after months, his mother was still inquisitive although Leima had already seemed to have long forgotten the incident of his one-day disappearance. His mother was speaking out what she was feeling.
With Leima, it must be different. Because with Leima, he could never be sure of. For all he knew she could have been making efforts on her own along with her brothers and sisters to find out more details and new information on his disappearance. The ever-understanding wife that she was in all their married life, she had become more suspicious in later years. Some would reason that it was because she could not become a parent. Rajen used to reject such things in the beginning, but as years passed by, he also started thinking that perhaps, there was something to such beliefs.
Both Rajen and Leima probably a little more than most, belonged to that group of people who believed that children made marriages stronger. Rajen, at least for many years had never thought so. It must have been the people he interacted with, who influenced his thinking, as he later began thinking that they had been married for long and there was no sign of the family growing. All their earlier visits to doctors, holy places by Leima later had proved futile.
And Nini came like a high-speed wind taking him completely unawares. Strangely now, at the back of his mind, he began to think what if Nini was to give him a child. He smiled inwards and thought how selfish of him. Unprotected sex with someone who was not a regular partner, as many had said, was most undesirable. However, was there any time to think about such things! How quick and fulfilling the encounter was, he recalled. Yet to think that they must have slept for less than four hours that night, was perhaps what good man-woman physical encounters was all about, he smiled all alone.
It was when all these things were going on in his mind, did he think that he should at least tell his mother that he had spent time with a good woman. But then again he reasoned why he should make life more complicated especially since Leima was a good wife and daughter-in-law. So why mess it, he told himself. He knew his mother would be delighted to hear that he was doing something to leave behind an heir, as it were. In fact, she, on more than one occasion had hinted that he should take a second wife to try to become a father. Nevertheless, he now knew that it was best to keep things as they were even if it meant robbing his mother of some excitement.
Yes, there was always a certain respect he had for Leima. For one, she took to the name Leima without any effort although she was always Bharati to her parents when Thoibi, without any hesitation, started calling her only Leima within hours of their wedding ceremony. Of course Leima was the other part of her complete name. Moreover, when his cousins came home after their jail term she was most gracious and immediately took them in her fold and there was never any discord with them. Rajen imagined that perhaps since she had so many siblings at her parental home she could take to his cousins as her own without any visible effort.
She had been most understanding except for the suspicious nature that she had developed now. Whether it was the acceptance of fate or there were influences on her, Rajen could not be sure. But soon Leima became more vocal especially when there was any mention of rats by Rajen. So it did not surprise him when she said, ‘Rats have taken a lot of your mind and time. Let us now do things differently. The bamboo stick may or may not do anything. Let us carry on with life.’
‘Of course. I have left behind the rats. They can do whatever they may want to do. They will not bother me now. My strength and your support will take me through.’ Rajen replied
The only thing she could be faulted about and that too, only according to so-called well-wishers of the family, was that she could not bear him a child. He sometimes, had sympathies for her as he reasoned that for no fault of hers she was blamed. How unkind the society was, he questioned himself and he had no strength to defend. With what reasons would he defend her if he had and how many people he could answer to, were things that also troubled him? In fact, for all one knew the fault could well be his, he could not help thinking even though the doctors had said that both of them were normal and that they should not give up hope.
In the following months, Rajen tried many ways to find out more about Nini. He knew he had to be discreet. This of course, did not prevent him from making enquiries at the Press Club to find out if there was any entry. There was no such information.
Then, it was Deven, the civil servant friend, who casually once mentioned that Nini was in Imphal sometime back. The time Deven was referring was about five months after she and Rajen had met. He however, found it strange that Deven had mentioned as if she was an old common friend.
His feelings must have been apparent since Deven said, ‘I am sure you remember her. Nini was in the Girls’ School when we passed out more than twenty years ago’ and smiled.
To be contd…
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